Way Past 1984

The calendar says we’re more than a quarter-century past 1984, but politics has taken has way past Orwell’s 1984, not to mention “Politics and the English Language.”

As symptoms, if not evidence, details from a paragraph in Eliot Weinberger’s review of George W. Bush’s (or is it Bush’s?–one of Weinberger’s points) book, Decision Points:

“This is a chronicle of the Bush Era with no colour-coded Terror Alerts; no Freedom Fries; no Halliburton; no Healthy Forests Initiative (which opened up wilderness areas to logging); no Clear Skies Act (which reduced air pollution standards); no New Freedom Initiative (which proposed testing all Americans, beginning with schoolchildren, for mental illness); no pamphlets sold by the National Parks Service explaining that the Grand Canyon was created by the Flood; no research by the National Institutes of Health on whether prayer can cure cancer (‘imperative’, because poor people have limited access to healthcare); no cover-up of the death of football star Pat Tillman by ‘friendly fire’ in Afghanistan; no ‘Total Information Awareness’ from the Information Awareness Office; no Project for the New American Century; no invented heroic rescue of Private Jessica Lynch; no Fox News; no hundreds of millions spent on ‘abstinence education’. It does not deal with the Cheney theory of the ‘unitary executive’ – essentially that neither the Congress nor the courts can tell the president what to do – or Bush’s frequent use of ‘signing statements’ to indicate that he would completely ignore a bill that the Congress had just passed.”

Just these these details alone overwhelm a person, and if the person is American, they embarrass and mortify.

A larger point Weinberger pursues in the review is that “Bush’s” book exemplifies much of what Foucault had to say about the disappearance of the author. Yep: W, the accidental post-modernist. Weinberger’s “take” is pretty interesting, even if you’re not partial to Foucault’s way of thinking. A link to the whole review:

Weinberger on W


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