Friday, 27 August 2010

A book and other thoughts....

I’m going to review George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four today but first – a few things that have caught my attention this week.

Right along the theme of today’s book review is this article. One of the most potent insights of Orwell’s book is the observation of the power of the past, the power of our history, or our perception of it, on our present. We have all heard “It’s the victors who write the history”, or some variation of it. As a society we must also take note of those who would re-write history for their own purpose in the present. Mr. Beck is not the only person to be attempting this feat at present, and it has been done in the past (the place of the cultures of natives in America, Australia, Tibet, and other countries have been rewritten more than once to justify a political agenda), but he is the most effective at present.

Another item that caught my attention this week is the trial of Roger Clemens. He lied to Congress. Excuse me? He lied to Congress? Check me on this if I am incorrect but are not those the very people who lie on an almost daily basis, both small and beyond belief, to the public who elected them? I have two questions: should we really be that put out when someone lies to them? And is this trial really worth the millions of dollars it is going to cost the taxpayers? Are there not more important matters that should have the attention of this elected body and more profitable arenas for this money? Mr. Clemens inflicted an unknown amount of damage on his own body while giving baseball fans a great show. I’m a baseball fan. I’m just not that upset. We are going to nail Mr. Clemens but allow those who were smarter or slipperier (Mark McGuire) to get away with the same offense? Nonsense I say.

Finally, I found this adorable and encouraging piece. I mean if this many men actually admit to it, I think that means many more are engaging in the practice aye? I think it’s grand myself.

Now to this week’s selection – Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four has not only held up through time but is as applicable today, if not more so, than when it was written.

Lifespan: b.1903 (India), d. 1950 (England)
First Published: 1949
First Published by: Secker & Warburg (London)
Given Name: Eric Arthur Blair

The book is written as “a beautifully crafted warning against the dangers of a totalitarian society. Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling party in London whose every move is monitored by telescreens. Everywhere Winston goes, the party’s omniscient leader, Big Brother, watches him. …thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Winston, who works at the Ministry of Truth (Harry Potter anyone?) altering historical records …is frustrated and oppressed by the prohibitions on free thought, sex, and individuality. He illegally purchases a diary to record his thoughts and spends his evenings wandering the poor areas where the “porles” live, relatively free from monitoring. Winston starts an illicit affair with Julia, …they are caught by a party spy, and in Room 101, Winston is forced to confront his worst fear. Giving up his love for Julia in terror, Winston is released, his spirit broken and his acceptance of the party complete."

When the book was written in 1949 the nuclear age was only beginning and television was too expensive to be yet mainstreamed. “This is an important novel not only for its stark warning against abusive authority….but also for its insights into the power of manipulating language, history, and the psychology of fear and control.”

I remember reading this book for school when I was in my young teen years, and it terrified me then – I find it more frightening now with what I have seen of the world. I believe all told I have read it through three times and bits of it here and there through the years. I highly recommend this book as a read, and if you have read it once, do so again in the light of present day.


Gary said...

Does a blow-up doll count if it's wearing a teddy?

Actually, in the storage room in my basement I have what I call my "memory box". It's the first inanimate thing I would grab in a fire. In it there is memorabilia that includes a picture of you dancing in Acapulco, and another of you standing beside a brand new maroon Camero. This box is also the home of "Teddy", a once animate friend of mine who my father won for my mother at a carnival the week he returned from the war. A little more than a year later "Teddy" found his way into my crib where he began a seven year career as a little boy's most faithful companion. In other generations he was a friend to other children. I no longer sleep with him, but who knows...perhaps someday if all I have left are those first memories, "Teddy" will reanimate and once again be the companion of the "child" who loves him.

Mama Zen said...

First, Beck terrifies me.

Second, I remember having to dig up a copy of 1984 on my own when I was in school; my school library had banned and removed the book.

Ian Lidster said...

I have read everything that Orwell ever wrote, and 1984 I've possibly read a dozen times. The bleakness of its metaphorical message is unmistakeable and, alas, true. I actually wrote a university paper comparing 1984 with Huxley's Brave New World, deducing which was the bleaker and more hopeless message. Thank you for this, my dear and beautiful friend.

lady macleod said...

I think if the blow up doll is a good listener, then why not?

Your memories of that callow young girl are much kinder than are my own. I have for all these years wished that I had behaved better. On the other hand I have also lo these many years said that the brain is not fully formed until we are thirty; therefore all actions and intentions without evil intent committed in our twenties should be forgiven and forgotten. I apply that to others and to myself.

The Velveteen Rabbit has always been one of my favourites, even when it made me cry as I read it to my little girl.

Thank you for coming by dear.

lady macleod said...

Mama Zen

I know!

Banned!!!! Argh!!! Good for you, you rebel you, for digging it up! Women who follow the rules seldom make history (or write blogs as popular as yours!)

Thank you for coming by

lady macleod said...


Sigh. My cyber crush. The adorable husband was giving me some teasing about your post and I informed him it was you that got me through many, many months in Morocco!! Yes you did you big ole cute, smart, witty, handsome, kind man - yes you did.

Whoa! I think I would need good whiskey to hand to read THAT paper! Knowing you, it was bloody brilliant.

Thank you my dear darling friend. I'll be in Vancouver in October you know (wink wink). All just friends people reading, just fellow admirers of each other's work.

darth sardonic said...

man i thought i had commented on this some time ago. my reality morphs and shifts the older i get. no doubt i started to comment, and was drug away by family, and forgot. 1984 is one of my all-time favorite books ever! and i see aspects of it happening all the time all around us.

good news is, i love big brother. so, woo hoo!

(hides journal from telescreen)

G said...

3 films about the use and manipulation of history (they are excellent).

How the Nazis used their own version of German history to motivate the people:

The self-defeating results that came about when politicians and scientists tried to throw off the burden of history:

The consequences of invoking past Imperial glories and the 'Churchillian Spirit':