Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Big Brother 1984-2012 Pt 8

Cary G Dean.


George Orwell-1949

Winston was dreaming of his mother.

He must, he thought, have been ten or eleven years old when his mother had disappeared.

She was a tall, statuesque, rather silent woman with slow
movements and magnificent fair hair.

His father he remembered more vaguely
as dark and thin, dressed always in neat dark clothes (Winston remembered especially the very thin soles of his father’s shoes) and wearing his spectacles.

two of them must evidently have been swallowed up in one of the first great purges of the fifties.

At this moment his mother was sitting in some place deep down beneath him, with his young sister in her arms.

He did not remember his sister at all, except as a tiny, feeble baby, always silent, with large, watchful eyes.

Both of them were looking up at him.

They were down in some subterranean place — the bottom of a well, for instance, or a very deep grave — but it was a place which, already far below him, was itself moving downwards.

They were in the saloon of a sinking ship, looking up at him through the darkening water.

There was still air in the saloon, they could still see him and he them, but all the while they were sinking down, down into the green waters which in another moment must hide them from sight for ever.

He was out in the light and air while they were being sucked down to death, and they were down there because he was
up here.

He knew it and they knew it, and he could see the knowledge in their faces.

There was no reproach either in their faces or in their hearts, only the knowledge that they must die in order that he might remain alive, and that this
was part of the unavoidable order of things.

He could not remember what had happened, but he knew in his dream that in some way the lives of his mother and his sister had been sacrificed to his own.

It was one of those dreams which, while retaining the characteristic dream scenery, are a continuation of one’s intellectual life, and in which one becomes aware of facts and ideas which still seem new and valuable after one is awake.

The thing that now suddenly struck Winston was that his mother’s death, nearly thirty years ago, had been tragic and sorrowful in a way that was no longer possible.

Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.

His mother’s memory tore at his heart because she had died loving him, when he was too young and selfish to love her in return, and because somehow, he did not remember how, she had sacrificed herself to a conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable.

Such things, he saw, could not happen today.

Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows.

All this he seemed to see in the large eyes of his mother and his sister, looking up at him through the green water, hundreds of fathoms down and still sinking.

Suddenly he was standing on short springy turf, on a summer evening when the slanting rays of the sun gilded the ground.

The landscape that he was looking at recurred so often in his dreams that he was never fully certain whether or not he had seen it in the real world.

In his waking thoughts he called it the Golden Country.

It was an old, rabbit-bitten pasture, with a foot-track wandering across it and a molehill here and there.

In the ragged hedge on the opposite side of the field the boughs of the elm trees were swaying very faintly in the breeze, their leaves just stirring in dense masses like women’s hair.

Somewhere near at hand, though out of sight, there was a clear, slow-moving stream where dace were swimming in the pools under the willow trees.

The girl with dark hair was coming towards them 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.

The telescreen was giving forth an ear-splitting whistle which continued on the same note for thirty seconds.

It was nought seven fifteen, getting-up time for office workers.

Winston wrenched his body out of bed — naked, for a member of the Outer Party received only 3,000 clothing coupons annually, and a suit of pyjamas was 600 — and seized a dingy singlet and a pair of shorts that were lying across a chair.

The Physical Jerks would begin in three minutes.

The next moment he was doubled up by a violent coughing fit which nearly always attacked him soon after waking up.

It emptied his lungs so completely that he could only begin breathing again by lying on his back and taking a series of deep gasps.

His veins had swelled with the effort of the cough, and the varicose
ulcer had started itching.

’Thirty to forty group!’ yapped a piercing female voice.

’ Thirty to forty group! Take your places, please.

Thirties to forties!’

Winston sprang to attention in front of the telescreen, upon which the image of a youngish woman, scrawny but muscular, dressed in tunic and gym-shoes, had already appeared.

’Arms bending and stretching!’ she rapped out. ’Take your time by me. One, two, three, four! One, two, three, four!

Come on, comrades, put a bit of life into it! One, two, three four! One two, three, four! . . .’

The pain of the coughing fit had not quite driven out of Winston’s mind the impression made by his dream, and the rhythmic movements of the exercise restored it somewhat.

As he mechanically shot his arms back and forth, wearing on his face the look of grim enjoyment which was considered proper during the
Physical Jerks, he was struggling to think his way backward into the dim period of his early childhood.

It was extraordinarily difficult.

Beyond the late fifties everything faded.

When there were no external records that you could refer to, even the outline of your own life lost its sharpness.

You remembered huge events which had quite probably not happened, you remembered the detail of incidents without being able to recapture their atmosphere, and there were long blank periods to which you could assign nothing.

Everything had been different then.

Even the names of countries, and their shapes on the map, had been different.

Airstrip One, for instance, had not been so called in those days:

It had been called England or Britain, though London, he felt fairly certain, had always been called London.

"Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state."

—Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, 1997

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

George Orwell

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