Friday, 30 November 2018

Syme


Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. 

Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. 

It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control.





" In all of magic, there is an incredibly large linguistic component. The “Bardic” tradition of magic would place a Bard as being much higher and more fearsome than a magician. A magician might curse you, That might make your hands lay funny, or you might have a child born with a clubbed food. If a bard were to place, not a curse upon you, but a satire, that could destroy you. If it was a clever satire, it might not just destroy you in the eyes of your associates, it would destroy you in the eyes of your family. It would destroy you in your own eyes. And if it was a (extremely) finely worded and clever satire, that might survive and be remembered for decades, even centuries, then years after you were dead, people still might be reading it, and laughing… at you, your wretchedness, and absurdity. Writers, and people who had command of words were respected and feared, (just) as people who manipulated magic.

In latter times, I think the artists and writers have allowed themselves to be ‘sold down the river’. They have ACCEPTED the prevailing belief that art, that writing, are merely forms of entertainment. They’re not seen as transformative forces… that can change a human being, that can change a society. They are seen as simple entertainment Things with which we can fill 20 minutes, half an hour, while we’re waiting to die…

It is not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience WANTS.


If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn’t be the audience. They would be the artist.

It is the job of artists to give the audience what they NEED.


'Just the man I was looking for,' said a voice at Winston's back.

He turned round. It was his friend Syme, who worked in the Research Department. Perhaps 'friend' was not exactly the right word. You did not have friends nowadays, you had comrades: but there were some comrades whose society was pleasanter than that of others. Syme was a philologist, a specialist in Newspeak. Indeed, he was one of the enormous team of experts now engaged in compiling the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary. He was a tiny creature, smaller than Winston, with dark hair and large, protuberant eyes, at once mournful and derisive, which seemed to search your face closely while he was speaking to you.

'I wanted to ask you whether you'd got any razor blades,' he said.

'Not one!' said Winston with a sort of guilty haste. 'I've tried all over the place. They don't exist any longer.'

Everyone kept asking you for razor blades. Actually he had two unused ones which he was hoarding up. There had been a famine of them for months past. At any given moment there was some necessary article which the Party shops were unable to supply. Sometimes it was buttons, sometimes it was darning wool, sometimes it was shoelaces; at present it was razor blades. You could only get hold of them, if at all, by scrounging more or less furtively on the 'free' market.

'I've been using the same blade for six weeks,' he added untruthfully.

The queue gave another jerk forward. As they halted he turned and faced Syme again. Each of them took a greasy metal tray from a pile at the end of the counter.

'Did you go and see the prisoners hanged yesterday?' said Syme.

'I was working,' said Winston indifferently. 'I shall see it on the flicks, I suppose.'

'A very inadequate substitute,' said Syme.

His mocking eyes roved over Winston's face. 'I know you,' the eyes seemed to say, 'I see through you. I know very well why you didn't go to see those prisoners hanged.' In an intellectual way, Syme was venomously orthodox. He would talk with a disagreeable gloating satisfaction of helicopter raids on enemy villages, and trials and confessions of thought-criminals, the executions in the cellars of the Ministry of Love. Talking to him was largely a matter of getting him away from such subjects and entangling him, if possible, in the technicalities of Newspeak, on which he was authoritative and interesting. Winston turned his head a little aside to avoid the scrutiny of the large dark eyes.

'It was a good hanging,' said Syme reminiscently. 'I think it spoils it when they tie their feet together. I like to see them kicking. And above all, at the end, the tongue sticking right out, and blue--a quite bright blue. That's the detail that appeals to me.'

'Nex', please!' yelled the white-aproned prole with the ladle.

Winston and Syme pushed their trays beneath the grille. On to each was dumped swiftly the regulation lunch--a metal pannikin of pinkish-grey stew, a hunk of bread, a cube of cheese, a mug of milkless Victory Coffee, and one saccharine tablet.

'There's a table over there, under that telescreen,' said Syme. 'Let's pick up a gin on the way.'

The gin was served out to them in handleless china mugs. They threaded their way across the crowded room and unpacked their trays on to the metal-topped table, on one corner of which someone had left a pool of stew, a filthy liquid mess that had the appearance of vomit. Winston took up his mug of gin, paused for an instant to collect his nerve, and gulped the oily-tasting stuff down. When he had winked the tears out of his eyes he suddenly discovered that he was hungry. He began swallowing spoonfuls of the stew, which, in among its general sloppiness, had cubes of spongy pinkish stuff which was probably a preparation of meat. Neither of them spoke again till they had emptied their pannikins. From the table at Winston's left, a little behind his back, someone was talking rapidly and continuously, a harsh gabble almost like the quacking of a duck, which pierced the general uproar of the room.

'How is the Dictionary getting on?' said Winston, raising his voice to overcome the noise.

'Slowly,' said Syme. 'I'm on the adjectives. It's fascinating.'

He had brightened up immediately at the mention of Newspeak. He pushed his pannikin aside, took up his hunk of bread in one delicate hand and his cheese in the other, and leaned across the table so as to be able to speak without shouting.

'The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,' he said. 'We're getting the language into its final shape--the shape it's going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we've finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We're destroying words--scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won't contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.'

He bit hungrily into his bread and swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, then continued speaking, with a sort of pedant's passion. His thin dark face had become animated, his eyes had lost their mocking expression and grown almost dreamy.

'It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. 

It isn't only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. 

After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? 

A word contains its opposite in itself. 

Take "good", for instance. 

If you have a word like "good", what need is there for a word like "bad"? 

"Ungood" will do just as well--better, because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not. 

Or again, if you want a stronger version of "good", what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like "excellent" and "splendid" and all the rest of them? 

"Plusgood" covers the meaning, or "doubleplusgood" if you want something stronger still. 

Of course we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak there'll be nothing else. 

In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words--in reality, only one word. 

Don't you see the beauty of that, Winston? 

It was B.B.'s idea originally, of course,' he added as an afterthought.

A sort of vapid eagerness flitted across Winston's face at the mention of Big Brother. Nevertheless Syme immediately detected a certain lack of enthusiasm.

'You haven't a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,' he said almost sadly. 

'Even when you write it you're still thinking in Oldspeak. 

I've read some of those pieces that you write in "The Times" occasionally. 

They're good enough, but they're translations. 

In your heart you'd prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. 

You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. 

Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?'

Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:

'Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? 

In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in 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 meanings rubbed out and forgotten. 

Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. 

Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. 

Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. 

It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. 

But in the end there won't be any need even for that.

The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.

Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,' he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. 

'Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?'

'Except----' began Winston doubtfully, and he stopped.

It had been on the tip of his tongue to say 'Except the proles,' but he checked himself, not feeling fully certain that this remark was not in some way unorthodox. 

Syme, however, had divined what he was about to say.

'The proles are not human beings,' he said carelessly.

'By 2050--earlier, probably--all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. 

The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. 

Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron--they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. 


Even the literature of the Party will change. 

Even the slogans will change. 

How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? 

The whole climate of thought will be different. 

In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. 

Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. 

Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.'

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.

Winston had finished his bread and cheese. He turned a little sideways in his chair to drink his mug of coffee. At the table on his left the man with the strident voice was still talking remorselessly away. A young woman who was perhaps his secretary, and who was sitting with her back to Winston, was listening to him and seemed to be eagerly agreeing with everything that he said. From time to time Winston caught some such remark as 'I think you're so right, I do so agree with you', uttered in a youthful and rather silly feminine voice. But the other voice never stopped for an instant, even when the girl was speaking. Winston knew the man by sight, though he knew no more about him than that he held some important post in the Fiction Department. He was a man of about thirty, with a muscular throat and a large, mobile mouth. His head was thrown back a little, and because of the angle at which he was sitting, his spectacles caught the light and presented to Winston two blank discs instead of eyes. What was slightly horrible, was that from the stream of sound that poured out of his mouth it was almost impossible to distinguish a single word. Just once Winston caught a phrase--'complete and final elimination of Goldsteinism'--jerked out very rapidly and, as it seemed, all in one piece, like a line of type cast solid. For the rest it was just a noise, a quack-quack-quacking. And yet, though you could not actually hear what the man was saying, you could not be in any doubt about its general nature. He might be denouncing Goldstein and demanding sterner measures against thought-criminals and saboteurs, he might be fulminating against the atrocities of the Eurasian army, he might be praising Big Brother or the heroes on the Malabar front--it made no difference. Whatever it was, you could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure Ingsoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man's brain that was speaking, it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

Syme had fallen silent for a moment, and with the handle of his spoon was tracing patterns in the puddle of stew. The voice from the other table quacked rapidly on, easily audible in spite of the surrounding din.

'There is a word in Newspeak,' said Syme, 'I don't know whether you know it: DUCKSPEAK, to quack like a duck. 

It is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory meanings. 

Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied to someone you agree with, it is praise.'

Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought again. He thought it with a kind of sadness, although well knowing that Syme despised him and slightly disliked him, and was fully capable of denouncing him as a thought-criminal if he saw any reason for doing so. There was something subtly wrong with Syme. There was something that he lacked: discretion, aloofness, a sort of saving stupidity. You could not say that he was unorthodox. He believed in the principles of Ingsoc, he venerated Big Brother, he rejoiced over victories, he hated heretics, not merely with sincerity but with a sort of restless zeal, an up-to-dateness of information, which the ordinary Party member did not approach. Yet a faint air of disreputability always clung to him. He said things that would have been better unsaid, he had read too many books, he frequented the Chestnut Tree Cafe, haunt of painters and musicians. There was no law, not even an unwritten law, against frequenting the Chestnut Tree Cafe, yet the place was somehow ill-omened. The old, discredited leaders of the Party had been used to gather there before they were finally purged. Goldstein himself, it was said, had sometimes been seen there, years and decades ago. Syme's fate was not difficult to foresee. And yet it was a fact that if Syme grasped, even for three seconds, the nature of his, Winston's, secret opinions, he would betray him instantly to the Thought Police. So would anybody else, for that matter: but Syme more than most. Zeal was not enough. Orthodoxy was unconsciousness.

Syme looked up. 'Here comes Parsons,' he said.

Something in the tone of his voice seemed to add, 'that bloody fool'. Parsons, Winston's fellow-tenant at Victory Mansions, was in fact threading his way across the room--a tubby, middle-sized man with fair hair and a froglike face. At thirty-five he was already putting on rolls of fat at neck and waistline, but his movements were brisk and boyish. His whole appearance was that of a little boy grown large, so much so that although he was wearing the regulation overalls, it was almost impossible not to think of him as being dressed in the blue shorts, grey shirt, and red neckerchief of the Spies. In visualizing him one saw always a picture of dimpled knees and sleeves rolled back from pudgy forearms. Parsons did, indeed, invariably revert to shorts when a community hike or any other physical activity gave him an excuse for doing so. He greeted them both with a cheery 'Hullo, hullo!' and sat down at the table, giving off an intense smell of sweat. Beads of moisture stood out all over his pink face. His powers of sweating were extraordinary. At the Community Centre you could always tell when he had been playing table-tennis by the dampness of the bat handle. Syme had produced a strip of paper on which there was a long column of words, and was studying it with an ink-pencil between his fingers.

'Look at him working away in the lunch hour,' said Parsons, nudging Winston. 'Keenness, eh? What's that you've got there, old boy? Something a bit too brainy for me, I expect. Smith, old boy, I'll tell you why I'm chasing you. It's that sub you forgot to give me.'

'Which sub is that?' said Winston, automatically feeling for money. About a quarter of one's salary had to be earmarked for voluntary subscriptions, which were so numerous that it was difficult to keep track of them.

'For Hate Week. You know--the house-by-house fund. I'm treasurer for our block. We're making an all-out effort--going to put on a tremendous show. I tell you, it won't be my fault if old Victory Mansions doesn't have the biggest outfit of flags in the whole street. Two dollars you promised me.'

Winston found and handed over two creased and filthy notes, which Parsons entered in a small notebook, in the neat handwriting of the illiterate.

'By the way, old boy,' he said. 'I hear that little beggar of mine let fly at you with his catapult yesterday. I gave him a good dressing-down for it. In fact I told him I'd take the catapult away if he does it again.'

'I think he was a little upset at not going to the execution,' said Winston.

'Ah, well--what I mean to say, shows the right spirit, doesn't it? Mischievous little beggars they are, both of them, but talk about keenness! All they think about is the Spies, and the war, of course. D'you know what that little girl of mine did last Saturday, when her troop was on a hike out Berkhamsted way? She got two other girls to go with her, slipped off from the hike, and spent the whole afternoon following a strange man. They kept on his tail for two hours, right through the woods, and then, when they got into Amersham, handed him over to the patrols.'

'What did they do that for?' said Winston, somewhat taken aback. Parsons went on triumphantly:

'My kid made sure he was some kind of enemy agent--might have been dropped by parachute, for instance. But here's the point, old boy. What do you think put her on to him in the first place? She spotted he was wearing a funny kind of shoes--said she'd never seen anyone wearing shoes like that before. So the chances were he was a foreigner. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?'

'What happened to the man?' said Winston.

'Ah, that I couldn't say, of course. But I wouldn't be altogether surprised if----' Parsons made the motion of aiming a rifle, and clicked his tongue for the explosion.

'Good,' said Syme abstractedly, without looking up from his strip of paper.

'Of course we can't afford to take chances,' agreed Winston dutifully.

'What I mean to say, there is a war on,' said Parsons.

As though in confirmation of this, a trumpet call floated from the telescreen just above their heads. However, it was not the proclamation of a military victory this time, but merely an announcement from the Ministry of Plenty.

'Comrades!' cried an eager youthful voice. 'Attention, comrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us. Here are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs----'

The phrase 'our new, happy life' recurred several times. It had been a favourite of late with the Ministry of Plenty. Parsons, his attention caught by the trumpet call, sat listening with a sort of gaping solemnity, a sort of edified boredom. He could not follow the figures, but he was aware that they were in some way a cause for satisfaction. He had lugged out a huge and filthy pipe which was already half full of charred tobacco. With the tobacco ration at 100 grammes a week it was seldom possible to fill a pipe to the top. Winston was smoking a Victory Cigarette which he held carefully horizontal. The new ration did not start till tomorrow and he had only four cigarettes left. For the moment he had shut his ears to the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that streamed out of the telescreen. It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grammes a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be REDUCED to twenty grammes a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. 

Parsons swallowed it easily, with the stupidity of an animal. The eyeless creature at the other table swallowed it fanatically, passionately, with a furious desire to track down, denounce, and vaporize anyone who should suggest that last week the ration had been thirty grammes. 

Syme, too--in some more complex way, involving doublethink, Syme swallowed it. Was he, then, ALONE in the possession of a memory?

The fabulous statistics continued to pour out of the telescreen. As compared with last year there was more food, more clothes, more houses, more furniture, more cooking-pots, more fuel, more ships, more helicopters, more books, more babies--more of everything except disease, crime, and insanity. Year by year and minute by minute, everybody and everything was whizzing rapidly upwards. As Syme had done earlier Winston had taken up his spoon and was dabbling in the pale-coloured gravy that dribbled across the table, drawing a long streak of it out into a pattern. He meditated resentfully on the physical texture of life. Had it always been like this? Had food always tasted like this? He looked round the canteen. A low-ceilinged, crowded room, its walls grimy from the contact of innumerable bodies; battered metal tables and chairs, placed so close together that you sat with elbows touching; bent spoons, dented trays, coarse white mugs; all surfaces greasy, grime in every crack; and a sourish, composite smell of bad gin and bad coffee and metallic stew and dirty clothes. Always in your stomach and in your skin there was a sort of protest, a feeling that you had been cheated of something that you had a right to. It was true that he had no memories of anything greatly different. In any time that he could accurately remember, there had never been quite enough to eat, one had never had socks or underclothes that were not full of holes, furniture had always been battered and rickety, rooms underheated, tube trains crowded, houses falling to pieces, bread dark-coloured, tea a rarity, coffee filthy-tasting, cigarettes insufficient--nothing cheap and plentiful except synthetic gin. And though, of course, it grew worse as one's body aged, was it not a sign that this was NOT the natural order of things, if one's heart sickened at the discomfort and dirt and scarcity, the interminable winters, the stickiness of one's socks, the lifts that never worked, the cold water, the gritty soap, the cigarettes that came to pieces, the food with its strange evil tastes? Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different?

He looked round the canteen again. Nearly everyone was ugly, and would still have been ugly even if dressed otherwise than in the uniform blue overalls. On the far side of the room, sitting at a table alone, a small, curiously beetle-like man was drinking a cup of coffee, his little eyes darting suspicious glances from side to side. How easy it was, thought Winston, if you did not look about you, to believe that the physical type set up by the Party as an ideal--tall muscular youths and deep-bosomed maidens, blond-haired, vital, sunburnt, carefree--existed and even predominated. Actually, so far as he could judge, the majority of people in Airstrip One were small, dark, and ill-favoured. It was curious how that beetle-like type proliferated in the Ministries: little dumpy men, growing stout very early in life, with short legs, swift scuttling movements, and fat inscrutable faces with very small eyes. It was the type that seemed to flourish best under the dominion of the Party.

The announcement from the Ministry of Plenty ended on another trumpet call and gave way to tinny music. Parsons, stirred to vague enthusiasm by the bombardment of figures, took his pipe out of his mouth.

'The Ministry of Plenty's certainly done a good job this year,' he said with a knowing shake of his head. 'By the way, Smith old boy, I suppose you haven't got any razor blades you can let me have?'

'Not one,' said Winston. 'I've been using the same blade for six weeks myself.'

'Ah, well--just thought I'd ask you, old boy.'

'Sorry,' said Winston.

The quacking voice from the next table, temporarily silenced during the Ministry's announcement, had started up again, as loud as ever. For some reason Winston suddenly found himself thinking of Mrs Parsons, with her wispy hair and the dust in the creases of her face. Within two years those children would be denouncing her to the Thought Police. Mrs Parsons would be vaporized. Syme would be vaporized. Winston would be vaporized. O'Brien would be vaporized. Parsons, on the other hand, would never be vaporized. The eyeless creature with the quacking voice would never be vaporized. The little beetle-like men who scuttle so nimbly through the labyrinthine corridors of Ministries they, too, would never be vaporized. And the girl with dark hair, the girl from the Fiction Department--she would never be vaporized either. It seemed to him that he knew instinctively who would survive and who would perish: though just what it was that made for survival, it was not easy to say.

At this moment he was dragged out of his reverie with a violent jerk. The girl at the next table had turned partly round and was looking at him. It was the girl with dark hair. She was looking at him in a sidelong way, but with curious intensity. The instant she caught his eye she looked away again.

The sweat started out on Winston's backbone. A horrible pang of terror went through him. It was gone almost at once, but it left a sort of nagging uneasiness behind. Why was she watching him? Why did she keep following him about? Unfortunately he could not remember whether she had already been at the table when he arrived, or had come there afterwards. But yesterday, at any rate, during the Two Minutes Hate, she had sat immediately behind him when there was no apparent need to do so. Quite likely her real object had been to listen to him and make sure whether he was shouting loudly enough.

His earlier thought returned to him: probably she was not actually a member of the Thought Police, but then it was precisely the amateur spy who was the greatest danger of all. He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: FACECRIME, it was called.

The girl had turned her back on him again. Perhaps after all she was not really following him about, perhaps it was coincidence that she had sat so close to him two days running. His cigarette had gone out, and he laid it carefully on the edge of the table. He would finish smoking it after work, if he could keep the tobacco in it. Quite likely the person at the next table was a spy of the Thought Police, and quite likely he would be in the cellars of the Ministry of Love within three days, but a cigarette end must not be wasted. Syme had folded up his strip of paper and stowed it away in his pocket. Parsons had begun talking again.

'Did I ever tell you, old boy,' he said, chuckling round the stem of his pipe, 'about the time when those two nippers of mine set fire to the old market-woman's skirt because they saw her wrapping up sausages in a poster of B.B.? Sneaked up behind her and set fire to it with a box of matches. Burned her quite badly, I believe. Little beggars, eh? But keen as mustard! That's a first-rate training they give them in the Spies nowadays--better than in my day, even. What d'you think's the latest thing they've served them out with? Ear trumpets for listening through keyholes! My little girl brought one home the other night--tried it out on our sitting-room door, and reckoned she could hear twice as much as with her ear to the hole. Of course it's only a toy, mind you. Still, gives 'em the right idea, eh?'

At this moment the telescreen let out a piercing whistle. It was the signal to return to work. All three men sprang to their feet to join in the struggle round the lifts, and the remaining tobacco fell out of Winston's cigarette. 


My career as a magician continues to evolve. Since I, to a certain degree, believe art and magic to be interchangeable, it has seemed only natural that art should be the means by which I express magical ideas. This has found its way into my prose writing, in works such as “Voice of the Fire”, and probably most visibly has found its way into the performance pieces that i’ve done in various locations over the past 8 years. Beautiful little psychedelic artifacts in their own right, which actually capture the kind of narrative journey that we’ve tried to take the readers on as part of these performances; to overwhelm the sensibilities of the audience; to tip them over into a kind of psychedelic state where we can hopefully actually change their consciousness and direct it to different places, different levels, hopefully into new and magical spaces.

When we are doing the will of our True Self, we are inevitably doing the Will of the Universe. In Magic these are seen as indistinguishable; that Every human soul is in fact One human soul. It is the soul of the Universe itself, and as long as you are doing the Will of the Universe, then it is impossible to do anything wrong.

The one place in which Gods and Demons inarguably exist is in the human mind, where they are real in all their grandeur and monstrosity. Much of magic, as I understand it in the Western occult tradition, is a search for the Self, with a capital ‘S’. This is understood as being the ‘Great Work’, as being the Gold the Alchemists sought, as being the Will, the Soul, the thing that we have inside us that is behind the intellect, the body, the dreams. The “inner dynamo of us” if you like.


Now this is the Single. Most. Important. Thing. that we can ever attain, the knowledge of our own Self. And yet, there are a frightening amount of people who seem to have the urge to, not just IGNORE the self, but actually seem to have the urge to OBLITERATE themselves. This is horrific… but you can almost understand the desire to simply “wipe out” that awareness, because it’s too much of a responsibility to actually POSSESS such a thing as a “soul”. Such a precious thing. ‘What if you break it? What if you lose it?’ Mightn’t it be best to anaesthetize it, to deaden it, to destroy it, to not have to live with the pain of struggling towards it and trying to keep it pure. I think that the way that people immerse themselves in alcohol, in drugs, in television, in any of the addictions that our culture throws up, can be seen as a deliberate attempt to destroy any connection between themselves and the responsibility of accepting and owning a higher Self, and then having to maintain it.

I’ve been looking at the history of magical thinking, and where it starts to go wrong. And, for my money, where it starts to go wrong is “monotheism”. I mean, if you look at the history of magic, you’ve got its origins in the caves, you’ve got its origins in shamanism, in animism, in a belief that everything around you (every tree, every rock, every animal) was inhabited by some sort of ‘essence’, some sort of spirit, that could perhaps be communicated with. You would have had some central shaman or visionary who would have been responsible for channeling ideas that were useful for survival. By the time you have reached the classical civilizations, you can see that this has formalized to a degree. The shaman was acting purely as an intermediary between the spirits and the people. He was, in his position in the village or community, I should imagine very much like a spiritual plumber. The people in the group would have had their own roles.. The person who was best at hunting would’ve been a hunter. The person who was best at talking to the spirits, perhaps because he or she was a bit crazy, a bit detached from our normal, material world, then they would have been the Shaman. They would not have been the masters of a ‘sacred craft’. They would have simply been dispensing their information throughout the community because it was believed to be helpful to the community.


When you get the actual classical cultures emerging, this has been formalized so that you’ve now got pantheons of gods, and each of those gods have a priest caste, that will act (to a certain degree) as intermediaries, who will instruct you in the worship of that god. So the relationship between ‘humans and their gods’, which could be seen a relationship between ‘humans & their highest Selves’, that was still a very direct one… When Christianity & monotheism comes in, then all of a sudden you’ve got a priest caste moving between the worshipper and the object of worship. You’ve got a priest caste becoming a kind of ‘spiritual middle management’ between humanity and the divine within itself that it is seeking. You no longer have a direct relationship with the godhead. The Priests don’t really necessarily have a direct relationship with the godhead. They’ve just got a book that tells you about some people who lived a long time ago who DID have a direct relationship with the godhead… and that’s alright. “You don’t need to have miraculous visions. You don’t need to have gods talking to you. In fact if you do have any of that stuff, you’re probably insane.” In the modern world, that stuff doesn’t happen. The only people who are allowed to talk to gods, and in a very kind of one-sided way, are priests…

Monotheism, to me, is a great simplification. I mean, the Kabbalah has a great mulitiplicity of gods, but at the very top of the Kabbalistic diagram —the tree of life—who have this one sphere that is absolute God. The Monad. Something that is indivisible, you know? And all of the other gods, and indeed everything else in the Universe, is a kind of emanation of that God. Now that’s fine, but it’s when you suggest that there is ‘only that one God’, at this kind of unreachable height above humanity, and there is nothing in between, you’re limiting and simplifying the thing… I mean I tend to think of Paganism as a kind of alphabet, as a language. It’s like all of the Gods are letters in this alphabet. They express nuances, shades of meaning, or certain subtleties of ideas. Whereas monotheism tends to be just one vowel, and it’s just something like “ooooh”. It’s like this monkey sound. You can almost imagine the Gods becoming frustrated, contemptuous.. that with all this richness of spiritual concepts that are available, why reduce it to one plaintive single note that the utterer does not even understand?


The alchemists had two components to their philosophy. These were the principles of “solve” and “coagula”. Solve was basically the equivalent of ‘analysis’. It was taking things apart to see how they worked. Coagula was basically ‘synthesis’. It was trying to put the disassembled pieces back together so that they worked more efficiently.
These are two very important principles which can be applied to almost anything in culture. Recently in literature, for example, there has been a wave of post-modernism, deconstructionism. This is Solve. Perhaps it’s time, in the arts, for a little more Coagula. Having deconstructed everything, perhaps we really should be starting to think about putting everything back together.


Spiritualism was the natural state of human thinking up until the Renaissance and the subsequent age of reason that grew out of it. Our original way of seeing the world, was as a place entirely inhabited by spirits, where everything had its indwelling essence, where everything was, in some sense, sacred, including ourselves. The age of reason changed all that. While it’s inarguable that Reason brought many great benefits, and was a necessary stage of our development, unfortunately this lead to materialism, where the physical material world was seen as the be-all and end-all of existence, where inevitably, we are seen as creatures that have no spiritual dimensions, that have no souls, in a soulless Universe of dead matter…”

Vote of No Confidence




Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute. 

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo. 
While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict....




Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum:

The chair recognizes the Senator from The Sovereign System of Naboo.

Palpatine:

Supreme Chancellor,
Delegates of the Senate,


A tragedy has occurred...

Which started right here with the taxation of trade routes...

and has now engulfed our entire planet... in the oppression of the Trade Federation.




Lott Dod :

This is outrageous!
I object to the senator's statements!

Valorum :

The Chair does not recognize the Senator from the Trade Federation at this time.

Palpatine:

To state our allegations,

[ The alleged Genocide and Invasion of The Sovereign System of Naboo and it's people... ]

I present Queen Amidala,

recently elected ruler of the Naboo,

who speaks on our behalf.

[ They like to elect teenage girls to The Sovereignty for a term-limited rule - shows you just how relatively decadent, Hick back-waterish, and unimportant they are - a bit like Monaco or San Marino. ]


Queen Padmé Amidala:

Honorable representatives of The Republic, I come to you under the gravest of circumstances.

The Naboo system has been invaded by the droid armies of the Trade...

Lot Dod :

I object!

There is no proof!

This is incredible.

We recommend a commission be sent to Naboo to ascertain The Truth.


Senator Teem:

The Congress of Malastare concurs with the honorable delegate from The Trade Federation.

A Commission must be appointed.

Valorum:

The Point...

Mas Amedda:

Excuse me, Chancellor.

[whispers to Chancellor Valorum]




Palpatine:

[Whispering to Queen Amidala]
Enter the bureaucrats, the true rulers of The Republic.

And, on the payroll of the Trade Federation, I might add.

This is where Chancellor Valorum's strength will disappear.

Valorum:

The point is conceded.

Will you defer your motion to allow a commission to explore the validity of your accusations?

Padmé:

I will not defer.

I've come before you to resolve this attack on our sovereignty now!


I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!

If this body is not capable of action, I suggest new leadership is needed.

I move for a Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum's leadership.

[The Senators begin arguing over Queen Amidala's decision, as Valorum sits down, stunned]

[ I Don't Blame Him - That's Pretty Damn Treacherous; Especially Given That it was He Who, Not Knowing What He Was Up Against, Very Unofficially Dispatched Two Jedi in Earnest Hope That The Dispute Could Be Resolved Amicably and Thereby Prevent a Famine.... And Padme Actually Does Indeed Know This... ]


Mas Amedda:

ORDER!!


Palpatine:

Now they will elect a new Chancellor,

a strong Chancellor.

One who will not let this tragedy continue.









But I say to you our greatest challenge, is not exiting the EU Single Market on WTO Terms —

The Greatest Challenge laying before us, is to do what must be done, 
without undoing the Dreams of Albion.

For myself, I have but one fear:
Destroying the Promise of a New Jerusalem.

Compared to such a loss, 
I DO NOT FEAR THE EUROPEAN UNION!

It was a good speech.

Until I heard Admiral Ramirez speak, I had not foreseen the possibility of a peace between the Federation and the Klingons.

Nor had I foreseen the possibility
that the Federation might WIN...



Thursday, 29 November 2018

The Story

Keyser Soze

[in Hungarian] 
Why are you just standing there, you idiot? I'm not speaking English am I? Wouldn't it make sense to find someone who could talk to me so you could find the person that set me on fire, perhaps? He is the Devil. You've never seen anyone like Keyser Soze in all your miserable life, you idiot. Keyser Soze. Do you at least understand that? Keyser Soze. The Devil himself. Or are you American policemen so stupid that you haven't even heard of him? Keyser Soze, you ridiculous man. 
KEYSER SOZE.
Verbal: Keaton always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." 

Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.

Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone.

He lets the last Hungarian go. He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground and then he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone. Underground. Nobody has ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. "Rat on your pop, and Keyser Soze will get you." And no-one ever really believes.

SING WORF SING










"The Bardic tradition of magic would place a Bard as being much higher and more fearsome than a Magician.  


A Magician might curse you.  That might make your hands lay funny or you might have a child born with a club foot.  


If a Bard were to place not a curse upon you, but a satire, then that could DESTROY YOU.


If it was a clever satire, it might not just destroy you in the eyes of your associates; it would destroy you in the eyes of your family.  It would destroy you in your own eyes.  


And if it was a finely worded and clever satire that might survive and be remembered for decades, even centuries. 


 Then, years after you were dead people still might be reading it and laughing at you and your wretchedness and your absurdity."


- Alan Moore

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

All That I Have to Say Has Already Crossed Your Mind




“'All that I have to say has already crossed your mind,' said he.

“'Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,' I replied. 

And This Was How I First Met :

Tyler Durden.





“'You stand fast?' 

“'Absolutely.' 

“He clapped his hand into his pocket, and I raised the pistol from the table. But he merely drew out a memorandum-book in which he had scribbled some dates.

“'You crossed my path on the 4th of January,' said he. 'On the 23d you incommoded me; by the middle of February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the end of March I was absolutely hampered in my plans; and now, at the close of April, I find myself placed in such a position through your continual persecution that I am in positive danger of losing my liberty. The situation is becoming an impossible one.'

“'Have you any suggestion to make?' I asked.

“'You must drop it, Mr. Holmes,' said he, swaying his face about. 'You really must, you know.'

“'After Monday,' said I.

“'Tut, tut,' said he. 'I am quite sure that a man of your intelligence will see that there can be but one outcome to this affair. It is necessary that you should withdraw. You have worked things in such a fashion that we have only one resource left. It has been an intellectual treat to me to see the way in which you have grappled with this affair, and I say, unaffectedly, that it would be a grief to me to be forced to take any extreme measure. You smile, sir, but I assure you that it really would.' 

“'Danger is part of my trade,' I remarked. 

“'That is not danger,' said he. 'It is inevitable destruction. 

You stand in the way not merely of an individual, but of a mighty organization, the full extent of which you, with all your cleverness, have been unable to realize. 

You must stand clear, Mr. Holmes, or be trodden under foot.'

“'I am afraid,' said I, rising, 'that in the pleasure of this conversation I am neglecting business of importance which awaits me elsewhere.'

“He rose also and looked at me in silence, shaking his head sadly.

“'Well, well,' said he, at last. 'It seems a pity, but I have done what I could. I know every move of your game. You can do nothing before Monday. It has been a duel between you and me, Mr. Holmes. 

You hope to place me in the dock. I tell you that I will never stand in the dock. 

You hope to beat me. I tell you that you will never beat me. 

If you are clever enough to bring destruction upon me, rest assured that I shall do as much to you.'

“'You have paid me several compliments, Mr. Moriarty,' said I. 'Let me pay you one in return when I say that if I were assured of the former eventuality I would, in the interests of the public, cheerfully accept the latter.' 

“'I can promise you the one, but not the other,' he snarled, and so turned his rounded back upon me, and went peering and blinking out of the room. 

“That was my singular interview with Professor Moriarty. 

I confess that it left an unpleasant effect upon my mind. His soft, precise fashion of speech leaves a conviction of sincerity which a mere bully could not produce. Of course, you will say: 'Why not take police precautions against him?' the reason is that I am well convinced that it is from his agents the blow will fall. 

I have the best proofs that it would be so.”

“You have already been assaulted?” 

“My dear Watson, Professor Moriarty is not a man who lets the grass grow under his feet. I went out about mid-day to transact some business in Oxford Street. 

As I passed the corner which leads from Bentinck Street on to the Welbeck Street crossing a two-horse van furiously driven whizzed round and was on me like a flash. I sprang for the foot-path and saved myself by the fraction of a second. 

The van dashed round by Marylebone Lane and was gone in an instant. I kept to the pavement after that, Watson, but as I walked down Vere Street a brick came down from the roof of one of the houses, and was shattered to fragments at my feet. I called the police and had the place examined. 

There were slates and bricks piled up on the roof preparatory to some repairs, and they would have me believe that the wind had toppled over one of these. 

Of course I knew better, but I could prove nothing. 

I took a cab after that and reached my brother's rooms in Pall Mall, where I spent the day. Now I have come round to you, and on my way I was attacked by a rough with a bludgeon. 

I knocked him down, and the police have him in custody; but I can tell you with the most absolute confidence that no possible connection will ever be traced between the gentleman upon whose front teeth I have barked my knuckles and the retiring mathematical coach, who is, I dare say, working out problems upon a black-board ten miles away. 

You will not wonder, Watson, that my first act on entering your rooms was to close your shutters, and that I have been compelled to ask your permission to leave the house by some less conspicuous exit than the front door.” 





Mycroft :
Do you? 

Sherlock :
Do I what? 
H-how did you get that? 
I left it at the crime scene. 

Mycroft :
"Crime scene"? 
Where do you pick up these extraordinary expressions? 
Do you miss him? 





Sherlock :
Moriarty is dead.

Mycroft :
And yet...? 

Sherlock :
His body was never recovered. 

Mycroft :
To be expected when one pushes a maths professor over a waterfall. 
Pure reason toppled by sheer melodrama. 
Your life in a nutshell. 

Sherlock :
Where do you pick up these extraordinary expressions? 

(HE SNIFFS) 

Sherlock :
Have you put on weight? 

Mycroft :
You saw me only yesterday. 
Does that seem possible? 

Sherlock :
No. 

Mycroft :
Yet, here I am, increased
What does that tell the foremost criminal investigator in England? 

Sherlock :
In England? 

Mycroft :
You're in deep, Sherlock, deeper than you ever intended to be. 
Have you made a list

Sherlock :
Of what? 

Mycroft :
Everything. We will need a list. 
Good boy. 

Sherlock :
No, I haven't finished yet. 

Mycroft :
Moriarty may beg to differ. 

(HE SIGHS) 

Sherlock :
He's trying to distract me. 
To derail me. 



Mycroft :
Yes. He's the crack in the lens, the fly in the ointment



The virus in the data. 

Sherlock :
I have to finish this. 

Mycroft :
If Moriarty has risen from the Reichenbach cauldron, he will seek you out. 

Sherlock :
I'll be waiting.

Mycroft :
Yes. I'm very much afraid you will..... 


Mrs. Hudson : 
Two days he's been like that. 

Lestrade :
Has he eaten? 


Mrs. Hudson : 
No, not a morsel. 

Lestrade :
Press are having a ruddy field day. 
There's still reporters outside. 

Mrs. Hudson : 
Oh, they've been there all the time, I can't get rid of them. 

I've been rushed off my feet making tea. 

Lestrade :
Why do you make him tea? 

Mrs. Hudson : 
I dunno, I just sort of — do. 

Lestrade :
He said, "There's only one suspect," and then he just walks away and now he won't explain. 
Which is strange, because he likes that bit. 

Said it was so simple I could solve it. 

Mrs. Hudson : 
I'm sure he was exaggerating. 


Lestrade :
What's he doing, do you think? 

Mrs. Hudson : 
He says he's waiting. 

Lestrade :
For what? 

Mrs. Hudson : 
The Devil. 

I wouldn't be surprised. 
We get all sorts here. 

Well, wire me if there's any change. 

Mrs. Hudson : 
Yeah. 

(CREAKING

(FOOTSTEPS


Lucifer :
Everything I have to say has already crossed your mind. 

Sherlock :
Then possibly my answer has crossed yours. 

Lucifer :
Like a bullet. 
. It's a dangerous habit, to finger loaded firearms in the pocket of one's dressing gown. 
Or are you just pleased to see me? 
(NECK CREAKS


Sherlock :
You'll forgive me for taking precautions. 

Lucifer : 
I'd be offended if you didn't. 
Obviously, I've returned the courtesy. 
(BARREL CLICKS
I like your rooms. 
They smell so... ..manly. 

Sherlock :
I'm sure you acquainted yourself with them before now. 

Lucifer :
Well, you are always away, 
on your little adventures for The Strand. 
Tell me, does the illustrator travel with you?
 Do you have to pose... during your deductions? 

Sherlock :
I'm aware of all six occasions you have visited these apartments during my absence. 

 Lucifer :
I know you are. 
By the way, you have a surprisingly comfortable bed. 

Sherlock :
Did you know that dust is largely composed of human skin? 

Lucifer :
Yes. Doesn't taste the same, though, you want your skin fresh. 
Just a little crispy. 

Sherlock :
Won't you sit down? 


Lucifer :
That's all people really are, you know, dust waiting to be distributed. 
And it gets everywhere. Ugh. 
In every breath you take, dancing in every sunbeam, all the used-up people. 

Sherlock :
Fascinating, I'm sure. 
Won't you sit... 

Lucifer :
People, people, people! 
Can't keep anything shiny. 

Do you mind if I fire this? 
Just to clean it out. 

Exactly, let's stop playing. 
We don't need toys to kill each other. 
Where's the intimacy in that? 

Sherlock :
Sit down. 

Lucifer :
Why? What do you want? 

Sherlock :
You chose to come here. 

Lucifer :
Not true, you know that's not true.
What do you want, Sherlock? 

Sherlock :
The Truth. 

Lucifer :
That. Truth's boring! 

You didn't expect me to turn up at the scene of the crime, did you? 
Poor old Sir Eustace. 
He got what was coming to him. 

Sherlock :
But you couldn't have killed him. 

Lucifer :
Oh, so what? Does it matter? 

Sherlock :
Stop it. Stop this. 

Lucifer :
You don't care about Sir Eustace, or the Bride, or any of it. 

There's only one thing in this whole business that you find interesting. 

Sherlock :
I know what you're doing. 
(RATTLING) 


Lucifer : 
The Bride put a gun in her mouth and shot the back of her head off and then she came back. 

Impossible. But she did it. 

And you need to know how. 
How? Don't you? 
It's tearing your world apart, not knowing. 

Sherlock :
You're trying to stop me... 
To distract me, derail me. 

Lucifer : 
Because doesn't this remind you of another case? 
Hasn't this all happened before? 
There's nothing new under the sun. What was it? 

What was it? What was that case? 
Huh? Do you remember? 
It's on the tip of my tongue. 
It's on the tip of my tongue. 
It's on the tip of my tongue. It's on the tip... ..of my tongue. 

Sherlock :
For the sake of Mrs. Hudson's wallpaper, I must remind you that one false move with your finger and you will be dead. 
(HE MUMBLES) 
I'm sorry? 

Lucifer : 
Dead... is the new sexy. 
(RUMBLING) 
(GUNSHOT) 

Well, I'll tell you what, that rather blows the cobwebs away. 

Sherlock :
How can you be alive? 

How do I look? Huh? 
You can be honest, is it noticeable? 

Sherlock :
You blew your own brains out, how could you survive? 

Lucifer : 
Or maybe I could backcomb. 


Sherlock :
I saw you die. 
Why aren't you dead? 

Because it's not the fall that kills you, Sherlock. 
Of all people, you should know that, it's not the fall, it's never the fall. 
It's the landing!