Day 611: Swell in Orwell

The route from Mount Tabor to Orwell, Vermont, the Mind’s Eye group’s next destination, passed near Bomoseen State Park, a recreation area surrounding the largest lake that is entirely within the borders of Vermont. After canoeing on Bomoseen Lake, the group headed on to Mount Independence State Historic Site. Located on the shores of Lake Ticonderoga, it was a major stronghold of the rebelling colonists during the Revolutionary War.

Mention “Orwell,” and most people think of George Orwell, the pen name of British author Eric Blair, who is best known for his books Animal Farm and 1984. He was a staunch opponent of totalitarian governments—either right or left—and the propaganda techniques that keep them in power, including the corruption of language. He coined the words “doublethink” and “newspeak.” The former is defined as, “the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct,” and the latter means, “deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public.”

But historians believe that when the town was chartered in 1763 it was named after one Francis Vernon, a minor Irish politician whose title was Baron Orwell. Despite the town’s having no known connection to George Orwell, there is ample evidence that most of the residents of the Village of Orwell think for themselves. After a nineteenth century threshing accident that killed several of the town’s young men, the town passed a law banning the use of “modern farm machinery of all kinds.” It remains in force today. The village has also staunchly defended itself against fast-food franchises. However, at happy hour, Laetitia heard about at least one town resident who found independent thinking challenging. Before going off to join her group for dinner, she turned the story into the limerick of the day.

There was a young man from Orwell
Who with “Victory Gin” plied his Nell
And lied to his niece
When he said, “war is peace”
For he thought that newspeak is quite swell.

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