Monday Aphorism: 1985

The dedication of 1984 to Orwell’s dystopic vision, the commitment to a kind of paranoia of the spirit, to observing all the world’s deliberations from the bleakness of the Ministry of Truth, the prophecy that we would not see 1984 for what it is in totalitarian terms…this dedication must yield.

1985, a new beginning, an awakening. Perhaps the trick is to take the feelings which I called depressed, which moved me to a wariness just outside of skepticism fed by a cynical stoicism acrobatically toughened, and turn them into some sense of can-do; into an energy which drives itself…on, forward…

Nor to deny Orwell, but to rotate and translate his vision into the time of all of time from the perspectives of now, of then, of once-upon-a-time and always will.

The feelings, self-justifying, the bad conscience of our age, need to be grasped for the power they possess to push, and turn to…

What, now is the question I pose, the query I wish almost to dodge in its doing?

1985, it has arrived; almost in spite of itself, a prophecy well-served, a wish to avoid the rebound which 1984 mirrors in its bouncing.

and “move on out”…

  • What can each generation learn? All the traps of prior generations, and the fact that these traps are always there for a person and a people in any place, and in any time. How to be engaged with life, with society, to maintain and advance justice and freedom– in sustainable ways? I keep thinking of this broadly applicable Buddhist adage:

    “Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Take heed. Do not squander your life.”

    With guidance from an experienced teacher, and with my self as teacher to my self, it seems the way forward is somewhere along these lines. The trick is finding the balance in all the doings of day to day life between what to trust in what seems okay (not a trap) versus what seems like a potential problem (yet another trap in life)… how does one know they have a realistic view about these distinctions and isn’t numbly fooling oneself or stuck drawing from a dry well?

  • Dan,
    Such central – to life – questions and not so many easy answers, or responses. I think each and every life and time can be very “open” to change, to new ideas and possibilities.
    But this is never simple or easy: sometimes in each of our lives, change seems obvious or necessary, possible or not very. My book, “Next Places” is a collection of meditations on where we/I might like to go next, in our lives. Change is “always” possible – but how to go about it, thinking, doing, reflecting is never very obvious…so meditations, reflections upon one’s history, who one (tells oneself he or she) is – and begins to open to a yet unimagined future.
    As a teacher or dialogue, I attempt to “touch” or to “inspire” the idea of the future in which each student can continue to change and “grow,” toward an ever growing life. I ask my students to write a “contract” with their futures, attempting to get them to begin to think about knowledge, themselves, the world as ever expanding, growing. Just to open, to grant them to grant themselves, change. (And, I effectively grant myself similar possibilities.)
    What’s realistic about balance, change,…another long story, in which I try to gather the ideas of the pasts of the different people(s), thinkers, inspirers, much for what they thought, more for how they might think about the coming times – especially in a global world. Note how Buddha is “useful” in our own developments – next Confucius, Amerindian thought. As the former “boundaries” of the world are changing, then the very meanings of the coming times, the future seems increasingly “open.” For the world, for myself.
    How to help to teach, to inspire, a developing sense for a meaningful life?

  • Karl Rogers


    Yes, we must move towards a new beginning, an awakening. In a very real sense, you are right, the dedication of 1984 to the paranoia of the spirit must yield to 1985, a time for a new vision, a new hope….

    But, totalitarianism, although indeed a state of mind, a psychological condition of social autism, is not a passive force. It will not yield easily. It seeks and demands its own absolute right to conquest, to victory, to be alone in its mastery of the Earth.

    Before we can embark upon the Turning Away, the creation and realisation of our new visions, as the acts of everyday life, for ourselves, for each other, for the future, we need to confront totalitarianism with a definitive “No!”, a refusal to yield to it.

    This Great Refusal is the mass negation of 1984, the clearing away of a space for a new beginning, upon which the Turning Away becomes a great creative movement of transforming our newly envisioned potential into our actuality, our reality, our lives.

    Like Janus, we need to gaze upon 1984, with disgust at its dystopian vision, its nihilism, its boot stamping on a human face forever simply because it can, as we also gaze upon 1985.

    For the sake of our noble and romantic spirits, or whatever remains of them, our revulsion should give us wings over our disgust, bringing the sense of relief, celebration, and new flight to the first dawn of 1985.

  • Karl,
    Yes, 1985 – a (new) awakening. Time to move…forward.

    But to scream at one another – a new dialectic? Is it destined to frame a new context/contest between totalitarian twitterers? Or can we imagine and pursue a new next time?

    My analysis and understanding of the times we are in – money, globality, 1984gone, is that the questions of and about the future are in…deep question.

    My book, “Nietzsche’s Prophecy: the Crisis in Meaning” attempts to address these times of great change…changing.

    Where are we? Everyone together, all our histories thrown together on a new heap of media-directed (lack of) experience – seems to leave us often breathless, running in marathons lacking boundaries; histories joining other histories just as the boundaries of nations and ideologies soften to undo all our histories and leave us…where?

    1985: new opportunities to help us to inspire our futures, to help create a sense and possibility of growing meaningful lives…without the seeming necessity to flail at Histories in order to ensure our senses of being in…the present…1985.

    Here we are: whence our “Next Places,” growing and expanding more than trying to guarantee that 1985 is…truly.


  • Karl Rogers


    I agree with you. We should move on to “next places” and a “new next time”. Yes!

    But it seems that sometimes you talk as if “we” liive in world with a universal “everyone”, “our”, or “us”. If only that were true. But we live in a world where not everyone can participate in creating and realising visions for the future. A crucial step towards genuinely envisioning a better world is the recognition that many people are prevented from having any voice or any vision at all. Indeed, screaming or twittering will not help such people, but, we should at least recognise that their silence is not of their own doing. They have hands over their mouths and guns to their heads. In a world where over 1 billion people are literally starving to death, while another billion live in absolute poverty, without even clean water. and billions live in a state describable as economic slavery, in a world torn apart by war and crime, which is facing widespread ecological disintegration and collapse, we can see the necessity of change, but we must also see the forces working against change.

    Yes, I agree wholeheartly with you that we need to come together and embrace change, thoughfully and openly. No disagreement from me about this. But, as part of this, it is important to identify and oppose those real powers in this world that exist to prevent any coming together and embrace of change. We need to be conscious of the fact that there exist active and violent forces directed systematically to preventing any change that threatens the status quo, that threatens the privileges of a very powerful minority, which work, tirelessly, to control education, media, politics, economics, and scientific research, all in accordance with their own vision of the future they wish to build.

    Totalitarianism is not the product of paranoia or flailing at history — it is not a vogue of dystopian thinking. It is the real product of violence, inflicted by some people on other people, to preserve the privileges of one group of people over another. It is the ideology of enslavement of all people to one world vision wherein everyone works to preserve the same system that benefits some at the expense of others. It is the active oppression of thinking differently that is a real tendency, active within much of current political, social, and economic thinking.

    Totalitarianism is the real tendency to control who is allowed to live a meaningful life and what constitutes a meaningful life.

    Indeed 1984 is a stark vision, one which we would do well to overcome and move forward into 1985, but it is a vision of a real tendency in this world. Hence, like Janus, we need to gaze forward and backward. When envisioning 1985, we must consciously envision it as a negation of, in opposition to, 1984.

    In that way, there is the genuine possibility that new opportunities to help “us” to inspire “our” futures will include all of us and they will be in fact all our futures.

    Happy New Year!


  • Karl,

    Actually, I agree with you…mostly.

    But I do want us to underline the idea that very large change might be occurring, lest we don’t permit ourselves to see and act upon it. As a teacher, I hope to help inspire the future of my students – to be able both to see what there is, and also to imagine and act upon what might be…if only I/we rethink the world which we would/should make and share.

    Globalism – ideas coming together from great and ancient and enduring thinkers. Will they endure, translate, find spaces in which we can imagine life in the contexts of theories of wisdom shaping our longest lives and yearnings? Boundaries may/will weaken, be reshaped – politics, economics and global warming now have no boundaries, no or new histories redeveloped in and by the next generations?

    1985: a new moment, a time to rethink, redo – just as we try to deal with powers which are and will most likely continue if not become more frantic. Human desires? – power, money – can we help to create the ideas and practice of meaningful lives which can inspire the lives of…all?

    Happy New Year!


  • Karl Rogers


    Likewise, I agree with you… mostly.

    I do accept (and hope) that a very large change might be occuring, which, as you rightly point out, we need to prepare ourselves to see it and act upon it. I also agree that part of this preparation actually can bring about change too, as well rethink the world and how we relate to each other.

    Indeed, it is vital to inspire students to rethink what the world is and how it might be.

    I also think that bringing all the ideas we can together, from great and ancient and enduring thinkers, is vital. We also need to include the ideas from our neighbours, from ourselves, to imaginatively, creatively reshape the horizons of our thinking and how we imagine the future.

    It is perhaps an alchemical moment in human history — a threshold on the point of the evolution of a new path of human development and growth. Anything is possible and we need to understand things as broadly and openly as possible. I agree with you on this.

    However, one of the things that I want to emphasise is that while we do indeed see the dissolution of boundaries during the processes of globalisation, what we also see are class boundaries becoming rifts between human beings, dividing apart billions of human beings from millions of human beings, wherein the billions live is such hopeless and endless suffering and squalor, completely excluded from the opportunities enjoyed (and squandered) by the millions. What we see are huge regions of the world fenced off for exploitation, billions of people locked into mindless toil and poverty, so smaller regions of the world can maintain levels of consumption simply for profit, regardless of the long term consequences of this. What we see are two worlds forming, two cultures, two realities, two species of human, that only contact each other through mechanisms of economic exploitation and ongoing environmental degradation. One species enjoys the frivolities of the entertainments industry and the latest electronic devices, the other species has not enough food to live. This is a monstrous boundary that is becoming almost opaque — the two species being almost unaware of the existence of the other. Our only hope as ONE HUMANITY is to break down this barrier and include everyone in demoratic participation in envisioning what kind of world we hope to build and live in.

    My point is that this barrier is an artificial wall — a Great Wall of China, a Berlin Wall — that is being actively and consciously built and maintained for the benefit of a small minority. They are actively protecting their monopoly rights to envision and build the future.

    Indeed, global warming is global, but it will not be those who are most responsible who will suffer most from its consequences. It will be those people who are already exhausted by oppressive mechanisms and structures, who are already marginalised and excluded, all in favour of maintain the privileges of the powerful few. As always, it will be the poorest people who will be the ones who suffer most, while the richest sit on the patents to solve the problems they created, until the price is right.

    The process of great change is actually double-edged. We can move into 1985 or descend back into 1984. Our only hope of avoiding totalitarianism (or even the descent into world war and the collapse into barbarity) is if we remain conscious of the totalitarian tendency that is also inherent in times of great change. We need to be aware of the double-edgeness of change. In that way, we, hopefully, will be able to recover the possibility of genuine choices.