I admire and generally enjoy reading Richard Posner’s books, but he has one habit that bugs me. Reading along in Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, I come to a bit about Orwell:
Orwell was one of the twentieth century’s preeminent public intellectuals, as Dickens was of the nineteenth. Orwell was not an academic intellectual. He was not even a university graduate. But these deficits (which he shared with Dickens) may well have been assets in his career as a public intellectual. Yet I shall argue that the public-intellectual aspect of Orwell’s greatest novel, political satire though it is, is not necessarily the most interesting.
Of course, I’m intrigued. What, then, was the most interesting aspect of his greatest novel? After this somewhat suprising statement, I’m ready for, “Rather, the most interesting aspect was…”
But Posner doesn’t complete the thought. That’s coming later, apparently. Of course, much like every child on Christmas Eve I want it now. At least a hint. I mean, why hold back? If it’s worth more than a sentence, tell me now and then tell me again later, with more details or analysis or examples. I’m more likely to remember it that way. As written, this paragraph is playing, “I’ve got a secret” or “Wait until your father gets home.” Just fucking tell me now you Moby Dick-wad.