24.2.39.

Pretty heavy rain last night & this morning.

Found sprays of fennel, which evidently grows here. Saw very large slow-moving black & white birds, evidently of hawk tribe. Forgot to mention curious property of human shadows, noticed at Taddert. Sometimes one stands on a crag whose shadow is cast hundreds of feet below. If one stands on the edge of it, naturally one’s shadow is cast beyond that of the crag. But I notice that whereas the shadow of the rock is black & solid, that of the human body, or anything over about 50 feet, is faint & indistinct, like the shadow of a bush. At short distances this is not noticeable, but at long distances, say 200 feet & over, one seems to have almost no shadow at all. At certain distances the body as a whole has a sort of shadow, but, eg., the arm by itself none. I do not know whether this is because, relative to the rock, the human body is not opaque, or whether it is merely a question of size.

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40 Responses to 24.2.39.

  1. DBautell says:

    That is curious, fascinating, and, indeed, a question of size: That of the sun.

  2. Andy says:

    And light refraction..

  3. alex pegge says:

    Seeing the mundanities of a great C20th mind is comforting his thoughts are not so cerebral that the aspirations of a lesser mind are rendered unattainable

  4. I have experienced “pretty” rain and also “heavy” rain but never “pretty” rain and “heavy” rain together. George is so lucky with his unusual weather.
    On the spy front, George reports to M that he is being shadowed.

  5. Dan says:

    In not understanding “pretty heavy rain” as fairly heavy, or moderate or almost heavy rain, obviously Gwilym Williams does not have English as a first language or is American. “Pretty” is widely used as an adjective to modify a statement as not fully applicable, but is also intended as a depreciation or even ironic intention. Such usage is not only colloquially in the UK but in world literature that it is surprising Gwilym lacks such understanding.

  6. holden caulfield says:

    Maybe he feels like he is disappearing…or he has just discovered Xrays…

  7. I see the “human shadow” idea as a comment on the transient nature of human life. Not sure if O. had this in m mind; probably not.

  8. George Orwell is the Amazing Transparent Man!

  9. Wally says:

    @Dan, “pretty” is widely used as an adjective in America as well.

  10. zenomax says:

    Not only curious properties of human shadows, but also mention of the Hawk Tribe…! Things are beginning to coalesce now as previously parallel universes collide together.

    Fennel may be the key!

  11. andrew says:

    at great enough distance, blair’s body would have smaller angular size than the sun, and so his shadow would be progressively more blurred, an antumbra. as the shadow gets further from the light source, the penumbra eventually meets from all sides. it’s geometry, eric!

  12. David says:

    I like with Alex. When i read his journal it encourages me to write more. He was a great man but his journal was pretty dull. At least he’s not counting eggs any more.

  13. Kenny says:

    I agree with Andy–I think it’s just light diffraction (or diffusion?) through the moisture, dust, etc. in the air–as the light goes further it bumps up against things in the air (not to mention the air itself) and scatters–only in a vaccum are shadows actually distinct.
    I can’t *imagine* that it’s the distance from the sun, because even at a quite extraordinary distance like 5000 feet we’re still talking about a negligible change in in angular distance, and in any case as the surface you project a shadow onto gets further away the shadow gets larger rather than smaller.
    I find it quite remarkable that he would’ve contemplated the possibility that his body was actually translucent.
    Interestingly, this is all stuff that Stephen and Bloom think about in Ulysses (“refracts, is it?”).

  14. Holden Caulfeild says:

    Hey folks, he said opaque,not translucent,(which,either way is a pretty ODD thought,but that’s George for you)….. obviously Kenny lives in the coastal area of New South Wales,or else southern Florida…

    As for Gwilym, I vote Wales…I think he said something once about living in Wiggan..Am I mistaken…???

    I think that crag was a hell of a lot bigger than George.He needs to get back to England and brace himself up….starting to get a bit “loose”…

  15. What George needs is the experimental method. Get ten people to line up one behind the other so that the sunlight would have to shine through all ten of them. If this doesn’t make the shadow any darker, then we have established human opacity. And then if we create a large pile of humans, approximately the size of the crag, we should be able to confirm that this casts a shadow as well as a true crag.

    Ideally all the people in the pile should be called Craig.

  16. DBautell says:

    Thanks, Andrew. It was a new concept to me, and completely within the realm of thought experiment, so I couldn’t really articulate it. The only term that came to mind was “shadow attenuation,” which turns out to be a proper term … in some other context. So antumbra will do quite nicely.

    Consider, Kenny, that you are standing downhill from Mr. Orwell, within his shadow, but a long distance away, so that he covers less of _your_ sky than the sun does. This is the distance and angle that matter here. The sun shines _around_ Mr. Orwell, and onto you. The shadow is larger, because it is out of focus, and you can’t/shouldn’t look up at him any more than you should at an eclipse.
    Of course, stuff floating around in the air _will_ diffuse the light, one won’t have much of a shadow in heavy fog, for example.

    So, anyhow… yeah.

  17. Kenny says:

    DBautell–I see what you mean–you must be right. Still, why is the shadow in this picture larger than the object?

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/52/137331615_a2900605f2.jpg?v=0

    Wish I’d paid more attention in physics.

    Holden, I say translucent because Orwell says “not opaque,” which leaves either transparent or translucent, and I can’t believe he believed himself to be invisible. I do live on the Pacific Coast, so perhaps I overestimate the amount of moisture in the air.

    Isn’t there an As I Please where Orwell tries to prove to himself that the world is round? It’s either As I Please or some similar piece by him.

  18. Stephen says:

    “If one stands on the edge of it, naturally one’s shadow is cast beyond that of the crag.”

    Indeed, George, and if one stands just over the edge of it, one’s literary career will be over before one has started it.

    But seriously: fennel, hawk tribes, human shadow experiments in the high Atlas mountains. Am I the only one who is thinking drugs? I didn’t know they had peyote in Taddert but I recall he has already tried the local weed.

  19. Dave Taylor says:

    “That is curious, fascinating, and, indeed, a question of size: That of the sun”

    Ehhh – The sun is the same size whether your a rock or a person?

    “Seeing the mundanities of a great C20th mind is comforting his thoughts are not so cerebral that the aspirations of a lesser mind are rendered unattainable”

    I wouldn’t call any aspects of physics (The shadow curiosity) mundane. Things that are core to the nature of physical reality are the least mundane of puzzles, certainly less mundane than abstract concepts such as socialism as they have greater effect on our lives. Now back to some real mudanities such as beating this spreadsheet in to shape and sending my emails.

  20. No, he’s not stoned–it’s an E = mc^2 encrypted message written in the abstract expressionist dialect.
    :shock:
    It’s almost surreal when George/Eric is talking to Eric/George in this log/journal/diary with sentences such as: “I do not know whether this is because, relative to the rock, the human body is not opaque, or whether it is merely a question of size.” His eyeballs digitize the mundane, his brain translates it into a physics problem. He realizes (without realizing it) that distance from the sun is not as relevant as the distance from the reflective substrate. Since he/he does not mention the photon, it almost seems logical, as I observe the metaphysical pyrotechnics of his synapses, that such clarity of thought would overlook the relevant edges of the test subjects and the relative fuzziness factor.

    Even if I didn’t already know about photons, and a little about how they act, I wonder if I would have considered human opacity–or lack thereof–as a solution to this mystery. Nevertheless, light does shine through skin and would be a factor, however minuscule (by default, the aforementioned human body is fully clothed).

  21. Ed Webb says:

    Although slow-moving,
    Heavy with illness and heat,
    I cast vague shadows

  22. Fearless Frank says:

    Kenny: “Isn’t there an As I Please where Orwell tries to prove to himself that the world is round? It’s either As I Please or some similar piece by him.”

    It was part of a general argument that we have to take things on trust, since it’s almost impossible to prove by your own observations that (say) the world is spherical.
    (We live in an even more credulous age).
    It was an ‘As I Please,’ I think.

  23. Holden Caulfeild says:

    whew !!

    next Diary entry please!!!

  24. All kidding aside, one of my current side-projects is a radio-controlled inter-continuum stealth-drone specifically engineered to covertly deliver a nuclear-powered PDA containing the text of a Physics Textbook to Eric Blair’s bedside table. This may seem like an apocalyptic move but I beg to differ–and don’t forget: I’ve watched Metropolis a dozen times in the recent past, using The Wall as accompaniment; and therein lies my Expert credentials.

  25. …..and therein lie my Expert credentials.
    …..and therein lies my Expert credential.
    :shock:
    Multiple choice.

  26. danworth says:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7911000/7911205.stm

    Orwell would have blogged – good to see absolutely no reference of this website in there.

  27. danworth~~
    Thank you.

    Two or three years ago, he says, bloggers were considered “outrageous scribblers and scurrilous rumour-mongers”.

    Now they have become a “fact of life” in the mainstream political debate.

    Quintessential British humor; I love it.
    :shock:
    Orwell is blogging.

  28. George~~

    I like that image of you there on the BBC website. I made it my desktop background; which leads me to the following question:

    Why are you staring at me like that?

  29. Pingback: 3rdBlog from the….. » Blog Archive » Voices in the Dark…..

  30. Devilbunny says:

    @Kenny-

    The sun covers a certain area of sky; it is not a point source of light. This is roughly the width of a finger or thumb at arm’s length.

    Given a light source of size x and an object of size y, as seen from point z:

    Light source relatively smaller than object: shadow grows with distance (flashlight, hand).

    Light source same size as object: shadow same size.

    Light source larger than object: shadow shrinks.

    All of the above apply only to the projection of a shadow onto a flat surface that is perpendicular to the light ray. In the hot-air-balloon photo, the surface is most assuredly not flat – it’s a cloud. Do the flashlight-hand shadow experiment with a piece of paper that is held perpendicular to the light, then start angling it.

    Also, pictures can mislead; the photographer might be very much closer to the shadow than to the object.

  31. Steve says:

    Another, maybe even more nifty thing in the balloon photo @Kenny is the glory — the round rainbow-like brightness centered on the balloon’s gondola. I’m surprised GO/EB didn’t mention seeing one around his own shadow, because one very likely should have been visible. Maybe he was too focused on his shadow to notice it.

  32. Meanwhile, Effie Perrine takes copious notes while Wilmer Cook stands on the dock, livid, wishing his pistols had more range, as a grinning Gutman waves to him from the First Class deck of the Luxury Ship bound for England.

  33. … as Brigid O’Shaughnessy checks on her chickens. “Ya don’t say,” she breathes. “Two eggs.”

  34. George~~

    Were the black & white birds in flight when you “saw” them? What was “slow-moving?” Was it their mph? Their wing-flapping and/or walking-pace? What features of these “very large” fowl indicate hawk ancestry? And what about their shadows?

  35. When parsed against its context, the quote

    I do not know whether this is because, relative to the rock, the human body is not opaque, or whether it is merely a question of size.

    draws an Either/Or conclusion!?! I don’t think so.

    This is yet another example of a delirious Blair’s delirious hand grabbing a pencil and digressing in abstract delirium in order to draw Orwell’s attention to the profound metaphor within the shadows.

  36. Pingback: greenjournalism.co.uk » Blog Archive » Orwell Trust running ‘as live’ blog from 1939

  37. I would recommend anyone reading this blog to watch a documentary called ‘Zeitgeist’. Its available on Google videos. We are living in an Orwellian state already, and its the job of the realised to wake other people up!

  38. Pingback: Journalism and Public Relations at the University of Sunderland » Blog Archive » Orwell Trust running ‘as live’ Orwell blog… from 1939

  39. Meanwhile, “the realised” take surveys as impressions of Foeniculum vulgare spray in graceful chaos from an ancient terracotta fountain.

  40. Jake says:

    For Dan: ” . . . obviously Gwilym Williams does not have English as a first language or is American. “Pretty” is widely used as an adjective to modify . . . ”

    Umm . . . Dast I take offense? I think not. We Yanks use this expression all the time, and we’re pretty good at it. The indiscriminate use of “pretty,” however, except as it applies to a sunset, a child, male or female, or an attractive horse. is to be discouraged.

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