Here we have another short chapter and even one where we can move quickly past the first bit. Winston rents that one room he thought about earlier and worries more... because that's what Winston does, now, worry.

From inside, his room, he hears a woman, working on some laundry, singing a song. With that, we get a bit more (absence of) color on the nation of Oceana.

The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound.


There's a quick bit in which Julia informs Winston that they can't meet for "the usual reason. It's started early this time." Winston quickly cycles through feeling angry at being denied something he needs to remembering that this is a biological reaity to wishing that they had been married for ten years (perhaps, in part, so that he would be more intimately familiar with, and able to provide appropriate support, these kinds of issues). It's not much to note but, judging this on the curve you need to apply to Winston, this is pretty good social and emotional maturity.

Then, we move on to the bit that has me interested and, quite frankly, confused.
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In the last chapter, we learned that Julia is a more skilled and more experienced rebel at twenty-seven than Winston is at thirty-nine. This chapter picks that up and, in a surprising move considering what more allegedly progressive stories would have, fully admits and maintains that she is the more capable of the two on many a level.

She knows the guidelines. She knows how to have conversations a bit at a time. She knows how often an individual hiding place can be trusted. She knows the ways and the how-tos of having illicit meetings, illicit conversations, how to revel in the illicitness of it all and all for the purpose of illicit sex... (Wow, the porn parody of 1984 won't have to stray very far at all from the source-material.)

We mentioned part of how she gets away with all of this in the last installment. She shouts the loudest with the crowd. She volunteers her time. She presents the image of exactly that woman that Winston hated so much. And, she convinces Winston to do something of the same.
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Chapter 2 of Part 2 is a short one. We can get through it in one post. It starts out with Winston following his new lady-friend's instructions to the T. The narrator (which I take to be Winston referring to himself in third person) even points out that Winston would be more nervous if it weren't so obvious that she was so much more experienced than he.

...

There are some parallels between Winston and myself that I just hate. Then there are the ones I don't know what to feel about.

Winston and the woman stop at a grassy knoll ("No, it isn't dead, it's a Gazebo.") surrounded by tall saplings. Those saplings are important. Anywhere else, there could be microphones. They're not likely, but they're possible. Here, the woman knows that there isn't anything big enough to hide a microphone. So, by process of elimination, we have a safe spot.

And, here, we get the meat of the fantasy that this woman could represent.
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It's not until now that we're going to get a sense of the character of the woman for whom Winston has, when he's thought of her at all, had a series of strong emotions. That has unfortunate elements.

I've taken opposition to the notion that Winston is the closest to whole of all the characters in 1984, but there is a way of looking at that as true. Winston, after a fashion, is the only character in this book. Everybody else is the roles they play. And, I can't tell the extent to which that is intended.

Is this an unfortunate trope of simplistic storytelling or is this an examination of the ways we become, to each other, mere roles dictated by the society around us?

I don't know. And my readiness to give Orwell the benefit of the doubt is tested by some of what we've seen so far.

For now, we see Winston and this woman, still only known as the dark-haired girl, can only manage to have a hidden conversation by, eventually, finding a way to manage to having, just by coincidence, sat down near each other and not looking at each other.
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Earlier in this deconstruction, I likened Winston Smith to a High School burnout. I've read 1984 before and I knew that this lady with the dark hair would make contact with Winston. But, I'd forgotten how. And, I get the importance of why this has to be the way but... having had that thought... I can't think it.

Chapter one of Part 2 eases into the High School sense of things but it fits right from the start.

The woman, still known to us as "the dark haired girl from the fiction department", has had some kind of injury that is common to the fiction department, due to the size of the machinery. And, as a side note, I am curious as to how big and unwieldy a machine you might need or even find valuable in crafting fiction... I think the point is that we don't know how that would work? Perhaps even that it's completely unnecessary to whatever function of a machine? If you have thoughts, please have comments too.
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Last week, I made the case that Winston is his own Party. His conflict with the Party of Oceana isn't one of truth versus lies, but one preferred reality versus another. This week, I'm going to make the case that, in Winston's Party of One, the past is his version of Big Brother.

In the last interaction with the unnamed old man, who's name Winston never asks, the old man has this to say on the topic of the past.
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Before I go on to spew more venom upon Winston, I do have some praise for George Orwell.

Firstly, it's briefly noted that a walk by himself, instead of going to the Community Center for communal recreation is a risk. The fact that Winston's doing this for the second time in three weeks is, according to the book, a rash act. (If there isn't a carefully checked attendance, you can bet that the members are encouraged to take note of conspicuous absences... and all absences are conspicuous.)

... to do anything that suggested a taste for solitude, even to go for a walk by yourself, was always slightly dangerous. There was a word for it in Newspeak: ownlife, it was called, meaning individualism and eccentricity.


This part really scares me. I am, very much, an ownlife kind of guy.
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Part of the reason I questioned how different the Proles had it in the book compared to before was... to be honest, because I'd started a little earlier than I expected and I just kind of ran with it. But, it became useful for this part, the discussion of the past.

Winston, for his diary that exists for the purpose of providing value to people who he will likely never see in person, copies down a large portion of another book that... he's... analyzing...

Do...

Uh...

Moving on!
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Last time we talked about the Proles and I got... emotional in my reaction to Winston's judgment on their priorities. I don't want to be too dismissive, however, because the masses do have power and using that power is important. Just take a look at history of when people have had to use that power before.

The Party claimed, of course, to have liberated the proles from bondage. Before the Revolution they had been hideously oppressed by capitalists, they had been starved and flogged, women had been forced to work in the coal mines (women still did work in the coal mines, as a matter of fact), children had been sold into the factories at the age of six.


Now, this is told to us as lies of The Party of Oceana. But, it should be worth noting how this isn't all that far off. The Industrial Revolution, in both the US and England, wasn't the smooth sailing into worker's rights. That took unions and Democracy and, in America, a New Deal and trust-busting. I'm not so up on UK history of the time, but I can feel safe in saying that what didn't happen was an unfettered free-market economy just, on its own, making things better.
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We're into Chapter Seven, now. It's a small chapter, but it's dense, so we're taking it in parts again. It starts off with as much of an announcement of theme as we can get.

If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles


Proles are the non-Party members of Oceana. They don't work in any of the four ministries. They don't have political power. They don't make any of the big decisions. They are the bulk that any society needs in order to survive and, simultaneously, the people that history often forgets.

There's an old saying that I first encountered in the Discworld novel Thud. By approximation, it goes "It takes ten people with their feet on the ground to support one man with his head in the clouds."
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Chapter six is a, thankfully in light of the content, very short chapter. If you're reading along, gird your loins... or otherwise protect them. If you like any kind of emotion attached to your sex (love, lust, compulsive need, or even such emotional satisfaction as using masturbation as a means of wasting a few seconds), this chapter is not going to appeal to you. This will not be a pleasant experience.

That's not to say that you shouldn't read this chapter. Absolutely you should. It is a necessary discomfort for reading this book, for understanding Oceana, and for examining how a society can use sex (or something with similar emotional need for most people), against its own members. I'm just noting, ahead of time, that your reaction to this chapter will be a great deal of discomfort.
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Again, not fully in order, but at least the quotes will be in chronological order and we will finish with this chapter.

And, this final theme of Chapter Five will be "Thinking Without Thinking". And, that leads us to Duckspeak. There are times when I'm surprised that "Duckspeak" isn't a more common phrase in political discussion. Doublethink certainly makes it in there, along with its example phrase "we have always been at war with East Asia". I'd expect to hear a lot more about Duckspeak.

For example of duckspeak in action, let's look at this repetition of that same conversation we've all had to freaking endure.
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I'm going a bit back-and-forth with this chapter, for reasons of theme. Last time, the theme was survival strategies for Oceana (and, in general for those of us who are just trying to get along). Now, let's talk about Newspeak, one of the rarely referenced elements of 1984. Doublethink gets referenced often... and often... and often... and, in this political climate, not without good reason.

Duckspeak gets mentioned a bit (again, not entirely without good reason). And, we all love to talk about Room 101... or room 102 (That reference will be funny when we get to that part of the book, really.)

Let's talk about the basic concepts and intent of Newspeak, as understood by Syme.

Syme notes that Winston doesn't really appreciate Newspeak. That's understandable. Winston's in his middle ages, so it'd take him some effort to adapt. Put in the High School analogy, he's not one of the cool kids and isn't able to internalize the language of the cool kids. It's also because Winston Smith, the rebel who's only cause is his own mind, resists the intention of Newspeak.

'Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.

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Chapter 5, I've been looking forward to this one. In the previous chapters, we mainly have characterization for Winston Smith and for Oceana in general. Yes, we have Mrs. Parsons, but she's less a character and more just an example of the put-upon-ness of parents in Oceana. The narrator had far more interest in her husband than in she, herself.

In this chapter, my view of Winston Smith as something of a burnout-kid only gets more credible (at least in my mind, feel free to argue). But, here's where I get to express my view that Winston Smith isn't so much a whole person as he is a survival method in Oceana.

Winston Smith tries to maintain something of himself, his own mind, some means of retaining some measure of control over his own existence. It's only in these small ways, at least so far. He's no rebel. He's just like a lot of us become in our teens, becoming cynical about things we can only barely comprehend. That cynicism is... not always wrong.

But, let's meat Syme, who represents another survival method in Oceana.
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While considering my thoughts on Pornosec, I realized that Comrade Ogilvy, Winston's fictional hero in place of praise for the FFCC, is ripe for analysis as well.

So, let's look at the dead person that Winston conjured out of thin air, faked photographs, and Oceana's core values.
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There was even a whole subsection-Pornosec, it was called in newspeak-engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at.


I regret not having read this earlier. As I stated before, I thought that 1984 was something that people read in order to reference. It is certainly valuable for that. It's also an engaging read. Right here, with the notions of Pornosec, I regret, even more, not having read 1984 earlier. Had I read this a couple decades ago and caught this one line... I might have done my Senior College Thesis on the question of just what is Pornosec and what constitutes "the lowest kind of pornography."
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Chapter four, all in one go. So far, it seems like the reason I can get through these chapters so fast is that, technically speaking, not much is happening. There are bits of memory and bits of every-day life that is so every day that it could, literally, be any prior day in Winston Smith's life. That first chapter had specific things happening, things that made that day unique. It's pretty engaging for a chapter in which nothing much happens.

And, it's an amazing advertisement for Winston's job. Seriously, I want this job. I don't want the society in which this is an actual job that one could have, but I want this job.

Before that, I want to talk about the additions Orwell has made to the English Lexicon. So far we've seen phrases that somebody who hasn't read 1984 has still heard and probably understands the meaning, if not the reference. Two Mintues of Hate and Doublethink both apply under the the umbrella-term "Orwellian". The concepts are too pervasive, such that they might be as invisible as water to a fish... that suddenly learns the word "wet".

Let's add to that the Memory Hole.
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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..
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I've been hard on Winston Smith, so far. And, I will continue to be so. In part, I'm arguing against the notion that Winston Smith is, in any way, more whole a person than anybody else in the text. A more important part is that Winston Smith is already a victim of Oceana, or at least of similar thought-control techniques to those used by Oceana.

We approach Winston's perspective and his flaws from three decades after the time in which the book is set, which is still approximately three and a half decades after it was published. Winston Smith comes at his world with a heavy amount of isolation. Even in that time of "freedom" he barely remembers from his childhood, much of a person's identity was chosen for them, far ahead of time.

Which isn't to say that 1950s London was just as unfree as Oceana, of course. But, he's not exactly coming at this from a place where anybody's helped him view other people outside of the life-scripts to which they had been taught, from early age, to adhere. And, that's in a society that genuinely wanted him to form connections to other people.

Oceana doesn't. He's left with only his imagination and an imperfect memory.
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It took us five parts, but we got out of Chapter 1 and now we're into Chapter 2, where Winston Smith gets to meet people and interact with them in a manner not entirely bound up in his own mind.

A knock on the door, plus panic, plus a desire not to smudge wet ink in his diary equals accidentally leaving the book open to the words "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER" repeatedly written and in full display. Luckily, it's not the thought-police or anybody interested in entering his apartment, but his neighbor.

It was Mrs Parsons, the wife of a neighbour on the same floor. ('Mrs' was a word somewhat discountenanced by the Party-you were supposed to call everyone 'comrade'-but with some women one used it instinctively.) She was a woman of about thirty, but looking much older. One had the impression that there was dust in the creases of her face.


Meet Mrs. Parsons. Not having read all the way through, yet (at least not since my first read), I don't recall if she gets much mention beyond this. Tom Parsons, her husband, will. But, she won't get much, if anything, beyond this scene. (Note: I may be wrong, so this is me putting, in writing, something for you to look back and mock me over if my memory was faulty here. I promise not to go back and edit it away... But, I could go back and... you know what? We get to that part when we get to it.)
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