The Words They Are A-Changin’

April 8th, 2008 by Strato

Our ‘culture’ consists of the knowledge and values transmitted by our language. In the process of learning language, we learn the meanings that other people have ascribed to particular words and phrases.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be Master – that’s all”.

Humpty’s point (via Lewis Carroll) is that whoever wields sufficient power to change the meanings provided by language, has control over the norms and values of a culture. This process is now grotesquely visible on an almost weekly basis, as our society comes under ever-tighter control.

For example: in our language it used to be possible for ‘a young person to consent to sex’ – simply because that statement was possible in our language. Newspeak has corrected this. A young person cannot ‘consent to’ or even engage in ‘sex’ – because these words have been redefined. The young person can now only ever be the passive subject of ‘abuse’.

Another example: a young person can no longer appear in ‘porn’, because the new definitions of ‘sex’ and ‘porn’ (both being activities for over-18s) do not allow for this possibility. Nor – more recently – does he now appear in ‘child porn’, since that concept is being eliminated from our language. Any depictions of him involved in ‘sexual’ behavior (now tautologically impossible in any event) must, by definition, be ‘Images of Abuse’.

Similarly, our language (and therefore culture) is being changed to ensure that children are not ‘sexual’ (an adjective) but are ‘sexualized’ by adults (verb, passive); equally that adults do not find children ‘erotic’ (adjective) but they ‘eroticize’ children (verb, active).

All these language distortions present some obvious necessity for doublethink. A 12 year old boy who masturbates on a webcam – without direction and for the world at large to view – cannot be engaged in ‘erotic’ or ‘sexual activity’ (definitional impossibilities), cannot have ‘consented’ (to himself?) to make the video, and has created an ‘Image of Abuse’ (presumably he is the subject of his own ‘sexual abuse’?) and will be further ‘abused’ every time someone sees the image that he has (non-consensually) created.

Yet – as in George Orwell’s 1984 – the masses seem content to engage in this constant process of doublethink; perhaps partly due to their daily ‘Two Minute Hate’ (watching the news on television or other media), and partly through the constant distortion or destruction of words.

To illustrate this process, consider the following imaginary conversation between a 12 year old from the past (Timmy), and a modern 12 year old cultural subject (Ethan):

Timmy: I met an incredible guy last night. We flirted at the bookstore.
Ethan: What’s flirting?
Timmy: You know, where you indicate your attraction to someone.
Ethan: Oh…you mean you were Groomed.
Timmy: Groomed? No – I’d already showered and brushed my hair – we just had sex.
Ethan: I don’t understand. You can’t have had sex. You aren’t 18.
Timmy: But I did! It’s OK, it was consensual.
Ethan: But you couldn’t consent. You aren’t 18.
Timmy: But I did! We did! It was awesome. Look – see the smile on my face in these pictures that we took.
Ethan: But….you’re holding Images of Abuse!
Timmy: What’s an image of abuse?
Ethan: The photos that you’re holding in your hand.
Timmy: These photos of me having sex?
Ethan: You are not having sex. You’re being abused. They are Images of Abuse.
Timmy: But there was no violence or force involved. It was mutually consensual. And fun!
Ethan: (Getting impatient now) Abuse does not involve violence or force. And it does not matter that you had fun. And it was not Sex. And you did not Consent.
Timmy: Umm…I don’t know how to talk with you. Are we speaking the same language?

Unlike Timmy from the past, modern Ethan cannot understand the following statements:

A young person had sex.
A young person consented to sex.
A young person took part in an erotic film.

Such statements are nonsensical to Ethan because the actions they describe have become literally impossible, as the changes to our language have made them impossible.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Syme tells Winston Smith. “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words with which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meaning rubbed out and forgotten…The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”

The Order constantly promotes its values onto society and enforces the illusion that there are no alternatives to those values by manipulation of language. Since the language that we learn and reproduce imposes limits on our ability to think, and even on our awareness of who we are, the Order controls the possible scope of the thoughts and consciousness of the masses. To quote Orwell’s Syme once again:

“[By the year 2050] there will be no thought as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

How far are we along the process to the point where there is no longer any thought?

Now, more than ever, the human species needs to re-discover the spirit of Parrhesia.

2 Responses to “The Words They Are A-Changin’”

  1. Daniel Says:

    This is something I discuss so often with other followers of our issue. It’s clear, at least to me that the abuse of language to erase meaning from public perception has been very effective, and in an almost “subversive” way. But I doubt very much that the system can be perfected with CSA in the ideal Orwelian sense, simply because of the blatantly relative nature of age, and that it plays itself out before the eyes of every person.

    Progression from child to adult over an absolute point in time will always be questionable in a society with our (increasingly) secular values, and so will be the assumptions about those who fall either side of it. For others, daily life will simply contradict the perverted language that prevails. There will also be an industry in questioning assumptions about age and capability for as long as the media remains free (or even soft “free” in much the way that parliament and the electoral system are soft “democratic” and that democracy is soft “fair”).

  2. Y.C. Pitau Says:

    The leading lights in this “sexual language abuse” are of course the Ceop and Jim Gamble with their attempt to redefine the nature and language of Child Porn;

    SORRY;

    Images Of Horiffic Abuse That We Must All Condemn For Our Children.

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