From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: RE: (urth) Next time I'll just say "explain yourself" Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 09:41:53 -0700 Mantis, quoting I, wrote: > >Second, I do not mean (nor did I mean to imply) that Ascian > >Correct Thought is _exclusively_ a parable of the Maoist > >Cult of Personality. > > But you =do= mean to exclude all things Orwell from the mix, > right? I mean, that is what I heard before, that is what I > hear now. That is what I continue to find so puzzling. ...perhaps. Certainly I think that any Orwellian strain is weaker and more distant than the Maoist. I think SF fans (myself included!) have a tendency to hear resonances of SF texts in other texts, and those not only SF texts, perhaps more strongly than their authors intended -- an attention-focus phenomenon that needs correction at times. Thus, while I don't suppose I can go so far as to deny that an Orwellian echo cho ho o may exist in the Ascian speech pattern, I think it secondary at most. Consider: If Wolfe's model for "war" was/is his experience in the Korean "conflict," then who were/are his model for "enemy"? The North Koreans, inspired/supported by -- of all entities! -- Mao's China. (And, to be sure, the USSR.) Asian-style Communism, as perceived by an American conservative (hivelike, anti-individual, centralized, etc.), is a clear match for Ascia. And, perhaps most importantly, the _style_ of the Ascian sayings greatly resembles that of Mao. Here are a few examples: "Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice, and from it alone; they come from three kinds of social practice, the struggle for production, the class struggle and scientific experiment." "It [materialist dialectics] holds that external causes are the condition of change and internal causes are the basis of change, and that external causes become operative through internal causes. In a suitable temperature an egg changes into a chicken, but no temperature can change a stone into a chicken, because each has a different basis." "Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution. The basic reason why all previous revolutionary struggles in China achieved so little was their failure to unite with real friends in order to attack real enemies. A revolutionary party is the guide of the masses..." "It is not enough to set tasks, we must also solve the problem of the methods for carrying them out. If our task is to cross a river, we cannot cross it without a bridge or a boat." "On what basis should our policy rest? It should rest on our own strength, and that means regeneration through one's own efforts." "War can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun." ...well, those are only a few samples; if you want to see some more, check out http://art-bin.com/art/omaotoc.html. > > ... Loyal to the > > Group of Seventeen's story of the just man shows how Correct > > Thought can be manipulated to think the "incorrect" (or > > "unthinkable") -- on this much, at least, we are agreed? > Hmmm. Well maybe. ... What would be the unthinkable elements > in "The Just Man"? Severian himself observes that it seems to criticize the Group of Seventeen for not dealing with the just man's problem promptly -- indeed, they never _do_; it's just the bad guys' fears that they might that provides a happy ending. > >My point is that the Ingsoc approach is more subtle and, in a > >word, structural, allowing an essentially infinite array of > >thinkables while fencing off certain areas as unthinkable -- > >a bounded infinity of utterances, if you will. The Ascian > >approach is radically different; it uses brute iterative force > >to say "Here are the thinkable thoughts; there are no others." > > I'm not sure I follow. One difference I can see, as I try to > understand what you are saying (yet this is actually not what > you are saying), is a difference of unit scale: Newspeak is > built on the word level, whereas the units of Approved Texts > are . . . well, what, exactly? Paragraphs, sentences, and > perhaps sentence fragments (like "loyal to the Group of > Seventeen"; "no one is to receive more than 100 blows"). It's more than unit scale; it's a qualitative difference. Words give you building blocks to make thoughts out of; the pre-formed Approved Texts are intended to be an exhaustive list of the thoughts that one may think. Where a citizen of Oceania might in theory say "B-B doubleplusungood," an Ascian cannot -- again, in theory -- say "It's okay for some people receive more than a hundred blows." Somewhere in there it's said that most Ascians are conditioned to the point where if you say anything that is not an Approved Text, they simply fail to understand you. Which, once again, I think is nonsense, and totally contrary to the way in which humans actually acquire language ... Wolfe, I seem to recall, pays lip service to this by suggesting that non-Approved Text utterances are regarded by adult Ascians as "the babblings of children." But I would suggest that any system of mind-control that would make someone incapable of comprehending any non-Approved utterance doesn't actually need Approved Texts to enforce itself... ...but that, too, is orthogonal to my point; in the Lupine universe of discourse, that's the method the Group of Seventeen (and, ultimately, the Space/Sea Monsters) use to control the minds of the "populace," and what we're actually arguing about isn't whether it would work in RL, but what its literary and historical antecedents and inspirations might be. 8*) > These units are used differently, it seems. Paragraphs would > seem to have the most rigidity to them and so presumably offer > less room for nuance (as they drag more of their original > context along with them). Sentences, otoh, are removed from > textual context and thus presumably could be used to say the > opposite of the original meaning. Invoking a variant of Godwin's Law: When you say that, you remind me of Douglas Hofstadter. 8*) > (My thinking before was something more like, oh, tell the > story of "Romeo and Juliet" using only complete sentences > from "MacBeth.") H'mmm. An interesting challenge. Are name changes allowed? > I hope the basic point of my note is undarkthink. We was > gived unOrwell statements, vaguing a position as darkthink > to me (and maybe others) as the elephant is to the three > spying sightless mans: (Deleted your Newspeakery of the Blind Men and the Elephant. A marvellous conceit!) > For myself as unseeing man in this Elephant case, I gived the > Orwell position. Spying into the dark, the question "Is a > unsurplus of Orwell basic the cause of this darkthink?" No, > undarkwise not: 1 = 1. Orwell quota is established. Plusgood. And that is precisely what I am questioning: _where_ is the Orwell quota established? The style of Correct Thought is not the style of Newspeak; it is (as I hope my samples above have shown) very much in the style of Chairman Mao Thought, which I hope leaves the littleredbookthing position plusfirmlybuilded. --Blattid --