Thursday, June 02, 2011

"Rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling"

After a DOUBLEPLUSUNGOOD day at work the other day, I returned home and opened up my copy of "NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR," the GEORGE ORWELL novel I am re-reading for the first time in several years.
As luck or fate would have it, this newspaper reporter had reached the section, early in the novel, in which we glimpse protagonist Winston Smith's employment in the dystopian future: He rewrites past newspaper stories to fit the current needs of the ruling Party of BIG BROTHER.
"On occasion he had even been entrusted with the rectification of The Times leading articles, which were written entirely in Newspeak. He unrolled the message that he had set aside earlier. It ran:
'times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling'
In Oldspeak (or standard English) this might be rendered:
'The reporting of Big Brother's Order for the Day in The Times of December 3rd 1983 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes references to non-existent persons. Rewrite it in full and submit your draft to higher authority before filing.'
Winston read through the offending article. Big Brother's Order for the Day, it seemed, had been chiefly devoted to praising the work of an organization known as FFCC, which supplied cigarettes and other comforts to the sailors in the Floating Fortresses. A certain Comrade Withers, a prominent member of the Inner Party, had been singled out for special mention and awarded a decoration, the Order of Conspicuous Merit, Second Class.
Three months later FFCC had suddenly been dissolved with no reasons given. One could assume that Withers and his associates were now in disgrace, but there had been no report of the matter in the Press or on the telescreen. That was to be expected, since it was unusual for political offenders to be put on trial or even publicly denounced."
It probably wasn't the best thing I could have read given my mood, seeing how the section of the novel concerned totalitarian demands on an underling toiling for the press.
Ah well. I've also read "COMING UP FOR AIR" and "ANIMAL FARM" during my ORWELLIAN SPRING.
Like those novels, "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is so well-written, it is a joy return to its pages, even if the subject matter ultimately leaves me feeling so dispirited.
And even when the subject matter hits a little too close to home for my comfort!


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