And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink.”
There was no knowing how much of this legend was true and how much invented. Winston could not even remember at what date the Party itself had come into existence. (1.3.22)
This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building. (1.4.2)
The Party seeks to control the present by mandating the destruction of all records of the past through “memory holes.”
Winston’s duties consist of editing and rewriting history in the form of various media in order to conform and reinforce the Party’s version of the past and present. The Party refers to this task as the “rectification” of records.