Posts Tagged ‘George Orwell’

2 + 2


In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.

George Orwell, 1984


Two plus two still adds up to four.

But just barely.

There is ample evidence that there are some out there right now who are most likely thinking, “Why shouldn’t 2 plus 2 equal 5? If our great leader say that it is 5 and I feel that it is 5, who has the right to tell me that I am wrong?

Based on what I have seen over the past four nights from DC, the world of George Orwell‘s 1984 is just a little too close for comfort.

There is already the embrace of its concept of Doublethink. That’s where one holds two contradictory beliefs to be true at the same time. For example, there are people out there who believe that it was our government who actually flew the planes into the World Trade Center in 2001. Or they might also believe that the current pandemic is the result of a huge Deep State conspiracy.

These same people believe at the same time that this same government, one that is capable of a huge, complicated conspiracy that would require the silence and complicity of literally thousands of accomplices, is totally inept, too stupid and flawed, to do anything well.

We have become people who believe what they hear so long as it doesn’t involve critical thinking and aligns with what they want to believe. But because there is no critical thinking, most don’t even truly know what they want to believe.

They wait for The Word from some elevated other to tell them that.

The Word shall be whatever strokes their egos and stokes their fears.

It is a scary time, one that is not normal in any sense of the word, and we are rapidly descending down a very slippery slope right now. Who knows where we will be when this plummet ends?

Or if it will end.

As Orwell asks: For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?

Use your mind. Think critically. Speak out. When they say 2 plus 2 is 5, tell them they are wrong. Our world is depending on it at this moment.

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These lines above are from the chorus of John Prine’s song Living in the Future, written well over 20 years ago.  I think of this chorus wheneverI hear people expounding on how wonderful or horrible things will be in the future.  It seems that the future seldom reaches the levels of our fears or hopes.

I’m thinking of this today because we’re nearing the official end of the first decade of this new millenium tomorrow night.  I guess we can drop the new part at that point.  The new car smell has definitely faded.  When I was a kid the idea of living in the 21st century seemed distant and alluring, with the prospect of jet packs whooshing us all over the world and teleportation flights to the amusement park on the moon being an everyday thing.  We’d all be wearing those space outfits that resembled shiny coveralls that we saw in the sci-fi flicks of the 50’s and our meals would be prepared with the touch of a button.  Disease had been eradicated and peace ruled the earth.

Okay, maybe I took it too far.  But it has been interesting living in this time that has long served as a far point in time for literature of the last century.  We have lived past the 1984 that George Orwell wrote of and the year 2000 fizzled like a wet firecracker despite the doomsayers who claimed an apocalypse was imminent at the time.  We haven’t quite seen the rise of Big Brother although it seems like we have taken strides in that direction at times.  We aren’t zipping about in rocket ships or teleporting across the universe but we are connected globally via the web in a way that I don’t think we fully saw thirty years ago.   Maybe we’re not talking with our minds, as John Prine predicted in his song, but we are talking more than ever with cell phones glued to faces and bluetooth headsets permanently jammed into ears.

 Meals are not cooked with the touch of a button.  In fact, we have went the other way.  We now celebrate the time and care of food preparation with television networks devoted to the act of cooking. 

Disease certainly hasn’t been eradicated but if you step back and really examine the strides made in medicine over the past thirty years, it is breathtaking.  Of course,  not all the breakthrough care is available to all of us but that’s a different story for a different time.

Of course, they were right about our garb.  I’m wearing my shiny silver space coveralls even as I write this.  I want to be ready when the future catches up with us.  It’s gaining…

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