An internet ramble for your musing, with jr2015 .
“The ultimate achievement for the [Institutional Voice], however, would be to get its vocabulary
imperceptibly incorporated into popular use. The word ‘deterrent’ is almost such a case.
It has long been in public usage, and encapsulates a whole ideology of threat and reassurance.”
– from 1984 in 1984
It was while browsing Digg’s tables of top rated videos that I discovered the film adaption of George Orwell’s 1984. Now nobody should expect to acquire a cinematic education on the Internet just yet, but with ever expanding bandwidth there are quite a few gems out to be discovered. However, watching this fine feature proved to be my undoing, as its rather depressing and ultimately ambiguous message has found a loophole in my mind, and in a horrible series of dichotomies and self doubts, certain mental laws are beginning to unravel.
Another film I discovered was the obvious yet inspired Dark City, a more simple affair twisted around Cartesian Philosophy, aliens and film noir styling; its obvious successor is the Matrix. The important contrast between the two, apart from the actual significance of their content, is hope. In Dark City Rufus Sewell ends up master to Reality, with all alien secrets entailed, gets the girl and a nice little place down by the beach. It could almost be seen as some kind of American Dream fulfilled; and in another world Winston Smith has had his tea ration cut again and is in love with an ugly television personality who bares a strong resemblance to Joseph Stalin.
I believe Nineteen-Eighty-Four is an incredible creation. It is so brilliant that it can facilitate its own ideas and multiple political and literary meanings in the manner of newspeak. But ultimately it is a vision of extremity, born from the reservations of a quietly libertarian Englishman. Orwell had another book planned after this one; it was not his final message. When considering the destruction of history, the fragility of reality (if you can ignore the cliche), it becomes apparent how rarely we live in the present; analysis and criticism is certainly in thrall to the past and the future. The printed word is mostly a perversion of the present. But this book has found a refuge in forms of pure ideas. Because despite the critical wranglings that are concerned with the novel, whether it was a prediction or a warning, certain elements still transcend into the very political sub-conscious of a nation. Obviously, in the easily consumed media of video, it was considered important enough to be given a substantial amount of diggs, but not many literary creations can be claimed as semantics of society’s anxieties, such as phrases like Big Brother and doublethink.
During much parliamentary scrapping and posturing recently, tensions were gathering around the debate over which regiments would be assigned by Defence Secretary Des Browne to replace their battle weary colleagues in Iraq, especially over the prospect of sending in the Blues and Royals, home to one 22-year-old Troop Commander Wales, or Prince Harry. Now his entry to the war is confirmed, it makes me wonder, if I may be blunt, what would be the outcry if he died, and the position of the media flurry. But I do not have the skill of Orwell; I leave the vision of that particular future for your consideration. At the moment such a deployment merely demonstrates the ongoing cyclical war, which seems to pervade a great many aspects of modern Britain. The thing with an Orwellian world is that it was never meant to out-perform our own. We just have so much more to say, even if most of it is paltry in comparison. The ability to express emotions was being deconstructed in Airstrip One but in the virtual world it is forever expanding. Coming back to the web 2.0 site digg.com, you have the most direct influence possible in consensus of opinion; the importance of certain information in a continuous flow of content and the underdeveloped potential of neat networking sites like facebook can bring people and unite them in common objectives and interests.
The Internet is one space that must forever keep Orwell’s dystopia in mind; it could be symbolic of a present concern when engaging with the online world. As it becomes more representative of human capabilities of recording knowledge and communicating, then the Internet must remain equally distributed (in terms of power) between its users. Of course, at the moment it is a balancing act, as the innovators (where once it was Microsoft now Google, and so forth), begin to set prerogatives. That problem has been exemplified in Google’s book search copyright scandal, and all that is involved with a commercial company having control over the entire cultural produce of civilisations. But cyber space has the potential be a place of transparency and equality that could manifest itself in greater political and intellectual freedoms, to be a reflection of principles in the outside world. Along with the databasing of information and open source culture, at the forefront of this future are ideas like Second Life, the ultimate networking program. Although this virtual reality simulation relies on fiscal motivation, by removing this it could be the basic model for ‘web 3.0’ or ‘4.0’, a place where people can interact without relationships of power and wealth in a effortlessly remodellable environment with the world’s information at their fingertips. That would be modernity’s ‘dark city’ of machines turned to a new age of enlightenment and freedom. Perhaps it is as George Orwell put it: “Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.“