1984 & Anne Lamott's aphorism to depict absolute truth & problems with discerning it.
| What is true for one reality is not necessarily true for another. Everything a person believes to be true encompasses truth for that person's reality. It can often be difficult to gauge our perspective on what is and is not absolute truth. Anne Lamott writes about truth in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, when she states, “A writer paradoxically seeks the truth and tells lies every step of the way.” While this aphorism can be applied to various literature, the major concepts in George Orwell's 1984 complement it beautifully. In 1984 George Orwell writes about a man named Winston, stuck in a world with a paradoxical reality. In this society, the government controls and monitors their citizen's every move. Speaking out against the government, or even the government's statements, could lead to the “vaporization,” or sudden disappearance of, the offender. In this world, Winston must constantly filter his emotions and their relationship with his expressions. He must filter his voice, as vocalized thought could result in vaporization. In order to not submit to the brainwashing, one might go mad struggling to wholeheartedly fulfill two roles successfully.
Filling two separate roles, with the utmost passion dedicated to both simultaneously, in itself, is impossible. When referring to Winston's written rebellion against the government, the narrator states, “Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed—would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it.” This statement reveals that one of the major concepts of the book is a paradox. In order for Winston to remain in reality, he must commit blasphemy; In order for Winston to slip out of reality, he must submit to lies. In this way Orwell is paradoxically seeking the truth while telling lies.
The author places the reader in a world where a copious amount of thinking, that drains any last feeling of belonging or comradery, is required to maintain a conscious capable of intellectual thought, and to avoid governmental brainwashing. Orwell shapes the tyrannical truth in the story with a series of government issued propaganda, where retorsion will result in fatality. It is interesting that absolute truth, which composes actuality, can often be hard to recognize, despite humans constant search to understand the world for what it actually is. Our own insecurities and governments obscure our perception on reality for personal gain or the comfort of security. In Orwell's story, where seeking absolute truth is nearly impossible, Lamott's aphorism holds an immense amount of relevance.