Winston’s Telescreen

Winston rubbed his presumably-broken toe and moodily contemplated the bottle of something-like-bourbon which sprawled in its repurposed bottle, tormenting him with a level of sass that would have been unacceptable in any world where Winston could give himself the luxury of smashing the thing, which would be a world where he didn’t need a drink, which would be some world very different from this one.

In this world, which fiercely guarded the convenience of transliterating your sleeping subvocalizations into expressions of your most person belief, Winston had invented what he considered the ultimate privacy device, all things considered. It was, quite unoriginally, called the “telescreen”, though obviously, technology had evolved quite beyond the original concept.

Winston had arranged matters such that he almost never left his apartment, and he had used the now-trivial expedient of covering essentially every part of his living space with audio/visual transmittal equipment. They covered essentially anywhere he might spend time, and their feeds were sent out, temptingly, without any of the multiple layers of passwords, psychic walls, encryption codes, and other precautions hypothetically offered for the creation of personal and interpersonal privacy.

Winston was not an exhibitionist. He had a painful desire to keep his affairs to himself. But it’s an open secret: any technology capable of flashing images of sucrose and calories onto your retina at optimal times is certainly more aware than you are of exactly the hour at which you will indulge in the ubiquitous sin of Onan, and what secondary sexual characteristics, flickering across your optic sense, will produce the most rapid procreative response.

Pavlov popularized the understanding, and offered some of the most compelling modern proof, but the concepts involved would have been understood by the first bards, the first priests, the first torturers, the first healers: inconsistent  response is by far the more powerful, in terms of shaping a psyche, than that which is completely predictable; that knowing a certain action will bring a likely response, and that it may not be now, it may not be later, but it might be at any time.

In other words, knowing he was being watched an unknown amount, and there’d be real but uncertain response, affected Winston much more.

And after a year of offering, Winston knew: no-one would trade him total imprisonment on his own terms, for partial but far more binding imprisonment on terms to which he would never have access.

So it goes; so it went.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

Comments are closed.