Excerpts

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past

'"Who controls the present controls the past,"' said O'Brien, nodding his
head with slow approval. 'Is it your opinion, Winston, that the past has
real existence?'

Again the feeling of helplessness descended upon Winston. His eyes flitted
towards the dial. He not only did not know whether 'yes' or 'no' was the
answer that would save him from pain; he did not even know which answer he
believed to be the true one.

O'Brien smiled faintly. 'You are no metaphysician, Winston,' he said.
'Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I
will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is
there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past
is still happening?'

'No.'

'Then where does the past exist, if at all?'

'In records. It is written down.'

'In records. And----?'

'In the mind. In human memories.'

'In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we
control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?'

'But how can you stop people remembering things?' cried Winston again
momentarily forgetting the dial. 'It is involuntary. It is outside oneself.
How can you control memory? You have not controlled mine!'

O'Brien's manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on the dial.

'On the contrary,' he said, 'YOU have not controlled it. That is what has
brought you here. You are here because you have failed in humility, in
self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the
price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the
disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is
something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe
that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into
thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the
same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external.
Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual
mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the
mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party
holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by
looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got
to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the
will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.'

He paused for a few moments, as though to allow what he had been saying to
sink in.

Excerpt from George Orwell’s 1984

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s