It was raining pitchforks today. And I was staring out of the window in my working office, just watching the rain. I was thinking nothing.
Yesterday was my 26th birthday. In fact, I do not really like birthdays. It is partly because one is expected to be happy on his or her birthday. There are thank-yous you have to say once a person celebrates the day you were born, years ago. It is much like a ritual you are performing as you are expected to perform it. Does one need to feel grateful for that? I often wonder if one is obliged to be happy after all. What it feels to be happy? Does happiness go hand in hand with rising pulses and satisfaction?
These days are passing me by. My mind is foggy and I have not really done anything. Sometimes I just sit there in my room, doing nothing, feeling nothing, and the day just flies by like sand flips through your hands. I am fatigued for much of the time and feel like I am ambushed. Still, I have so many projects to do. I always have something to complete.
Last week, I saw many deaths. One of my neighbours died at the beginning of the week. And I went by and saw the shape of her supposed body, covered from head to toe in a red velvet sheet. I had never been so close to a corpse like this. Then I wondered how I would look like when I die, how my dead body would decay, releasing unpleasant smells and materials before what left is only bones. I wondered how my body would just disappear in different settings, like in water or in fire.
On the weekend, I went to the outskirts with some of my colleagues for a short vacation. Along the way, I tried to enjoy the greenness of the woods and inhale the fragrance of trees and the earth. The surroundings are magnificently beautiful. I was reminded of some scenes in an Argentine film whose name I can remember in which there is a large house among the trees with birds, cicadas and crickets chirping and twittering around. It is like a constant summer with the lovely music made by the river nearby flowing.
The sun was already going down while we were riding back to the city when I saw, for the first time in my life, a man dead in a traffic accident being covered a mattress over his face. I have seen a lot covered dead men, but I had never seen it on the way. The man’s face was dark, hardly discernable from my position with the velocity of the motorbicycle on which I was sitting. The sunlight was still glaring on the horizon, which made the skyline of the city immeasurably and uncannily beautiful. I was thinking about the dead man and how his relatives and friends would react to the news they were about to hear. I wondered what did he do for a living, whom he loved, how he had lived as a child, what he had ever thought. Then I drew a conclusion, almost for myself, that each life has in it a story. Every day and every time we hear about the deaths of statistical lives, they become just numbers for statistical purposes. We do not know about their thoughts and feelings. We know almost nothing about them. For instance, there were millions of people who died in the World War II, and along with them, there were millions of stories that passed away, forever.
Then I wondered how I would be portrayed and reported after I die.
These last days I have read some books, which marked the end of the long time during which I could not read a book. It is not really a big thing because I still have a whole lot of manuscripts to read and projects to finish. I am already snowed under. And I am reading the legendary 1984. It cannot be more relevant given that I have just been warned off my own political positions. I was struck as the pages read:
If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, IT NEVER HAPPENED— that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?
[…] But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.
[…] His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. […]
The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory? […] In the Party histories, of course, Big Brother figured as the leader and guardian of the Revolution since its very earliest days. […] Everything melted into mist. Sometimes, indeed, you could put your finger on a definite lie. It was not true, for example, as was claimed in the Party history books, that the Party had invented aeroplanes. He remembered aeroplanes since his earliest childhood. But you could prove nothing. There was never any evidence. Just once in his whole life he had held in his hands unmistakable documentary proof of the falsification of an historical fact.
I read the paragraphs over and over again, as I did with this piece from Thomas Pynchon’s introduction to the text:
Doublethink also lies behind the names of the super-ministries which run things in Oceania – the Ministry of Peace wages war, the Ministry of Truth tells lies, the Ministry of Love tortures and eventually kills anybody whom it deems a threat. If this seems unreasonably perverse, recall that in the present-day United States, few have any problem with a war-making apparatus named “the department of defence,” any more than we have saying “department of justice” with a straight face, despite well-documented abuses of human and constitutional rights by its most formidable arm, the FBI. Our nominally free news media are required to present “balanced” coverage, in which every “truth” is immediately neutered by an equal and opposite one. Every day public opinion is the target of rewritten history, official amnesia and outright lying, all of which is benevolently termed “spin,” as if it were no more harmful than a ride on a merry-go-round. We know better than what they tell us, yet hope otherwise. We believe and doubt at the same time – it seems a condition of political thought in a modern superstate to be permanently of at least two minds on most issues. Needless to say, this is of inestimable use to those in power who wish to remain there, preferably forever.
The Party, in this context, has become an all-power institution that controls everything in the country. And to a larger extent, still, there are many Institutions we are living with, praying and worshiping: money, race, Gods, religion, nationality, gender identity, etc, that are created by human beings, in order to be, ironically, against humanity, on which I would share my thoughts someday if I manage not to vapourise, without a trail or a report.
I feel like depression is nibbling me away and I wonder what it will be like in 2084, a hundred years from 1984.