My Twitter thread from today
It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions #nineteeneightyfour
Clutched in his arms was a precious item, given to him earlier that day by O’Brien as they sat drinking coffee in O’Brien’s spacious flat, the one where the telescreen could be turned off.
‘I know you’ve been working on the Newspeak dictionary for some time’, the older man had told him, ‘and that you have a particular interest in how we can limit thought by limiting language’
Winston had nodded, reflecting on how doublethink and thoughtcrime and doubleplusgood had become part of everyone’s intellectual furniture over the years since the Party had taken power.
It was almost impossible to remember when language had been a nuanced tool for the expression of culture, emotion and even politics.
‘We think this is the next stage to complete control. Not only does it remove layers of meaning, we believe it will essentially make it impossible to formulate thoughts that go against the teaching of the Party’, said O’Brien. ‘But how?, Winston had asked.
‘Pictures, We have replaced words with images from a selection entirely approved by the Party, built into all our systems and with no way for the proles to come up with new ones. Eventually we’ll retire old-fashioned keyboards and our work is done’.
Passing a copy of the Emoji dictionary to Smith was in one sense a subversive act, but it was also a way for O’Brien to spread the message — words bad, pictures good.