Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Big Brother 1984-2012 Pt 4

Cary G Dean.


George Orwell-1949

Within thirty seconds any pretence 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.

And yet the very next instant he was at one with the people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein seemed to him to be true.

At those moments his secret loathing of Big Brother changed into adoration, and Big Brother seemed to tower up, an invincible, fearless protector, standing like a rock against the hordes of Asia, and Goldstein, in spite of his isolation, his helplessness, and the doubt that hung about his very existence, seemed like some sinister enchanter, capable by the mere power of his voice of wrecking the structure of civilization.

It was even possible, at moments, to switch one's hatred this way or that by a voluntary act.

Suddenly, by the sort of violent effort with which one wrenches one's head away from the pillow in a nightmare, Winston succeeded in transferring his hatred from the face on the screen to the dark-haired girl behind

Vivid, beautiful hallucinations flashed through his mind.

He would flog her to death with a rubber truncheon. He would tie her naked to a stake and shoot her full of arrows like Saint Sebastian. He would ravish her and cut her throat at the moment of climax.

Better than before, moreover, he realized why it was that he hated her.

He hated her because she was young and pretty and sexless, because he wanted to go to bed with her and would never do so, because round her sweet supple waist, which seemed to ask you to encircle it with your arm, there was only the odious scarlet sash, aggressive symbol of chastity.

The Hate rose to its climax.

The voice of Goldstein had become an actual sheep's bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep.

Then the sheep-face melted into the figure of a Eurasian soldier who seemed to be advancing, huge and terrible, his sub-machine gun roaring, and seeming to spring out of the surface of the screen, so that some of the people in the front row actually flinched backwards in their seats.

But in the same moment, drawing a deep sigh of relief from everybody, the hostile figure melted into the face of Big Brother, black-haired, black-moustachio'd, full of power and mysterious calm, and so vast that it almost filled up the screen.

Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying.

It was merely a few words of encouragement, the sort of words that are uttered in the din of battle, not distinguishable individually but restoring confidence by the fact of being spoken.

Then the face of Big Brother faded away again,

And instead the three slogans of the

Party stood out in bold capitals:


But the face of Big Brother seemed to persist for several seconds on the screen, as though the impact that it had made on everyone's eyeballs was too vivid to wear off immediately.

The little sandy-haired woman had flung herself forward over the back of the chair in front of her.

With a tremulous murmur that sounded like My Saviour! she extended her arms towards the screen.

Then she buried her face in her hands. It was apparent that she was uttering a prayer.

At this moment the entire group of people broke into a deep, slow, rhythmical chant of "B-B - B-B!" - over and over again, very slowly, with a long pause between the first 'B' and the second.

A heavy, murmurous sound, somehow
curiously savage, in the background of which one seemed to hear the stamp of naked feet and the throbbing of tom-toms.

For perhaps as much as thirty seconds they kept it up. It was a refrain that was often heard in moments of overwhelming emotion.

Partly it was a sort of hymn to the wisdom and majesty of Big Brother, but still more it was an act of self-hypnosis, a deliberate drowning of consciousness by means of rhythmic noise.

Winston’s entrails seemed to grow cold.

In the Two Minutes Hate he could not help sharing in the general delirium, but this sub-human chanting of 'B-B! - B-B!' always filled him with horror.

Of course he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise.

To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing,was an instinctive reaction.

But there was a space of a couple of seconds

during which the expression of his eyes might conceivably have betrayed him.

And it was exactly at this moment that the significant thing happened
indeed, it did happen.

Momentarily he caught O'Brien’s eye. O'Brien had stood up. He had taken off his spectacles and was in the act of resettling them on his nose with his characteristic gesture.

But there was a fraction of a second when their eyes met, and for as long as it took to happen Winston knew - yes, he knew! - that O'Brien was thinking the same thing as himself.

An unmistakable message had passed.

It was as though their two minds had opened and the thoughts were flowing from one into the other through their eyes.

'I am with you,' O'Brien seemed to be saying to him.

'I know precisely what you are feeling. I know all about your contempt, your hatred, your disgust. But don't worry, I am on your side!' And then the flash of intelligence was gone, and O'Brien's face was as inscrutable as everybody else's.

That was all, and he was already uncertain whether it had happened.

Such incidents never had any sequel.

All that they did was to keep alive in him the belief, or hope, that others besides himself were the enemies of the Party.

Perhaps the rumours of vast underground conspiracies were true after all - perhaps the Brotherhood really existed!

It was impossible, in spite of the endless arrests and confessions and executions, to be sure that the Brotherhood was not simply a myth.

Some days he believed in it, some days not.

There was no evidence, only fleeting glimpses that might mean anything or nothing:

Snatches of overheard conversation, faint scribbles on lavatory walls - once, even, when two strangers met, a small movement of the hand which had looked as though it might be a signal of recognition.

It was all guesswork:

Very likely he had imagined everything.

He had gone back to his cubicle without looking at O'Brien again. The idea of following up their momentary contact hardly crossed his mind.

It would have been inconceivably dangerous even if he had known how to set about doing it.

For a second, two seconds, they had exchanged an equivocal glance, and that was the end of the story.

But even that was a memorable event, in the locked loneliness in which one had to live.

About the Author:
"During times of universal deceit,
telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
George Orwell

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