Witt: ‘1984’ arriving in bits and pieces

Published 8:11 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In the novel “1984,” George Orwell tells of a language peculiar to the year in which the novel takes place. He gives it the name Newspeak.

While the concept of Newspeak is one in which words are routinely deleted from the language to provide order which is controlled by Big Brother, the concept of the language seems to mirror somewhat the language one hears so often today on commentary or news programs.

The deleted words in Newspeak are often replaced with new, usually compound, words and thus, the language is constantly changing. That is not exactly what is happening today, but the similarities will be explained shortly.

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“1984” is a novel which has proven somewhat timeless, perhaps as readers look through its pages trying to ascertain if any of Orwell’s fantasies are actually occurring today, despite the fact time is now 33 years past the title and 69 years after it was actually written.

It’s possible, at least as far as Newspeak is concerned, his vision is coming to fruition.

Anyone watching the Sunday morning network commentary programs, Face the Nation, Meet the Press and ABC’s This Week will most likely experience a variable of Newspeak.

It occurs when a question is asked of a visiting politico, either a member of Congress or the administration, who either refuses to or is incapable of answering a direct question.

These individuals will inevitably wander off on some tangent, usually not even remotely associated with the question asked. In the end, the questioner suppresses frustration and moves on to another subject, knowing he or she will never get the answer they are seeking.

If the respondent begins his or her answer with “Well,” one can be assured he or she is using that brief moment to fabricate an answer inconsistent with the question…or an abject lie.

Newspeak (at least the current version of it) frequently shows up in Congressional hearings as well. How often is seen a hostile Democrat or Republican senator or representative quiz someone in a hearing, only to subsequently either repeat the question in some other form or give up on receiving an answer that bears any coherency at all when the respondent simply wants to create a different scenario, one more in tune with his philosophy, such as Treasury Secretary Mnunchin consistently turning Sen. Bernie Sanders questions to subjects opposite the inquiry about why it is a good thing to give huge tax breaks to super-rich people at the expense of the middle class.

Of course, the Newspeak exhibited in Congressional hearings is complemented by the sudden and unexplainable loss of memory of those being quizzed. The most recent and flagrant example of this was the three appearances before Congress of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who invoked his “I don’t recall” in no less than 47 distinct instances.

Anyone with a memory that faulty would probably not be able to remember the name of his own children. Was it possible Sessions was a victim of George Orwell’s “unthink,” another concept from the novel?

The point of all this is it is almost impossible to solicit straight answers from the people who have those answers but are unwilling to allow the American public to be informed about critical issues.

Kellyanne Conway, current counselor to the president, waltzed herself right into the midst of “1984” when she created a concept that never once apparently occurred to George Orwell, “alternative facts.”

Orwell’s novel would have undoubtedly gotten much longer had he conceived of alternative facts as a basic tenet of the Big Brother network.

“1984” may be arriving in bits and pieces, right under our noses.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.