Sunday, April 24, 2011

Orwell's 1984

As I complete a ‘novel’ after a long time, something, far worse than my worst nightmare, has gripped me. I just felt it needed some release. It was one of the best novels describing the worst form of dystopia. Now I’ve read some Utopian novels and felt they were too optimistic, but I now sure wish they are true. Such is the gruesome reality of the George Orwell’s ‘1984’.

In a nightmarish land (hopefully far, far away and then further), an Outer ‘Party’ worker finds himself in a moral dilemma. In a land where thought is crime, he has committed it. In a land where there are only three ever-lasting and all applicable party principles, Winston Smith finds himself hating the Party but obeying it all the same. What follows is a tale of absolute dystopia and as he shall discover – the price of freedom is betrayal...

Quite unlike other ‘novels’ I read, this one is not based on a story – but more on a belief – a commentary on the world state of affairs. No wonder that so many of the terms used in the book are part of our language and more importantly, part of our lives.

The dystopia, while it is scary, is almost true – and that is the more scary part of it. In a world so connected, all our actions can be governed and even controlled – and with every evolution in psychological science, we are moving towards how not just the actions but also the thought can be read and controlled. What is history but a repeated version of someone’s memory! What if all our thoughts could be controlled – all memory will be linked to one version – ‘Party’s version – and all past can/will be altered according to what the party wants. And so will be our present and hence the future...

In a long narration from Goldstein’s book, Orwell describes how the world we live in operates – how governments and societies function – not just the how but also the why and not just the why but also the how the ‘government’ can remain powerful and how the ‘upper class’ can remain so – all at the cost of the ‘Proles’.

And in the end – when ‘thoughtcrime’ is committed, how Winston is subjected to mental reconstruction through pain, humiliation and of course the legendary ‘Room one-oh-one’.

I’ll leave with a few memorable (and scary) lines from the novel:

  • The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labour.

  • It is intolerable to us that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be. Even in the instance of death we cannot permit any deviation . . . we make the brain perfect before we blow it out.

  • If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.


  • Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.

  • Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your nervous system...

  • Under the spreading chestnut tree,
    I sold you... You sold me...

  • It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same--everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies.

And the eternally haunting line - You once asked me, Winston, what was in room 101. I think you know. Everyone does. The thing that is in room 101... is the worst thing in the world.

All in all, a sure MUST READ...

1 comment:

Selah said...

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I have read it countless times. Good taste my man.
If you want another slightly peculiar read, look at my blog.

Or don't. The choice is up to you.