1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 1 cont'd
To Orwell Today,
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS
Finished listening to the first part of the series, and i have to say that you were very right when you said that the BBC had changed things around and recast some parts completely - it is more extensive than at first appeared. But yet there is a certain interest to be found in spotting the changes and how they effect the meaning and understanding of the book! For what it is worth, the reader of the text has a very good voice for the story, and the score is suitably ominous, which only makes it more of a shame that this is an abridged presentation.....but then again, if the idea that the the original has been changed for political/ideological reasons is even partially correct, then perhaps it is a good thing after all.
Any comments are very welcome...as are additions/revisions :-)
*Omission of the "victory gin" and also all references to it later on in this installment - avoiding painting government as the peddler of alcohol used to numb and escape the reality that they create, plus avoiding painting alcohol in a negative light, since government is in bed with the drinks industry?
Same for the leaving out the "victory cigarettes".
Both of the descriptions help greatly to create the powerful image of a people thoroughly oppressed in all areas of their lives, and really should not have been excluded.
Could it also be that "Freedom Fries", as served in the USA, are too close to Orwell's version of the state named product?
*Omits "The Ministry of Love was the really frightening one. There were no windows in it at all. Winston had never been inside the Ministry of Love, nor within half a kilometre of it. It was a place impossible to enter except on official business, and then only by penetrating through a maze of barbed-wire entanglements, steel doors, and hidden machine-gun nests. Even the streets leading up to its outer barriers were roamed by gorilla-faced guards in black uniforms, armed with jointed truncheons.".
This is really a notable omission. In this paragraph, Orwell is elaborating for us the conflict between the ministry's name and its actual use and appearance, and is also showing us how doublethink works right from the beginning - even in Winston's casual description of the place, a description which does not mention the use of doublethink.
This is made more notable due to the thoughtcrime that Winston is obviously committing, as even a thought criminal does not recognise his own doublethink....a lesson there for all of us!
This omission can also be seen as highly political - the description of the Ministry of Love is comparable in many ways to the kinds of fortifications that have been made to the Houses of Parliament: Concrete defence blocks all around, some arranged so as to create "S" shaped walkways, xray and metal detecting devices, many intimidating armed police, including ones placed in sniping positions, not to mention the 1.5 inch thick perspex screen placed at the front of the "Strangers Gallery" (where the public can sit and watch debates in the House of Commons)...all this in the name of the "Terrorist Threat", and something which is happening in other places and other buildings/locations in the UK also.
Of course, there is also the fact that, at this very moment, the UK "Ministry of Defence" is engaged in a foreign invasion/occupation that is anything but in the name of "defence", and to have people thinking of such doublethink in terms of their real lives (not just in "fiction" like 1984) will just not do.
*Omits "Party members were supposed not to go into ordinary shops ('dealing on the free market', it was called),"
The idea that the Party is against the free market, which our "New Labour" party admittedly is not wholly against, but still it seems would like more control over that market, its actions confirming this even if its words do not
*Leaves out first mention of "doublethink"
*Omits "but had never spoken to" from "when two people whom he knew by sight, but had never spoken to", when the part left out is actually quite important, as it allows us to see a little more clearly the isolation and loneliness of life under BB - working for years in an office, and yet never getting to know anyone but the person in the next cubicle.....an idea perhaps a little too relevent to modern life, with its "cubicle farm" offices, neighbours that never speak to each other despite living next door to each other for years, and, in general, a society that is ever more compacted in terms of living space, yet pressed ever further apart in terms of real personal contact.
*Omits practically all of the first description of Julia plus important social comment from Orwell: "just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips. He knew the reason. It was because of the atmosphere of hockey-fields and cold baths and community hikes and general clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about with her. He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy. But this particular girl gave him the impression of being more dangerous than most. Once when they passed in the corridor she gave him a quick sidelong glance which seemed to pierce right into him and for a moment had filled him with black terror. The idea had even crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Thought Police. That, it was true, was very unlikely. Still, he continued to feel a peculiar uneasiness, which had fear mixed up in it as well as hostility, whenever she was anywhere near him."
The portion in bold is particularly interesting, as it is True to life that many women have accepted the ideals of Feminism (that is, feminism in its worst sense and applications) and are the first to force those ideals onto others as if they were axiomatic - abortion being the worst (usually supported by "pro choice" ideas, which means that the idea of "freedom" is used to support murder!)
*Omits all reference to INGSOC in this installement of the book, even though it is, in the original text, mentioned three times during the same space covered.
This could be seen as one of the most significant omissions so far, although we shall have to wait and see if and how it is brought in later on, since the term is quite closely related to the current government who are historically a Socialist party, exist in England, and whose policies in many areas lean toward the authoritarian side of Socialism (ala Stalinism), although their economic policy in places is almost as right wing as the Conservatives, the UK's traditionally "Capitalist" party.
Not wanting to show Socialism, by close association with the term INGSOC, as bad, even though they are actually quite different systems when done properly, does perhaps tell us a little about how the practice of Socialism in England at present is more like Orwell's 1984 version than it is like True Socialism, and about how those in power see it themselves.
Also, because of the removal of all reference to INGSOC so far, the main tenets of that system have not been included either; "The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past.", all principles that are clearly viewable, in one way or another, in current modern political and media institutions - the penchant for often ridiculous abbreviations and terms, not to mention the ever changing "buzz words" and catchphrases of which i could list a number gleened from various politician's interviews and speeches; doublethink is ingrained into politicians already, and is most obvious in the laws and announcements that do most damage to individual liberties ("voluntary compulsory identity cards" is one very good current example.); the past is very often claimed to have been different to how it actually was, never more often than in relation to the Invasion of Iraq - first WMD, then to "plant democracy", than just because "Saddam was a bad man". Blair tells us that he never lied about the case for invading, and that he "believed" the intelligence, and yet the documents he refers to don't say half of what the media were told to report, the "45 minute claim" being a prime example.
Indeed, my own father, at the time of the invasion and for at least 18 months afterwards, was in full support of everything that happened, or the little he knew of what happened, in Iraq; was full of the usual media learnt catch-phrases and would sit and proclaim that it was all True, every word that the papers and BBC said........
Then, just this past few months, his position changes.
Now, he is against the invasion of Iraq, and always has been!
No amount of discussion jogs his memory of his previously held beliefs, because that memory has gone down the memory hole......and i have no proof apart from my own recollections that it was ever any different to how it is now.
I don't mean to make this one small example such a big deal, but i find it a very interesting example, because it is so close, of what goes on in peoples' minds that rely on TV and a single newspaper for their information - their beliefs mirror that which they consume, with very few exceptions, and change as they change, no traces remaining of what went before, their previous ideas gone like the old newspapers they throw in the bin.
*Omits "The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure." which is a little curious, as it shows to us how the propaganda of the Party, indeed propaganda in general, operates - by constant repetition.
This omission could be viewed as avoiding highlighting the nature of our contemporary media news, with its constant repetitions of "Terrorist", "Terrorism", "Threat", "WMD", or whatever crisis is being used to scare and enrage us at the particular moment, as our own version of the 2 minutes hate.
Linking to this is the following part that is also left out "All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself."
A better description of how the threat of "Al Qaida" "Osama Bin Laden" "Illegal Immigrants" etc, could not be found, nor could the last sentence be more applicable than to our current situation, where foreign nations need only be said to be "harbouring terrorists" or "nuclear weapons programs" for them to become, in the public mind, legitimate targets of military aggression.
I will however say that the following quote IS used in the broadcast, which is a slight suprise to me; "But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were — in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State."
*First mention of "the book" left out
*Omits "The voice of Goldstein had become an actual sheep's bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep", perhaps again to keep away from the concept of propaganda and its methods?
*Leaves out "Nobody heard what Big Brother was saying. It was merely a few words of encouragement" and the fact that BB was speaking is removed completely. Perhaps the idea of having their "fearless leader" telling them everything will be alright, was a little too close to our "beloved leaders" Blair, Bush etc telling us the same?
*Omits "it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.", which to me seems an important little piece, as it shows us how, even though Winston hates the chanting, even if he did not want to, he cannot help but join in due to his socialised responses, and the fact that he is always watched by both telescreen AND other people around him (who would inform the Thoughtpolice).
This important concept is apparent in our modern lives - the pressure to conform to widely held ideals and, perhaps more-so, IDEAS, especially those regarding such topics as "the Terrorist threat", is great - those who question the media/government line and ask "is there really such a threat?", are often regarded with suspicion or at the very least contempt and ridicule.
Also, the practice of people denouncing you to "officials" if they think that you are acting suspiciously is making a comeback on both sides of the Atlantic - new terrorism laws in the UK allow for arrests to be made on the flimsiest accusations, and in the USA, i read that in some places school children are being asked to do similar things, although i cannot now find the articles i refer to, which does somewhat weaken the point unfortunately...
*Omits from "Such incidents never had any sequel." down to "But even that was a memorable event, in the locked loneliness in which one had to live.", the omission of that last sentence again avoiding referring to the lonely lives they lived under BB.
*Leaves out a very large tract of the chapter, including any mention of the behaviour of Winston's neighbour Mrs Parsons or her children, which is a shame since it includes information on how they are indoctrinated, and their subsequent obsessions with catching "thought criminals". Also leaves out the very satirical mention that, under BB, you are supposed to call everyone "comrade". Perhaps a little too close to home for a Labour party and their union supporters!
A pity also that the short sentence "Nearly all children nowadays were horrible" was left out, as it is becoming more and more True, and, strangely, something i was talking to a friend about only two days ago - how young kids of 10 - 16 are so much more nasty, violent and destructive towards each other and elders than we could remember before.
Does this ring True with you?
*Leaves out the announcement by the telescreen of the "glorious victory" on the Malabar front, and how the war is nearly over, an announcement that is eerily similar to the various speeches of president bush et al. (whose subordinates then go on to say that the "war" could last for years!)
*Unfortunately removes the section telling us how the bad news of the reduced chocolate ration is quietly announced after the loud fanfare of victory, a practise which is, in some ways, seen in modern broadcasting.
The Text is not picked up again untill Winston dedicates his diary to the future, there being far too many omissions to comment on in full previous to that point.
This first installment finishes at the end of chapter 2.
There are some passages left in that are actually quite relevant to today - the part about there being no trials for certain crimes, people disappearing, and names being removed from "Registers" (very relevant to the proposed National Identity Register, and all the new databases planned for the USA, Canada) being most striking in its parallel to new laws passed in this country recently.
This is surprising to me in some places, but, when viewed as a whole, perhaps those parts left in are a little bit too difficult to leave out without being obvious? Then again, that could sound like a nice piece of self rationalisation for all this "conspiracy" talk; a good bit of circular reasoning if you like.... Still, we can only say how it appears to each of us.......hope it makes sense to you and your readers Jackie!
Looking forward to your reply,
james (sheffield, uk)
Thank you very much for your continued important analysis of the omissions (and comissions) of the first installment of the BBC's eight-part reading of 1984.
When distortions and omissions are left to stand uncontested the truth remains hidden to those who have never seen or heard it. There are millions of people in Britain (and the world) who have not read 1984 and so it is up to those of us who have to set the record straight. Afterall, as I have said on previous occasions, Orwell literally sacrificed his own life to give the world his masterpiece. The least we can do is help get his message out (which I feel honoured to do).
All the best,
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 1
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 2
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~
website: www.orwelltoday.com & email: firstname.lastname@example.org