Winston clicked ‘back numbers’ on the telescreen and called for the appropriate issues of the NY Times. The messages he had received referred to articles or news items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify. For example, it appeared from one issue that Comrade Gore, in his speech before the election, had predicted that the North Pole would by now be ice-free. As it happened, not even atomic-powered ice-breakers could make any headway in the frozen Northwest Passage. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of the comrade’s speech, in such a way as to make him predict something that had actually happened. Or again, another issue published the official forecasts of the output of wind generators in the fourth quarter of 2011. The real output was mostly birds, killed by the moving blades.
Today’s issue contained a temperature graph, from which it appeared that the forecasts were in every instance grossly wrong. Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones. As for the third message, it referred to a very simple error which could be set right in a couple of minutes.
This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Green Party and copied by the Democrats could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record.
Winston glanced across the hall. In the corresponding cubicle on the other side a fat, doughy-looking, dark-chinned man named Schmidt was working steadily away, with a folded newspaper on his knee and his mouth very close to the mouthpiece of the speakwrite. ***
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