Friday, February 26, 2016
Prof. James Tracy’s Termination in Light of Orwell’s 1984: If all records told the same tale 13 by MHB Administrator
The Mathisen Corollary
But to trace out the history of the whole period, to say who was fighting whom at any given moment, would have been utterly impossible, since no written record, and no spoken word, ever made mention of any other alignment than the existing one. At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.
The frightening thing, he reflected for the ten thousandth time as he forced his shoulders painfully backward (with hands on hips, they were gyrating their bodies from the waist, an exercise that was supposed to be good for the back muscles) — the frightening thing was that it might all be true. If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened — that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.
The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
— George Orwell, 1984 (pages 31-32 in the Signet reprint of the 1949 hardcover).
If all records are made to tell the same (lying) tale, then the memory of the past can be altered for the purposes of exercising control over others. Drawing a veil over the memory of the past, and imposing a false picture of the past in its place, is a tremendously powerful weapon — as George Orwell dramatizes in 1984.
In order to do it, the above passage clearly implies, dissenting views of history must be removed from the record — so that all records tell the same tale.
Until January of this year (2016), that is to say until last month, Professor James Tracy was a tenured professor of media studies at Florida Atlantic University, studying the exact subject which Orwell so powerfully dramatizes in 1984 — namely, the ways in which the narrative of the past is shaped by those who seek to “control the past,” through the organs of the media.
When he found evidence that, in certain circumstances, “all the records” seemed to be lining up in ways that excluded the possibility of any dissenting voices — and even excluded credible evidence which seemed to suggest a very different perspective than the official narrative — he acted upon his belief that such situations should be examined more closely and the conflicting evidence considered carefully, because the “control of history” (as Orwell so clearly warned us) is an extremely coveted weapon by those who wish to annihilate opposition, more terrifying even than “mere torture and death.”
In fact, Professor Tracy selected a name for his blog which reflected the importance of the truth that George Orwell articulated regarding the desire to eliminate all records that do not tell the same tale, by those who seek to control the minds of others. Evoking a concept described in 1984 just a few pages after the section quoted above, Professor Tracy calls his blog (which I believe he started in 2012) the Memory Hole Blog — perhaps because the evidence he and others discuss there is the same evidence that those who want all records to tell the same tale are trying to “send down the memory hole,” so to speak.
Here is Orwell’s first introduction of the famous “memory holes” (which he depicted as though they literally exist in the walls of buildings, in order to in a sense “make visual” to our imaginations a very real activity which is taking place somewhat “invisibly” all around us, though often without our notice or conscious awareness that it is going on):
In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages; to the left, a larger one for newspapers, and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.
— 1984, (pages 34 – 35 in the Signet reprint of the 1949 hardcover).
The immense amounts of energy which those wishing to “control the past,” to control the narrative and the record of history, are willing to expend in order to do so — and the intolerance that must be shown to any “scrap of an alternative narrative lying about,” so to speak — is brilliantly captured in Orwell’s metaphorical depiction (or perhaps not so metaphorical, as 1984’s “cubicles” are most certainly an all-too-common reality, and as most physical newspapers and even books made out of paper seem to have already been wafted away on the currents of warm air into a digital hall of records, where of course we can all access them freely via the web, although an imagination similar to Orwell’s might wonder whether that will always be the case).
In any event, it seems that Professor Tracy’s activities to expose evidence that seemed to conflict with the accepted narrative of certain important historical events — evidence which was supposed to have been safely shunted down the “memory hole,” in order to ensure that “all records told the same tale” — was not always welcome as a valuable contribution to the examination of the ways in which narratives are shaped in order to “control the past and the future.”
Even though he was a professor in a department offering classes on media, journalism, and the way that those institutions impact our understanding of history and narratives, where such subjects should be free to be openly discussed, Professor Tracy’s employment was terminated by his university in January of this year. He had been a tenured professor since 2008 — the very concept of “tenure” having been instituted in academia (ostensibly) to enable professors to have the freedom to pursue the truth without fear of being fired for pursuing unpopular evidence or explanations.
He was also verbally attacked and ridiculed in the media.
Both of these circumstances — the vicious media attacks and the firing of a tenured professor for having the courage to examine and discuss evidence which does not fit with the “official narrative” — seem to be very strong evidence in and of themselves pointing to deliberate efforts to make “all records tell the same tale.”
In other words, these actions appear to confirm the reality of the very “memory holes” that Orwell warned us about, and that Professor Tracy is talking about in the present day.
The denial of the evidence of history, by drawing a veil containing a new and fabricated historical narrative over the actual events, is an incredibly important subject, and one which should deeply concern every single adult man or woman on the planet.
It is an incredibly important subject for the recent past (including events such as the September 11 attacks in 2001 which launched wars which have continued nonstop since that date, in which literally hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives), as well as for events of previous decades around which a single “acceptable narrative” has been permitted to be told and conflicting evidence ignored, marginalized, or even “sent down the memory hole.”
It is also an incredibly important subject for humanity’s ancient past, where abundant evidence from multiple fields of study — including archaeology, geology, and (based upon the evidence that I discuss showing that the myths of virtually every culture on earth use a common system of celestial metaphor) mythology — appears to call into question the conventional narrative of human history.
I am not suggesting that Professor Tracy endorses my particular views of ancient history or mythology (although he was gracious enough to interview me on his podcast and radio program in 2014, and he has posted a few blog posts I have written over the years about the vital importance of the narrative of history, including “Paging Dr. Zaius” and “Analysis: against mind control, for human consciousness”).
Nor am I suggesting that everyone must share Professor Tracy’s every conclusion in order to find his firing reprehensible and a grave confirmation that much of what are (or were once) thought to be the bastions of free speech and honest examination of the evidence in the pursuit of truth in the United States — namely the media (both print and video) and the halls of academia — are in fact actively complicit in the suppression of any dissenters who do not comply with the directive that “all records must tell the same tale.”
And, it should be pointed out, that this is by no means a merely “academic” debate. To return again to my own focus on much more ancient history, please revisit this post from early December of 2015 in which I cited the powerful observation of Peter Kingsley that the prophet in ancient times was not necessarily one who was consulted regarding the future, but rather regarding the past — and in particular, was called upon in order to find out what overlooked error or crime or offense in the past was now bringing about calamity in the present.
For example, in the Iliad, when the Achaeans perceive that the god Apollo is sending invisible arrows of death to smite all their warriors, and that he will undoubtedly continue to do so until all of them are dead unless they figure out how they have offended the god, the leaders consult a prophet.
Elsewhere in the Iliad, Agamemnon recounts a different example that follows the same pattern, describing the time the assembled ships were ready to sail to Troy, but the weather turned violently against them and remained that way, until they consulted a prophet to find out which god they had offended (in that case, it was Agamemnon who had offended the goddess Artemis).
In other words, the prophet was needed in order to correct their faulty memory of the past — to show them the crimes or transgressions they had committed against the divine order of the universe, but which for whatever reason had been improperly understood or appreciated and which had not been dealt with and corrected.
Until such past imbalances are seen and confronted, they will keep haunting us until we deal with them — and the ancient myths teach us that until we deal with the problem, no one is safe.
So, burying our head in the sand is not an option.
The ancients knew this — that’s why they would immediately seek out a prophet or a seer who could tell them what was wrong in the invisible world, once they realized that the gods were trying to tell them something.
And that is probably why the writings of George Orwell seem so “prophetic” today (in the more conventional or colloquial usage of the word prophet to describe someone who is foretelling the future): Orwell was describing a problem that was not dealt with, and so the consequences of that un-confronted issue were going to keep cropping up again and again — and it appears that may be exactly what is happening to this day, which makes it seem as though he was predicting the future (and in that sense, he certainly was).
In this sense, although he probably would not accept my labeling his work using such language, James Tracy is acting in a prophetic role as well, by pointing to unexamined issues in the past, and saying that they must be examined instead of being ignored or papered-over or even “tossed down the memory hole.”
Please take some time to look into the eyes of George Orwell in the picture above, and ask yourself if you think he would advise us to ignore the subjects that James Tracy is bravely calling to our attention, or if he would diagnose these events as repeated manifestations of something to which he himself was trying to call our attention as well.