It's perhaps appropriate that the biggest news this month, a month that marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of George Orwell, is a story about privacy. What would Orwell, whose dystopian novel 1984 painted a nightmare vision of a society under constant surveillance, have to say about the current scandal engulfing the U.S. and British security services?
The world has changed, didn't you get the memo? We have become digitised, and we live in a world now defined by IP address statistics and pictures of what you had for breakfast. Social media in its current form has changed the way we live our lives, and perhaps we are so far down the rabbit hole it is too late to turn back.
I've always believed that a pub which can offer me a quality beer that I've never heard of is onto a good start, and anywhere I can walk in and see something on draught that surprises me is doing even better. Anywhere offering a combination of Carlsberg, Carling and Strongbow and not much else is simply not going to cut it.
The constant anxiety of what soap opera dramas awaited me at university didn't exactly help matters. I've been considering selling the movie rights of my university life to Universal Studios, on the grounds that I will be played by Audrey Tautou (she'll have to wear seven inch heels) and that The Killers must be used in the opening sequence.
Under the blitz of current Orwell stuff in the media there's a recurring theme: what would the great man have made of the present day, and how right was he about the modern world? Recent chit-chat in my office was broadly positive about his "predictive" powers. Recent chit-chat in my office was broadly positive about his "predictive" powers: Doublespeak (modern political/managerial jargon?), Telescreens (TV, especially those tuned to the Big Brother house on Channel 5!), Napoleon, the revolutionary-turned-authoritarian pig from Animal Farm.
If the name David Frum is at all familiar to British ears, it is generally closely accompanied by "the man who coined the phrase 'Axis of Evil'". This may be enough for some readers to dismiss anything he has to say as the work of a crypto-fascist, imperialist running dog, but they do so at their peril.
There's a touching moment in the French classic film Amélie where the heroine, as a little girl, reflects the sunlight off her mirror from her window overlooking Paris, hoping someone out there sees her light. From a window across the city, another lonely child--the boy who will grow up to be the man she'll one day fall in love with--is doing the same reflector trick, waiting for a response with the hope that he's not alone.
In 1918, Kafka wrote about the early kibbutzim in Palestine, arguing there should be no legal courts - "Palestine needs earth (...) but it does not need lawyers". Until Israel realizes world Jewry and their cultural assets are not automatically property of the Jewish state, and removes its lawyers from this sorry tale - the world will continue to be starved of a true literary great's work.