Word choice and its implications in shaping understanding
In The Quietus's article, Welcome to Dystopia, Dorian Lynskey's 1984 Playlist, we're presented with a list of tracks and a very basic insight into why Lynskey has selected them.
Lynskey is the author of Ministry of Truth, which is a new title (which I haven't read yet, caveat warning), which apparently "looks at the culture and context of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four."
There are some good tracks in this list, go check it out.
Of interest to me, and to the Propaganda Project as a whole, is this idea of a subgenre of music identified as "George Orwave".
I'm a fan of Orwell, I won't lie. But to identify something as a wave tells us that it is transitive. A wave is something that fluctuates, moves back and forth, is in a moment of transition.
Of course, George Orwave has boundaries. According to The Quietus:
The ingenious hosts of the Yacht Rock podcast came up with “George Orwave” to describe the paranoid pop songs, such as Cheap Trick’s ‘Dream Police’ and Corey Hart’s ‘Sunglasses at Night’, that proliferated in the run-up to Orwell’s year.
Key words here: paranoid pop songs.
As a term on its own, paranoia means mental disorder. The word itself doesn't have a long history: It emerged in the mid-1800s.
If we divorce the idea of a genre of music based on Orwell's writing (which is kind of awesome, right?) and look only at the terminology, the language tells you that George Orwave:
- Is or was a transient genre (the original definition specified music created up until 1984 and not beyond, though Lynskey's track choices go far beyond 1984)
- Is music that is written about something that pertains to government, the state, or control (it's political and has to be if it's related to 1984).
- The person who wrote it is kind of nuts.
Language is a special kind of magic. We often use it unthinkingly, because the deeper meanings of the words we use have been passed down to us. When we learn our language, we learn it symbolically; the deep meanings is not something you learn unless you look for it and go study the etymology.
However, its doesn't mean that those meanings don't exist, or that the symbols (the words) don't carry those meanings with them. Of course languages change over time, but the history persists.
A really good example of that is the fact that almost everybody you know hates work. Even Andrea Komlosy, the author of Work: The Last 1,000 Years acknowledges that much of this drills right back to the origins of the term work and from where it first emerged.
While the metasocial propaganda framework is in its infancy, a critical part of it is in language and how it is used: Etymology, semantics, neurosemantics, and usage, are all threads that this project will weave together.
In the meantime, articles like the one from the Quietus start to give you an insight into how social artefacts are being catagorised by contemporary writers in terms of the language used to explain it.
Beyond this, it's going to be a fun ride to read Lynskey's work, and learn more about how his framework has been developed, and how his analysis (and language) characterises social artefacts in Orwellian culture in order to shape a particular understanding.