• 2+2=5

    Music & lyrics by Radiohead and article by Greenplastic

    As mentioned a week ago (see Related articles), here is one of the two videos Gastón Viñas made out of Radiohead songs from Hail To The Thief, released in 2003 — this one is the opening track on the album. Thom Yorke's paradoxical, kind of ambiguous lyrics  (quite a challenge for me to translate into French) were actually inspired by doublethink:

    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 – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.

    ~ 1984 © George Orwell, 1949


    Are you such a dreamer
    To put the world to rights?
    I’ll stay home forever
    Where two & two always makes up five.

    I’ll lay down the tracks,
    Sandbag & hide
    January has April’s showers
    And two & two always makes up five.

    It’s the devil’s way now,
    There is no way out.
    You can scream and you can shout,
    It is too late now


    I try to sing along,
    I get it all wrong.

    Not: “I swat em like flies”
    But: “Like flies the burgers keep coming back”
    Not: “Maybe not “All hail to the thief””
    But: “I am not!”

    Don’t question my authority
    Or put me in the dock


    Go and tell the king that
    The sky is falling in
    When it’s not.

    MAYBE NOT...

    © Thom Yorke, 2003

    About this song

    This song was premiered in San Sebastian, Spain on July 31, 2002.

    The song’s title recalls the symbol of unreality from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the book, inhabitants of an authoritarian future state are made to engage in doublethink, replacing their own conscience and beliefs with those imposed from above. The ‘Thought Police’ in the novel coerce self-aware citizens into admitting that two plus two equals five to prove the point that even though two plus two does not logically equal five, logic does not matter when no one else is willing to agree that two plus two equals anything else, under threat of pain or death.


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