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The Sexual Passion of Winston Smith

Edward Curtin

John Hurt and Suzanna Hamilton as Winston and Julia, 1984

Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice.” Frederick Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one’s own destruction, has become a ‘biological’ need.” Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where “Big Brother” poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen “life” and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography’s meaning – for sale, bought. And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is to make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images.

One’s sex becomes one’s gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back. Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. “Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread.” Such garbage would be funny if it weren’t so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images….Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don’t die; they “pass on” or “pass away.” Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don’t exist; they are “overseas contingency operations.” Killing people with drones isn’t killing; it’s “neutralizing them.” There are a “ton” of examples, but I am sure “you guys” don’t need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother’s language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms,

I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain….Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene…”

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it’s worth noting that from Hemingway’s WW I through Orwell’s WW II up until today’s endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway’s words, “you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel” has become extremely difficult.

Language, as the Greeks told us, should open up a clearing for the truth (Greek aleitheia, unhiddenness) to emerge so we can grasp the essence of life. And so it is ironically appropriate that Orwell’s Winston Smith discovers such essence, not in analyzing Crimestop, his tormenter O’Brien, or Doublethink, but “in a natural clearing, a tiny grass knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely” where he secretly meets a young woman who had passed him a note saying she loved him. Away from the prying eyes of Big Brother and his spies, amidst bluebells and a torrent of song from a thrush, they come together almost wordlessly. “Winston and Julia clung together, fascinated” as the thrush sang madly.

“The music went on and on, minute after minute, with astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as if the bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity…He stopped thinking and merely felt.”
Here the secret lovers affirm their humanity, the truth of sexual intimacy that is the enemy of all abstractions used by the powerful to control and manipulate normal people and to convince them to participate in killing others. “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.” Reveling in love-making in a free space outside the Party’s control, they felt they had triumphed.

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today, “seemed” is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. “Repressive de-sublimation” Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free.

This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in “the electronic life,” the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a “stressed” society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros…We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight…Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother’s mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can’t save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world.

Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like “The Party,” “seeks power entirely for its own sake” and “are not interested in the good of others,” all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don’t really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body’s truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In “Defence of Poetry,” Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let’s imagine a way out.
Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where “Oldspeak” – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just “fragments of the literature of the past” survive here and there. This is true for the schooled and unschooled.

In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called “elite” universities.

I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they “earn their living.” Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their “life-styles” and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times, Harvard, The New Yorker, Martha’s Vineyard, The Washington Post, Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition.

Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak,

a heretical thought…should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express.”

The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of “doublethink” wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this “Party” world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

It may sound silly to say, but language, as its etymology tells us, begins with the tongue (Latin, lingua). And the tongue is a bell, tolling out its meaning. Indeed, all language springs from the body – is body language. And when language becomes abstract and devoid of blood, it becomes etiolated and unable to convey the truth that is the mystical body of the world. It becomes a viper’s tongue, dividing the “good” people from the “bad” so the good can eliminate the bad who have become abstractions.

When Winston Smith and Julia hid in the arbor and for once felt free and alive as they fucked – despite its transitoriness – Orwell was suggesting something that his dystopian novel denies is possible: that we can escape our own 1984 in 2018 by returning to fundamentals. Whitman told us that if anything is sacred it is the human body, and he sung “the body electric.” This is the task of artists: to sing the words that tell the truth the propagandists try to deny.

James Joyce writes in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

Welcome, oh life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

Perhaps we should add: in the smithy of our souls and bodies. His fellow Irishman, William Butler Yeats, brings us down to earth with the words:

Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

“Yes I said yes I will Yes.”


34 Comments

  1. bekkos says

    Within the empire of the mind, rebellion
    is not so much prohibited, as inconceivable,
    in part because the empire has no name,
    in part because our minds are taught
    no language in which to name and question,
    and any naming, any questioning, produces
    only the fruit of indifference or indignation
    within the hollow echo-chamber
    of our communications.

    I wrote that a week ago, not thinking at all of Orwell’s 1984. This essay helps me put those thoughts into a deeper context. Thank you for writing it.

    • My first response disappeared before I sent it – perhaps it was too abstract.

      Rebellion within the mind – wished and believed is what sets up division.
      An oppositional will.
      A self differentiating thought given priority.
      A what if – taken as a want to be and given power.

      Within the dream of a separate mind
      In a separate body,
      in a world of separate things,
      seen outside in ‘otherness’
      is the emperor in his domain.
      Ruled out from naked truth
      by fig leaf finery
      over a fear of self-invalidation,
      that must seek what it lacks
      in possession, dominion
      of the forms and semblance of power

      Does one rebel in a madhouse?
      Or locate the nature of the insanity
      and walk out of its definitions
      By good housekeeping!

      Mind is not a physical entity
      even though it can run in emulation
      of a physically embodied experience.
      The subjecting mind did something
      with something and suffered its own gift
      as a sense of subjection
      raging at it predicament
      seeking its adversary.

      The mind of thought-doing cannot conceive of knowing-creating
      excepting some sense of exclusion
      that elicits the suspicious
      through to the vicious.

      Who in each life, is the casting director?
      Who gives the meanings that then reflect back?
      Who masks or hides in secrets and lies?

      I bring it within my own consciousness responsibility
      rather than give power to an unconscious evasion
      that doesn’t actually work
      except to keep me in the dark
      under a false light.

      Life it its true movement stirs
      rises and becomes in us
      as we give welcome.
      The attempt to control
      operates an exclusion zone
      in which the denied is reinterpreted
      within the framework of the dream.

      Denial operates unseen
      to make a consciousness over denied self
      as a masking ‘reality’
      But denying the very source of life
      is asking for death
      as the ‘power’ over life.

      Dead concepts
      blind idols
      given sacrifice of the living
      for their gifts of power and protection
      from the fear of Life
      as chaos
      and nothingness.

      Better the devil we know
      thinks the devil we know.

  2. “Away from the prying eyes of Big Brother and his spies, amidst bluebells and a torrent of song from a thrush, they come together almost wordlessly. “Winston and Julia clung together, fascinated” as the thrush sang madly. The music went on and on, minute after minute, with astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as if the bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity…He stopped thinking and merely felt.”

    To frame the epiphany as sexual passion or ‘eros’ is to focus on the forms of the event from an outside ‘thinking perspective’ (sic) and run along socially conditioned associations.

    “Behold I make all things new!” is the act of Creation – of a CreatING Universe – in place of a dead letter society running on rule-bound checks and tick-boxes to the ‘forms’ or ‘set meanings’ of a narrative control.

    I wrote further on this in
    https://off-guardian.org/2018/07/24/to-make-a-sailor-blush/#comment-127130
    in a thread of reference to the Nietzsche story in this article.

  3. A lot of good witness and some confusion too – in my reading the above.
    Language does not extend the tongue but the word or definition from which it goes forth to bless or damn.

    The ancients used Soul for what later became psyche and later became mind that thus becomes a robotic set of manipulatable conditioned reflexes to be reverse engineered by systems of control in place of true relationship.

    Mind is a verb – do you mind? The construct of ideas given ‘object permanence’ is the model of its own world. Attempts to communicate with a rule-bound filtered defence do not find resonance. Only like communicates with like and that is to say love shares itself in its freedom of being where fear seeks reinforcement against exposure to a lack of substance over past experience set to be evaded at all cost.

    A course in grievances has been running its world for millennia – and we have learned to make a loveless existence tangible – even while seeking ‘love’ in fantasy gratifications that inherently override the true creative impulse of being – or rather mask over it as the desire to possess, dominate, and control.
    And then ‘see’ others as we see and accept ourselves – and thus distrust them, fearing falsity or treachery.

    There is a true witnessing in what Orwell wanted to entitle 1948 – but the publisher prevailed – in terms of an unselfconscious and undefended opening to and with another in living Now. That specific forms of experience do not last is not requiring an evil to stamp on it – but the loss of such a spontaneity is to the evils of the day thereof. That is to say, to the interjection of a possessive and controlling mentality – taken as our own thought and be-lived as a subjective experience that reflects the subjecting judgement.

    Christ is a key of the unlocking of sin to a true movement of unconflicted love – but what Christianity as institution made of it used the forms of the true to more cruelly deny or indeed sacrifice a true Innocence of being to the control mentality – aka Caesar or worldly power. The term sin is rarely used now and that is because it is so invisibly and systematically operating a corruption of the true – that has within itself a sort of mind-trap of being hostage to our own unrecognized thought under the be-lived experience of the hateful boot smashing down on the face of desire for Life. For the movement or vibrational qualities of being are the true that is feared, hated, subverted and corrupted – by a tyrannous mind – or indeed minding.

    So question your experience and world if it is not a match to your true recognition, and watch the mind instead of sleepwalking its habit. Survival as a form or image of life grasped at – never was going to work out amidst the always changing. Release and be released is also give and be receiving of. Yours is the measure by what you accept and believe – if only in its moment – by acting within its framing.

    Te ability of a fragmented consciousness to ‘timeshare’ revolving faces so as to maintain the self-illusion is rooted in wanting it so, and thus accepting ‘insane’ thoughts as worthy of reaction and investment instead of release in laughter. But in this ‘world’ we live as if we are split. How can you judge yourself? And therefore another! Thinking makes a world apart, but (re)action delivers its experience.

    Orwell reworked the Crucifixion in modern terms – and left you to look squarely at it so as to break the spell and look beyond. For Orwell did not have the willingness or readiness to let thinking go – and simply receive only as he is willing to give.

    The attacks on the person are targeted to finding our unwatched and unowned vulnerabilities. There is much hate and fear beneath the surface ‘reality’ that runs unwatched, unchecked and unchallenged.

    We have called in ‘external’ powers to protect us from our own fear. But not only is this anti-life, it takes away the result of our thought so as to keep us locked into dependency and subjection. There is no call to break the system (which is the purpose of the very system’s sense of life as something to be broken into parts, divided and ruled over). But there is a Call to Joy – which is always and only Now – and not when you have sorted out all the ‘reasons’ you cannot open to joy now – in willingness that alights in some facet of your moment and lives it as a relational receiving. In time the giving will move naturally – and find balance, but initially the need to open and support the truly receptive – that before was trampled or discarded or ignored under a sense of self-necessity. But is that true? Do we WANT to blame others or circumstance for our own withdrawal and withholding of the gift of Life?

    Love aligns all to a unified willing – and sexual relation and communication are no exception – but if they are made exceptional – in self-specialness of possession fantasies AND fears – then we set our selves up to suffer them in place of freedom of being – as IF pursuing freedom of doing. The reversal of freedom and slavery is of a kind with a consciousness predicated upon reversal of the Golden Rule.

    Writing from listening is releasing the ‘doer’ to the discernment of the qualities of the moment. In this sense ‘Let me be an instrument of Thy Peace’ is not an idea seeking application, but a living relational communion. Our personality construct or life focus – is a vehicle of creative intent – because there is nothing else going on at the mind or awareness ‘level’. The attempt to project a sense of evil out and away from Self is a miscreational intent – given all the power of a passion turned against itself.

    What we give away – in the sense of self-definition lived – is what we get to keep. The Golden Rule is not an exhortation to be nicer, fairer and less hateful, but the recognition of the Law as it Is. Regardless how cunningly packaged.

  4. notheonly1 says

    Thank You very much – for kicking open the door that reveals the door that just got kicked open. It may not immediately be apparent, but what You wrote has created a bigger picture than the sum of its pieces.

    Orwell is without doubt on of the greatest writers humanity has ever produced. And I used the word ‘produced’, because the man George Orwell was as much the product of his own times, as we are of the time we are living in right now. His keen observations about ‘Love’ in the face of totalitarianism that chokes everything to death that does not provide interest of profit or return of investment, are now more to the point than when he wrote his master piece.

    But one should also not forget that whatever is described in ‘1984’ has been said in the times long preceding the 21st century. The ‘I Ching’, the ‘Dao’, the Upanishads and the wisdom of the Sufis – to name just a few of a well of thinkers that dedicated their existence to introspection and thus to the reflection of the ‘bigger picture’. Man is and has always been a reflection of his environment, with a mechanism of perpetual interaction. The environment creates man and man in turn alters the environment, which in turn alters man, only to alter the environment again.

    It is akin to looking into two mirrors set up opposing each other. What they reflect ‘vanishes’ into the infinity of their reflections. While I am not in a position to contribute to the part of sexuality for sexuality’s sake, the same is true for the mirrors is true for sexuality. A self-exciting cycle under the utilization of exterior stimuli. It is safe to allege that man has arrived in the age of mutual masturbation.

    However, I would like to draw the attention away from the focus about everything that has been so eloquently expressed and steam ahead to one aspect that is always left out. It may well be, that this leaving this aspect out has to do with self-preservation, or to some degree the preservation of one”s individuality, either altruistically or egotistically. Everybody wants to be somebody and the means perused are as diverse as there are human beings. Although some take it to ever new levels. ‘Sticking out’ has become the new mantra and it is promoted, advertised and instigated as the prerequisite to count, to be special. What one might call the ‘deep state’ and what I call ‘the dark side of collective consciousness’, is in itself nothing but a reflection upon another reflection.

    We could not have a ‘deep state’ without a ‘shallow collective consciousness’. And where would that come from? Is it man-made? The source for the writings on this wall does not believe that any longer. Having been inescapable part of the constant conditioning and programming that is part of human nature, the mind arrived at a point, where enough distance was achieved to finally see the bigger picture. Alan Watts utilized this analogy beautifully and in his specific, humorous way, by pointing the audience to understand how consciousness works using a news paper image. Looked at the image with a magnifying glass, one will only see individual dots. Creating a larger distance between the image and the observer, the picture becomes smooth and easily identifiable.

    Allow me to take this analogy to the next level and start out by the individual mind being a single dot. And I use the term ‘mind’ over the term ‘being’ for important reasons. Using ‘beings’ one will only arrive at a larger mass, but when using individual minds, a different image appears. This image might be quite discomforting to the majority of human beings, as it overrides the sense of ‘individuality’ that has been so skillfully implanted by those who always have to sell something. There is a documentary called ‘Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New World View’ that I like to recommend. In it, Annie Leonard, an environmental health expert, explains (00:23:27): “…What’s the point of an ad, except to make us unhappy with what we have.”

    What IF the bigger picture is, that what humans experience on earth right now is just the way it is? That it would always be this way, no matter on what planet, or in what galaxy? What is all of this is nothing but Evolution? For how long have people from the ‘educator’ Kast taught everybody that ‘evolution’ is something that happens to everything else, but human beings? Who came up with the idea that Homo Sapiens is the Crown of Creation and that it – unlike everything else, no longer evolves? That Homo Sapiens is the End of Evolution?

    As a Quantum Philosopher, I care to emphasize that this image of the world and of Homo Sapiens in it, is long outdated. It is the leftover of a segment of evolution in which ‘civilization’ was at the brink of being a feedback-loop. When we look at Homo Sapiens’ infancy, it was the development of language that filled most of its days. Through the development of language, other developments followed, the use of tools, the age of the agrarian and so forth. As Homo Sapiens was evolving, he saw itself as a constant, very much like an individual that observes its environment every day – it won’t notice changes as much as when it has been absent for some time. Remember when You were growing up and relatives, who would visit only every once in a while stating that “Oh my! Look at how much You have grown!” An observation that is not as obvious to Your parents, who saw You every day.

    Now, when we look at the ‘human condition’ from that perspective, what does that make of the environment? An environment that is as much of a feedback-loop as Homo Sapiens is inseparable part of this environment. And here lies the greatest possibility for an introspection by Homo Sapiens about itself, its environment, its society and its civilization looked at as the bigger picture. When the individual dots smoothly fuse to an image that cannot be seen looking at the individual dot – the individual mind, the individual being that is always part of the bigger picture.

    Personally I am in the greatest distress ever experienced and it is partially due to what the world has changed into. My personal struggles are nothing but a reflection of the struggles of humanity. And as I love to quote Jiddu Krishnamurti, I reiterated often enough that “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. But today I can say that the profoundly sick society is detrimental to both, the well adjusted and the maladjusted. With the latter experiencing even more suffering and pain. The adjusted sheep will follow their society to the butcher without as much as a ‘Bah’.

    Thank You for Your brilliant articles that differ so refreshingly much from the grey noise of constant blabber about the present moments in the life of Homo Sapiens. I bow in respect to You far taking the time to address important aspects of the human condition. May I be permitted to recite another gem of ancient wisdom that helps me to make it through my days of suffering and pain:

    This too, shall pass.

  5. We are the rear guard of the real,
    Pulling on your shirt tail,
    Stepping on your heel.
    We’re here to the last,
    And we’re here to ask,
    “What do you feel?……What do you feel ?”

  6. BigB says

    Excellent Essay!

    Ah, language: if only it could be destroyed …but where would that leave us?

    The common conception is that language is descriptive of experience and real world referential: words and their constructions (built on foundational metaphors and metonyms) faithfully represent phenomena. The relation of the signifier and the signified is rational and objective: words create meaning and express reality. Experience, reality, cognition and consciousness are basically synecdochic – a simultaneous understanding of the same thing. The primal signification of psycholinguistically constructed knowledge is self. The self conditionality is the ground and horizon of language.

    Or is it? Is self a constructor of meaning; or is its meaning a construction of language? Imagine our direct perceptual experience as a cleat disc: and language as an opaque or semi-opaque disc. If one disc is placed on the other: it follows that if the opaque (selfview) disc is on top – direct perceptual experience (Being) is more or less completely obscured from view. If the clear disc is on top – it may appear the same – but we are looking into the obscurity (and constructed meanings) of language through the clear lens of direct experiential Being. Language is relegated to an employable tool: the constructor of the meaningful (with its sense-making rationality intact): not the dominator and obscurer of direct perceptual experience or pure perception (jnana; prajnaparamita): or Being (parinispanna svabhava – perfect nature)

    If language represents reality, and reality is objectively describable by language: then what is the distinction? Imagine two circles touching at only a single point. This would be the point of present momentariness (which could be designated the point of symbolic exchange). One circle is direct perceptual experience: the other is formed of psycho-linguistic (conceptual) constructions (parakalpita). Parakalpita is imputed and inferred from direct (sensorial; empirical; phenomenalogical) experience: but it does not represent it: it represents itself (self-referentially). One has to ‘withdraw’ from direct experience to reflectively impute and infer (think; conceptualise; psycho-linguistically construct). The linguistic realm is necessarily a historicism: self and perception cannot be synchronous …lagging behind the real: the self-reflective narrative and identity formation (self) are necessarily but near life experiences. This would be a more accurate depiction of the relationship of language and direct perceptual experience: according to Yogacaran phenomenology.

    So what use is language if it obscures direct experience and Being? Does it need to be destroyed: so that we can enter into – and remain in – a meditative quietism …in order to Be?

    Now imagine that the two circles: which we can now label the (psycho-linguistically) Created, and the (non-conceptual; non-dual) Uncreated. The area of overlap would represent the amount by which language is embodied. All our basic movements, functions, and mental states are textually coded. They have embodied ‘grammar’. The basic structure of language – the spatio-temporal and causal metaphoric framework that determines – and is determined by (in a reciprocal causality) – the first person experiential …is a cultural given. It is a pan-cultural universal and basis of a shared experiential first person (personification-centric) point of view [Levi-Strauss]. Personification is a cultural norm: its metaphors and metonyms are ‘ontogenetic’ – first person identity creating and substantiating …and this is coded (as a cultural DNA) into language.

    Think of the most basic sentence “I am writing” – personification and duality (subject/object/action split) are grammatically encoded. We even use personification to describe the non-personal and non-human (eg debt is killing me; neoliberal debt creation has given birth to the ‘me’ generation) in which the self-confirmation is hidden and barely noticeable [Lakoff and Johnson]. These given structural metaphors form the basis of our culturally acquired conceptual system: personification is encultured and embodied. Any amount of abstract theoretical constructs can be built on this embodied cognitive foundation: to an extent that even thinking of geopolitics is cognitively ’embodied’. The more theoretical, the more personification and individual identity formation assume ‘taken-for-grantedness’: hidden in the deep structure and foundational metaphors and metonyms of the language. They become the Absolute and essentialist coding of the text.

    We can see that the Created and Uncreated share a common framework: they are not independent, but dependent. Being informs language: language informs Being – though this root signification can be more or less obscured by an embodied linguistic constructivist self-personification. But the relationship of the Created and Uncreated is not fixed or determined in any way. Through the praxis of Yoga (used in its broadest definition to mean ‘union’); the self-personification and its abstract and theoretical constructivism can become ‘fluid’ …rather than fixed and permanent: anchored by the self. The (heuristic) circles can be more or less separate; or more or less overlapping …dependent on which mode of being is culturally favoured. The circles can become more or less concentric in Parinispanna Svabhava (‘perfect nature’). The role of language (as a creatrix) is diminished, but not destroyed. The imaginary (‘parakalpitic’) nature is shorn of much of its fantastical, abstract, theoretical constructivism – but its sense-making, meaningfulness, and communicative abilities remain intact. This could be represented as a smaller circle of expression enclosed within the informative silence (sunyata) of Being?

    Language is a tool (albeit with encoded dominance-power, violence and destructiveness): the question is – do we control language …or does it control us? There is no need to destroy the language (a postmodern goal?) in order to reveal the truth of the latter. We just need to view it through a different lens?

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  7. Baron says

    Up to not that distant past, humans had a number of natural enemies, mainly viruses, were also a frequent enemy to themselves i.e. wars. This kept the number of humans down.

    After WW2, technological & medical progress, travelling, and globalisation took over, which have reduce the range of threats to our survival, hence the change, amongst other behavioural traits, in the frequency of bonking, any time, anywhere, and more often than not on a whim. Not for reproduction, merely for pleasure.

    This is not what sex was designed for either by Him or Nature (you take your pick), and it may well be the next conduit for the cut in our numbers will come not from nukes that everyone fears, but via sex, the Aids epidemic may have been merely the foretaste of things to hit us big.

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    • bevin says

      You are entitled to an opinion but your history is simply made up. This, for example is nonsense:
      “…After WW2, technological & medical progress, travelling, and globalisation took over, which have reduce the range of threats to our survival, hence the change, amongst other behavioural traits, in the frequency of bonking, any time, anywhere, and more often than not on a whim. …”

      • Or this, “the Aids epidemic may have been merely the foretaste of things to hit us big”. Probably referring to the manufactured AIDS crisis, like the manufactured Mad Cow, Ebola, Avian fear crises. Nothing to do with sex, though a case may be made that fascists tend to hew to sex control policies.

  8. MichaelK says

    ‘It’s a truly glorious Summer we’ll all remember for years to come!’ Or, uncontrolled ‘global warming’ is kicking in with a vengeance and we’re all gonna fry. The speed and the consequences have been drastically undervalued and society won’t be able to adapt in time to the challenges we face. What language can we employ to reveal the Truth when modern language used in the public sphere is about communicating the opposite… Lies?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Capitalism is the Mother of All Lies. Not only do capitalists in tobacco, BigPharma, fossil fuels etc, lie ceaselessly to protect their ‘Precious’, their wealth, profits and power, but they also buy politicians who lie, incessantly and, these days, almost exclusively (any contact with ‘the Truth’, being accidental or calculated for effective, or for some longer-term deception)and they fund liars to lie for them in ‘think-tanks’ and the Free Press. Indeed the Western kakistocracies do little but lie anymore, and with growing arrogance, and vicious opposition to any remaining truth-tellers, or even dissenting opinion
      We have, I believe, reached a phase change in global climate, thanks to centuries of greenhouse gas emissions, .and the kicking in of positive feed-backs like the albedo flip in the Arctic north and the warming oceans and dying tropical forests becoming carbon sources, no longer sinks. Atmospheric greenhouse gas levels are increasing at an increasing rate, with no sign of any mechanism to reverse this process, amid a final omnicidal burst of denialist fanaticism. Skies are falling, and birds are singing less and less, yet we march on, oblivious, to our doom. We’ll be ‘lucky’ to see 2050.

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  9. Francis Lee says

    For all his forebodings Orwell was not totally pessimistic about the future of mankind. The totalitarian ethic and mindset was restricted mostly to the outer party – today’s Guardian-reading classes – the fanatics who imbibed its precepts most enthusiastically. The proles remained largely unaffected, as do some elements of the traditional intelligentsia, and lead a traditional ancestral way of life. In one scene where Winston and Julia met for their usual erotic rendezvous above an antique shop, Winston noted a prole woman in the courtyard having out the washing and singing ‘It was only an April fancy’ In one of his best piece of writing he goes on:

    ‘Tirelessly the woman marched to and fro, corking and uncorking herself, singing and falling silent, and pegging out more diapers… As he looked at the woman in her characteristic attitude, her thick arms reaching up to the line, her powerful mare-like buttocks it struck him for the first time that she was beautiful.

    ”She’s beautiful he murmured”
    ”She’s a metre across the hips, easily said Julia”
    ”That is her style of beauty said Winston.”

    ‘The mystical reverence he felt for her … was true of all people across the world, hundreds of thousands of people like this … ignorant of one another’s existence held apart by walls of hatred and lies – people who never learned to think but who were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world … if there was hope it lay in the proles.”

    Unfortunately this was the last meeting between Winston and Julia. The room that had been renting from Mr Charrington who owned the shop and came across as an affable eccentric, was in fact working for the Ministry of Love as a secret policeman. From then on it was Room101 for our intrepid lovers.

    But the proles are becoming increasingly immune from party manifestos and crude propaganda; rather like a population develops immunity to bacterial and virus infections. This is apparent in another of Orwell’s anti-heros, one George Bowling in Coming Up For Air. George just about survived WW1 and got a job – well he got the job and the job got him – working as an insurance salesman; a calling which he knew was a complete racket, as was nearly everything else in the 1930s, and also that another war was on the way.

    On his way to work by train he was thinking about the coming war (this was 1938):

    ”You can tell how close it is by the cheer up stuff they’re talking it in the Newspapers. I was ready a piece in the News Chronicle the other day where it said that bombing planes can’t do any damage nowadays. The anti-aircraft guns have got so good that the bomber has to stay at 20,000 feet. The writer thinks, you notice if an aeroplane is high enough the bombs don’t reach the ground. Or more likely what he really meant to say that the bombs would miss the Woolwich Arsenal, and only hit places like Ellesmere Road.” (George’s Home) Priceless!

    The point I am trying to make is that the ‘proles’ actually know a lot more about what goes on than we give them credit for. They know the whole thing is rigged and corrupt; based upon lies and hypocrisy.

    Will they throw off their shackles? It remains to be seen.

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  10. Jams O'Donnell says

    Yes, all very well put and true. But what’s the answer? Artists will never change the world in a large enough way to defeat the establishment. As far as I can see, only the inevitable downfall of civil society, in maybe the next 50 years or so can get rid of this “civilisation”. Global warming, the decimation of arable land, food and water shortages will mean mass movements of people and mass civil unrest. But we can also be sure that the system will be aware of this danger. Will their countermeasures work, or will they be overwhelmed and a new society be born from the ruins of the old? Will it be any different from the old? Only time will tell.

    • jniece says

      ‘artists will never change the world in large enough way to defeat the establishment’ I disagree. Hasn’t art fueled every significant change in history?

      • Jams O'Donnell says

        Such as – the French and Russian Revolutions? The Industrial Revolution? The advent of farming? The discovery of Bronze or Steel (first used for weapons and tools)? Please name your “art fuelled significant changes”

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        Art never changed anything-it just hitches a ride.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The ecological Holocaust is vastly worse than just the most rapid climate destabilisation in at least 55 million, but probably hundreds of millions of, years. Bio-diversity loss in the sixth mass extinction, ubiquitous pollution of every kind, deforestation, resource depletion etc, all intractable because the political will is absent, and all synergistic with the others in various ways, all spell doom. However, bad as these are, the factor that ensures catastrophe is the nature of the monsters empowered by capitalism, the global ‘elites’ with their insatiable greed, hatred of others, gigantic egomania, utter unscrupulousness etc. The kakistocrats that capitalism empowers, and who are armed with thermo-nuclear weapons and genetically engineered bio-weapons.

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      • Last week, RT had a feature on butterfly counting with David Attenborough. Many of the commentators were not British, and probably failed to understand the British thing about counting butterflies, and seemed to assume that David was enunciating a profound philosophical truth about letting go of the problems of the world and simply watching butterflies. The effect that he had on people who usually spend their time criticising, the US, Israel etc, etc, was remarkable.

        An old Zen story tells of a monk who trips and falls off a cliff but grabs hold of a sapling with one hand, checking his descent. Gradually, he feels the sapling giving way but as it is about to, he sees a wild raspberry and picks it with his free hand and puts it in his mouth. The story ends, ‘and it tasted beautiful’.

        There is very little that any of us can change in this life and whilst few of us would have the ability to react to such vicissitudes as that monk did, there is much to be said for not allowing our knowledge of things we cannot change to damage us. Our world is clearly run by psychopaths and probably always was. That fact shouldn’t delude us from enjoying the raspberries that our world still presents us all with from time to time.

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        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          It’s a real pity to throw it all away, and take 99% of Life on Earth with us, just because we never learned how to control the psychopaths among us.

          • You are responsible for your learning. If you open relationship in shared learning with others then you are responsible for what you give and receive in your relations.
            Framing yourself as the speaker and judge to a miscreant world is neglecting the very pattern you ascribe and assign or give to your world – and of course the 99% of you that is the More of Who you are. Judging may not seem heartless when framed in terms of ‘waking the unworthy’ – but it is unworthy of you and of those who are packaged up and discarded by it.

            The living moment is the only life there is – but by its ever changing forms and perspectives does the one seem the many. The ‘wild strawberry moment’ is a true recognition and appreciation and not a passing fad. But only the willingness to let life in provides such a foundation to live from. Thinking about it heals nothing.
            The story has the tiger and the crevasse and the sapling as the framing of the world of ‘survival’ or running from death – because it is this that must be recognized false to the true appreciation of who you are.

            The adverse conditions are blamed upon bad persons as the guilt economy that runs as if it has any moral authority beneath appearances. We sacrifice and are sacrificed to a god of guilt as if to appease or mitigate of find favour. But only until we are brought to recognize the true nature of a choice in place of what seemed a necessary compulsion.

            What does it take to bring us to the point of recognizing the futility of a false foundation (from which only ruin can come)?

            It takes whatever it takes to bring it home where the true error and its correction are.
            Freedom from fear and the freedom to unfold the more of who we are are an individual gift to the whole. But it cannot be thrust upon you AND be your willingness. Love waits on welcome – and a persistent engagement with drama operates ‘not now’ as a self-reinforcing loop.

            If not now, then when?
            Time can be used for delay or for timelessness.

            “Away from the prying eyes of Big Brother and his spies, amidst bluebells and a torrent of song from a thrush, they come together almost wordlessly. “Winston and Julia clung together, fascinated” as the thrush sang madly. The music went on and on, minute after minute, with astonishing variations, never once repeating itself, almost as if the bird were deliberately showing off its virtuosity…He stopped thinking and merely felt.”

      • As bad as all these things you complain about may well be—or not as the case may be—it gets worse. Lots of people are routinely mean, selfish, greedy and nasty to each other. And they are like this regardless of whether they are rich or poor or just getting by, and regardless of whether they live under capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, feudalism or anarchism.

        Also, a lot of our fellow animals are just bad. Crows will peck the eyes out of new born kittens. Snakes will swallow frogs, newts and baby birds out of the nest. Male chimps will bash the brains of their new mates’ previous offspring. And what wolves in the taiga and lions on the savannah get up to, I am going to leave to your imagination. But there is not a lot of scruple in any of that.

        Moreover, there are over seven billion people alive at present, all thanks to the copious use of coal, oil and natural gas and the technology that both enables and relies on their exploitation. If we want to keep feeding, clothing and housing this number of people, there is no alternative to continuing with the current setup. Of course, extracting these fuels and other resources is getting costlier all the time, and many quite intelligent and thoughtful people have speculated that the roller coaster is bound to hit a brick wall within a few more years or a few decades at most.

        If you are around when that happens, you’ll be able to witness the end of this horrible civilization you so despise, with all its modern conveniences, and if you survive the end of consumerism, supermarkets, electricity, powered transportation and the untimely deaths of a large portion of the seven billion, you will no doubt be delighted to see nature come roaring back, as it always does.

        • I hold that there is no salvaging of a false start – but only its release to the true.
          Judgement is the killer – and the world made by it is a world of pain and death.
          But such a world is not really ‘Out There’. But is imaged and experienced within consciousness – and has all the meaning you give it.
          Consensus reality is a working model through which to experience – but it is also the giving of power to externalised forms and meanings.
          Let us make example of a dream in which most despicable and terrible actions and events occur – that you then awake from and recognize as a ‘making of your own mind’ which of course is far more than what you think your mind to be. The experience in its moment was real. But awakening to reality releases it from having any further power over you.

          What if consensual dreaming for the experiencing of what is not true can be had as if it is true?
          Would you ‘take the ride?’. Perhaps we have or we would not be so engaged in this focus of energy and attention.

          The nature of blind reactive evolution of idea made flesh becomes a vehicle for the recognition of the true nature of being. There are many prompts in the article above. The world of imaged judgements is the world of imaged judgements and not truly alive at all. Framing life in death is a mind-set of fragmentation – at which level it is suffered real – that is the idea and definition has emotional and physical reinforcement – and most of what passes as thinking is emotional reactivity and vice versa.

          What if the end times of a maggot induce the dual nature of pupation to the replacement of a blind appetite for flesh with the wings and quickness of the fly?

          I don’t ask or expect any kind of belief – that isn’t my interest – but rather to uncover where we are set in actively believing against – and why?

          Challenging our own judgement will seem to be challenging our own reality. That’s how invested and ‘captured’ we have become to judgements that are defended against un-concealment because they are our Notional Security – which overrides all else to keep us in the dark – where we at least have the ‘devil we know’. But ‘they’ don’t do it to us without our permission at some level. Or, you do not have to play the victim to a would-be victimizer. But this has to start somewhere to grow, and that is always a quality of practical self-acceptance of where we are – as the place from which to grow. Looking out at what’s wrong with everyone, everything is a choice – even if it runs as a habit. Form changes. That’s what form is; change. Possession of form is a temporary focus that may seem to be set, fixed or spellbound – as in narcissus’ reflection. Self image is our thinking – until a true relation awakens from a private dream – or nightmare. We follow ‘thinking’ until we notice it and feel it and discern its belonging or relevance to who – awake – we are being of.

          The psychopathic blindness is part of the going forth in self-imaged righteousness – in which grievance fuels a justified sense of vengeance or hate.

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