Sunday, January 9, 2011

Doubleplus ungood.

I love Mark Twain. By all accounts, Samuel Clemens was an insufferable, unlovable asshole, who vacillated between breathtaking arrogance and consuming melancholy. But Twain -- him I love. He's one of the few authors whose works I've ever read out loud to adults -- and had read to me. Cigars and whiskey are not strictly required for such readings, but I cannot imagine any reason for their exclusion. Lord knows Twain wouldn't have stayed to listen without them.
So the cultural crime being done to him offends me on a personal level. My friend over at Gun Free Zone (hint: as I've previously noted, Robert's Rule holds that gun free zones aren't) tapped into exactly what's  creepy and worrisome about bowdlerizing Twain in terms larger than my personal outrage -- things like artistic integrity, free speech, and the corrosive effects of rampant political correctness. He did it with a deft quotation of another author who is regularly banned and watered down:

Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. There's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak.
By the year 2050 - earlier probably - all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron - they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
 You must agree.

1 comment:

  1. I found this cartoon.

    And I do see Mr. Twain saying it.