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Topic: My Little Reading Project
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 25, 2011 02:09PM)
It's been many years since I read Orwell's 1984. (Sad to say, it was so long ago, I remember thinking, wow, one day, it will [i]be[/i] 1984, and I'll still be alive!). Anyway, I'll be reading through it this time with the specific intention of seeing what [i]didn't[/i] come to pass. If my memory of the book is correct, Orwell got most of it. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 25, 2011 02:16PM)
I read this in high school, about 1973 - '74, but not since then. Seems there are many things in reality that brought instant recall of the book. I thought flat screen TVs were kind of creepy when I first saw them.
Message: Posted by: MobilityBundle (Aug 25, 2011 04:43PM)
The first time I held an iPad, I thought, "whoa, what would the high school version of me thought about this?"

Back then, the graphics capacities of laptops were measured in how fine their grayscales were. And they weighed like 9 pounds.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 25, 2011 04:53PM)
When I was in high school, a laptop was a dance we wished we were old enough to get.
Message: Posted by: balducci (Aug 25, 2011 05:06PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-25 15:09, landmark wrote:

Anyway, I'll be reading through it this time with the specific intention of seeing what [i]didn't[/i] come to pass. If my memory of the book is correct, Orwell got most of it. I will keep you posted on my progress.
[/quote]
Sure, there are some superficial things that might seem prescient (e.g., surveillance cameras in the streets of London) but even those are really not at all close to what Orwell described (i.e., total and continuous surveillance, even within one's own home). I think in most of the big things, Orwell was off. E.g., we had no all out global war, have not split into three intercontinental totalitarian super-states following a global war, no overwhelming poverty and wide spread rationing, half the population is not going barefoot, etc.

(I've probably read 1984 at least 4 or 5 times, though not for a decade or so.)
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Aug 25, 2011 06:44PM)
I think that Newspeak was prescient and provocative. It turns out that we don't need government agencies to stultify our language; advertising agencies have done it gratis.

John
Message: Posted by: balducci (Aug 25, 2011 07:44PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-25 19:44, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:

I think that Newspeak was prescient and provocative. It turns out that we don't need government agencies to stultify our language; advertising agencies have done it gratis.

John
[/quote]
Yes, but advertising agencies were already doing it prior to the publication of 1984. So I think Orwell was not so much prescient about that, as he was commenting on his times.

More recently, many have argued that social media is reversing the power of advertising and making it far less potent than it once was.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 26, 2011 07:38AM)
Chapter One:

The familiar elements from today are there:

--the two minute Hate sessions on TV;

--the surveillance: "You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized";

--the same slogans to live by, if stripped to their bare bones: "the three slogans of the Party: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH";

-- the continued misnaming: "The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war";

--the glorification of violence for its own entertainment sake: "April 4th, 1984. Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good one of a ship full of refugees being bombed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away with a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along in the water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gunsights, then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as suddenly as though the holes had let in the water, audience shouting with laughter when he sank . . .then there was a wonderful shot of a child’s [dismembered]arm going up up up right up into the air, a helicopter with a camera in its nose must have followed it up and there was a lot of applause from the party seats . . .";

--sexual repression as away to channel group energy and loyalty: "She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips. Winston had disliked her from the very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was because of the atmosphere of hockey-fields and cold baths and community hikes and general clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about with her. He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party. . . ";

--the absolute necessity of having an available bogeyman to scapegoat: "But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were—in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. . .";

The strongest dissimilarity so far is Winston's fear of writing in his diary--little did he know that everyone would be writing publicly, furiously, for their 15 seconds of fame: "The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty- five years in a forced-labour camp."
Message: Posted by: balducci (Aug 26, 2011 09:01AM)
FWIW, the "two minute hate" idea dates back to WW1. So the phrase and concept both predate Orwell's book.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Aug 26, 2011 09:18AM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-26 10:01, balducci wrote:
FWIW, the "two minute hate" idea dates back to WW1. So the phrase and concept both predate Orwell's book.
[/quote]

I don't think landmark is claiming that Orwell created in a vacuum.
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Aug 26, 2011 09:23AM)
I think Huxley was closer, but, of course, they're both pretty far off the mark. As we could expect, since they were writing novels, not predictions.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 26, 2011 09:30AM)
Obviously, Orwell was pulling from what he had seen around him, Stalin and Hitler in particular. But I don't think anyone before him highlighted so vividly those features of political life that would endure to our present day.
Message: Posted by: Josh Chaikin (Aug 26, 2011 09:46AM)
This was one that I didn't get to read in high school, so I read it last winter. While I was reading it, the video of Janet Napolitano telling us to report suspicious behavior was circling the web. I watched the video on my iPhone, which has a font-facing camera and GPS device in it. Very much like the video screens in 1984. That was a little unsettling.

That being said, I do think, as others have pointed out, that Huxley was closer to being right than Orwell.
Message: Posted by: Magnus Eisengrim (Aug 26, 2011 09:55AM)
John says: Read your Orwell and Huxley. Then pull out Neil Postman's [i]Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business[/i] (1985).

I despair for our hard-won democracies.

John
Message: Posted by: Josh Chaikin (Aug 26, 2011 09:59AM)
I was reorganizing my library today, and found that my Orwell fell behind the other books (strange timing this). Postman is on my reading list as is Huxley. To the library!
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 26, 2011 02:57PM)
Haven't read Brave New World since about the same time I read 1984. Later, in college, I read Huxley's The Doors of Perception and The Perennial Philosophy, both of which influenced my thinking greatly.
Message: Posted by: balducci (Aug 26, 2011 03:08PM)
"We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin is another of the most famous dystopian novels.

Apparently, Orwell wrote 1984 soon after reading "We" and was reported as saying he took that novel as the model for his own (e.g., "We" also had a "Big Brother", followed a massive global war, and had a precursor to the telescreen).

I read "We" so long ago, that I've forgotten nearly all of it.
Message: Posted by: balducci (Aug 26, 2011 03:17PM)
While in the States a couple of weeks ago at a meeting, I visited a local bookstore in the vibrant metropolis known as Storrs, CT, and came across "The Perfect Day" by Ira Levin. I'd never heard of it before. It has been compared to 1984 and Brave New World, and I look forward to reading it. (Apparently this book was out of print for a long while and only recently re-released, which could be why I had never heard of it before.)
Message: Posted by: ljsviol (Aug 26, 2011 04:06PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-26 16:17, balducci wrote:
While in the States a couple of weeks ago at a meeting, I visited a local bookstore in the vibrant metropolis known as Storrs, CT, and came across "The Perfect Day" by Ira Levin. I'd never heard of it before. It has been compared to 1984 and Brave New World, and I look forward to reading it. (Apparently this book was out of print for a long while and only recently re-released, which could be why I had never heard of it before.)
[/quote]

"This Perfect Day" is a favorite of mine; I re-read (too) often. In my opinion, it's not as dark and brooding as "1984", or even "Brave New World" - it's a rather sunny, nice future, but with total control of the populace -(. An interesting book - I hope you'll enjoy it.

Larry S.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Aug 26, 2011 05:28PM)
Wonder if it would be worth it to change the date? :kewl:
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 26, 2011 07:06PM)
Chapter 2:

The recognizable:

--The bad guys are captured, but it means sacrifice for all: "’Attention! Your attention, please! A news flash has this moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end. Here is the news flash—' Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty."


Different:

--The war hits the homeland everyday, rather than fought through proxies: "The day was still cold and clear. Somewhere far away a rocket bomb exploded with a dull, reverberating roar. About twenty or thirty of them a week were falling on London at present."
Message: Posted by: tommy (Aug 29, 2011 05:57AM)
INVISIBLE EMPIRE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO24XmP1c5E
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 29, 2011 09:15PM)
Chapter 3

The recognizable:

--the evolution of endless war: "Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been at war, but it was evident that there had been a fairly long interval of peace during his childhood, because one of his early memories was of an air raid which appeared to take everyone by surprise. "

--enemies and allies declared as if there had been no past associations: "Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Oficially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia. The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible."

--the re-writing of history, as the generations who remember what actually happened, die off: "‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ "

Different:
--nothing in this chapter.
Message: Posted by: balducci (Jul 24, 2012 08:18PM)
[quote]
On 2011-08-26 17:06, ljsviol wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-08-26 16:17, balducci wrote:
While in the States a couple of weeks ago at a meeting, I visited a local bookstore in the vibrant metropolis known as Storrs, CT, and came across "The Perfect Day" by Ira Levin. I'd never heard of it before. It has been compared to 1984 and Brave New World, and I look forward to reading it. (Apparently this book was out of print for a long while and only recently re-released, which could be why I had never heard of it before.)
[/quote]

"This Perfect Day" is a favorite of mine; I re-read (too) often. In my opinion, it's not as dark and brooding as "1984", or even "Brave New World" - it's a rather sunny, nice future, but with total control of the populace -(. An interesting book - I hope you'll enjoy it.

Larry S.
[/quote]
I did quite enjoy it.

I came across Mockingbird by Walter Tevis (The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Hustler, The Queen's Gambit, etc.) a few weeks ago, and have since read it. It was also pretty good. It is about a future in which robots rule, things are breaking down, man is infertile, and reading is pretty much a lost skill.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hilly (Jul 24, 2012 09:18PM)
December 30, 1991 I played this record on my radio show so folks would know what to expect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCuPzyqXjCo