1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 4
To Orwell Today,
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS
Here is the list of omissions for the fourth part of the BBC's abridged 1984, broadcast on the 6th of May 2005. This is half way through their eight part series.
*In now typical style, the introduction to the week's episode is patronising, and belittles the horrific nature of Big Brother's world; "The girl from the fiction department has thrust into Winston's hand a note that says "I Love You.". They then arrange a romantic liaison in the country, amongst the Bluebells."
Firstly, and quite in line with previous episodes, it completely removes any surrounding context to the written note of Julia's. This, to a new listener or someone unfamiliar with the novel, makes it sound childish and simply absurd. "So what?" they say, "Who cares about a bit of note passing?"
Secondly, they did not arrange a "romantic" liaison, and it was not done so easily as that one line implies; their meeting was not possible in any other way other than clandestinely, as to associate with new people, especially of the opposite sex, would attract the attention of the Thought Police.
The introduction almost makes fun of the pair.....
*Omits first lines starting from last line of previous episode ("it was the girl."): "She shook her head, evidently as a warning that he must keep silent, then parted the bushes and quickly led the way along the narrow track into the wood". This avoids further references to the extent of state monitoring, as Julia is obviously conscious of hidden microphones.
Interestingly, this relates almost eerily to a news story from the very week of the broadcast of this episode.
Microphones catch out noisy bars (The streets of Soho may soon have ears as well as eyes as a pilot scheme gets under way to install microphones alongside CCTV cameras). BBC, May 3, 2005
I must add that it is not known if these "microphones" are actual, normal, microphones, simple instruments that measure dB, or some combination of the two, but in any event we can reasonably view this as yet another step towards total surveillance, and definitely as a precedent creating conditioning exercise that will make us used to being listened to as well as watched.
It is perhaps too often said, but Orwell was bizarrely accurate in 1984, and now i think i know how he did it - he simply let his imagination run completely wild, and pushed for the most extreme dictatorial wet dream possible.
And yet, he could not easily have seen where far more developed technology would allow even greater, even more perverted, state monitoring of the individual, and it is now for us to allow our imaginations to run ahead and see what they have prepared for us.......an activity which is, sadly, almost always Truthful in what it shows.
*Omits "Obviously she had been that way before, for she dodged the boggy bits as though by habit. Winston followed, still clasping his bunch of flowers. His first feeling was relief, but as he watched the strong slender body moving in front of him, with the scarlet sash that was just tight enough to bring out the curve of her hips, the sense of his own inferiority was heavy upon him. Even now it seemed quite likely that when she turned round and looked at him she would draw back after all. The sweetness of the air and the greenness of the leaves daunted him. Already on the walk from the station the May sunshine had made him feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of London in the pores of his skin. It occurred to him that till now she had probably never seen him in broad daylight in the open. They came to the fallen tree that she had spoken of. The girl hopped over and forced apart the bushes, in which there did not seem to be an opening.",
which contains more lovely descriptions of nature and the countryside, plus negative descriptions of how urban living appears to Winston because of the contrast with what is before him. The third sentence from the end is also quite telling, as it refers to the fact that most of Winston's life, most people's life, is spent indoors and under artificial lighting.
This is obviously relevant to modern life, and also ties into a number of themes which move throughout the novel and its omissions on the BBC. (see themes list)
*More crucial state monitoring and rule by fear is removed:
"'I didn't want to say anything in the lane,' she went on, 'in case there's a mike hidden there. I don't suppose there is, but there could be. There's always the chance of one of those swine recognizing your voice. We're all right here.' He still had not the courage to approach her. ‘'We're all right here?' he repeated stupidly. 'Yes. Look at the trees.' They were small ashes, which at some time had been cut down and had sprouted up again into a forest of poles, none of them thicker than one's wrist. 'There's nothing big enough to hide a mike in. Besides, I've been here before.'"
"They were only making conversation. He had managed to move closer to her now. She stood before him very upright, with a smile on her face that looked faintly ironical, as though she were wondering why he was so slow to act. The bluebells had cascaded on to the ground. They seemed to have fallen of their own accord. He took her hand. 'Would you believe,' he said, 'that till this moment I didn't know what colour your eyes were?' They were brown, he noted, a rather light shade of brown, with dark lashes."
This removes not only astute observations of awkward social situations, but another chance to display Winston's character, and further references to the fact that life under BB is lonely and distant from other people.
*Omits "she was utterly unresisting, he could do what he liked with her. But the truth was that he had no physical sensation, except that of mere contact. All he felt was incredulity and pride. He was glad that this was happening, but he had no physical desire.". This idea changes the encounter to something much more than a mere sexual meeting, more than a "one night stand", but is removed in the BBC version.
This leaves this important first meeting little more than a result of lust and physical attraction, when to Winston it is so much more. Another sign of the obsession with glorifying pure sex that has been seen in previous episodes perhaps...
*A further example of this follows quickly, as the this is left out; "Never mind, dear. There's no hurry. We've got the whole afternoon. Isn't this a splendid hide-out? I found it when I got lost once on a community hike. If anyone was coming you could hear them a hundred meter away.'"
This slowing of the sexual pace between Winston and Julia is removed from the BBC version, leaving it all nothing but a quick fumble in the woods..... Incredibly, because i am listening to it as i go along here, the alteration of their first proper meeting has been even more perverted than i had thought as i wrote the above....
In the book, the meeting is far longer than the radio show makes it out of course, but not only have they cut out any signs that Winston and Julia spent hours walking, talking about their lives and life in general under BB, and becoming closer in a way other than physical, but they have succeeded in casting Winston as a lustful, domineering, sexual predator!
This has been done by the cutting out of all the imagery and talk of the beauty of the countryside and by cutting out the wonderful bonding of watching and listening to the Thrush, both key elements in the development of the relationship between Winston and Julia.
Instead, they simply meet, fall into each others arms, briefly exchange names while undressing, and then have sex ("NOW!" groans Winston lustfully).
Yet another example of how Winstons character is being effectively assassinated....
The barbarity of this complete and utter alteration has an effect rather akin to being hit with a blunt object, a blunt object which knocks one to the floor with its coarse abruptness.
As this fits perfectly with a major theme of the BBC production, it can only be intended to make this tender, nervous and taboo meeting appear to be just another bit of elicit copulation, another cheap fumble in the woods, especially since Winston's (ex) wife is mentioned just before the act.
*"And, yes! it was almost as in his dream. Almost as swiftly as he had imagined it, she had torn her clothes off, and when she flung them aside it was with that same magnificent gesture by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated" is left out, continuing the removal of any reference to Winston's dreams and their meaning.
*Also, in the previous section, the follow references to state monitoring are left out:
"'Don't go out into the open. There might be someone watching. We're all right if we keep behind the boughs.' He wondered whether after all there was a microphone hidden somewhere near. He and Julia had spoken only in low whispers, and it would not pick up what they had said, but it would pick up the thrush. Perhaps at the other end of the instrument some small, beetle-like man was listening intently — listening to that."
The omission of the "beetle like" description completes a so far 100% record of leaving that lovely image out.
*"strenuousness" is omitted from "Who knew, perhaps the Party was rotten under the surface, its cult of strenuousness and self-denial simply a sham concealing iniquity." although the rest of the sentence is read. The association of "self-denial" with the Party, the Party of course perceived as bad by the listener, creates the impression that self denial is a bad thing too, but especially so when self denial is being faked in order to bolster image.
This reflects very well something i have encountered with people during debate; that self denial, in any shade or variety, is wrong and unatural. This idea, i think, is absolutely part of modern consumer culture, and it is interesting to see it replicated in this one small, yet important (to the novel's message), example.
*Content taken from this chapter ends at "among the fallen bluebells" and does not pick up again untill the first words of the 5th paragraph of the next. This misses out yet more examples of Winston's caring nature and how they are fearful of being watched and caught.
*Here the abridger has, suprise, actually mentioned, in reference to their meeting in the belfry of the church, that Winston and Julia talk for hours.......but in this context it doesn't have quite the same effect as it would have had if included at their first meeting in the woods.
In the BBC version, their first meeting was simply a lustful encounter, with no talking as such, any meaningful conversation only coming after their first sexual contact.
This is a sequence that mirrors the behaviour of the core adolescent and twenty-something "clubbing" population - they meet in a place where they hardly talk, only dance, and then head to the nearest of the pair's homes, or sometimes a toilet, carpark, bush etc, for lustful sex. Afterwards, if it is felt that there is something more than just lust between the pair, they will then meet up and date in the normal manner, only then talking and learning about each other.
This reversal of the respectful, healthy, sequence of courting is probably more normal at the moment.....
*Omits continued examples impressing upon the reader just how dangerous their meeting is, the following quote especially relevant to our lives; "There were evenings when they reached their rendezvous and then had to walk past one another without a sign, because a patrol had just come round the corner or a helicopter was hovering overhead", and more displays of Winston's love and attachment to Julia.
*Omits another reference to the total coverage of the telescreen and its intrusive, distracting nature.
*Only reads "They sat talking for hours on the dusty, twig-littered floor, " although the real sentence read as "They sat talking for hours on the dusty, twig-littered floor, one or other of them getting up from time to time to cast a glance through the arrowslits and make sure that no one was coming.", again significantly altering the setting of their precious meetings.
*The "Spies" are mentioned, but only in passing and without any further elaboration. Classic propaganda by omission, as we are deprived of the real meaning of the term which Orwell took so much trouble to spell out to us in the novel.
*Omits the description of Julia's work, although the place that she works in is mentioned again, "She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor.", as this is an obvious reference to the Division of Labour, and a reminder of our own, increasingly specialised working lives.
*Omits all mention here of Pornosec, including a humourous allusion to something that happens, or used to happen, in real life; "There she had remained for a year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles like Spanking Stories or One Night in a Girls' School, to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal."
*Omits "She had had her first love-affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest", perhaps because it shows the way in which sexual desires have been perverted in the world of BB?
*Omits "She seemed to think it just as natural that 'they' should want to rob you of your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught", a powerful sentence which reminds us of our own attitudes towards real life governments - we accept restrictive laws, high taxes and corrupt bureaucrats because that is simply the way it is. We may moan while watching the daily TV news shows, or somesuch other ineffectual expression of dissatisfaction, but we carry on as normal, like the frog in slowly heating water, no matter what new illiberality they throw our way.
To think of all this as "natural", or not to think of it at all, is Truly the sign of an oppressed and controlled mind, hence the removal of this, and the following subsequent, thought provoking line from the BBC version of 1984.
"He wondered vaguely how many others like her there might be in the younger generation people who had grown up in the world of the Revolution, knowing nothing else, accepting the Party as something unalterable, like the sky, not rebelling against its authority but simply evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog."
*This theme continues with the omission of the following. "She hated the Party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general criticism of it. Except where it touched upon her own life she had no interest in Party doctrine. He noticed that she never used Newspeak words except the ones that had passed into everyday use."
"General criticism" takes general understanding of not only that which one criticises, but also of things that are different against which to compare.
Since Julia, or so it seems to me (please correct me), is representitive of, in real life, those people who know that something is wrong with the world but who do not have the patience, temperament or desire to understand what that actually is, her not being able to critique in a general fashion inclines me to think that this is exactly the way BB wants her to be; thinking that she is free, or rebelling, because of her sexual "liberation" from Party rules, all the while merely going around in circles degrading herself and, most importantly, not harming the rule of BB in any way whatsoever.
This is reinforced by her lack of Doctrinal understanding and her non-use of Newspeak except where it has become common use. The first because it indicates that she has no interest in learning how the Party manifests it control over the individual so as to construct for herself a framework within which to realise the True depth to which BB has control (the control is simply accepted as self existant); the second because it allows us to see that she does not have the critical awareness required to a)pick out and analyse the system and meaning of Newspeak or b)to realise that she has, through propaganda, been taught to use Newspeak without her knowing about it.
Both of these ideas are clearly seen in our real life world: How many people do you know yourself that profess, and may even evidence, a desire to know what is "really going on" in the world, to know the "Truth", and yet cannot be bothered to do that most important of exercises, that is, actually reading about the various systems of governance and the ideologies of those in power, not to mention keeping abreast of the latest developments in news (real news, that is, not the eye candy, fear factory produced, "news") and, crucially, published government papers such as proposed law Bills, or statements of policy.
The second, from above, is also clearly visible. Few are the people who are aware of the changes in our langauge, most of which derive from the world of politics, and the effect it has on our thoughts
There are many examples, but i will briefly, and simply, for that is my level of understanding it, state the general principle by which most of them operate - They work by sounding clear and precise, when in reality they have but vague meaning(s) and only serve to cloud speech; Some phrases are designed to mean exactly the opposite of what they appear to mean, and many serve to make one lazy in both thought and speech.
One good example that has been spreading throughout the UK for quite a while now, but moreso during the past year, is the practice of adding "wise" to the end of a noun, for the purpose shown as follows;
A radio host asks his co-host about the weather outside;
"How are we doing weatherwise?"
"Are you set holidaywise?"
This is quite clearly a very lazy, and distinctly "Orwellian" way of asking questions, but, more than these example, it is the universal application of this suffix, "wise", that is the more concerning, for, as Orwell showed brilliantly with "Newspeak" in 1984, it is the cutting down of language that poses the greatest threat to our thoughts.
*Omits Winston's recollections of his wife and her behaviour, and long paragraph or two which contains more references to the complete state monitoring process, and also the good observation of seeing how many people are uneasy when away from urban areas.
*Omits the following "She would not accept it as a law of nature that the individual is always defeated. In a way she realized that she herself was doomed, that sooner or later the Thought Police would catch her and kill her, but with another part of her mind she believed that it was somehow possible to construct a secret world in which you could live as you chose. All you needed was luck and cunning and boldness. She did not understand that there was no such thing as happiness, that the only victory lay in the far future, long after you were dead, that from the moment of declaring war on the Party it was better to think of yourself as a corpse.", a powerful message, becoming sadly more True with every day, every new Freedom-stealing law or collectivist scheme, that passes.
Orwell is here, at the same time, showing us the contrast between youth and age, hopeful optimism and dejected resignation; Julia with the zest to devise plans that, so she believes, circumvent Party controls, and Winston who, eventually, becomes embued with her energy for active subversion (the room he rents), but still has the wisdom to see that the control wielded by BB is too far reaching, too complete, for them ever to escape in any real way.
This is very applicable to our own lives, for it is all too easy to resign oneself to seemingly inevitable poltical change, to see opposition as futile and to give in to those in power, when really it is always worth fighting it, even if you know you will fail, just so that you know you tried.
*Omits "'I've been at school too, dear. Sex talks once a month for the over-sixteens.'". I know that the context is different, but perhaps reminding us proles that we, and our kids, where exposed to state mandated "sex education" at our state run schools is a little too much to be tolerated, especially as that same state gives sex lessons to kids well under 16 now......
This relates to other real life examples also; girls of 10, 12, 14 allowed to have abortions without telling their parents, or girls of the same age groups being given out contraceptive pills, or long term injections, again without parental knowledge, and again funded by the state. Magazines for 13 year-olds packed with tips on sex and how to "pull", and, interestingly enough from the BBC also, shows entitled "99 ways to lose your virginity" shown on primetime TV, or to be recorded and shown at school.
In one of the shows that i have seen, there is no mention of any other way of living but to want to have sex as soon as possible, and then, the "couple" that are interviewed admit to "doing it" on their "first proper date", and, stunningly, in a park on the way home from the cinema.
All of this, and SO much more, aimed at youngsters to busy themselves with their body's desires, to cheapen themselves, to submit to predatory whims, and not to question any of it.
*Omits last two short sentences from this chapter, which shows another example of how the pair must be constantly avoiding the watchful eye of BB.
*Misses off the last sentence of the first paragraph of chapter 4: "In the corner, on the gateleg table, the glass paperweight which he had bought on his last visit gleamed softly out of the half-darkness."
In it another showing of the paperweight which is predictably removed.
*Includes "He had brought an envelope full of Victory Coffee and some saccharine tablets", but without context of previous, omitted, mentions of the artificial sweetener; this makes the use of the saccharine appear normal as opposed to the real meaning of it in 1984, for many people use it as a sugar replacement in real life.
Another clever twisting of the more subtle 1984 themes.
Interestingly, the only "Victory" brand product mentioned so far in the series is the coffee.
*Omits: "Folly, folly, his heart kept saying: conscious, gratuitous, suicidal folly. Of all the crimes that a Party member could commit, this one was the least possible to conceal. Actually the idea had first floated into his head in the form of a vision, of the glass paperweight mirrored by the surface of the gateleg table. As he had foreseen, Mr. Charrington had made no difficulty about letting the room. He was obviously glad of the few dollars that it would bring him. Nor did he seem shocked or become offensively knowing when it was made clear that Winston wanted the room for the purpose of a love-affair. Instead he looked into the middle distance and spoke in generalities, with so delicate an air as to give the impression that he had become partly invisible. Privacy, he said, was a very valuable thing. Everyone wanted a place where they could be alone occasionally. And when they had such a place, it was only common courtesy in anyone else who knew of it to keep his knowledge to himself. He even, seeming almost to fade out of existence as he did so, added that there were two entries to the house, one of them through the back yard, which gave on an alley."
This paragraph not only shows us more of the danger inherent in the renting of the room, but removes a really nice part on the importance of personal privacy, the loss of which has been greatly lessened in the BBC version.
*Removes "pegging out a series of square white things which Winston recognized as babies' diapers" although surrounding words are read. Orwell here seems to be implying that diapers are not well known in the world of 1984, except to the proles who still use them.
This is rather like our world, where wastfeul, lazy, and expensive disposable diapers have largely replaced the washable, reusable ones.
*"solid as a Norman pillar" is taken from the description of the prole woman, although she is still described as "monstrous".
*"The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound. He could hear the woman singing and the scrape of her shoes on the flagstones, and the cries of the children in the street, and somewhere in the far distance a faint roar of traffic, and yet the room seemed curiously silent, thanks to the absence of a telescreen." is omitted, although the music department is mentioned as the song's creator.
Perhaps it is a little too close to the Truth of the pop music industry!
*Omits a long section (from the second "folly, folly, folly" to the mention of the ministry of love) which has within it the following selected quotes;
"She had become a physical necessity, something that he not only wanted but felt that he had a right to. When she said that she could not come, he had the feeling that she was cheating him. But just at this moment the crowd pressed them together and their hands accidentally met. She gave the tips of his fingers a quick squeeze that seemed to invite not desire but affection. It struck him that when one lived with a woman this particular disappointment must be a normal, recurring event; and a deep tenderness, such as he had not felt for her before, suddenly took hold of him."
Which shows us how their relationship is developing and changing into something more meaningful than the early meetings, but also allows us to see how personal relationships have been so disfigured by the indoctrination of the Party, to the extent that normal feelings associated with them are completely new to those who break their programming...
"He wished that they were a married couple of ten years' standing. He wished that he were walking through the streets with her just as they were doing now but openly and without fear, talking of trivialities and buying odds and ends for the household. He wished above all that they had some place where they could be alone together without feeling the obligation to make love every time they met."
A lovely image of married life which to us is quite taken for granted. Plus, as a positive image of marriage, it perhaps does not fit into the BBC's collectivist ideology, nor into their faulty, somewhat bizarre, concept of "political correctness" which seeks to avoid offending any "group" apart from White Anglo Saxon Protestants (or Christians in general).
*Omits "and tumbled out some spanners and a screwdriver that filled the top part of it. Underneath were a number of neat paper packets". This of course is yet another example of how ingrained the awareness of monitoring has become, such that it is mentioned in little asides with an air of almost unconscious normality.
*Includes "'Real sugar. Not saccharine, sugar'" and the rest of the sentence, which is a slight deviation from normal poor produce related omissions, but, as all the previous, more informative, instances regarding saccharine were left out, it is again mentioned in passing.
*Omits "She knew the whole drivelling song by heart, it seemed. Her voice floated upward with the sweet summer air, very tuneful, charged with a sort of happy melancholy. One had the feeling that she would have been perfectly content, if the June evening had been endless and the supply of clothes inexhaustible, to remain there for a thousand years, pegging out diapers and singing rubbish. It struck him as a curious fact that he had never heard a member of the Party singing alone and spontaneously. It would even have seemed slightly unorthodox, a dangerous eccentricity, like talking to oneself. Perhaps it was only when people were somewhere near the starvation level that they had anything to sing about."
There is something very comforting and homely about the description of the prole woman in this paragraph, and the last sentence is beyond me to comment on in any respectful way.
*Omits "Her lips were deeply reddened, her cheeks rouged, her nose powdered; there was even a touch of something under the eyes to make them brighter.", although "With just a few dabs of colour in the right places she had become not only very much prettier, but, above all, far more feminine" is retained.
Is it just me, or does the omission of the first sentence, which shows us that Julia is probably quite heavily made up, remove something from the meaning of this? To Winston, this seems "a few dabs of colour", but is Orwell, with the omitted part, telling us that it is really more than that?
I'm not sure, but this, and the inclusion of the couple's renewed bedroom antics, seems to be fitting into the modern perceptions of both, and is especially interesting in the light of all that has been left out.
*"He wondered vaguely whether in the abolished past it had been a normal experience to lie in bed like this, in the cool of a summer evening, a man and a woman with no clothes on, making love when they chose, talking of what they chose, not feeling any compulsion to get up, simply lying there and listening to peaceful sounds outside. Surely there could never have been a time when that seemed ordinary? " is removed.
*Omits first mention of Winston's rat nightmare.
*Omits rest of this chapter, picking up again at the start of chapter 5 and the disappearance of Syme...
Apologies for not finishing the list on this week's episode (this is about 2/3rds done)...will send off the rest with next week's omissions.
james (sheffield, uk)
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 1 and 1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 1 cont'd
Reader thanks James for detailing the BBC's omissions, edits & alterations to Orwell's masterpiece of British literature
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 2 and 1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 2 cont'd
1984 RADIO OMISSIONS - 3
Reader says BBC is shredding all heart, life, soul & "TRUTH" from ORWELL'S 1984 radio reading
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~
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