Deakin University

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Death and Defying

posted on 2021-10-01, 00:00 authored by Antonia PontAntonia Pont
Death and Defying





38 - 42



Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.





Research statement

In ‘Politics and the English Language’ Orwell (2002) states: ‘But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.’ This observation notes that the habits of speech, and imitation of current conventions in speaking practice, have the capacity to influence the ways we think, and thus conceptions of reality, of justice, & of our relations to one another. Orwell’s contemporary, Huxley, notes in the Preface of his Collected Essays (1959), ‘The most richly satisfying essays are those which make the best not of ... all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist.’ These are: a factual (concrete particular), a universal/abstract & autobiographical. This essay tests Huxley’s & Orwell’s dual claims, taking a factual and contemporary expression that has become ubiquitous (“reach out”) and querying it in relation to two autobiographical deaths (the author’s father/young pet), with an abstract questioning of ways we care as a society & how different expressions mask, dilute, undermine or enable that. The essay muses on how condolences are offered, the usefulness of various kinds of defiance (playing on the expression ‘death defying’) & creates a narrative spine for the essay that follows two deaths, one expected (human) and the other sudden (non-human). The essay intervenes on the impact of fashionable expressions which bear on professional and personal lives, and the current slide between these realms. The work continues thought on practices that I've explored in other creative nonfiction works and speaking-as-habit that can be acquired only then to ‘run’ the person with the habit, beyond conscious decision & ethical commitments. The work disseminates ideas from A Philosophy of Practising (2021) Huxley, A. 1959 Collected Essays, New York: Harper. Orwell, G. 2002 ‘Politics and the English Language in Literary Cavalcade Feb, Vol54, Iss5

Publication classification

JO4 Original Creative Works – Other

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