In 1984, George Orwell showed us his vision of the future. A lot of this was achieved by the chief protagonist, the oxymoronically named Winston Smith, going through the motions of his life. But given that a major aspect of Orwell's dystopian future was the ignorance of outer-party members like Smith, we'd have only gotten so far with Smith alone. In order for Orwell to reveal more, it was necessary that Smith travel upwards. Thus would further 'realities' be revealed. The immediate vehicle for this was the character of Julia. In passing him a note bearing the message 'I love you' she ended his world such as it was.
His relationship with her brings them both to the attention of the inner-party as personified by O'Brien. (Does anyone know why O'Brien has an Irish name? It's not an accident. Orwell would have chosen it with tremendous care). Anyway, in this meeting of Smith and O'Brien the full horror of 1984 is revealed. Smith, the man who lacks knowledge, is enlightened by O'Brien, the man who possesses it. Me, I wonder at this relationship.
At the back of my mind has been the possibility of ending up in a windowless room having to answer the questions of an anonymous federal officer. In the US this would have happened already. In Oz, it's unlikely. But I push it. I never pass up an opportunity to disabuse customs officers, police, and security guards of the nature of whatever it is they're doing. I've had a variety of reactions from anger, to boredom, to shock. Invariably, whenever I start in on the subject of bullshit liquid bombs, bullshit terror attacks, bullshit al qaeda, etc. whomever it is I'm addressing tends to hurry up so that the whole thing will be over as quickly as possible.
Curiously enough, I find this disappointing. And I have no idea if anything results from me telling them they shouldn't believe me and that they should just put it into google and have a read. "It's your job, mate. I just thought you might be interested in knowing if what you're doing is real or not. If it was me, I'd rather not be on some wild goose chase. But that's just me, you know..." Maybe they look it up, maybe they don't. I have no idea. Otherwise, I don't know how many times I've heard people utter some variation of, "Yeah, well, I don't make the laws, I just carry them out." The reply to this is always the same, "Sure, we're all good Germans, mate". One female customs officer's eyes went wide when I said that to her. I had a smile on my face, but whatever...
I always keep it consistent. I am always friendly and cooperative. I never raise my voice. I never get angry. I let them do that. I merely tell them they are free to do as they wish - search anything. "No mate, go for it. You won't find any explosives. But you never have, have you? No? Yeah, and you never will, you know..." They are trained to deal with angry people, violent people, nervous people, but they have absolutely no training for cheerful, chatty, cooperative people like me. I do their heads in.
I confine myself solely to thought-crime. My purpose is always to screw with the thinking of people who have no idea what they're doing. They think they do, sure, but only because they've never encountered an opposing view. Welcome to me, ha ha. I am the man to ruin their day.
You know what it is? I want to meet O'Brien. I want to meet the creature who knows that he's bullshitting me. All I ever meet is Smiths. But I thought about this - I will never meet an O'Brien.
Orwell's meeting of Smith and O'Brien is an impossibility. In this world of bullshit, a man who does not know will never meet a man who does. In reality Smith would only ever have met more Smiths. Obviously this wouldn't have suited Orwell. Kafka perhaps, but not Orwell. Orwell wanted to tell us of his vision. This could never have been achieved if Smith had only ever met people who knew as little as he did. In reading 1984, it's worth keeping in mind that, genius though Orwell was, he was still subject to the mechanics of telling a tale. Thus the meeting of Smith and O'Brien is better viewed as a plot device rather than some kind of real world likelihood.
But that doesn't mean the collision of these two characters isn't instructive. As far as 1984 is concerned these two differ in knowledge. One has it, one doesn't. They also differ in power. Knowledge equals power. As I've said elsewhere, the root of the word 'know' is the same root as that for the word 'nobility'. This is an unarguable acknowledgement that the basis of power, of viewing oneself as above one's fellow humans, is the possession of knowledge.
All of the Smiths I've met had power, albeit of the tiny customs-officer variety. Their imagining that they are some variety of O'Brien is a trick that they fell for. They possess a false knowledge, a false nobility. The true O'Briens of this world, the possessors of closely guarded occult knowledge, are few and far between. I'm going to pull a figure out of the air and say that there's probably less than a thousand of them in the whole world. Their knowledge must be closely guarded or else their 'nobility' will be challenged.
And here's the thing. Their knowledge can be challenged. In much the same way that this 'nobility' must control the media in order to ensure that their Smith servants never have access to an opposing viewpoint, it's important that they too never be so challenged. This is because the knowledge they possess is not the truth. Their ultimate occult knowledge is merely a clever self-serving arrangement that ensures their access to 'stuff' - stuff like caviar, jewelry, mansions, and slaves. Clearly a self-serving truth is not true. Truth is not subordinate to the self. If this nobility was presented with a truth that didn't serve their desires they would have to look away.
So it's all very well, me screwing with the heads of the various petty Smiths that I encounter. But what I burn for is to smash the understandings of the O'Briens. I want to show them that their desires are a delusion. I want to show them that their fear is a delusion too. Desire, fear, same thing. I want to embrace them to my bosom and show them the joy, the love, the truth of selflessness.
Ha ha ha, what a fool's errand! But I don't care. That rabbi who bested God in the Talmud had it arse-about. If only he'd put his cleverness to use explaining to the devil the error of his ways. God is fine, he needs nothing from us. It's the devil who doesn't understand the world. It's the devil who needs is to be clasped to one's breast.
Who but a fool would do that? Ha! Hey nobility! I'll be your huckleberry fool! I have nothing to lose. You want to join me? You too can cast off fear, desire, delusion. We'll bow down to each other and dance a pas de deux. For no reason beyond the simple joy of it. We'll marvel at the tomato growing from the compost, we'll enjoy a long drink of water in the heat of midday, and then laugh at the lorikeets hanging upside down in the casuarinas as the setting sun turns their feathers to gold. None of it will belong to you, but it doesn't matter. You'll be astounded at how free you feel. It'll be innocent. It'll be beautiful. It'll be the best you'll ever feel.