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landmark
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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 be 1984, and I'll still be alive!). Anyway, I'll be reading through it this time with the specific intention of seeing what didn't come to pass. If my memory of the book is correct, Orwell got most of it. I will keep you posted on my progress.
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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.
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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.
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When I was in high school, a laptop was a dance we wished we were old enough to get.
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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 didn't come to pass. If my memory of the book is correct, Orwell got most of it. I will keep you posted on my progress.

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.)
Make America Great Again! - Trump in 2020 ... "We're a capitalistic society. I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on welfare and food stamps. Did anyone help me? No." - Craig T. Nelson, actor.
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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
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
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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

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.
Make America Great Again! - Trump in 2020 ... "We're a capitalistic society. I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on welfare and food stamps. Did anyone help me? No." - Craig T. Nelson, actor.
landmark
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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."
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FWIW, the "two minute hate" idea dates back to WW1. So the phrase and concept both predate Orwell's book.
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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.


I don't think landmark is claiming that Orwell created in a vacuum.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
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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.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
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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.
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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.
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John says: Read your Orwell and Huxley. Then pull out Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985).

I despair for our hard-won democracies.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
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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!
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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.
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"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.
Make America Great Again! - Trump in 2020 ... "We're a capitalistic society. I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on welfare and food stamps. Did anyone help me? No." - Craig T. Nelson, actor.
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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.)
Make America Great Again! - Trump in 2020 ... "We're a capitalistic society. I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on welfare and food stamps. Did anyone help me? No." - Craig T. Nelson, actor.
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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.)


"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.
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Wonder if it would be worth it to change the date? Smile
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