[personal profile] wingedbeast
Chapter Three will go in one post. Part of the reason is that this entire chapter is all focused on Winston Smith. Nobody else really does anything. I'm not even complaining. This is a well done chapter, a compelling read where the only thing that happens is Winston Smith dreams, wakes up, exercises, and remembers things. Replace "exercise" with any kind of regular ritual and everybody does that until they don't wake up anymore.

Make that a compelling read and I, as someone who likes to imagine himself a writer and someone who likes to read, am impressed. I'm impressed.

We start with a dream that might be indicated by memory or might not be. Winston Smith, by his memory, was ten or eleven when his mother disappeared. That's the word used, "disappeared". Considering the context, it's entirely likely that he doesn't know why his mother or his sister disappeared, only that nobody spoke of either after that point.

In the dream..

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 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 forever. He was out in the light and air while they were being sucked down to death, and hey 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 reproache either in their faces or in their hearts, only the knowledge that they must die in order that he might remain alive, and that was part of the unavoidable order of things.

Take in that imagery. Take in that understanding. It's a dream, but it could be a memory?

I think authorial intent says its a memory, not of specific details but the general idea that young Winston (again, no older than ten or eleven) remembers that his mother sacrificed her life and that of his sister, so that he might live. But, a reading in, and potentially authorial intent, leaves it open that this is just a story Winston eventually told himself about their disappearance and has come to believe.

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.

Winston could be taking this dream, which is built of nothing but his own brain recursively displaying its own patterns to itself, as new information.

It's a thing we, as humans, do. We fill in holes and gaps with things that seem right and, often, things that are more centered on us than we really deserve. Keep that in mind.

There's another part to his dream, in which the dark-haired girl from work, in a field, undresses disdainfully and Winston Smith seems to see, in that, the ability to sweep away the power of Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police. I really don't know what to make of that part outside of being the wet-dream of a would-be rebel.

Winston's woken u by the telescreen, apparently the alarm clock for the whole of Oceana. In a reminder of Winston's poor health, he starts the day with a hacking fit and the telescreen requires his group to do its morning exercises.

This is simultaneously a scene of "every day" and a scene of history, with the importance being which details are actually important. The unimportant are fuzzy from Winston's memory being the only place they're stored.

Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been at war, but it was evident that there had been a fairly long interval of peace during his childhood, because one of his early memories was of an air raid which appeared to take everyone by surprise. Perhaps it was the time when the atomic bomb had fallen on Colchester. He did not remember the raid itself...

And, who did that? Who were they at war with?

'We didn't ought to 'ave trusted 'em. I said so, Ma, didn't I? That's what come of trusting 'em. I said so all along. We didn't ought to 'ave trusted the buggers'

But which buggers they didn't ought to have trusted Winston could not now remember.

For the Watsonion reason (Thank you Ana Mardoll for that turn of phrase), Winston doesn't remember. For the Doylist reason, it doesn't matter. Where does the threat come from? It doesn't matter. Does it come from the Russians or the "radical Islamic terrorists"? It doesn't matter. What matters is that it was there, it was scary, it was a reason to give more trust in a state to protect us no matter what the cost, it was discarded when no longer useful. It's now just a single memory in, perhaps, just one man's head, with nothing else to verify it's reality.

Just as we get that bit of history, a bit that should be familiar right about now, we also get why that history no longer works. (This is going to be a long one)

Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully-constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing both of them; to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy; to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the world[sic] 'doublethink' involved use of doublethink.

This is a well done chapter. It goes smoothly as it should and jarringly in the intended ways. For me to go farther would just be to harp on. Go ahead and read it for yourselves.

Doublethink is becoming too familiar to me, as well. Perhaps I argue with too many Creationists. People who at once will bring up the definition of evolution and then argue that things don't happen that the theory of evolution doesn't predict will happen as evidence against. Then, when asked why that should be expected, they return to a different, contradictory definition.

If you've heard of Kent Hovind or Ken Ham, you've heard of the distinction between "observational science" and "historical science". "Observational science" speaks to the functioning of the universe at current. Evidence, as a form of observation, would have no means of drawing conclusions about the past, hense the division. But, next you find out that observational science confirms their historical science... which the claim says it definitionally cannot do... even if they didn't take a highly targeted view.

I could go on.

I could go into general politics these days, but that could start a fight.

I will say I should take care to be more sensitive to this in other areas. The sins Orwell lists through this text don't list any clean cultures. Pretending that your culture is completely free of such a sin only makes yourself more susceptible to it.

Next installment: I will feel weird about how I envy Winston his job.

Date: 2017-03-03 03:34 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
The first time I read this book, I went over the quoted passage over and over, trying to wrap my head around it and eventually giving it up as a bad job. Nevertheless, it stuck with me.

It's not an exaggeration to say that the concept of doublethink has significantly helped me to spot its real-life equivalences, although that definitely doesn't mean I'm not susceptible.

... were there enough negatives in that sentence? Egad.



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