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ORWELL MATTERS, “A Little Poem” and … “Power is not a means. It’s an end.”

George Orwell (1903-1950), BBC Photograph in the public domain an curtesy of Penguin Books, India
George Orwell (1903-1950), BBC Photograph in the public domain, curtesy of Penguin Books, India

A LITTLE POEM

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.

All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.

But girl’s bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.

It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them:
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.

I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;

And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn’t born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

– George Orwell


POWER IS NOT A MEANS. IT’S AN END.

The current state of affairs has many pulling 1984 and Animal Farm off their bookshelves, dusting them off and reading them again, probably for the first time since school days.

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.” George Orwell, 1984


51fgdfc5bl-_sx315_bo1204203200_Eric Arthur Blair (pen name George Orwell) “was born in 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, in the then British colony of India, where his father, Richard, worked for the Opium Department of the Civil Service. His mother, Ida, brought him to England at the age of one. He did not see his father again until 1907, when Richard visited England for three months before leaving again until 1912. Eric had an older sister named Marjorie and a younger sister named Avril. With his characteristic humour, he would later describe his family’s background as “lower-upper-middle class.” MORE

The U.S. Library of Congress Launches New Software to Simplify the Downloading of Braille and Audio Reading Material

Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building
Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building

41drgudqojl-_sx365_bo1204203200_I the Library of Congress. For those of us who are writers, readers and researchers, there is nothing that quite compares to the depth and breadth of services and materials that are available and becoming increasingly accessible from the U.S. Library of Congress. Of recent note is a new software system – launched on January 4th –  to enhance the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). The enhanced service uses the BARD Express, software donated to the library by a developer whose wife and son use the National Library Service (NLS, part of the Library of Congress) BARD service.

NLS is a freely available to U.S. residents and citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical disability makes it difficult to read regular print. Local cooperating libraries throughout the United States mail NLS talking books, magazines, and playback equipment directly to enrollees at no cost. Braille books and magazines are also available at no cost. Braille and talking books and magazines also may be downloaded from the Internet through the BARD Express.

 photograph of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson building The Great Hall interior
photograph of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson building
The Great Hall interior

The BARD Express, a Windows-based software program, aids in the use of the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service. The free software is available for download from a link on the BARD main page. If you are a patron of the NLS program and a current BARD user, log in at nlsbard.loc.gov. You must register and the application instructions are HERE. The application is intended for use by partrons or institutions in good standing with the NLS.

“BARD Express will make browsing BARD audio materials, downloading titles and transferring them to a cartridge or USB drive much easier for patrons using a PC.” said Karen Keninger, NLS director. “We hope it will make the thousands of books available on BARD readily accessible to more patrons.”

BARD Express manages audio materials that users download to their computers and categorizes the materials as books, magazines, read items and unread items for easy sorting. The program also simplifies downloading and transferring talking books to a cartridge or USB drive by providing a button that unzips and transfers the files to an external storage device. It also provides device-management options from the main menu.

Don Olson, BARD operations manager at NLS, said “BARD Express enables NLS patrons to more easily unzip the books they download from BARD. Gone are the days of having to carry out multiple file-management steps in order to place a book or magazine on an NLS cartridge or a USB drive.”

The BARD Express software provides step-by-step menus to more easily move books from a PC to a patron’s device of choice. The program also simplifies searching for titles on BARD by presenting a range of search-and-browse options from the main menu, such as search by series, search by keyword, browse the recently added and most popular lists, and browse the magazine collection.

The NLS will release the software, along with support resources—such as a BARD Express “how-to” video series, frequently-asked-questions about BARD Express and a getting-started guide to supporting library staff in the network of cooperating libraries.

Kirk Saathoff, the software developer who donated the software, said, “For years, I watched my wife sometimes become a bit annoyed with her computer, and I know software is designed without regard for people with disabilities. My hope in developing this software was that it would allow more people to enjoy books while minimizing the time and frustration involved in accessing them.”

U.S. Library of Congress, Packard Campus (Culpeper, Virginia)
U.S. Library of Congress, Packard Campus (Culpeper, Virginia) for audio-visual conservation

For more information, visit loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead/ or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building
The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov,. Register your creative works at copyright.gov.

Photo credits ~ Thomas Jefferson Building, Carol M. Highsmith under CC BY SA 3.0 license; the great hall interior Carol M. Highsmith and generously released into the public domain; the Packard Campus, Federal Government, public domain.


51qqbcpwhul-_sx332_bo1204203200_The WordPlay Shop offers a selection of books and tools especially selected for poets and writers … and in some cases, activists. Sales from the shop go to support the maintenance of this site.  Suggested reading this week – a read for these times – is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

LITERATURE AND FICTION oo Editor’s Picks oo Award Winners oo NY Times Best Sellers

PEN AMERICA CALLS FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO RESCIND ITS MUZZLE ON FEDERAL EMPLOYESS

pen_american_center_official_logoYesterday,Tuesday, January 24, President Trump issued orders to several federal agencies to cease all communications with Congress, the press, and the public. PEN America decried the orders.

“This action is incompatible with American democratic values of government transparency and the public’s right to know,” PEN America statement

Multiple sources inside the government have told the press that the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services, ordered employees to cease external communications, including press releases, blog and social media posts and correspondence with other public officials.

Federal employees have expressed concern that the communications blackouts will impede work, disrupt communication across branches of the government and leave the public in the dark.

“Blanket orders from the Trump Administration preventing the staffs and experts of federal agencies from communicating with the public send a chilling message that every governmental communication, no matter how routine or technical, will now be subject to a political litmus test,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America.

“Federal officials are being cut off from the American public, impairing their work and denying the American citizenry access to necessary information and understanding about the work of our federal government. These blunderbuss and draconian measures infringe upon free expression and the flow of information and ideas, imposing constraints that befit an autocracy, not American democracy. They should be rescinded immediately.” Suzanne Nossel

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. It’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Public domain illustration.

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Blown Across Timelessness, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

photo-37-1I watched it all over my friend’s dear shoulder,
that time of living while dying and celebrating ~
like a garden snake ~ the shedding of the skin,
the detritus of material man with its hungers and
wild, woody creative soul, sketching ruby-jeweled
memories in sand to be blown like a Tibetan mandala
across Timelessness . . .

while he,

lone monk,

gripped

by systems on systems of hospital wiring, billing,
approvals, and laws around funerals and burials,
estates, plans, and proposals for headstones and
the where, when, and how of a memorial service,
the left-overs of his life to be sorted, sold or stashed
or sent to the right people in the right places.

Done!

… as though there had been nothing. No one.

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

There were a number of things on my mind when I wrote this, but one was the dramatic (or so it seemed to me) juxtaposition of the sacred (first stanza) and the material (second stanza).  That juxtaposition seems particularly clear in birth and death but it is also apparent at other points of change and transition – leaving home for the first time, marriage, dealing with catastrophic illness, career or job change and so forth. When in your life was this juxtaposition most profound for you?  Tell us in poem or story; i.e., in  creative nonfiction or in a fictionalized account.  If you feel comfortable, leave the link to your piece in the comments below so I and other readers may read you work.

© 2017, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved


51qqbcpwhul-_sx332_bo1204203200_The WordPlay Shop offers a selection of books and tools especially selected for poets and writers … and in some cases, activists. Sales from the shop go to support the maintenance of this site.  Suggested reading this week – a read for these times – is the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

LITERATURE AND FICTION oo Editor’s Picks oo Award Winners oo NY Times Best Sellers