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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 

"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.



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