Just ahead of tonight's telly appearance with Tucker, welcome to Part Eighteen of our latest Tale for Our Time - George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. I'd had this in mind for quite a while, but I confess I didn't expect such a grim synchronicity with the daily news of 2021. In tonight's episode, our conspirators find themselves taking the long view:
We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But how far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It might be a thousand years. At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little. We cannot act collectively. We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual, generation after generation. In the face of the Thought Police there is no other way.
And that sounds more apt for our age than it ought. Orwell is drawing a distinction between old-school tyrannies, which can come and go with surprising ease, and an electronic panopticon state that can monitor every individual 24/7 - which is far harder to throw off.
While we're at it, many years ago, en route to a friend's, I chanced to pass George Orwell's old home in the Portobello Road in West London. A couple of days back I tried to rustle up a photo from the Internet to refresh my memory, and discovered that it now has 24/7 CCTV outside (see top right). An Orwellian touch at Orwell's house, and a sad comment on contemporary London.
CORRECTION! Charles Rackoff, a Steyn Clubber and my fellow Torontonian, writes:
Unfortunately, it appears that this picture of 22 Portobello Road is fake. Although undoubtedly such cameras are nearby, there doesn't appear to be one there. I hope citizens eventually demand that such a camera be moved to its proper place.
Thanks for that, Charles. There's a lot of that about. But then a retouched photograph is also very Orwellian...
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And do join me tomorrow for the nineteenth episode of Nineteen Eighty-Four.