Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reading "1984" like many people today.

First, from the book everyone is buying this week:
"Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The key word here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known as doublethink." -- George Orwell, 1984, Signet Classic, p. 175.
Second, from National Public Radio last week:
"The president said he believed there was anywhere between 1 million and 1.5 million people on the National Mall as he delivered his inaugural address, and he also falsely claimed it stopped raining and the sun came out just as he started speaking when, in fact, the rain continued and the day remained overcast and cloudy." from "Trump Administration Goes To War With The Media Over Inauguration Crowd Size" January 21, 2017.
Orwell's book is essentially a long polemic about how totalitarian societies exert control over their citizens or subjects. I had not read it in a long time, and I found it painful. I could select a lot more quotes and pair them with today's news. I'm sure lots of people will be writing more ambitious book reviews of it. Orwell gets a lot of things so right that it's agonizing.

But just one more here: "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake." (1984, p. 217)

No comments:

Post a Comment