I became a huge fan of Eric Blair my freshman year in high school.
First, when this rowdy young cowboy, a friend of a friend, nudged me in study hall, which we chose to spend in the Library, nudged me with a lascivious leer and pointed to his book, I couldn’t imagine what kind of book, but he showed me, by where he pointed. I read:
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.
Second, when we read “Shooting an Elephant” in class, I couldn’t believe it was assigned reading, I couldn’t believe it was so subversive. So I read the rest of his books, and the essays, of course.
In one book of essays, he writes about his first stirrings as a writer. He would describe the action as if in a book, for practice: “…he entered the room, and turned to look at the encyclopedias…”. Well, once such an ongoing personal self-narrative like that got established, it can’t just be shut off. Soon such a person would see himself differently, refer to himself in the third person, assume an odd pseudonym, like George Orwell.
In one of his books Marshall McLuhan wrote about the Fiji islanders. In order to export for sale some indigenous art, the native artists were asked to make crates for the art. It took them as long to make the crates and it did the art. When asked why they said, “We don’t have any art, we do everything the best we can.”
For years I’ve been writing anonymous documents, meeting minutes, proposals, incident reports, as the best I could. I will claim this: I might have written something down wrong, or someone might have disagreed with what I have written, but everyone understood what I had written.
So now I claim I’m a poet
Yes, I claim to be a McLuhanistic Orwellian Poet. I never don’t write Poetry.