'1984' Revisited

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sun, 2018-07-01 05:54

I've added 1984 to the books I'm currently reading or, as in this case, re-reading. I'm astonished anew at how prescient it was. (Also refreshing, after Dostoevsky and Hugo, to encounter a writer who just gets on with it.) I assume everyone here is acquainted with it, so every day will just add a direct quote without commentary. This one is apposite in light of today's demonstrations by mindless leftist thugs of the kind Yawon Bwook and ARISIS tacitly endorse:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretense was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston's hatred was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against Big Brother, the Party, and the Thought Police; and at such moments his heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian of truth and sanity in a world of lies.

WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

Orwell, George. 1984


July 20

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He picked up the children's history book and looked at the portrait of Big Brother which formed its frontispiece. The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you— something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.

July 19

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He remembered how once he had been walking down a crowded street when a tremendous shout of hundreds of voices—women's voices—had burst from a side street a little way ahead. It was a great formidable cry of anger and despair, a deep loud "Oh-o-o-o-oh!" that went humming on like the reverberation of a bell.

His heart had leapt. It's started! he had thought. A riot! The proles are breaking loose at last! When he had reached the spot it was to see a mob of two or three hundred women crowding round the stalls of a street market, with faces as tragic as though they had been the doomed passengers on a sinking ship. But at this moment the general despair broke down into a multitude of individual quarrels.

It appeared that one of the stalls had been selling tin saucepans. They were wretched, flimsy things, but cooking pots of any kind were always difficult to get. Now the supply had unexpectedly given out. The successful women, bumped and jostled by the rest, were trying to make off with their saucepans while dozens of others clamored round the stall, accusing the stallkeeper of favoritism and of having more saucepans somewhere in reserve.

There was a fresh outburst of yells. Two bloated women, one of them with her hair coming down, had got hold of the same saucepan and were trying to tear it out of one another's hands. For a moment they were both tugging, and then the handle came off. Winston watched them disgustedly. And yet, just for a moment, what almost frightening power had sounded in that cry from only a few hundred throats! Why was it that they could never shout like that about anything that mattered?

July 17

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The aim of the Party was not merely to prevent men and women from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. Its real, undeclared purpose was to remove all pleasure from the sexual act. Not love so much as eroticism was the enemy, inside marriage as well as outside it. All marriages between Party members had to be approved by a committee appointed for the purpose, and— though the principle was never clearly stated— permission was always refused if the couple concerned gave the impression of being physically attracted to one another.

The only recognized purpose of marriage was to beget children for the service of the Party. Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema. This again was never put into plain words, but in an indirect way it was rubbed into every Party member from childhood onwards. There were even organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex League which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes. All children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (artsem, it was called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions. This, Winston was aware, was not meant altogether seriously, but somehow it fitted in with the general ideology of the Party. The Party was trying to kill the sex instinct, or, if it could not be killed, then to distort it and dirty it. He did not know why this was so, but it seemed natural that it should be so. And so far as the women were concerned, the Party's efforts were largely successful.

July 11

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What was slightly horrible was that from the stream of sound that poured out of his mouth, it was almost impossible to distinguish a single word. Just once Winston caught a phrase—" complete and final elimination of Goldsteinism"— jerked out very rapidly and, as it seemed, all in one piece, like a line of type cast solid. For the rest it was just a noise, a quack-quack-quacking. And yet, though you could not actually hear what the man was saying, you could not be in any doubt about its general nature. He might be denouncing Goldstein and demanding sterner measures against thought-criminals and saboteurs, he might be fulminating against the atrocities of the Eurasian army, he might be praising Big Brother or the heroes on the Malabar front— it made no difference. Whatever it was, you could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure Ingsoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man's brain that was speaking; it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

[Linz note: Orwell even foresaw modern "speech."]

July 9

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"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak," he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. "Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?"

July 8

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Winston did not know why Withers had been disgraced. Perhaps it was for corruption or incompetence. Perhaps Big Brother was merely getting rid of a too-popular subordinate. Perhaps Withers or someone close to him had been suspected of heretical tendencies. Or perhaps— what was likeliest of all— the thing had simply happened because purges and vaporizations were a necessary part of the mechanics of government. The only real clue lay in the words "refs unpersons," which indicated that Withers was already dead. You could not invariably assume this to be the case when people were arrested. Sometimes they were released and allowed to remain at liberty for as much as a year or two years before being executed. Very occasionally some person whom you had believed dead long since would make a ghostly reappearance at some public trial where he would implicate hundreds of others by his testimony before vanishing, this time forever.

July 6

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Winston hardly knew Tillotson, and had no idea what work he was employed on. People in the Records Department did not readily talk about their jobs. In the long, windowless hall, with its double row of cubicles and its endless rustle of papers and hum of voices murmuring into speakwrites, there were quite a dozen people whom Winston did not even know by name, though he daily saw them hurrying to and fro in the corridors or gesticulating in the Two Minutes Hate. He knew that in the cubicle next to him the little woman with sandy hair toiled day in, day out, simply at tracking down and deleting from the press the names of people who had been vaporized and were therefore considered never to have existed. There was a certain fitness in this, since her own husband had been vaporized a couple of years earlier. And a few cubicles away a mild, ineffectual, dreamy creature named Ampleforth, with very hairy ears and a surprising talent for juggling with rhymes and meters, was engaged in producing garbled versions—definitive texts, they were called—of poems which had become ideologically offensive but which for one reason or another were to be retained in the anthologies.

July 5

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The girl with dark hair was coming toward him across the field. With what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and flung them disdainfully aside. Her body was white and smooth, but it aroused no desire in him; indeed, he barely looked at it. What overwhelmed him in that instant was admiration for the gesture with which she had thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm. That too was a gesture belonging to the ancient time. Winston woke up with the word "Shakespeare" on his lips.

Quote for July 4

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With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror. Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy. Nearly all children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages, and yet this produced in them no tendency whatever to rebel against the discipline of the Party. On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it. The songs, the processions, the banners, the hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the yelling of slogans, the worship of Big Brother— it was all a sort of glorious game to them. All their ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak—" child hero" was the phrase generally used— had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police.

Quote for July 3

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed— would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper— the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

Ain't this the truth?!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

There is some kind of emergent property that arises when the object shifts from the individual to the mob, except it is not an addition but a subtraction. Civility is removed and rationality becomes a long forgotten memory. It is as if the higher conceptual faculty were removed and all that is left is the verbal power of a savage chanting around a fire to some mystical ethereal spirit, and the occasional sexual call towards the nearest incarnate body of interest.

Exceptionally well said, Bruno.

What we need to figure out is how to unite "mystical ethereal spirit," which has an irresistible (but not supernatural) reality about which Objectivists have long been in denial, with "higher conceptual faculty."

#Rational passion and passionate rationality!!!!

Today's quote

Lindsay Perigo's picture

She was a bold-looking girl of about twenty-seven, with thick dark hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips. Winston had disliked her from the very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was because of the atmosphere of hockey fields and cold baths and community hikes and general clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about with her. He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy.

"This one demonstration I

Jmaurone's picture

"This one demonstration I went to was quite illuminating and it has formed my concept of what all of these 'demonstrations' are all about. Individual idiots are usually quite tame when they are alone, they feel metaphysically imponent deep inside, they feel the Peter Keating void swallowing them whole. Put a large number of idiots together and you get a leftist 'demonstration', a mob."

As Nietzsche noted, "Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule."

Sounds familiar

Bruno Turner's picture

During my high school years, it was relatively common place for the leftist student group, literally called "the collective", to organize a school picket on fridays (the day all general demonstrations and strikes are made, so you get a three-day weekend).

When they first started doing it, I once decided to tag along and see what the demonstration would be like. After that one time, I would either wait for the picket to break off (after the first hour of the morning), or I would "physically remove" them so to speak from the front door and get in anyhow, boy oh boy they didn't like that at all.

This one demonstration I went to was quite illuminating and it has formed my concept of what all of these "demonstrations" are all about. Individual idiots are usually quite tame when they are alone, they feel metaphysically imponent deep inside, they feel the Peter Keating void swallowing them whole. Put a large number of idiots together and you get a leftist "demonstration", a mob.

There is some kind of emergent property that arises when the object shifts from the individual to the mob, except it is not an addition but a subtraction. Civility is removed and rationality becomes a long forgotten memory. It is as if the higher conceptual faculty were removed and all that is left is the verbal power of a savage chanting around a fire to some mystical ethereal spirit, and the occasional sexual call towards the nearest incarnate body of interest.

The mob walks through town chanting obscenities ad nauseam, the same tripe over and over again, like a dead record, the vocal cords vibrating in the same manner the legs were moving, moved by the base instictual will. By the time the "parade" is over, nobody remembers why they were there, usually a reason quite far removed from the official story the collective gives, the drooling beast behind the mayan veil adorned by their pupper masters.

The trail left behind is that of littered streets with "tags" scribbled on the walls of buildings, buds of rolled cigarettes and joints, beer bottles, and of course leftist flyers filled with high sounding leninist propaganda. The streets are not the only victims. Once the mob disperses, smaller groups of idiots quickly secure the nearby parks, where they lay on the ground in slobby hippie style, and proceed with the final inhaling of intoxicants before the school day is over, and the realization that saturday is a school day kicks back in.

All of that of course was innocent and childish compared to the much more destructive "demonstrations" that the vile likes of antifa perform. The above high schools mobs are their breeding ground, and a selection process of sorts. Only the most rotten filth takes it to the lower level. The one well described by that Orwell quote, Linzio.

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