“I’ve been writing a four-part article for Field Newspaper Syndicate at
the beginning of each year for several years now and in 1980, mindful of
the approach of the year 1984, FNS asked me to write a thorough critique of
George Orwell’s novel 1984.
I was reluctant. I remembered almost nothing of the book and said so –
but Denison Demac, the lovely young woman who is my contact at FNS, simply
sent me a copy of it and said, ‘Read it.’
So I read it and found myself absolutely astonished at what I read. I
wondered how many people who talked about the novel so glibly had ever read
it; or if they had, whether they remembered it at all.
I felt I would have to write the critique if only to set people straight.
(I’m sorry; I love setting people straight.)”
– Issac Asimov
You are on your way to Somewhere Street and you see a group of people looking up, without a thought you look up too. This is the herd instinct. Like Rolf Dobelli says “individuals feel they are behaving correctly when they act the same as other people. In other words, when more people follow a certain idea, the better (truer) we deem the idea to be.”
This classic dystopian allegory, i.e 1984 – a novelette of neoteric domination of helots that blew almost everyone’s mind manifesting prognostication of the Future did not appeal to me. I am sorry, I did not like 1984. It is a bad novel but rather a great essay – a description based on his perception of the totalitarian movement of the 1930s (maybe a take on Mao, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler), their propaganda of control of the media, censorship, re-writing the past, secret informants, plain denial of facts to suit ideology and mass murder and all that lay in there. There are numerable NY Times, the Guardian etcetera articles entailing a 1984 world in the 21st century. In the world of 1984, the technology was suppressed, maybe deliberately even. Apart from the telescreens and cameras mainly for the surveillance of the citizens, the technological doldrums is evident. The book is shelved under Sci-Fi but it’s more of a socio-political commentary which took on demagogues masquerading as national saviours, which is probably why Issac Asimov disapproved of the book.
Basically the book firstly shows how a Government (the Party) exploits the citizens through brutal, evil means of exerting power, stringent rules calling for total commitment/devotion to the Party and the Big Brother (their authoritarian symbol), second – the past is continuously redacted so as to look favourable to the Party which leaves no concrete “past” as such. Thirdly the truth is distorted, altogether leaving zilch veritable data on people’s lifestyle, the government regimes and so on for the people of 1984 to compare their machinelike, time-tabled robotic lives to something else.
And then the language – they alter that too. The language of the 1984 dystopian world is Newsspeak where the words English language are clipped and glued as per the Big Brother’s wishes to favour the Party and limn the language so as to support their maxims like doublethink, thought-crime to mention two. The world (which is sufficiently divided into three parts) – Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia are constantly in war with each other. The people of Oceania – where there is the authoritarian, despotic rule have a decree which states that if you act or even think against the vices of the Party, you will be taken to the Ministry of Love (contradictory to its verbatim) where they are imprisoned and made to undergo brutish punishments, starvation and mental torture until they are made to believe the principles of the Party and truly revere and love the Big Brother wherein then they are “set free”.
(Okay, George. If you say so.)
Now coming to this dunce of a heroine – Julia, who’s hands down the dumbest love interest in a book I’ve come across after Bella from Twilight (duh). She’s supposedly very attractive, captivating and hot as hell. Well, maybe that explains why she’s dumb. (Just a hypothesis, no need to get all worked up.) Anyways she is very active in clubs like Junior Anti Sex League, pure in propagandizing slogans, games, community hikes and processions of the Party in the hope that she doesn’t get killed off being a thought-criminal (a Newsspeak word for thinking against the Party) because deep inside her heart she wants to be free – wild and running in a meadow chasing butterflies than wearing a blue overall every single day of her life and write plots of fiction that promotes the Party. That’s all. She couldn’t care less about the tyrannical regime or anything along the lines of politics, that she falls asleep immediately in absolutely whatever position she is in when Winston tries to educate her about the government, politics, Big Brother, how they should revolt against the Party when they know they’ll eventually be thrown in Ministry of Love before they even spell the word ‘revolution’. So they just connivingly sleep together now and then in the first floor of a house owned by a poor prole (Newsspeak for proletariat) and talk about the civilized barbaric regime with the “politics” of it averted of course, because – Julia would fall asleep.
(yes, you can stand in the corner and roll your eyes.)
Spoiler alert / fun fact: The Julia character was purportedly based on a childhood friend (Jacintha Buddicom) of George Orwell (the author) whom he fell in love with eventually but Jacintha vehemently disapproved of him and stopped any contact with him altogether in the future. Why? Because an adolescent Orwell forced himself upon her one holiday and made her a victim of sexual abuse. And illogically, Orwell starts hating her which drives him to create Julia whom Winston denounces when they are locked up in the Ministry of Love and subjects her to ruthless punishments. Quelle surprise.
I don’t want to spoil of the little that’s left for you and review the shit out of this book beyond repair: but 1984 has a very predictable, lousy ending. I’m sorry if this is one of your favorite books and if you cried at “under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.” or shivered at “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” and if you are a firm believer of the “21st century heading to 1984” theory. Nonetheless (despite rock-bottom probability, at least according to me) if the theory turns out favouring of that cognitive content then we’re royally done for, aren’t we?