Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Dying Metaphors

Empathy for Writers & George Orwell’s Experiment

I was born in 1946.

That was also the year George Orwell published his essay, Politics and the English Language.

In that essay he exposes a “catalogue of swindles and perversions” that writers were using:

Staleness of imagery

Lack of precision

Dying metaphors

Operators or verbal false limbs

Pretentious diction

Meaningless words

But, George also conducted an experiment that increased his empathy—helping his own writing

I found the etymology of empathy particularly interesting:

“1903, from German Einfühlung (from ein ‘in’ + Fühlung ‘feeling’), coined 1858 by German philosopher Rudolf Lotze (1817-1881) as a translation of Greek empatheia ‘passion, state of emotion’, from en ‘in’ + pathos ‘feeling’.”

And, it’s last sentence is even more interesting:

“A term from a theory of art appreciation that maintains appreciation depends on the viewer’s ability to project his personality into the viewed object.”

So, if you read Orwell’s essay, you’ll certainly pick up a few tips to improve your writing.

And, if you watch this video, you’ll find out about his Empathy Experiment :-)

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