Orwell explains Nineteen Eighty-Four


#1

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#2

My fifteen year old is reading 1984 right now in preparation for Honor's English 10 in the fall and he commented last night that Big Brother doesn't seem all that bad to him. He knows about Snowden and WIkileaks and we speak about civil liberties and are a very political family but regardless of this, he has come to see fascist governments spying on their own people and lying to them as the norm rather than a scandalous exception.

It broke my heart to realize that Big Brother's techniques have become so accepted today that he can't even see why or how they are shocking.


#3

as a 24 year old...yeah, I feel like the constant watching and surveillance of citizens is now not that bad.

The thing that did bother me the most is the constant changing of the statistics or the spinning of stories to fit whatever purpose needed--which is something our news and corporations currently do, especially in things of say, race issues--the other day I saw a large stack of stats--the one that stood out? Are there more black men in jail or in college?.... there was at least 5 times more black men in college than in Jail, but the prevalent stereotype in the media is still that black men are stupid and have no interest in academia--the stereotype is spun a certain way to not only make people afraid of black men but also to put the entire group at a disadvantage. It's similar to the perpetuated idea that all fat people are slovenly and smell bad--an idea perpetuated because someone profits off of it.
Although it was once discussed that we've ended up more like Brave New World than 1984--"ending is better than mending"--clothing and fashion are now throwaway trinkets you buy every season at a big box store, we're constantly surrounded by distractions and although we haven't quite gotten to Decanting and universal birth control yet, we're almost there.
It is interesting how we got aspects of both societies---the constant Survellance of Big Brother, the editing of history books and the need for fact checkers to make sure that people aren't lying, as well as the entertainment and societal structure of Brave New World, where we have Alphas and people considered to be Deltas--there's a reason why these are two of my favorite books.


#4

According to Emma Larkin, in Myanmar, the people refer to George Orwell as "The Prophet".


#5

Being an adjusted and happy mutant, you, my dear reader, may find it difficult to imagine the immense and unyielding pressure that the majority of your peers have partially succumbed to their entire young adult and adult lives.

You can seemingly find none of these wastrel scoundrels in real life, when conversing for clues and have probably taken to attributing the fetishistic and fascistic gestalt state to a distributed and meta-logically structured, emergent social-phenomenon.

But alas. You have misjudged your fellow man.
"You probably do have to let them get away with a little bit of criminality at the top."


#6

My fifteen year old ... broke my heart

Are you sure your teen isn't trolling you just to rebel? It's what they do. wink


#7

I feel like the constant watching and surveillance of citizens is now not that bad.

No, it's not that bad, just be sure to stay in line for the rest of your life and try not to make a significant impact in this world that could alter the status quo or anything. In other words, say (almost) anything you want, but just keep doing as you're told and you probably won't run into any trouble.

By the way, if you ever want to start your own business be sure and send me all the plans and stuff. You can trust me. I mean, you've got nothing to hide, right? I should also take a gander at all your other personal and business information. So, when you get a chance, send all that as well to me. You have 3 days. Or, let's make this easier for the both of us and just give me all your usernames and passwords to every account you have in your life. Or better yet, I should just hack every account you have. Is that ok?

Please don't bother to ask me why I want this information, nor what I'll do with it. It's for your own safety and protection and I can assure you that I only have your best interests at heart. It's suspicious and treasonous to question things like this, so just shut up and do what you're told.

See? Not so bad.


#8

As you scroll past, I urge you to go back and read the above comment again.
In the proper meter.


#9

They never miss a chance to mention "HONORS English" do they?

No, it cant be "in my kids English class" , it has to be HONORS ENGLISH, ya understand? HONORS!!!

Like, well since this person, who is taking HONORS English is a family member who was vomited from my reproductive orifices... well that means that... well, Im smart too, dammit!!

fear me.


#10

Damn, but that letter which Orwell wrote sounds almost like it could have been written last year, rather than 69 years ago. (Even though Stalin is long dead, his methods are enjoying a new popularity among the ruling class; wholesale surveillance, and the new gulag system, aka the prison-industrial complex).


#11

While Orwell’s ideas about Big Brother, Minitrue, Minilove etc. certainly stuck with me, I always thought the biggest takeaway from 1984 was the treatment of what later became known as the Third World (“Between the frontiers of the super-states, and not permanently in the possession of any of them, there lies a rough quadrilateral with its corners at Tangier, Brazzaville, Darwin, and Hong Kong”), and in a close second, the super-states’ military buildup (“A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody…”).

Though in my case, my reading of 1984 for an English class coincided with my reading about George Kennan’s “Grand Area” in a civics class.

Still, it seems that most of the warnings I see about 1984 coming to fruition are about “Big Brother is watching you” – as though the book didn’t contain anything else.

As for people (EDIT: not here; in general) who point out “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” I’d recommend reading Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, in which the characters live in transparent buildings.

EDIT: I thought it was interesting that Orwell lumped Gandhi in with the other “superhuman fuhrer[s]”. Elsewhere I’ve read of Orwell describing Gandhi in generally positive terms.


#12

According to Emma Larkin, in Myanmar, the people refer to George Orwell as “The Prophet”.

I think at first that might make him laugh, then he’d cry.


#13

Via the venerable Richard Metzgers enterprise, the book “Everything You Know Is Wrong” has a few choice words about Mister. Mahatma. Gandhi.


#14

It wasn’t Honors English. It was Honor’s English.


#15

I don’t care whose Honor it was. I just want to say thanks for the update captain Apostrophe!


#16

Since Captain is a title it should be capitalized.
You’re welcome.

Tim


#18

I wonder if Orwell knew this, though. I assume it had more to do with a distrust of nationalism.


#19

Probably just had a keen sense of tribalism being the segregation distorter of humanity’s demise.


#20

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