02 maart 2006
In vrijheid waarheid spreken
De ondertitel van mijn blog is:
een Vlaming spreekt in de naam van de vrijheid en de waarheid.Op het moment dat ik met mijn blog begon, stond ik er niet bij stil hoezeer vrijheid en waarheid met elkaar verbonden zijn.
Maar toen ik gisteren begon met het herlezen van '1984', de beroemde roman van George Orwell drong het tot me door. In de inleiding op het boek schrijft ene Ben Pimlott namelijk het volgende:
The novel, indeed, can be seen as an account of the forces that endanger liberty and of the need to resist them. Most of these forces can be summed up in a single word: lies. The author offers a political choice between the protection of truth, and a slide into expedient falsehood for the benefit of rulers and the exploitation of the ruled, in whom genuine feeling and ultimate hope reside.'1984' belicht twee belangrijke aspecten van de waarheid: de correcte geschiedenis en de zuiverheid van taal. Opnieuw Ben Pimlott:
Primo Levi-who lived through Auschwitz to become the finest writer on the Holocaust-has described in The Drowned and the Saved how Hitler contaminated the morality of his subjects by refusing them access to the truth. He concludes that 'the entire history of the brief "millenial Reich" can be reread as a war against memory, an Orwellian falsification of reality...' Oceania's unceasing war on memory, in which every shred of evidence that conflicts with the latest official line is systematically destroyed and a false trail is laid in its place, is one of the novel's most ingenious and terrifying devices.
Another is the assassination of language. Accurate history is one essential vessel of liberty, perhaps the most essential, and '1984' can be seen as a charter of historical scholarship. A second is linguistic purity. Language is testimony: it contains geological strata of past events and out-of-fashion values. Orwell was making an observation that is as relevant to the behaviour of petty bureaucrats as of dictators, when he noted the eagerness with which truthevaders shy away from well-known words and substitute their own. In Oceania the Party has created a sanitised language, Newspeak, to take the place of traditional English with its uncomfortable associations. This ideological Esperanto is composed of short, clipped words, 'which aroused the minimum of echoes in the speaker's mind', and which will eventually render the framing of heretical thoughts impossible...
'It is intolerable to us', says the evil O'Brien, 'that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be.' '1984' is a great novel and a great tract because its message is a permanent one: erroneous thought is the stuff of freedom.