The Albion Beatnik Bookstore website (or how a bookshop can change a light bulb)

The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: is randomly decrepid and is neo-bankrupt: is so analogue it's anal.

Orwell & Top Cat

GEORGE ORWELL is the twentieth century Shakespeare, for so much of his writing has strayed into common parlance. Orwellian is a control of policy by a Liquorice Allsorts of disagreeable stuff (the best Allsort is the gooey one with Lilliputian aniseed balls on its outside), but is also Orwell’s eponymous adjective in the Oxford English Dictionary. To be in the O.E.D. is far more impressive an accolade than becoming a coconut shy in Poet’s Corner or winning the Nobel Prize (these days you’ve only got to sing Kumbaya My Lord with attitude, smoke weed and blow through a mouthorgan like a cacophonous cyclone to get that).

Yet more words from Orwell: newspeak, doublethink, thought police, prolefeed, Big Bruv.

JtheBIn Nineteen Eighty-four Orwell described a totalitarian government that controlled thought by controlling language, supremacy via syntax. So he was a John the Baptist like figure who, it might be argued, forewarned of the political correctness that today infects our public discourse. P.C. has its own pervasive, soundbite-fuelled gendarmerie which whips anyone who dares to step out of line: it is the hushing of dissent, and it is all but impossible to voice concern on so many issues, let alone question them. As Orwell’s literary manifestation had a vocabulary that “grew smaller instead of larger every year,” so too there is a tendency to distil (thereby dismiss) critical thinking of the mainstream into single words or phrases: archaic thinking, climate change denial, so on. Not surprising then that Brexit came up on the inside rails and caught everyone unaware.

TCIt’s all in Top Cat (T.C., or Boss Cat), the cartoon equivalent of Orwell (Anais Nin had, coincidentally, served as a part-time scriptwriter on the Phil Silvers Show, Sgt Bilko being the inspiration for Top Cat). Politically correct local beat cop Officer Charlie Dibble is on Top Cat’s case at all times and wants him to clean up his alley (and leave his police telephone alone). Top Cat, with intellectual giant Benny the Ball and other alley cats, is always one scam ahead of the prescriptive law, and his tenacity and his disrespect for what he’s told to do allows him to remain a free cat. The world might benefit if we allow for Top Cat, for dissent, for debate, for an alternative view.

All it is: somebody challenged me not to mention Bob Dylan, but to mention both aniseed and Anais Nin, also P.C. and T.C., and to lie once (all easy-peasy), but not to write bullshit (that bit really difficult).

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