Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."

One of the questions in the 1984 packet inquired what the quote (pg. 35, part 1, chapter 3) meant. I, myself, am quite puzzled by George Orwell's words. What does the quote mean?" 'Who controls the past,' ran the party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' "
I'd easily say that no one can control the past, because the past is behind can't change what's already happened. Also, upon first glance, I would say that the "who" described is non-existent.After some discussion with my teacher and some personal thought, I've found that my first impressions about this quote were all wrong; there is a "who" that can control the past/present/future.
First off, how do you change the past? Well, like in 1984, you can make it disappear; erase history. That brings the next question; how do you erase history? To erase history, you prevent people who don't know anything about it from ever finding out, and then you brainwash people possessing any personal recollections into believing whatever you want them to believe occurred in the past.
With that answered; why is it that the person that can control the past can control the future? How about an example?I
went to school yesterday. Now let's say that today, Joe Schmo tells me that I didn't go to school yesterday, but skipped school to go to Six Flags. If he can control the past by convincing me that I went to Six Flags; then couldn't he continue to do that every day, meaning that he controls the future? That's sort of hard to follow, but I can't think of an easier way to put it.
Unfortunately, there's still one more part: how is it that the person that can control the present can control the past? Well if you can control the past, you can control the future, and if you control the present you can control the past...confusing. I think that it's because the person can control the past that they can control the present and the future.
Strange/confused way of thinking, but I think I get it?
(ever wonder why there's a question mark after "bekah's thoughts"? Probably because sometimes I don't really even understand what I'm thinking)
Before anyone asks...I do realize that the "person" could be "people".


Miller said...

This is a very complex idea you are tackling and I think you did a fine job. It essentially comes down to control of the present. That is where everything else exists, right? The past only exists in the present through memories and recollections, right? And like you said, if you can control people's (a person's) thoughts by controlling information or propaganda, you can affect their recollection of the past.

It is a heavy concept and one I think Orwell wanted us to grapple with. Keep thinking and asking questions.

Johnny said...

Very interesting quote. I have a history assignment that is dealing with this.
My first impression was that people can be manipulated into seeing and understanding what is given to them... however, it didn't seem to make sense to me in relation to the Civil War (our topic). The second impression I had was that the quote was just refering to time periods in relation to one another... our present being the future of their present time, their present being the past to our present... but that didn't quite make sense to me either... So by controlling history (the past)in the present day you will effectively control the future through the minds of the present day people? (almost like Chairman Mao in China...) So present -> past -> future?

Point out any mistakes in logic I've made here, I don't think clearly at times.

Marifer said...

I actually think your wrong with the whole "who controls the past, controls the future" i think that means that we learn from our mistakes which were made in the past and using the knowledge we already know about the past we can prevent the same thing from happening in the future

jsound118 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jsound118 said...

This is quite an old topic but I too was interested in this quote. For me, it means that whoever controls the present controls both the past and the future.

So basically, who controls the present controls everything.