26 September 2008


Ezra Klein observes that Sarah Palin has become a doubleplus ungood duckspeaker.
These aren't lies she's telling. It's not misdirection, or deception. It's just nonsense. It exists in a realm beyond where truth is a relevant concept, more akin to the utterances of sleeptalkers than to the prevarications of politicians. I always figured that Palin's trouble on the trail would come when she was exposed to the obscure questions of governance: Queries on drug policy and Afghani tribes and Medicare reimbursement. But instead, she's collapsing on the big questions, the issues that she should be able to dispatch with a memorized soundbite. What's going on?
From the appendix to Orwell's 1984, “The Principles of Newspeak:”
The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness. For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument ....

Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning “to quack like a duck”. Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.


Kate said...

I had not seen this before but she is scary on a level I had not even considered.

Anonymous said...

Even George Will finds her scary.