Imagine a foo barring a baz — for ever.

There have been a fair handful of references by Metafilter users over the years to this Orwell quote, from his novel 1984:

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face — forever.”

Some of those references have been direct quotes, with or without irony; others have been less faithful to George. For example: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a dachsund loading a tennis ball launcher — forever.”

It has been quoted straight by mefites in reference to:

the US gov’t spidering the web
torture by US soldiers
Raytheon’s pain-ray gun
Iraq vet mistreatment
The television show Big Brother
Habeas Corpus

The more creative reinterpretations of the phrase include, aside from the dachsund line above, these:

– imagine a clown kicking you in the nuts — forever.
– imagine a taser being used on anyone who makes a fuss — forever.
– imagine a shoe tapping on a bathroom floor – forever
– imagine a llama spitting on a human face—forever!
– imagine innovative marketing stamping on a human face—forever.
– “imagine a Cole Haan stamping on a human face – forever.” –Young Republican Intern.
– imagine a biodegradable, vegan, pleather stilletto boot stomping on a human face forever

There are also more allusive bits here and there, bringing out one bit or another of the phrase without bothering with the whole quote:

– “There’s that saying about a boot repeatedly stomping on a face, forever”
– “Talk about a boot stomping on a human face, forever.”
– “ Boot stomping on human face forever, etc. etc.”
– “(a boot stomping a face)”
– “a nice picture of a boot stomping a human face?”
– “Metafilter: a boot stomping on a human face — forever.”

And even, like some rug tying this Orwello-canine room together, “Imagine a little dachshund going around in circles in a wading pool forever”.

These are what I could glean from some searching on metafilter alone; I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be culled from some general googling, but this is proof at least of some of the snowclone-ish flexibility of Orwell’s stark caricature.

Author: Josh Millard

I manage and help moderate the community website MetaFilter, where I go by "cortex"; in my spare time I get up to all sorts of creative nerdery on the internet and in Portland, Oregon.

3 thoughts on “Imagine a foo barring a baz — for ever.”

  1. The end of “Good Omens”:

    If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boy and his dog and his friends. And a summer that never ends.

    And if you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot… no, imagine a sneaker, laces trailing, kicking a pebble; imagine a stick, to poke at interesting things, and throw for a dog that may or may not decide to retrieve it; imagine a tuneless whistle, pounding some luckless popular tune into insensibility; imagine a figure, half angel, half devil, all human…

    Slouching hopefully towards Tadfield…


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