1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 2
To Orwell Today,
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS
Have you listened to the latest part of the BBC production? I heard it while on the road on Friday night somewhere in Scotland, where as you must know from your visits the scenery is spectacular, and looking out over the wide expanses of free and open country, with its majestic mountains and enchanting lakes, was rather a stark contrast to the sounds of Orwell's tale of oppression and control.
Yet alas the tale was not complete......
*Omits Chapter 3 completely, which includes some very meaningful sections and concepts:
There is so much to cover in this chapter alone that it is not possible to comment on it in anything like as much detail as it deserves......just the most significant omissions will be dealt with for now!
*All mention of the memories and dreams concerning Winston's family, which could be doubly significant; The extreme form of the Socialist mind wishes to eliminate the "Family" as we know it, for this tightly knit group is anathema to the goal of completely communal existance where everybody, essentially, cares about each person alive equally. Families are also harder to control than individuals alone, something which makes them as a group more independent and self determining. This is not desirable to a "nannying" government which craves the closest involvment with, and dependence from, the sovereign individuals it calls "citizens".
The removal of the lengthy descriptions of his family in this chapter also cuts an important example of how life under BB has been so completely altered from what went before; Sacrifice is not now impossible as it once was, since there are no close relationships of the kind that produce altrusitic Love - instead all of those have been replaced with "love" for Big Brother (the State) and him/that alone.
"Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows". This quote is taken from the same sections has i have briefly covered above, which deals with Winston's dream of his family's death, but it seemed to stand out especially as it is almost a perfect description of the state of our print and televisual media, most perfectly of the many propagandising news, or what passes for news, programs.
I'm sure all of the many OrwellToday readers are only too aware of the constant, never pausing nor ending, drive by our news media to inject our minds, our lives, with fear; "Terrorists", bombs, food scares, foot and mouth, AIDS, natural disasters, muggers, "Guncrime" (there is an Orwellian term if ever there was one!), illegal immigrants, oil scares, etc etc etc.
All of it a searing, glowing display of all the most horrifiying and depressing things in this world, prepared for your daily consumption, given a suitably dramatic soundtrack, and hurled, nay, injected into the public mind, a diabolical form of Artsem which fertilises the seed of mistrust, doubt and confusion, and whose full-term birth only ever produces an ugly offspring.
There is nothing else; "no", as Orwell says, "deep or complex sorrows" - only simple fear.
And certainly nothing to make one think, reconsider or approach anything with an open mind...
*Omits the dream of Julia and first mention of the "Golden Country" which are both important. The description of the golden country, the name itself bestowing high praise upon it, gives us the image of classic tranquil countryside, and shows us the love of it that Winston had.
Having Winston, who is at this stage in the tale becomming more and more aware of the oppressed state he is in, dreaming and wishing to be out in the open country, is suggestive to us that being there will allow us to escape that oppression, or to be able to figure it out more easily, as we will be beyond its reaches.
Of course, this is to a large extent True, and not something to be reminding the proles of.......maybe.
Missing out the dream of Julia also deprives us of the important image of her gesture; a gesture which may have some reference to sexual liberation yet denies this, and, instead, encapsulates for us incredibly well, in one symbol, the wish of Winston to be free of all that he is confined within - spies, thoughtpolice, surveillence, feigned simple, base, emotions on demand, control and threat - all of it obliterated and replaced with honestly held freedom and unrestrained self expression.
But that, says Winston, belongs "to the ancient time" and not to the present time.
Much like Shakespeare in fact, another important reference removed from the BBC version of 1984, a reference which reminds us powerfully of the desire by Winston for "deep or complex sorrows" or emotions of any kind, things of which Shakespeare composed with the most moving and beautiful langauge possible......language itself, in Winston's time, being a thing almost devoid of emotion and meaning, and soon to be completely stripped of that which it retains.
*Omits the "Physical Jerks", which to me has always been crucial to expanding our understanding, as readers, of the extent to which BB controls the individual, as up until this point we have only really seen a more distanced presence of control in Winston's life, while this firmly puts BB at the center of daily routine.
This is perhaps the most political omission so far in this episode, as the UK government has been recently involved in campaigns to both make us eat more healthly (national government poster telling us how bad salt is for us, for one "soft" example), and take more exercise (everyone here has been taught that 30 minutes, 3 times a week, of "moderate" exercise is necessary to good health - a message repeated often in media and by government ministers).
We can quite clearly see how showing BB (IE. the State) making exercise compulsory looks when compared with the very controlling, not to say patronising, measures that have been taken in regards to "the nation's health" (a phrase that makes me queasy, and which is unfortunatly used very often) by our athoritarian socialist government, and consequently necessitated its removal.
*Omits the famous portion in which it is explained to us the way in which the three main regions of the world are kept in continuous war with one another and, although the configurations do change, it is claimed by the Party to have always been the way it is at present.
This is very relevent to today. Terrorism is always the object of this "war", and yet the actual targets physically attacked are often, in reality, nothing to do with the groups it is claimed form the "terrorist threat".
In this way, our armies march on nations for many different reasons under the umbrella of "The War on Terror" (wars on abstract nouns seems to be a favorite occupation of the US/UK), while it is constantly reaffirmed that it is all a part of the same plan that has not changed.
This also relates to the omissions of the introduction to Doublethink in last week's list.
*Omits mentions of Atom bombs dropping on Colchester and fighting in London.
Perhaps a little too provocative in its implications that the UK may be attacked because of the government's invasion of Iraq (and other actions previous and since), and also because it may remind people, by mentioning using nuclear weapons on civilian targets, that the USA is the only country to have ever used atomics against an enemy nation.
*Another omission of a description of the concept "Doublethink" - i wonder why they keep avoiding mentioning this central idea?
*Continued silence on "INGSOC" in this episode of 1984, and, sadly, the removal of the actual term "English Socialism" when used by Winston.
See last week's omission list for a possible reason why.
*Omits the telescreen reprimanding Winston, including another usage of the term "comrade", and a reference to supporting the troops on the front through completely unrelated actions (sound familiar?)
*Omits the last line of the chapter which shows Winston forcing his body to bend and touch his toes for the first time in years; a powerful image which displays how Winston forces his body to do something it should not do because of BB, and, as such, relates to the action of making oneself perform Doublethink.
The use of the stretching of tendons gives this a particularly painful edge, because, as we know, tendons made to stretch too far when cold tend to snap....
Now, into the actual recording, since all of the above is missing before the weeks episode even begins!
*Omits "With the deep, unconscious sigh which not even the nearness of the telescreen could prevent him from uttering when his day's work started," from the very first line.
A shame that this be somewhat strangely omitted, seeing as it is the first line that Orwell wrote to this chapter, and that it helps us to see more clearly the daily drudgery of life under BB, but perhaps removed because it might allow us working proles to identify too closely with Winston's lot, and consequently, unallowably, have us liken the "fiction" of 1984 to our own lives.....
*Omits the word "pneumatic" from the description of the content of Winston's desk, and, in the preceding paragraph, the same word from the description of where the papers had come from.
Obviously, once something is removed, it must be removed from all successive instances of the same concept (as this one is throughout the rest of the episode), otherwise it will be messy and confusing for the listener, but here, to exclude this description which Orwell used so closely together, the proximity of the two uses of the word obviously meaning that the idea of the tubes being air powered was important to Orwell, is very conspicuous as the surrounding words, in both cases, are preserved perfectly.
My only explanation of this, from the perspective i have chosen here, is that the pneumatic tubes are far too reminiscent of the same pneumatic tubes used for many years in most supermarkets.....as anything physical or otherwise which ties our reality with the "fiction" of 1984 is not allowed, for obvious reasons.
This is becoming a recurrent theme of this BBC production.
*Omits most of "Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building."
Very suprising omission, as it removes the first, and natural, mention of the famous "memory holes". Also, avoiding the mention that the memory holes exist in the tens of thousand, and are literally everywhere is interesting, as is the aside that "it was an automatic action" to use them, because these two together give us the information we need to know that the use of the memory holes is craved by BB.
*Reduces the number of slips of paper that Winston is given from four down to two, including the removal of the chocolate figures message which includes a telling account of how the Party made a promise not to reduce rations, but then breaks that promise, an idea which is constantly made reality here in the UK, and in most other countries too!
*Suprising inclusion of the phrase "three year plan", as this is a type of economic plan famously used by Stalin, and here parodied by Orwell; it is suprising because the UK's current authoritarian socialist government also uses similar terms, "five years plans" a definite favorite.......perhaps it is because it is a three year plan rather than a five year plan being made the subject of political satire that allows it to be left in tact here?
*Omits "upsub antefiling" from the reading of the message Winston is given.
*Uses term "memory hole" once now in passing, but no explanation as in book.
*Leaves out most of a long paragraph which includes many references to actions taken by various agencies in reality - the altering and republishing of books, films, music records, and anything else with even a hint of being political; a mention that a well known daily newspaper might change its political allegience and then "forget" about its previous beliefs; a statement calling all statistics fantasy in both their original and altered versions; important sentence "All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small".
All removed without even a mention, all comparable to our everyday experiences because they really happen.
*Removes mention that poetry has become subversive, and that the real poems are replaced with less politically inspiring versions, an action perhaps comparable with so called "political correctness" (a suitably doublethinking term i think you will have to agree, since most of the things "PC" changes make them less "correct" and more removed from reality) in our real lives.
*In the section about Tillotson, "Winston hardly knew Tillotson" is omitted, as is the following "there were quite a dozen people whom Winston did not even know by name, though he daily saw them", both of which tie into the idea that it is not desirable to remind us that we too live and work in very very similar conditions, as was noticed in the first episode of the BBC's 1984 last week.
*Omits "There were the huge printing-shops with their sub-editors, their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs. There was the tele-programmes section with its engineers, its producers, and its teams of actors specially chosen for their skill in imitating voices."
All examples in this paragraph have been shown to have been done by various political entities in order to justify, prove, or report on, the Iraq war.
*Leaves out the term "pornosec" when talking about the department that makes pornography. This kind og bureaucratic contraction is rife in modern politics, and any likeness to the Party of 1984 is not desirable.
*Removes mention of public trials, public denunciations, confessions of crimes and executions.
Also misses out "people who had incurred the displeasure of the Party simply disappeared and were never heard of again. One never had the smallest clue as to what had happened to them. In some cases they might not even be dead.", which is a very relevant sentence, given many of the happenings Re Guantanamo Bay and arrests made under new "anti terrorism" laws, both of which are merely fronts for controlling and conditioning us for things to come under increasingly authoritarian rule.
*Omits mention of a "committee" for deciding on which version of the article would be accepted - Committees play a big part in the politics of the UK, and again, any mention of "ficticious" things in relation to "real" things is not allowable.
*Leaves out important paragraph "Winston did not know why Withers had been disgraced. Perhaps it was for corruption or incompetence. Perhaps Big Brother was merely getting rid of a too-popular subordinate. Perhaps Withers or someone close to him had been suspected of heretical tendencies. Or perhaps — what was likeliest of all — the thing had simply happened because purges and vaporizations were a necessary part of the mechanics of government. The only real clue lay in the words ‘refs unpersons’, which indicated that Withers was already dead. You could not invariably assume this to be the case when people were arrested. Sometimes they were released and allowed to remain at liberty for as much as a year or two years before being executed. Very occasionally some person whom you had believed dead long since would make a ghostly reappearance at some public trial where he would implicate hundreds of others by his testimony before vanishing, this time for ever. Withers, however, was already an unperson. He did not exist: he had never existed."
This contains many key satirical ideas, and covers lots of the well known practices of Authoritarian governments.
*Misses "There were occasions when Big Brother devoted his Order for the Day to commemorating some humble, rank-and-file Party member whose life and death he held up as an example worthy to be followed", which is perhaps comparable to the way in which government, and the monarchy here in the UK, often bestow upon a well liked Prole certain medals and titles, in order that they themselves may appear to be in touch with the tastes of the other Proles.
*Also leaves out the interesting story of Ogilvy, which contains a number of ideas comparable to today - the beliefs and behaviour of a perfect Party member is in many places comparable to the way in which a person would live if they followed government guidelines and laws for instance.
*At the start of chapter five, another mention of Victory Gin is missed out, adding to the BBC's strange removal of references to alcohol, either to again avoid showing it in a negative way, or, almost oppositely, to follow the government's (admittedly slack) attitude towards reducing consumption.
The description that follows the above is of course missing as well, but it is interesting to note that it is called "a mere hole in the wall", a term used colloquially for ATMs, or anything similar. Is this too obvious a reference to allow?
*Omits "Perhaps "friend" was not exactly the right word. You did not have friends nowadays, you had comrades: but there were some comrades whose society was pleasanter than that of others." even though surrounding words are preserved.
This definitely fits into the theme of not mentioning the idea that one does not know the people around you, or that, under BB, you should treat everyone the same. IE. not have people who you care more about than others.
Also, they actually allow an idea exactly the opposite to the one that Orwell put in to remain - in describing Syme, the BBC says "It was his friend Syme", but, as i say above, does not qualify this because the quoted sentence is left out.
Are they trying to give us the impression that life under BB is not quite so bad and lonely?
*Omits "There had been a famine of them for months past. At any given moment there was some necessary article which the Party shops were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons, sometimes it was darning wool, sometimes it was shoelaces; at present it was razor blades. You could only get hold of them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on the "free market.", which is perhaps too much of a criticism of state controlled rationing, and command economies in general, for it to be left in.
*Omits "In an intellectual way, Syme was venomously orthodox. He would talk with a disagreeable gloating satisfaction of helicopter raids on enemy villages, and trials and confessions of thought-criminals, the executions in the cellars of the Ministry of Love.".
All very relevant to happenings that we hear about on our various television "news" programs; the first is directly comparable to a recently proclaimed attack on a "'terrorist' training camp", the place name of which i forget, and the constant attack on Palestinians by Apache helicopter equipped Israeli soldiers; the second anything to do with Gauntanamo Bay and other "Terrorist" prisoners, and also that downright scary program that the US controlled media in Iraq is showing which has so-called "insurgents" confessing their crimes to the camera; the third not only to the death sentencing in the USA, but also the reported torturings to death of various prisoners on Abu Graib prison, Iraq.
*Suprising mention of "victory coffee", when all other mentions previous to this have been suppressed.
However, "saachrine tablet" is omitted from the list, which is an artificial sweetener and associated with poorly manufactured, bad-quality food.
Again, another attempt to make life under BB not so bad?
*Two more mentions of Gin are left out.
*Misses out "raising his voice to overcome the noise." from "'How is the Dictionary getting on?' said Winston, raising his voice to overcome the noise.", perhaps to avoid unnecessary associations and identifications with places that we have been ourselves.
*Two more mentionds of INGSOC are left out.
*Much of Syme's important speech on Newspeak is left out, which not only removes for us the idea that the old masters are thought undesirable by BB, but also the idea that language controls the thoughts one can have, a concept relevant to us today due to the way in which words are used and abused by those in power.
For instance, the words in the well worn phrase "freedom and democracy", or "spreading freedom and democracy" do not to those who say them mean what they mean to those that hear them said; to Bush or Blair they mean "economic exploitation by trans nationals and government chosen by a population (fooled into thinking that there are different political parties), while to us they usually mean "ability to live as we choose and without fear of oppression and the ability to determine our country's political structure through lawfully arranged voting and lobbying (with the realistic expectation that we affect change)."
And that is just one possible set of meanings for the men in power.....
*Omits Syme refering to the Proles, and to his calling them non human.
Phew, what a lot of stuff they have left out!
Rest to follow asap,
james (sheffield, uk)
Thank you for your enthralling analysis of the BBC's omissions in the 2nd-part of their 8-part reading of 1984. I, and other readers, look forward to the rest of it tomorrow.
What a wonderful experience it must have been for you to be listening to 1984 (even a massacred version) while actually IN Scotland, ie "Orwell Country". I well remember the spectacular scenery from when I was there: JOURNEY TO ORWELL'S JURA
Yes, on Friday night I did listen to Part 2 of the BBC reading, but this time without the book open in front of me. I wanted to experience the reading the same way as everyone else, ie without knowing what I was missing, so that I could get the sense of what message they were trying to convey.
One thing I strongly noticed was that almost the only part of the conversation between Winston and Syme that they kept in was where Syme asks Winston if he has any razor blades and Winston says "no" when in fact he had two. Keeping that part in after removing all the preceeding part of the conversation (as you so eloquently pointed out) gave me the impression that they were trying to portray Winston in a bad light, ie as a sneaky hoarder of necessities who doesn't share with friends. And as anyone who has read the book knows, that's not the kind of person Winston is at all.
To help readers imagine the "tens of thousands of memory holes" (which, as you pointed out, the BBC omitted to mention) in Winston's place of work, here is a picture of me standing in front of the actual building in London that Orwell used as his model for the Ministry of Truth in 1984:
All the best,
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 1 cont'd and
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 2 cont'd
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~
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