Read it? Hell, I’m living it.
I’m ashamed to admit that I have somehow avoided reading George Orwell’s 1984. I don’t know what happened. I guess in the formative years when I should have read it, which for me were prior to the real 1984, I always thought of the book as some kind of dystopian science fiction which has never been my cup of geek. Anyway, I ended up buying the Plume Centennial Edition last year primarily because Thomas Pynchon wrote the new foreword. So what I’m saying is, I bought the 300 page book to read the XXVI-page foreword. Kinda dumb, eh?
Not really. Here are some choice excerpts from Pynchon which make me wish he was working as a political columnist these days:
Doublethink … lies behind the names of the superministries which run things in â€”the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth tells lies, the Ministry of Love tortures and eventually kills anybody whom it deems a threat. If this seems unreasonably perverse, recall that in the present-day United States, few have any problem with a warmaking apparatus named “the Department of Defense,” any more than we have saying “Department of Justice” with a straight face, despite well-documented abuses of human and constitutional rights by its most formidable arm, the FBI. Our nominally free news media are required to present “balanced” coverage, in which every “truth” is immediately neutered by an equal and opposite one. Every day public opinion is the target of rewritten history, official amnesia, and outright lying, all of which is benevolently termed “spin,” as if it were no more harmful than a ride on a merry-go-round. We know better than what they tell us, yet hope otherwise. We believe and doubt at the same timeâ€”it seems a condition of political thought in a modern superstate to be permanently of at least two minds on most issues. Needless to say, this is of inestimable use to those in power who wish to remain there, preferably forever.
Memory is relatively easy to deal with, from the totalitarian point of view. There is always some agency like the Ministry of Truth to deny the memories of others, to rewrite the past. It has become commonplace circa 2003 for government employees to be paid more than the most of the rest of us to debase history, trivialize truth, and annihilate the past on a daily basis. Those who don’t learn from history used to have to relive it, but only until those in power could find a way to convince everybody, including themselves, that history never happened, or happened in a way best serving their own purposes- or best of all that it doesn’t really matter anyway, except as some dumbed-down TV documentary cobbled together for an hour’s entertainment.
Good stuff. I may even read the book now.