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The Importance of History in 1984


Time is an amazing element of the universe we are in. It is a driving force - we cannot speed it up or slow it down, it perpetually marches forward at a constant speed. After a moment in time has past, it becomes the past, and we have absolutely no way of going back to it to experience it again in a new way. Once time has past, all that remains is our perception of it. History is nothing more than our collective perceptions of the past. And perception is not like time - it is not constant, it can be altered. In George Orwell's 1984, the leaders of the Party use written records to alter the peoples' perception of history, ultimately as a means of control.


Everyone has different perceptions of the same reality. Everything that we experience is altered by our individual perceptions. There is one reality, but each person experiences slightly different versions of that reality. The source or reason for this is the individual experiences of each person. Everything we experience in our lives piles up to form our past. Our memory brings back experiences from this heap of the past. These memories combine with the reality we are experiencing in the present to form our individual perception of reality.


Everything is perceived differently by each person, and different perceptions of reality vary greatly. An potato is a completely different thing to a farmer and a chef. The idea of music is completely different to a musician and a deaf person. Hitler was a completely different person to a Nazi and a Jew. Even though there is really only one real idea of a potato, one definition of music, and one Hitler, many different realities of these exist within people's perception.


History is convoluted by perception. There are two ways of looking at history: through our own memories and perception, and through that of others. It is impossible to preserve history in its ideal form. If we look at history through our own memories, we will not see the reality of history, we will see our individual version of the reality. The same thing happens when we look at history through the memories and perception of others. Media is sometimes used to preserve history, but even this is only a perceived version of history. Any recorded information about history reflects the memories and perception of the person that recorded it. Once we read it, our perception takes over and forms our own version of the reality. It is impossible to see history in its true reality.


These individual version of history are what the Party in 1984 wants to eliminate. In our world, every person has a different perception of the government: whether it is good or bad, even what it is. The ultimate goal of the Party is to have control and power over the citizens of 1984; by conforming everyone's perception to the same version of reality, they gain control. The main process of conforming perception is by altering history. The Party makes up a phony event in the past, then broadcasts it and changes every record to show that it actually happened. Now, almost everything that affects a person's perception is saying the exact same thing - exactly what the Party wants to say. There is only element that is not saying this - the memory and perception of each person. However, the people of 1984 have been conditioned to not trust their memories. Everything that the Party says is completely documented, and everyone is surrounded by people who do not question what the Party says. People soon realize that their memory must be wrong, and eventually learn to automatically accept whatever the Party says. For example, on page 148, it is suddenly declared during a protest that the war is against Eastasia, not Eurasia as before. The crowd and speaker instantly change to this new belief instantly, without question. The transition is immediate and very smooth. Nobody involved in the protest doubted the information in any way.


The people of 1984 have lost their free thinking and individuality. 1984 is the story of our world gone wrong. George Orwell did not write it as a prediction, but rather as a warning about our present situation. Our perception of reality is affected by many things; it is important to recognize this and realize that many factors go into our thoughts.



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