Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Welcome to George Orwell's 1984. On The Politics Of Doublethink.

George Orwell, 1984:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself--that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious to the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the world "doublethink" involved the use of doublethink.

The bolding of the last sentence is mine, and it is bolded, because doublethink is everywhere in today's political debates.

So it goes, as another writer (Kurt Vonnegut) used to sigh.

Dealing with nonstop doublethink necessitates mental health breaks.  Mine (I need more of them, these days, it seems) consist of lying in the darkened bedroom, with chocolate at hand, watching Nordic noir (1) or similar crime stories from other European countries.  I talk back to the television screen, extremely fluently in Finnish,  fairly fluently in Swedish, less so in German, and barely at all in French and Italian.  But my accent always sounds wonderful.  Bastardo!  Merde!  Kusimulkku perkele!  

Sometimes, when the plots become too predictable,  I watch all the episodes on full fast-forward.  A goddess can have her fill of existential Angst, fantastic ultra-modern architecture, and grey landscapes where dead-eyed people with never-closing inner wounds (and more expensive furniture than they could ever realistically afford) struggle, stumble and fall.  But she might still want to know who is left standing at the end of the series, if anyone.

But I also re-read classics, to recuperate, and that's why this post begins with a big mouthful from George Orwell.

My mental health breaks are a different reaction to the same Weltschmerz:  Why bother reading or engaging with people online (2) when fairly identical  parallel conversations can be had by yelling at the television screen?  At least the television isn't terribly good at gaslighting.  Nowhere near as good as even the most rudimentary Twitter users, at both ideological extremes, not to mention Our Dear Leader on Twitter.