To Julia (third letter)

What I think I can still know of you (and surely what you’d know of me if you could) is not entirely invented or imagined, projected or transferred, and yet, here we are, alone together.  You’re an ageless, fictional character.  I’m pretending to be myself as I rapidly age. I’m writing this letter.  I’m a letter writer who’s not pretending to be a letter writer and yet I’m playing a part.  I’m something, many things, before and after I write this.  What I’m writing will be publicly presented but never sent to you.  How could I?  My role is revealed from the start, and by playing it I distinguish myself from the fictions I enact, and yet I still write – it’s me who’s doing this.  I think of you of course.  You exist and you don’t.  It’s the same with Winston.  I wouldn’t be me without either of you.  If Orwell never wrote a book in his life, would someone else come along and take his place — would a sense of what you are be discovered and shared? Is that possible?  Would I periodically still feel as though I were Winston-like?  Where do singularities end and commonalities begin?  Is this what art is really about?
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?
I’m something and I’m not.  I’m perhaps too much at once (I won’t burden you here with a tentative list).  Within and without me there’s conflict, contradiction, an estrangement of selves.
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.
Perhaps everything recognizable serves to displace the absence of our true ontology, the reality of where we come from and where we’re going, how we got here and why.  Orwell could never fill us in, no matter how thoroughly he might explain his intentions as an author. We all share this conundrum despite our differences.  Truth and fiction collapse.  Each of us becomes a cipher of ambiguity.
Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped.
Must we tacitly agree upon an “us” to acknowledge what exists?  Do social relations determine the comprehensibility of things?  Do we only recognize what others pretend for us?  What we pretend for ourselves?  Is that what you are to me?  Is this what we call ideology and culture?  The answer has to be yes and no at once.  I’m simultaneously aware of what is knowable and what I experience.  Irony becomes unavoidable in everyday life.
I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories. 
An ironic disposition exposes injustice but does nothing to stop it.  Irony becomes an accomplice to the way things are.  This is one of the many things you’ve taught me.
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.  
There’s never respite from unknowing and contradiction (as far as I can tell) but it doesn’t matter, does it?  Alienation hasn’t been an excuse for you to say one thing and do another, to avoid responsibility, to disown judgment. You pursued your own desires while a stranger to yourself – acknowledged your own senses and possibility while under extreme duress, with no way out.  There’s a kind of validation of my own feelings and thoughts with each return to those pages.  Nothing gets in the way of it, not even the book’s conclusion.
The note that reads I love you is forever.
jeremy