It is odd how, when you take away someone’s face, they do not loose their individuality. Rather than use someone’s face as an identifying feature, you use certain mannerisms of theirs; the way they walk for example, or the way they hold themselves. Not only can you distinguish between people by noticing these things, you get in an insight into their character as well. When you also remove people’s names, these mannerisms become an essential way of recognising someone and then identifying them. We identify each other not by names; we cannot know each others names, but by nicknames which reflect our character. For the record I myself have earned the nickname ‘The Writer’ for obvious reasons.
It is, however, the consequences of this loss if identity that I have been contemplating and I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper. You see, the beauty of our rebellion is that it is entirely leaderless, entirely faceless and entirely nameless, it does not even have a voice, this is because none of us have faces, or names, or leaders. Superficially the Scotsman – for that is what everyone calls him – coordinates everything, but were he to die tomorrow another would merely take on his mantle. As a consequence of our lack of an identity, the government, our chief enemy, has not face, no name and no leader to attack. They cannot launch a propaganda war against us because they have nothing to launch it against. All they have is actions. No words, no face, no name, just actions. They can call down our actions, condemn them, denounce them over the radio and television directly into people’s homes, but with no name, or face, or slogans to relate it too, their rantings are almost entirely useless.
This is why we will always exist; because they cannot target us directly and because there will always be people sympathetic to our cause – there are always people who will stand up for what is right – we will always exist. Even if we are not coherent, even if we exist in different places across the globe we will always exist. We exist, not as an organisation with a name and a face and a slogan, but in the hearts and minds of all men, women and children who dream of freedom. We have always existed, ever since man has sought to suppress its fellow man; the flame of freedom had fought back as viciously as we fight back now. We are just this generation’s version of a movement that has been in existence for thousands of years.
I have been scratching hard into the paper with my rather cheap biro for the last two paragraphs so I ought to stop before I tear this page in half with my pen strokes. I am almost embarrassed at the viciousness with which I attacked my page just now but I suppose that is why I am writing this in the first place: ‘to vent’ as I told that most pleasant American the other day. Had I been feeling more sentimental I would have told her that I was writing this so that future generations could understand out struggle, and I guess, being either a government official about to feed this too the fire or one of those future generations, that you had assumed the same. I was not feeling sentimental a few days ago and I don’t feel sentimental now – I do not have the luxury of being sentimental.
The Writer put his book down and leant back, resting his head on the cold brickwork of the sewer wall. The wall curved upwards, making his head lean forwards slightly. He could feel the slimy texture of the pathetic excuse for plant life which grew on the walls, wallowing in the damp, dimly lit atmosphere of the rebel hideout.
He looked round the anonymous part of tunnel in which he sat, in the shadows several of the rebels sat, some doing various jobs, others simply sitting, watching. Several watched the Writer, their attention now wavering given that he had closed the small, tatty black notepad which he so closely guarded. The Balaklava hid the Writer’s smile.
It is slightly disconcerting when you stop what you are doing and look round at other people; at least half of the people present are watching you. Just sitting amid the grime and stagnant water, the dim lights that hang precariously along the roof of the tunnel barely illuminating them, watching. They sit in the shadows; the intensity of their faceless stare turns my skin cold. The most worrying thing is when you catch yourself doing it.
I suppose the most reasonable explanation is a mix between curiosity and boredom, but sometimes I get the feeling it’s more than that. The thing you most notice most when people do watch is the balaclava; after the first few days you get used to people wearing them, but when you see two or three people in balaclavas watching you it sends a shiver down your spine. They look like something out of a horror film; their faces eaten by the darkness, made expressionless by the tool of our anonymity. The way they watch you is the worst part; when you haven’t got a balaclava on, you use sidelong glances, you watch for short periods, averting your eyes when the subject moves his or her head slightly, trying to avoid being seen to be watching. When wearing a balaclava you just watch, protected by the facelessness.
“Can I read it?” The Writer was cut off by a voice piercing the silent air; it was the American woman, who had been nicknamed ‘The Hacker’ for obvious reasons.
“Sorry, it’s sort of private.” There was the vaguest hint of an apology in his voice.
The Writer bent down to put pen to paper again but he was interrupted once more. “What are you writing about?” she was sitting beside him now. He closed the book.
The Writer sighed. “Waffle mostly, I’ve sort of run out of steam.” He signed.
“You seem like quite an educated guy,” The Writer turned his head towards her. “Did you go to college?”
The Writer smiled. “Yeah, I went to Bristol, to study history,”
She mused for a moment. “I’ve never understood history, why study what is in the past? I mean, it’s happened, right? Why does it matter?”
The Writer paused for thought, trying to put into words the answer to her searching question. The existential question that had long plagued him through long nights of futile study in his tiny university room.
Finally he spoke in an overconfident tone, as though he was trying to convince himself as much as anyone else. “People are all fundamentally the same; they respond to the same stimulus, respond the same way to certain actions. With an acute knowledge of history we can help predict the results of certain decisions and hopefully prevent past mistakes.”
“But it didn’t help this time, I mean, we’re still in the mess we’re in. History didn’t help here.”
“That’s because it never had the chance. The government refused to listen to people who warned against what they were doing; instead they threw them in prison. Many of them are now tasked with rewriting history so that it conforms to the government’s ideals.” He paused and there was a contemplative silence. “’Whoever controls the present, controls the past, whoever controls the past controls the future.’” The Writer quoted.
“You’ve read it?” the Writer sounded bemused.
“Yeah, I hated it; it was so depressing! I read for enjoyment and I just can’t enjoy something which is so downbeat.”
The Writer chuckled. “That’s not the point.” There was silence once more.
The Writer checked his wristwatch. “I’d better go; duty calls.” She nodded and he rose to leave.
As he was waking down the tunnel to wherever duty called, she called out to him; “Hey!” the Writer turned to her. “What’s your name?”
The Writer smiled, turned and walked away.
Sunday, 30 August 2009
And now for something completely different 3
The third instalment of that story thing I posted a while back. Parts one and two can be found here and here. This may be the last you see of this in a while because I haven't written any more of it so another instalment would require me to do some work and I'd rather not do that. The reasons I'm not doing a normal blog this week are twofold; lack of anything interesting going on in either my life or the world at large, and a filthy cold which has robbed me of any inspiration.