Monthly Archives: August 2009

“Cybersecurity” bill in Senate

This current government is Stalinist.

A new Senate bill would give the U.S. administration emergency powers to unplug the Internet from private networks in the name of “cybersecurity”:

Read the article on CNET at

People should be alarmed. Very alarmed in light of the other legislation in Congress this past year. The outlines of a trend…


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Orwell’s Wartime Diary; The Death of NEXUS-6 N6MAA10816, aka Roy Baty

Orwell’s Wartime Diary


The Docks at Dunkirk

George Orwell kept a diary during WWII, through the Blitz, the Battle of Britain, all of it. And he continued writing. For his January 1941 “London Letter” for New York’s Partisan Review, he wrote of “the day in September when the Germans broke through and set the docks on fire”.

People in London, South London – were watching this, and one can only imagine what nightmarish vision it had to have been. Orwell’s account reminded me of Rutger Hauer’s elegy to himself as the fast-fading replicant Roy Baty:

…Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark…

“I think few people can have watched those enormous fires without feeling that this was the end of an epoch…but to an astonishing extent things have slipped back to normal.”
Normal enough, anyway, for London theatre productions to continue – Orwell did regular theatre review for Time and Tide. It might seem perverse; an extravagance when many people were suffering in London, but keeping up a semblance of normalcy was important for morale. Indeed, as Roger Waters would have it,

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”

And people were indeed suffering – the Orwells included – they suffered a very personal loss, indeed.

A fascinating document, the diary (reprinted in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, Vol. II) begins on May 28, 1940, when news of Dunkirk first broke.

The war came rapidly.

It decribes the chaos of the Dunkirk evacuation after the British army’s hasty retreat from the Low Countries and the surrender of Belgium to the Germans. Unscheduled trains were pouring into London from English Channel ports; traincars full of bewildered British troops, some in formation, some not, and exhausted Belgian and French refugees. The Orwells sought news of Eileen’s brother Lawrence O’Shaughnessy, who was a doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and who had treated Orwell for years and.

The news came days later – he had been killed on the beaches while aiding the wounded. A hard-felt loss for both; though curiously, or not, there is no mention of his death in Orwell’s diary. Eileen was very close to her brother and according to friends, his death struck her very hard.

And so in his diary Orwell skips mention of this personal loss, but writes of nights spent in the bomb shelter during German blitzes:

“10 September…Most of last night in the public shelter, having been driven there by recurrent whistle and crash of bombs not very far away.”

We learn of South Londoners’ (many already bombed out of house) having witnessed the frightful conflagration of wood burning on water across the Channel during the Dunkirk evacuations: while in the shelter [10 Sept.], in “[f]rightful discomfort due to overcrowding…” and “12 September…a youth of about twenty in dirty overalls, perhaps a garage hand. Very embittered and defeatist…He spoke bitterly about the people rendered homeless in South London…”. Perhaps not surprising if the chap had been among those unfortunate who witnessed the fires of Dunkirk blazing from across the Channel. Alas, the Orwells were “watching at the front door when the East India docks were hit”.


II. Eric Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell

Orwell the man was somewhat of a contradiction. He was highly political; highly opinionated. A friend once remarked that “he couldn’t blow his nose without moralizing on conditions in the handkerchief industry”. Yet he was a traditionalist and firmly in support of Britain’s position in the war. The same man who led an Anarchist, “Trotskyist” battalion fighting against Franco’s Republicans on the Spanish front – the same man five years later was a uniformed member of the Home Guard, Britain’s civil-defense corps.

His fame as a writer was growing, however. Particularly since he’d returned from Spain in 1936 wounded with a gunshot through the neck from close-range by a high-powered enemy rifle. He gained hero-status in some circles, reinforced by his Homage to Catalonia (published by Gollancz, 25 April 1938 and re-published by the widowed Sonia Brownell in 1952). The book renewed the row between, on the one hand, the Marxist/Anarchist ILP (Independent Labour Party) and POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista) – who were the vehicle and political structure of the famed International Brigades – and on the other hand the then robust Communist Party.  who after the Spanish revolution fell to Franco, criticized the former for their insistence on sticking to principle and for supposedly hurting the Popular Front/Communist government’s cause.

After his convalescence and on advice from Eileen’s surgeon brother, Lawrence O’Shaughnessy, the Orwells traveled from the then British-controlled Rock of Gibraltar to Morroco – Tangiers, Casablanca, and on to Marrakesh where they stayed for half-a-year. Though war clouds loomed, they were keen to return to England, and did – to Wallington, though the steadily-growing consequences of German war-machine on Great Britain; the rush to maintain industrial capability; the evacuations/displacement of children and families north and westward soon forced the Orwells to London (to 18 Dorset Chambers, Chagford Street NW 1 – a modest flat).

After failing to get work with the government, Orwell was keen to ‘join up’. But no draft/requisition board would accept him due to his health. His Spanish tenure during the ’30s had taken a great toll on his health (one need only consult Homage to Catalonia to see what an ordeal it truly was for those brave men fighting their (eventually lost) struggle against Franco. This opening chapters betray Orwell’s frustration at the pitiful condition of his initial experience on the Catalonian front – entrenched in mud and the cold of high-altitude at winter) POUM, particularly, were only a hastily-raised militia, and terribly unprepared to wage war (one International Brigader, Commandante Georges Kopp (a Belgian) declared to Orwell, “This is not a war, this is a comic-opera.”

George Orwell continued his commercial writing, and amazingly, despite the tension and deprivation of the war, to judge from a the chronology in George Orwell: Essays [Alfred A. Knopf 1968] the years from 1939 to 1945 comprise the bulk of his life’s work, in essays. Orwell had already published a book a year (true to his stated goal of doing just that) since 1933, to ’39.

– d.g.w.  (last updated 21 Dec. 2009]

III. The Death of Roy Baty



(From the film adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick)


I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire

off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark

near the Tannhauser Gate. All those… moments will be lost in time…

like… tears… in rain

Gender Male
Designation Roy Batty
Model NEXUS-6 N6MAA10816
Incept date January 8, 2016
Function Combat, Colonization Defense Prog
Phys. Level A Ment. Level A

to Rick Deckard, Los Angeles, circa 2019

Book Covers

'Panther Science Fiction Series cover

orig. U.S. cover / orig. German cover / “Panther Science Fiction” Series cover (U.S./Can)  


America: A Prophecy

(by William Blake, 1793)

This extended poem was the inspiration for Rutger Hauer’s elegy in Bladerunner (1981, Dir. Ridley Scott). Supposedly Hauer came up with it on his own for the Roy Baty’s exit – the movie’s climaxing scene.    

The Guardian Prince of Albion burns in his nightly tent:

Sullen fires across the Atlantic glow to America’s


Piercing the souls of warlike men who rise in silent night.

Washington, Franklin, Paine, and Warren,

Gates, Hancock, and Green

Meet on the coast glowing with blood from Albion’s fiery Prince.

Washington spoke: `Friends of America! look over the Atlantic sea;

A bended bow is lifted in Heaven, and

a heavy iron chain

Descends, link by link, from Albion’s cliffs across the sea, to bind

Brothers and sons

of America; till our faces pale and yellow,

Heads depress’d, voices weak, eyes downcast, hands work-


Feet bleeding on the sultry sands, and the furrows of the whip

Descend to generations, that in

future times forget.’

The strong voice ceas’d; for a terrible blast swept over the heaving sea:

The eastern cloud rent: on his

cliffs stood Albion’s wrathful Prince,

A dragon form, clashing his scales: at midnight he arose,

And flam’d

red meteors round the land of Albion beneath;

His voice, his locks, his awful shoulders, and his glowing


Appear to the Americans upon the cloudy night.


click here for full text

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L’Enfant Terrible: How Eric Blair became George Orwell

(originally published in 2008 at

George Orwell aka Eric Blair
University of Adelaide, in Australia, has a free collection of ebooks on Orwell:

How Eric Blair became George Orwell

By David G. Wilhelm

Born Arthur Eric Blair in 1903 (d. 1950), Orwell chose his nom de plume shortly after publication of his first novel Down and Out in Paris and London, pub. 1933 by Gollancz, London-based independent/socialist publishing house.

A now widely read classic, Down and Out was the result of Blair’s years of “tramping” among the poor and destitute of those cities. As a well-educated grad of Eton and the prestigious boarding school St. Cyprian’s, contemporaneous reviewers grant that the young author was “down” – his characterizations struck a note of uncanny accuracy – but were skeptical as to whether the fledgling author was truly “out”. Orwell was inspired by Jack London’s 1902 English sojourn, chronicled in The People of the Abyss (1903), an exposé of the slum conditions of London’s East-End. Like London, Orwell’s “tramping” required dress as “a vagabond” so to blend in with the lower classes.

But where Jack London had been commissioned to write the Abyss, Orwell set out to write, though with no major prior arrangement or back-up. He was on an adventure, and really was poor. If he did not share the proles‘ (another Jack London-coined term) birth or “class”, he did share the lower-classes’ living conditions, starting out (as did London) in Lew Levy’s “kip”, or boarding house, in the East End on Westminster Bridge Road. And later, over on the west side, he worked for shillings at Bllingsgate fish market for three weeks, staying in another Levy kip. Yet, he was also sending manuscripts to T.S. Elliot, writing reviews for the socialist magazine The New Adelphi, and corresponding with his editor at Gollancz, Sir Richard Rees.

Spring of 1928, Orwell decided to go to Paris. Despite continued success selling short pieces to small journals there and in England, Bernard Crick in his biography George Orwell: A Life (pub. 1980) claims that he ran out of money and was forced to look for other work. He found a job as a plongeur – a dishwasher – “in a fashionable hotel on the rue de Rivoli.” Though not a bad-paying job by most standards, it was out of necessity, belying somewhat the skeptical reviews as to the author’s sincerity. Identity can be slippery. Shortly before publication the, as yet, Eric Blair wrote to his literary agent Leonard Moore, ‘As to a pseudonym, a name I always use when tramping etc. is P.S. Burton.’ And so Orwell would have kept in character. Indeed, the narrative of Down and Out does jump straight in, offering no explanation of who the author/narrator is or how he got to these down and out places.

Crick writes colorfully of the exchanges between Orwell and Gollancz before the novel’s publication, that the title and pseudonym were undecided in November even as a January deadline loomed:

Gollancz favored ‘The Confessions of a Down and Out’, but Blair protested
that ‘I don’t answer to the name of down and out…’. He favoured
‘The Confessions of a Dishwasher’.

A compromise was finally reached for ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’, but so late that the first edition was printed with ‘Confessions of a Down and Out’ as the running header on the pages!

He wrote to Moore, ‘…but if you think this sounds a probable kind of name, what about Kenneth Miles, George Orwell, H. Lewis Allways. I rather favour George Orwell.’ And so, Bernard Crick writes in his biography, did Gollancz.

And so publication of “Down and Out in Paris and London”, Eric Blair’s first serious novel, cemented the name George Orwell for good – and the rest is history – on up the later 1984, and canonizing of the name as a not rarely-used adjective in the English language.

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English (online edition):


• adjective relating to the work of the British novelist George Orwell (1903-50), especially the totalitarian state depicted in Nineteen Eighty-four

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Senator Aurelius Symmacus

“What does it matter by which wisdom each of us arrives at the truth? It is not possible that only one road leads to so sublime a mystery.”
– A plea from one of the last pagan senators, Aurelius Symmacus, to the boy emperor Valentinian II in 383, asking for freedom of thought.

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Hyperborea, the northern lands (Gr. mythology)

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