Without trying to come across as too pompous – yet somehow achieving just that – I would like to share a passage from the introduction to a “Condensation of Animal Farm” published by World Digest in January 1946 and in reference to the writings of George Orwell. It goes a little like this:
(Mr Orwell) does not hesitate to criticize persons and things of which he disapproves, He censures injustice, humbug, and falsification of ideals; gibes at appeasement, popular eulogy of the second-best, and the bleating in unison of the yes-men.
Orwell’s methodical and (mostly) reasoned approach to understanding and interpreting the world forms the core of what I’ve always wanted to achieve in my own writing. That is, taking a searching and critical attiude toward everything with which one is presented, as opposed to a complacency towards the trivial and an acceptance of the absurd. I was once told that being critical of everything will only deny a person the wonders of life. I politely disagree. A great many people, I have noticed, often confuse being critical with being cynical. To be critical is to be driven towards the truth, to the refinement of thought, to a clearer understanding of the world. Cynicism is a shying away from engagement, it is the poison of curiosity and founded on a closed-mindset. Any writer, or reader, would do well to consider these words from Christopher Hitchens:
Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.
I write because I’m compelled to do so, and I would wager that most writers follow a similar compulsion. To communicate, to connect, to inform, to educate, to entertain, to let the world know I lived. That I didn’t follow the crowd. That I thought for myself and was able to share those thoughts with others.