“An atheistic literary style”

An interesting essay might be written on the possession of an atheistic literary style. There is such a thing. The mark of it is that wherever anything is named or described, such words are chosen as suggest that a thing has not got a soul in it. Thus they will not talk of love or passion, which imply a purpose or desire. They talk of the “relations” of the sexes, as if they were simply related to each other in a certain way, like a chair and a table. Thus they will not talk of the waging of war (which implies a will), but of the outbreak of war – as if it were a sort of boil. Thus they will not talk of masters paying more or less wages, which faintly suggests some moral responsibility in the masters: they will talk of the rise and fall of wages, as if the thing were automatic, like the tides of the sea. Thus they will not call progress an attempt to improve, but a tendency to improve. And thus, above all, they will not call the sympathy between oppressed nations sympathy; they will call it solidarity. For that suggests brick and coke, and clay and mud, and all the things they are fond of.

The Illustrated London News, 7 December 1912.

Published in: on February 28, 2007 at 1:26 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. The point: even if atheism is true, it’s dead; as can be gathered from the sheer deadness of atheistic prose. If atheism had a God, it would be the Dead, not the Living, God. But I submit that the great problem of our time, the great scourge of the earth we must reckon with, is euphemisms, and the heathen excel at it. If we can call masculinized women “feminists”, and the butcher of babies a “health professional”, how long until we start calling cannibals “chefs”? My opinion is that the only laws restricting free sheech should be anti-euphemism laws, and I would be happy to enforce them.


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