Image for post
Image for post

From ‘Big Brother is watching you’ to ‘Big Pharma is watching you’

The celebrated novel 1984, by the committed anti-fascist George Orwell (the pseudonym of Eric Blair), is a dire warning about totalitarian government

Published in 1949, 1984 is the great modern myth of a dystopian future, of the hell of totalitarianism. Encapsulating its horrors, such terms as Big Brother, Thought Police, doublethink, thoughtcrime and Room 101, have become embedded in our culture. Imagining the ordeals of disillusioned citizen Winston Smith in a despotic world where extreme repression ensures absolute obedience, Orwell (1903–50), in this the last work he completed, had Stalinist Russia in mind. Although Orwell was a socialist, he made…


Image for post
Image for post

A review of The Corona Transmissions: Alternatives for engaging with covid-19 — from the physical to the metaphysical, edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger and Kathy Glas (Healing Arts Press, US $19.99, December 2020; UK & Ireland £16.99 / €22, March 2021).

This is a welcome collection of 35 fresh perspectives on the C19 catastrophe from voices excluded or ignored by the mainstream media — writers, poets, doctors, herbalists, First Nations teachers, economists, psychotherapists, astrologers, homeopathic physicians, yoga guides and others.

Healing Arts Press, an imprint of US publishers Inner Traditions, focuses on self-care through complementary and alternative medicine and…


Image for post
Image for post
John Keats listening to the nightingale on Hampstead Heath, by Joseph Severn, 1845.

John Keats died 200 years ago this month, on February 23, 1821, the loss lamented in the elegy Adonais published a few months later by Percy Bysshe Shelley whose own death came the following year. The remains of both famous Romantic poets lie in the same cemetery in Rome.

It took seven weeks for the devastating news of John Keats’s death, aged 25, in Rome to reach Shelley, who was then staying at Pisa. The news came in an anguished letter from Leigh Hunt, the critic, essayist and fellow poet.

Almost immediately, Shelley began work on the elegy Adonais, the…


Image for post
Image for post

Today’s heretics are not burned at the stake but marginalised, suppressed or ridiculed — even ostracised by their scientific, medical or academic communities: a metaphorical burning, if not of books then of reputations, no matter how impressive and relevant their credentials and status might be in their own fields of endeavour.

Heresy has moved from a religious to a secular context and today can be defined as a belief or opinion profoundly in conflict with what is generally accepted, whether that general acceptance is valid or not, rather than something contrary to prevailing religious doctrine.

The term is well known…


An insight into a lifelong fascination with the old stones of Britain and Ireland

Image for post
Image for post
Autumn equinox sunrise at the Dereenataggart stone circle, West Cork, Ireland. Photo: Geoff Ward

Even as a child I was attracted to, and moved by, prehistoric stone circles, standing stones, dolmens and earthworks as well as the patterns which the stars made in the night sky, although at that time, as an 11-year-old, I had no idea how earth and sky were connected at places where the earth forces were concentrated.

I have a vivid memory, for example, of, at that young age, climbing under the capstone of a dolmen in North Devon in the west of England, while on…


Image for post
Image for post

Someone long ago created a special feature in our old house to catch the rising sun on the winter solstice

As soon as we saw it, we fell in love with the quaint old farmhouse on a gently-sloping hillside overlooking Bantry Bay in the south-west of Ireland.

My wife Angie is Irish and we’d been planning to move home from the UK to Ireland for some time. We made an offer for the house, which was accepted, and we moved in during the early spring of 2011.

We loved the quirky corners and contours of our new home on the…


Two remarkable new books with visions of global upheaval and hope of renewal

Image for post
Image for post
Road to ruin?

Many now see the world poised between two futures, one characterised by competition, greed and waste of human potential, and the other by a humanely productive, just and creative reality founded on a shared concern for the well-being of everyone.

Two new books set out starkly the implications of the choices facing us: The End of the Megamachine: A brief history of a failing civilisation, by Fabian Scheidler (Zero Books, UK £19.99 / US $29.95, September 2020), and After the Apocalypse: Finding hope in organising, by Monika…


Image for post
Image for post
Are young girls and women more likely to be victims of alien abduction as a new book suggests?

Invited by the publishers to review this slender volume — Harvest: The true story of alien abduction by G L Davies (6th Books, UK £8.99 / US $16.95, October 2020) — I found it a most perplexing read, but I couldn’t resist engaging with it, as you’ll see from the length of this review.

Harvest is about a young woman from West Wales who believes she was the victim of visitation and abduction by terrifying beings with ‘inhuman designs’, namely, the cruel ‘harvesting’ of human body parts and organs.

The identity of the woman is not divulged; we know her…


Fear of crossing thresholds is central to Daphne du Maurier’s unsettling Gothic novel Rebecca, a new film version of which has just been released

Image for post
Image for post
Manderley in the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie version of ‘Rebecca’.

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ The famous opening sentence of Rebecca is pregnant with the importance and effect of the house called Manderley, the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, a best-seller which has sold millions of copies and has never been out of print.

Rebecca has been adapted numerous times for theatrical performance, but surprisingly only once as cinema: the Academy Award-winning 1940 version directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Laurence…

Geoff Ward

Writer, poet, tutor and mentor in literature and creative writing (MA and BA Hons degrees in English literature), editor, journalist and musician.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store