Monday Aphorism: 1984

The meanings and concepts of our being in the world reduced by language; reduced to a language in which opposites proclaim each other’s territories: War is Peace, and Peace is War, and so it is in the actuality of 1984.

1984 – the novel; 1984 – the year of our being; appear so different.

1984 – the novel, dark, brooding, each day rewritten, revised so there is no longer any sense of tomorrow. Each next moment is promised, then stolen. Time is guaranteed, robbed, promised…a theoretical exercise in “Doublethink.” The concept of time, of history reduced is going, going…gone

1984 – today, this weekend; our experience, not Orwell’s imagination.  Yet here we are pondering what he said, wondering what was warning; what was prophecy. What is this time, 1984, the year of our being, here together? The wars, vague; the blanket upon our lives the darkness and dystopia of nuclear holocaust that each next moment does not rewrite the last moments, but that Life itself may disappear and all our concepts flow down some Divine drain: opposites, metaphors, histories, ironies, concepts, words, gone; all gone.

1984 – the novel, warned us that we would not recognize 1984, the year of our being, for what it would be, and what it is.

1984 – our being cast into a deepening quest and search for meaning, not that words and history reduce, revise, but that the concept of existence is cast in deepening doubt.

  • Karl Rogers

    Your comments in the aphorism are even more apposite when we take into account that Orwell wrote 1984 as a satire on the year 1948.

    It is worth pointing out that when people consider “the state of affairs” of contemporary society to refute 1984 — that is to say: refute it as a 1984-as-prediction — they often forget how Orwell described the relationship between the Party and the proles in the book. Most of the population is comprised of “the proles”, who are largely left to indulge in alcohol, television, and sex, while the totalitarian measures are reserved for Party members. “The proles” remain a disparate, incoherent, unconscious, and impotent mass; apathetically supportive of the status quo and readily manipulated by media control techniques. Then we can see 1984-as-description is as applicable to modern corporate “capitalist” society as it was to post-stalinist “socialist” societies.

    The actual structures and form of totalitarianism are irrelevant, unless we insist on taking 1984-as-prediction literally, but, instead, if we focus on Orwell’s analysis of the nature of power then we can see how 1984-as-description is a satirical metaphor for the nature of power within modern society, wherein power is irrationally/insanely considered to be a good-in-itself; wherein the vision of the future is a boot smashing down on a human face forever. We need to remember the the boot smashing down on a human face works best as a repressive measure when the face is not your own, but as easily could be…. if you do not conform and become one of “them”. The moral of Room 101: “do it to her, not me.”

    A metaphor that is as revealling of the tendencies within contemporary society — wherein power is channelled through the perpetual war economy and increasingly consolidated media control — as it was of the society of 1948.

    But the most totalitarian aspect of this “Western” mass consumer based “democratic” society — perhaps best expressed by the vision of itself as “the end of history” — is how “unthinkable” any alternative has become, and how little any alternative is tolerated. Such a society, secured only by the mass acceptance of it being the only “real world” possibilty, secured upon phony pragmatism (= lack of any imagination), is increasingly dominated by the “needs” of vigilantly suppressing possible alternatives, and, hence, such a society become hollow, inherently nihilistic, as the means-to-becoming-itself: without vision, without purpose, without value.

    Such “a society” is destined to collapse — it is inherently unstable and unsustainable — but: what follows? No “alternative society” is fated, written in the stars, or a necessary consequence of “history”. The future could well be one of collapse, endless war, environmental disintegration, and a return of barbarity.

    Unless… we turn towards our imagination, our creativity, our freedom, and envision alternative societies, to become realised in our practices and lives, as if our lives depended on it.