Posted by: Peadar Ban | January 10, 2019

Brave the New World

In Chapter 6 of the book, 1984, there is a little bit of cultural orientation, I call it, going on. We ought to know what that world is like, and so we get, sort of, a tour in the form of sitting in on two fellows have lunch at work. Orwell is painting the the society that his “hero” lives in. And at the point I want to mention, he is using again the only two colors that the book; gray and black

He has been talking about the social life, and gotten around to relations between men and women; to sex. He’d spent a good bit of time on what passes for friendship, for want of a better word, in the place. This little bit, after a longer discussion about the sexes and society is kind of gut wrenching.

Winston and his wife are separated, because The Party “did not permit divorce”, and he can’t seem to remember much at all about her. It suffices us to know what little her remembers; that she was tall and very straight with splendid movements. She also had an aquiline nose. The rest..

We learn that early in the marriage he discovered she was more of a cut-out than a person: “(S)he had without exception the most stupid, empty vulgar mind that he had ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan, and there was no imbecility, absolutely none, that was not capable of swallowing if the party handed it out to her. “The human sound track” he nicknamed her in his own mind. Yet he could have endured living with her if it had not been for just one thing – sex.”

Katherine had been taken over by the party, I figure. I have been sitting thinking about that and the next few pages in the book where Orwell describes Winston’s further thoughts about the man and woman thing.
To be honest, the whole thing frightens me. In a book I recently finished, Europe Central, by William Vollman, there is a lot of talk about that old dance, “Changing Partners”, especially in Soviet Russia, where the Party preferred its women and men to be liberated, and the state, as in Nazi Germany, to bring up the children as good little Bundists.

Frankly, it scares me. There are too many frightening parallels between Orwell’s and Vollman’s writing with what fills the papers and the broadcast news, and have been filling it almost to the exclusion of anything else. I become more and more convinced of two things, we are at war, and we are losing.

I went off to bed last night with these words from 1984, the last ones I read before closing the book:

“He saw himself standing there in the dim lamplight, with the smell of bugs and cheap scent in his nostrils, and in his heart a feeling of deep resentment which even at that moment was mixed up with the thought of Katherine’s white body, frozen forever by the hypnotic power of the Party. Why did it always have to be like this?”

I went with these words and the thoughts of those words carried forward to today; Pussy Hats, billboards shouting out slogans about death; riots and burnings, mean and ugly people demanding more death; rich, corrupt, foolish and empty hearted and headed men and women in positions of authority and influence supporting the surgical mutilation of young children and adults, the perversions and diseases of mind and body, and soul, things once thought deep sins and deadly madness, now celebrated as wonderful advances; and being proud of their deformities of character, mind and soul; all day and everyday shouting out in our own “Newspeak” the glory of this brave new world covered in dust.

And, I thought, not for the first time, that I am lucky to be the age I am, and near what we used to call the “Dirt Nap”. There is no gray. All is black.

Must it always be like this?


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