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Why should one feel it to be intolerable unless one had some kind of ancestral memory that things had once been different? (1.5.55)
Winston believes a tie exists between one’s intuition and one’s "ancestral memory."
"You are very much older than I am," said Winston. "You must have been a grown man before I was born. You can remember what it was like in the old days, before the Revolution. People of my age don't really know anything about those times. We can only read about them in books, and what it says in the books may not be true. I should like your opinion on that." (1.8.39, Winston)
Winston seeks out history because of his fascination with the memory aspect of existence.
What appealed to him about it was not so much its beauty as the air it seemed to possess of belonging to an age quite different from the present one […]. The thing was doubly attractive because of its apparent uselessness […]. Anything old, and for that matter anything beautiful, was always vaguely suspect. (1.8.70)
Winston is strangely drawn to objects from the past because of his fascination with the memory aspect of existence.