Ted Mallory's Reviews > 1984

1984 by George Orwell
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's review
Mar 11, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: dear-time
Read in May, 2008 , read count: 2

Wow. This was good. The last time I read this book, I think it was 1984.
At that time, I saw it merely as some weird science fiction thing that fortunately hadn't come true. Of course, my English teacher at the time tried to help us see how it was about conformity.

Two things motivated me to give it another look. Someone said that it was a brilliant political satire. SATIRE, I thought, satires are funny. Okay, you know how people imagine different actor's voices as different characters when they read a book? I thought I'd try to imagine what this book would be like if it were a movie made by the Coen Brothers or Tim Burton. (I figured that Woody Allen or Mel Brooks was a little too silly). It helped, especially early on when Winston Smith's life is so bleak and lonely.

The other thing that encouraged me to read it was when a friend suggested a cartoon idea to me- (see below) I just figured he was referring to the illegal wire taps and email phishing, but it it SO much more than that- the propaganda, the use and abuse of the media, TORTURE, and the psychological tricks of perpetual war. Wow. It is really frightening.

The first part of this book is bleak and depressing, the second part is an exciting combination of political thriller and romance. The third part is almost as surreal and existential as a Jean Paul Sarte play.

What is truly frightening is not the idea of this book being somehow prophetic, or of how it features many of the kinds of ideologies and tactics of the current administration, what is really scary- and shaming, is that this isn't just a satire of Socialism or post WWII Brittan or 1940's America, or the NAZIs or the Soviets or the cold war, it isn't just a satire about conformity- and it is, by the way. It occurred to me that John Hughes or somebody could rip off the basic plot and turn it into a movie about how miserable high school can be. It's not just a warning about how society or governments could evolve. What it is is a searing commentary on human nature. Very much in line with the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. We are all oppressors and followers. We are all capable of torture or betrayal. That's the frightening part.

If you read this and really take it seriously, you will be bound to become skeptical of any politician- regardless or party or promise. You will treasure and appreciate you rights, freedoms and your relationships. And you just might be a little less comfortable undressing with the TV on. I don't have a web-cam on my computer. Do you?

See you in the place where there is no darkness. (or room 101, whichever).

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