Our “Doublethink Double vision” exhibition’s title alludes to George Orwell’s seminal work 1984 and presents a selection that includes Tracey Emin, Marcel Dzama, Anselm Kiefer, Bruce Nauman, Raymond Pettibon, and Thomas Ruff, as well as Turkish artists, tracing the steps of pluralistic thought through works of art.
In the introduction of the 1984 published by Penguin Books in 2000 Thomas Pynchon explains:
“For somewhat complex reasons,” he wrote in March of 1948,early in the revision of the first draft of 1984 , “nearly the whole of the English left has been driven to accept the Russian regime as ‘Socialist,’ while silently recognising that its spirit and practice are quite alien to anything that is meant by ‘Socialism’ in this country. Hence there has arisen a sort of schizophrenic manner of thinking, in which words like’democracy’ can bear two irreconcilable meanings, and such things as concentration camps and mass deportations can be right and wrong simultaneously.
“We recognise this “sort of schizophrenic manner of thinking” as a source for one of the great achievements of this novel, one which has entered the everyday language of political discourse – the identification and analysis of doublethink. As described in Emmanuel Goldstein’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism , a dangerously subversive text outlawed in Oceania and known only as the book , doublethink is a form of mental discipline whose goal, desirable and necessary to all party members, is to be able to believe two contradictory truths at the same time. This is nothing new, of course. We all do it. In social psychology it has long been known as”cognitive dissonance.” Others like to call it “compartmentalisation.” Some, famously FScott Fitzgerald, have considered it evidence of genius. For Walt Whitman (“Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself”) it was being large and containing multitudes, for American aphorist Yogi Berra it was coming to a fork in the road andtaking it, for Schrödinger’s cat, it was the quantum paradox of being alive and dead at the same time….”
Here are 11 quotes from the book!
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.
You are a slow learner, Winston.” Said O’Brien gently.
“How can I help it?” he blubbered. How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”
“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.
Winston Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O’Brien: Of course he exists.
Winston Smith: Does he exist like you or me?
O’Brien: You do not exist.
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.
It was like trying to make a move at chess when you were already mated.
On the battlefield, in the torture chamber, on a sinking ship, the issues that you are fighting for are always forgotten, because the body swells up until it fills the universe, and even when you are not paralysed by fright or screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle against hunger or cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach or an aching tooth.
Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.
For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?
“Doublethink Double vision” exhibition can be visited until August 6th!