Saturday, April 9

Narrowing Down the Range of Thought

'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 define and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.  ...  Every year fewer abd fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller.  ...  The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.  ...  Has it ever occured to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, nit a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having nnow?  ...  Even the slogans will change.  How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished?  The whole climate of thought will be different.  In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now.  Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think.  Orthodoxy is unbconsciousness.' 

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized.  He is too intelligent.  He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly.  The Party does not like such people.  One day he will disappear.  It is written in his face. 

Part 1, Chapter 5, 1984 (pubished 1949).

This was for me a very disturbing concept.  Think about it - language, thought, vocabulary - all being governed and then slowly stripped away to leave nothing.  Unconsciousness.  I took in my breath sharp when I read it.  What effect did it have on you?  How about the bit just before this, about the word 'good' and its derivatives?  I didn't want to make you read such a enormous chunk of words, but if you are reading along, that part connects to this and renders it doubly terrifying.  My dears, time to catch up?

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