Newspeak Essay 1984

Newspeak Essay 1984-87
Paraphrasing Lacan, Zupancic tells us that “the impossibility of the Real does not prevent it having an effect in the realm of the possible” (Zupancic, 2000, 235).Now this is a curious state of affairs; however it does immediately suggest how the nature of reality could be manipulated; and produced by language.When, for example, he recalls the final scene with his mother, and we hear him recall her remembered final words to him: “Come back! ” (151) we do not doubt the essential reality and relevance of the scene even if we do not assume absolute accuracy in Winston’s recollection of his mother’s exact words.

It is Winston’s sense of the importance of the event for him that its truth: a combination of actual fact and factual relevance: an ultimately indeterminable ratio/relationship which is the inviolable actual truth for Winston.

Arguably this is the most important sense in which the truth exists for us; and it is precisely the sense that in is seen as most subversive by the Party and thus constitutes Winston’s heresy.

Newspeak is precisely this: the Dictionary of Newspeak is thus a weapon with its aim to prevent communication and ideas. The comparatively intelligent Ampleforth assumes his “apparent” guilt and even “works” at providing an explanation for its inevitability, “These things happen . To challenge the Party would be to question their very existence itself, even though this existence, from the reader’s perspective, is the obvious result of distortion.

As Syme assures Winston, ultimately the aim is that “there will be no thought, as we understand it now” (49). You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. When the Party yes-man, Parsons, is thrown into a cell in the Ministry of Love, Winston can ask even him “Are you guilty?

Although he describes at length Winston’s self-questioning as to the accuracy and veracity of his own memories, we are not to suppose that the events they describe never took place at all.

Or that he does not remember their essential quality.But how, precisely, can the Party be so effective in this determination of reality?How is it that people can apparently be prepared and willing to accept a version of reality that seems so antithetical to so many of our basic human needs?This, I suggest, raises a question: why, if the relevance of truth must contain this element of individual experience to be felt as truth, can the Party apparently become so successful at imposing its “Truth” on people in the place of their own truths?The answer, I hope to demonstrate, lies in the effect that the Party’s control of language has on the ability that the population of Oceania has (or does not have) access to its own real experiences at an individual, as well as collective, level.If, for Lacan, the “Real” is beyond or outside of language, it is also presumably beyond human cognition.The result of this “impossibility of the Real” is that language and our use of it in all its historical and socio-cultural contexts becomes our reality.O’Brien and the Party will talk about the history of the past and about history’s relation to power; but it is the control over history in its synchronous mode, history as a dynamic activity here and now and in their control of interpretations of the future, that their domination and determination of the meanings of words gives them – their control of language itself – that is the essential basis of their ability to realize and impose their “Truth” to the exclusion of all others.O’Brien makes the centrality of present-control explicit when, in the Ministry of Love, he orders Winston to repeat the Party slogan, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past” (Orwell, 1949/83, 232).Winston, will insist that two plus two equals four, at least for a time – until his very ability to think at all is stamped out; until he cannot but believe the Party’s Truth that it equals five.Orwell is careful to ensure that do not lose our perspective.


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