Thursday, February 23, 2017

George Orwell's 1984 - Review and News

George Orwell

'"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past"

War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength
Big Brother is watching you...etc.

Every so often the Orwell classic 1984 will chart high on best a seller's list. The current enthusiasm reflects an angst towards the newly elected. Originally published in 1949, it just happened to connect with readers whose fears at that time was the spreading of communism. Today it's a curiosity piece where others try to find similarities that they can relate with.

One of the keys to its success was the focus of the individual and the ultimate defeat of the individual by means of torture. In Winston's instance, his worst fear is of rats, and of course maybe you or we as individuals don't even know what we fear the most, but the fact that big brother does know frightens us even more. It's these things that help the reader really connect and stay with the story as it progresses.

The story is well known by now, it's told through the experiences of the main character Winston Smith and his story illustrates a totalitarian regime that crushes the individual into a meek subject that touts the party line, always obeys, no longer wants or desires anything, and loves his big brother.

It's often assigned reading for some class or another and it makes for good conversation. The simple plain fact is that although I have read this piece, I never really cared for it. I always thought it was just a lucky strike, meaning that it happened at the right time, but I never thought it to be very good or even well written. Then again, I have never been a fan of utopian or dystopian fiction, regardless of time or place.

In the years that have passed, I can recall from time to time others seeing some similarity from the book in their present lives, these things I shrug off as inevitabilities and or coincidence, because the real facts that should be pointed out is what Orwell failed to foresee.

The same technology that he envisioned being used to exert total control over all we know is also being used the other way around. Also, keep in mind that the ability to control all information has been completely destroyed by the internet. No one government can control the complete flow of information as depicted in 1984.

The technology that Orwell thought would enslave us has actually been used against the government in exposing corruption, and that it is easily available to anyone.

In truth, modern technology may be the death knell of privacy for us all, but it's also the end of secrecy whether we like it or not. The proliferation of cell phones has made citizen surveillance nearly universal, empowering citizens against abuses of police and other forms of authority, instead of the other way around.

Because of the technology available today, it has become more difficult for police to stop, question, arrest, beat, or shoot someone without cell phone footage ending up on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube within minutes and going viral and enraging the masses to riot.

The Police really hate being recorded, and very often they attempt to prevent people from recording them in public places. Luckily for us, at least for the time being, the courts have ruled that citizens have the right to record the police and their actions!

So, Orwell got that one completely wrong.

The truth is we all live in a surveillance society, and the questions that arise from that are how we interpret what we see.

In the internet age, censorship of images, language and thought have never been harder for governments to control.

More importantly, what Orwell failed to predict was that religious belief, whether we like it or not would prove to be such a strong force in the future.

Forget about all of the supernatural implications, but every religion's unique character as a social and historical institution make it impossible to eliminate completely. It's an opiate of sorts for the masses that feeds the superstitious, and humans and superstition have been inseparable for all our existence.

The overall of this bleak and dreary tale is that it's an individual character study of paranoia, forbidden love, betrayal, and torture till submission. The story lacks depth, and fails to acknowledge and examine aspects of the human condition that cannot be simply overlooked or eliminated.

Movie Theaters Plot Nationwide Trump Protest With 1984 Screenings
Organizers of the protest released a statement, saying: “Orwell’s portrait of a government that manufactures their own facts, demands total obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies, has never been timelier.”

The protest screening will be held on April 4th which is the day Smith begins his diary in Orwell’s book.

A full list of participating theaters can be found with the link below.

Check the site for updates as you wish and contact info is also listed for any other inquiries.

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