Peter wonders how John P. and I (and other Corner readers) seemingly know so much esoterica. Simple: I don’t watch television, unless I am on Uncommon Knowledge (heh). More to the point, everyone should own the four-volume “Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell,” recently reissued in paperback by Godine Books. I make a point of reading through these in the evening every few years. You find a lot of great passages that aren’t as easily quotable as “smelly little orthodoxies,” but worth keeping around for inspiration. Like: “In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow.” (From “The Lion and the Unicorn,” 1941.) Today one might say that our Blue State intelligentsia take both their cookery and their opinions from Paris.
In the same essay, Orwell writes that Stanley Baldwin (Britain’s Jimmy Carter) “was simply a hole in the air. . . What was it that at every decisive moment made every British statesman do the wrong thing with so unerring an instinct?”