Tuesday, 18 February 2014

44. Five Percent

"If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself."
 - George Orwell

Reading George Orwell's 1946 essay, "Why I Write", has made me completely rethink my approach not only towards this project but to writing as a whole. I now find that 95 percent of words used are fillers, and only around five percent of words per post on average carry the argument. "[The] invasion of one's mind", says Orwell "by ready-made phrases...can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one's brain." Between days two ("Autopilot") and 44 (this post), I have forgotten the very arguments that I set out for you all to read:

"That's one of the main reasons for this project. I think that everyone's greatest fear in life should be the fear of becoming stagnant. How can we grow and develop as humans if we allow ourselves to perform the same tasks, be surrounded by the same people, see the same sights, consume the same level of information on a day to day basis? We need to be shaken up, made uncomfortable, forced to flick the autopilot switch to the function labelled 'OFF' instead of 'ON'. Of course, this is much easier said than done. But all it takes is a small level of commitment and an active mindset. It's a constant, not an event. So even if nobody reads this or the 363 posts to come (but I'd be really upset if that was actually the case, guys), I know that for at least half an hour of every day I will have set myself to 'ON' and had to, you know, think about something."

"Autopilot" itself houses useless decoration. Here is the same excerpt, condensed:

"We cannot develop if we are monotonous. We must challenge ourselves to become more engaged. In starting this project, I hope to stimulate my mind."

Orwell finally explains that the key to clear expression is "to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about." That said, I hope that subsequent posts will feature 95 percent of deliberate prose and five percent of embellishment - not the other way about.


  1. Orwell makes a valid point and less is more indeed, however I feel it depends on the message or view being expressed. Some views might require more to really stimulate the mind.

    1. More content perhaps - I agree. But more unnecessary words? I don't think so. Orwell's message is that too many words often cloud the key message, which in turn dulls the minds instead of stimulating it. That said, I'm not too sure that I agree with you.