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UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA - ORWELL > 1984 Part One

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message 1: by Traveller (last edited Jan 22, 2015 11:15AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Hi friends!
Well, since the novel is divided into 3 parts, I thought it might be a good idea to make three threads for it, each one based on the three parts that the novel itself is divided into. That way, it minimizes spoilers for people who decide to join the discussion later on. I'm not setting dates to the threads, (as yet, anyway) since this was an unplanned discussion that we're kind of doing as we go along.

So, if any of you have comments about the start of the novel, fire away in this thread starting Friday 23 January.


message 2: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Hey guys, if you have started the novel yet, I wonder what your thoughts were on the slogans of INGSOC (English Socialist Party) in Chapter 1:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

(And btw, now that I am re-reading the novel, I am finding the fact that the "Party" is socialist is especially interesting, certainly even a bit puzzling, perhaps? when taking into account that Orwell himself was a Socialist.)

But I have a good idea why. Let's continue and see...


message 3: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments The slogans...My immediate reaction is, how odd that the first two are juxtapositions of obvious opposites, but the third one is not...or is it?


message 4: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 08:53AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Hmm, to me it does, actually.... okay there it is a bit later on:

The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv and Miniplenty.


message 5: by Yolande (new)

Yolande  (sirus) | 246 comments That slogan makes me think of how North Korea operates to control the masses over there. It's very similar. The population is very restricted in what they are allowed to see or read or know about the world outside the country. They prevent the posibility of resistance through brain washing.


message 6: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 09:27AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Well, I am immediately reminded of the ministries for propaganda that existed in the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Lenin/Stalin.

In Italy, the Press Office of the Council of Ministers, primarily concerned with the meticulous daily control of journalists and newspapers, was enlarged in 1934 into a sub-ministry for Press and Propaganda. This assumed overall control also of radio, cinema, theater and tourism. On its elevation in 1935 into a full Ministry, there began a concerted attempt to shape popular culture through the controlled use of mass communication media.

In Spain, you had the the Oficina de Prensa y propaganda (Office for the press and propaganda), and probably more government departments or ministries that had to do with controlling the populace, as I vaguely remember- I'll look it up.


message 7: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Yolande wrote: "That slogan makes me think of how North Korea operates to control the masses over there. It's very similar. The population is very restricted in what they are allowed to see or read or know about t..."

Yes, that is very relevant to the novel. The theories of Pavlov and other psychologists were circulating at the time, and 'brainwashing' was cutting edge technology, so to speak.

This book Propaganda, which was published in 1928, is quite and eye-opener in that respect. It might be interesting to read up a bit about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propagan...


message 8: by Yolande (last edited Jan 23, 2015 09:56AM) (new)

Yolande  (sirus) | 246 comments Except for Hitler, I know very little of those histories. I wish I could have sufficiently read up on it for the novel but sadly I won't have the time.

I've been trying to read history from its very beginnings and work my way through to the present for a few years now but I'm still stuck in the medieval period. It takes such a long time since I make notes all over the place to remember what I've read.


message 9: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Glad to know I am not alone in such madness. Phew! I am finally ready to move on from the Greeks and delve into the Romans.


message 10: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Heheh I skipped over the Greeks to a large extent and... yeah, well, the Romans were there for a looong time, so it's rather hard to skip over them. :P

But it has bothered me for the longest that I am so.. that I know so little about more modern history, so I've been trying to address that. But I have so many large blanks in my education, which wasn't really focused on the Humanities, that its taking a while, sadly.


message 11: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments I had a great history teacher that taught prehistory to 1650. He spoiled me for any other instructor, and so I say my history stops at 1650. But in remedying the situation I thought I should review first... I'm doomed!


message 12: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Actually,...I think the Greeks were around longer than the Romans...


message 13: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 10:02AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Ruth wrote: "Actually,...I think the Greeks were around longer than the Romans..."

Hmm, an interesting topic for debate. Since the Greek started off earlier, I suppose that would depend on when you view their rule as having ended.

I suppose that if you view it to have continued as the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire which fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, it makes Greek 'rule' pretty long-ish. As opposed to the Romans who are of course still around today. (Unless you deem the split of the Roman empire as the end of their rule, but if you think about it, it wasn't, since Rome still rules over a vast portion of the world today....)

But I guess discussion of that whole issue would require a group of its own, so hold that thought... :D

But anyway, I basically meant when the Romans originally subjected the Greeks. Still, interesting debate.


message 14: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
PS. I'm starting "The Romans" at around 700 BC. ..and I guess the Greeks never really had a proper 'empire' as such so... yeeeeaaah. In terms of influence maybe their cultural/scientific/technological influence lasted longer, because that's still there too?


message 15: by Saski (last edited Jan 23, 2015 10:10AM) (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments I'll hold that thought :) But just to explain, I guess I was influenced by this paragraph, read a few days ago:

The resultant fusion of the hellenistic and the Roman world, and the emergence of the hybrid Graeco-Roman civilization, makes it impossible to put a precise date on the death of ancient Greece. But hellenic and hellinistic traditions persisted much longer than is usually supposed. The Delphic Oracle continued to operate until destroyed by marauding barbarians in AD 267. The Olympic Games continued to be held every four years until the 292nd Olympiad in AD 392. The Academy continued to teach its pupils in Athens until closed by the Christian Emperor Justinian in AD 529. The library of Alexandria, though badly burned during Caesar's siege, was not finally closed until the arrival of the Muslim Caliphate in AD 641. By then twenty centuries, or two whole millennia, had passed since the twilight of Crete and the dawn of Mycenae (Davies 1998:139).

So, not all the way to the Byzantines....But still...


message 16: by Garima (new)

Garima | 12 comments I think the concept of slogans itself is being played by Orwell. As to how 3-4 words holds the power of influence the thinking of people irrespective of age and era. I think WAR IS PEACE is an incomplete part of WAR IS PEACE IS WAR IS PEACE IS WAR IS PEACE ad infinitum.

And of course, like I mentioned before and like Yolande said above, North Korea is what comes to mind immediately after reading those slogans.


message 17: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 10:25AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Ruth wrote: "I'll hold that thought :) But just to explain, I guess I was influenced by this paragraph, read a few days ago:

The resultant fusion of the hellenistic and the Roman world, and the emergence o..."


Well, yes, agreed. Their influence was pretty much pivotal. (Language for one, though a large part of our Western languages originated in the Indus valley ( northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India) but I mean philosophy and science, and political science and Plato and Socrates and Hippocrates and Archimedes and Euclid and Epicurius and Pythagoras and Sophocles and and and etc. etc, right? Without Ancient Greece, the West would pretty much look rather different today, I would imagine. So, agreed there. :)


message 18: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) Not sure if this belongs in "side reading" but I wanted to post this link for what I believe is the entire text--not a great way to read the novel but it will let us quote easily here by cut-and-paste:

https://archive.org/stream/ost-englis...


message 19: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Oh golly, I apologize - we should get back to the book itself I suspect... thanks Poingu, and.. let's discuss those great thoughts on Western civilization...er .. somewhere else, sometime, Ruth - very interesting as they are! :P

Thanks for bringing us back on track with those very interesting comments, Garima!

What you said there, makes me think of the slogan that people used to use to rally for the Second World War, being: "The war to end all wars". Except that it didn't. Didn't even take very long until the next one, did it? :(


message 20: by Karin (new)

Karin | 52 comments Garima wrote: "I think the concept of slogans itself is being played by Orwell. As to how 3-4 words holds the power of influence the thinking of people irrespective of age and era. I think WAR IS PEACE is an inco..."

It really is fascinating how language gets twisted and used like this. These slogans and others ("Choose Life," Work Will Set You Free," etc) seem to be a really compact form of a syllogism. Aristotle's enythmeme comes to mind here. As we know, an enthymeme is an incomplete syllogism where one step in the logical process is omitted or suppressed. The power in doing this is that the reader/audience is allowed to bring in their own (often unstated and subconscious) assumptions. The audience, in a sense, is allowed to complete the syllogism themselves, which makes them more likely to believe it. However, once the omitted part of the syllogism is teased out, the audience may find they don't agree with it after all.

Hopefully that makes sense. I'm always in a rush to type--my kids are doing something with hot sauce downstairs. ...


message 21: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 10:34AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Talking of the ministries, the Ministry of Love doesn't sound like a very, er.. loving place, or even a friendly place, does it? Does anyone find Orwell's obvious irony a bit in your face? Perhaps fitting for his times, and also, in order to sort of set a pattern of irony, I suppose.


message 22: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 10:41AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Karin wrote: "Garima wrote: "I think the concept of slogans itself is being played by Orwell. As to how 3-4 words holds the power of influence the thinking of people irrespective of age and era. I think WAR IS P..."

Very interesting, thanks Karin, that reminds me of the human tendency to need closure, where our brains complete the picture for us, literally and figuratively, as with emergence and reification.


message 23: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) I'm having such unexpected thoughts, reading this a second time after many years.

For example, reading the book reminds me that "terrorism" used to be a word to mean what an all-powerful state did to individuals, vs. now, where we use "terrorism" to mean acts that individuals do against a state that they see as all-powerful.

This in turn makes me thoughtful about the drumbeat theme of these early pages, that the past is being constantly rewritten to suit the present. The book is an immutable object from the past that I'm interpreting through the doublespeak of my own era.


message 24: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) Traveller wrote: "True, and while we're on the subject, did you know that the word "Propaganda", was at a point in time not a dirty word - I mean, governments used the name openly"

Ha! I didn't know that.

I guess the neutral word for "propaganda" now is "public relations."

Which leads me to another idea that keeps coming up in my brain as I read: I keep thinking that, if Orwell were writing today, Big Brother might be the embodiment of Corporate Power, rather than the Government Power. It seems to me that these obscenely wealthy private entities not only influence our desires/beliefs, through advertising and online target marketing and data collection, but that they also have a lot of power over government, too, through lobbying dollars. I keep thinking that in a post-Communist era where capitalism is in charge, Orwell would have taken corporate abuse of power on as his theme, not government.


message 25: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 12:25PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Oops, sorry! I'd moved that comment of mine to the side thread, so it's just as well that you quoted it Poingu! I promise I won't do that again.

Poingu wrote: "I keep thinking that, if Orwell were writing today, Big Brother might be the embodiment of Corporate Power, rather than the Government Power. It seems to me that these obscenely wealthy private entities not only influence our desires/beliefs, through advertising and online target marketing and data collection, but that they also have a lot of power over government, too, through lobbying dollars. I keep thinking that in a post-Communist era where capitalism is in charge, Orwell would have taken corporate abuse of power on as his theme, not government. ."

And now you're making a very, very interesting point. Because Orwell -was- indeed to some extent anti-capitalist already. He was on the Left, he was a Socialist, but I think seeing abuse of power in Russia had frightened him very much, so he was wary of Stalinism but not socialism per se.


message 26: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 12:26PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Next interesting thing to note in chapter one, is that we find ourselves in a punitive anarchy:

"The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp."

It's a bit of a contradiction in terms, isn't it? I think he is there pointing to the fact that Marxism's ideal is that society ends up as an anarchy, and yet - look how much punishment Communism (as under especially Stalin) brought with it in practice.


message 27: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 12:16PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
PS. Those of you who had read We - the diary feels like a bit of déjà vu , doesn't it?

..and the puzzling, 'dangerous' girl who meets his eye on their way to the indoctrination session!

Even right down to O’Brien...

..but does it seem rather overtly homoerotic for 1949? I mean, the dislike of attractive young women and being drawn to O’Brien: Winston had seen O’Brien perhaps a dozen times in almost as many years. He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because he was intrigued by the contrast between O’Brien’s urbane manner and his prizefighter’s physique.

Hmm, though granted, Virgina Woolfe and Andre Gide had published novels with homoeroticism rather before that, so maybe not that daring.


message 28: by Traveller (last edited Jan 23, 2015 11:50AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
The propaganda film that Winston mentions in his diary - (totally horrid thing!) reminded me of the compulsory mass "brain-washing" public meetings in "We" like the one where the woman's piano playing was publicly ridiculed.

The idea is probably based on the propaganda 'newsreels' that were played in cinemas in Germany, Spain and Italy in the twenties and thirties.

I quote from Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century "

In Italy, the films that were shown in cinemas were censored, but the films themselves were not used as propaganda; -rather the newsreels shown at cinemas became, like in fascist Spain, and important way of disseminating propaganda. In 1926 Italian theaters were required by law to show a newsreel with each feature film.



message 29: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Notes about Goldstein:

He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed –

The latter phrase would appear to be some proof that Goldstein is indeed Trotsky as many commentators have pointed out; but indeed to me Goldstein could also be a kind of universal hero who is standing up for what is right, I don't know if anybody agrees with me on that.

Also, the mass hysteria against Goldstein reminded me strongly of McCarthyism


message 30: by Karin (new)

Karin | 52 comments Traveller, yes! Brilliant visualization. Enthymemes (and by extension, slogans) might be described as "fuzzy logic" because they depend on cultural topoi for validity rather than on the unequivocal "first principles" of syllogisms. Obviously, the problem is that governments/advertisers/corporations manipulate those cultural topoi, even to the point where an audience believes it can agree with two contradictory premises (as seen in 1984).

As I think through this, I wonder if Orwell believed in "first principles," i.e., an objective reality, and if, by extension, he believed meanings of words were static and referred to an objective reality.


message 31: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Karin wrote: "Traveller, yes! Brilliant visualization. Enthymemes (and by extension, slogans) might be described as "fuzzy logic" because they depend on cultural topoi for validity rather than on the unequivocal..."

I will take your word for the fuzzy logic - a subject which has intrigued me from afar but which I am not (yet, anyway) closely familiar with.

The writing in the novel seems a bit "in your face" to me with his, what comes across as irony/sarcasm in layman's terms, but if you put it that way, then upon reflection Orwell was actually pretty darn good with showing how audiences can even be brought to believe that it can agree with two contradictory premises.

Also, I suppose one has to keep in mind he was writing to a wide audience himself, and ironically doing a bit of... er.. manipulation there himself.


message 32: by Derek (last edited Jan 23, 2015 05:35PM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Poingu wrote: "Not sure if this belongs in "side reading" but I wanted to post this link for what I believe is the entire text"

The entire text is available from http://gutenberg.net.au/plusfifty-n-z... (not gutenberg.org, as it's still in copyright in the US).

Ruth wrote: "I had a great history teacher that taught prehistory to 1650. He spoiled me for any other instructor, and so I say my history stops at 1650."

I used to belong to the Society for Creative Anachronism. Our history stopped at 1650, too :-)

Traveller wrote: "
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH...
I am finding the fact that the "Party" is socialist is especially interesting, certainly even a bit puzzling"


Well, add the slogan SOCIALISM IS FACISM :-)

I don't think Orwell's "irony [is] a bit in your face". These are all just examples of Newspeak.

Karin wrote: "As I think through this, I wonder if Orwell believed in "first principles," i.e., an objective reality, and if, by extension, he believed meanings of words were static and referred to an objective reality.

I'm not sure that you can extend a belief in an objective reality to a belief that words necessarily refer to one objective reality. And I'm pretty certain that Orwell didn't believe that, because Newspeak and doublethink are all about making people believe things by controlling what meaning words are given: and it's clear that can really be done.


message 33: by Karin (new)

Karin | 52 comments Derek, great insights!

I see the government’s (mis)use of slogans as a type of linguistic relativity, where meaning shifts and slips according to how the government wants to control the people’s thoughts. Orwell seems to disapprove of this “slippage” and "fuzziness" of language.

Instead, Orwell seems to believe that language should act as a transparent window into an objective reality. I think Orwell sees semantic gaps as a threat (whereas someone like Derrida would see them as opportunities). So while Orwell condemns the way governments abuse language to control people, I wonder how far Orwell takes the other side of the argument; i.e., if Orwell has a more Saussurean structuralist bent, which maintains that the signifier should refer directly to the signified. But I'm just thinking aloud :)


message 34: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) Ok, another thing that is different for me from my last reading: Winston is such a classist! I never noticed in my previous reading of the book. I don't know if I can forgive Winston for his lack of pity for "the proles," which he describes with such disgust and lack of human feeling (even as he thinks somehow that hope lies with them). The scene where he visits an "old" prostitute has no hint of compassion for her in it, only revulsion and dehumanizing descriptions of her.

While I love the way Winston's inner thoughts drift in and out of degrees of resistance to the State, I wish those thoughts would drift all the way up to some kind of moral, humanitarian feeling, even fleetingly. I'm not sure if this classicism is a shared trait with the author or if it somehow serves the story to have his character so morally stunted, and to have him feel so different from "proletarians," who as far as I remember are the most important and revered class in Communist social theory.


message 35: by Traveller (last edited Jan 24, 2015 06:02AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Karin wrote: I wonder how far Orwell takes the other side of the argument; i.e., if Orwell has a more Saussurean structuralist bent, which maintains that the signifier should refer directly to the signified. But I'm just thinking aloud :) ."

Initially I had thought you came from a psychology background, but the moment you mentioned Derrida you slipped into place. :D

Since Derrida came after Orwell, of course there wouldn't be any direct influence there...but de Saussure - you never know. People don't traditionally tout Orwell as a linguist or semiotician, but certainly, if we start applying semiotics (or semiology) to this text, then things would indeed become hugely interesting. Orwell is definitely playing around with signification. I'll be back with more thoughts in a while. :)

Oh, btw, have you ever read Embassytown? That plays with linguistic concepts and philosophy of language in very interesting ways.

Also, not sure what you meant by : " if Orwell has a more Saussurean structuralist bent, which maintains that the signifier should refer directly to the signified." ? Not sure if I understood you correctly there, but to me it almost seems the opposite? As if signifiers and signified are actually getting mixed up in Orwell's text? Oh hang on - ok, gotcha. You are saying that Orwell disapproves. Okay.


message 36: by Traveller (last edited Feb 06, 2015 01:12PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Poingu wrote: "Ok, another thing that is different for me from my last reading: Winston is such a classist! I never noticed in my previous reading of the book. I don't know if I can forgive Winston for his lack o..."

I feel pretty sure that this lack of feeling does not extend to the author, Poingu. {EDIT: Coming back, I think I agree somewhat with Poingu there...at this point Poingu was somewhat ahead of me}
I think it is more a case of that Winston is being portrayed as a typically brainwashed person in the society that Orwell depicts. In the other similar book that we had read, We, the author does a similar thing, even more obviously in that the protagonist of that novel does not understand emotions.

Also, remember that Winston is a member of the Party. It would seem that part of the whole point that Orwell was trying to make, is that members of the Party aren't quite as philanthropic as you would expect from a Socialist - and here I think Orwell is pointing a finger yet again at the Communist regime in Russia.

So yeah, I think we're supposed to feel disgusted when the audience claps and cheers, and when Winston is so scornful towards the 'prole'. (Also, Winston has to pretend a lot not to be caught out....)


message 37: by Traveller (last edited Jan 24, 2015 04:16AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Hmm, I know some of us did linguistics and Theory, but for those of us who might need a slight brusher-up on our semiotics, you might want to have a peep at the Chandler's online book on semiotics, which I have found to be a very helpful resource. http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Doc...

I am posting the above with reference to Karin's mention of Derrida and Suassure's theories on language and signification.

But hey, you don't really need to know all that theory to still appreciate 1984, it's just... that some of the things that Orwell does with language and connotations is interesting.


message 38: by Traveller (last edited Jan 24, 2015 05:02AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Anyway, to get back to what Garima and Karin said about dualistic slogans in the novel that claim opposites to be the same thing, it also stretches to emotions:

"And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp. Thus, at one moment Winston’s hatred was not turned against Goldstein at all, but, on the contrary, against Big Brother, the Party and the Thought Police; and at such moments his heart went out to the lonely, derided heretic on the screen, sole guardian of truth and sanity in a world of lies. And yet the very next instant he was at one with the people about him, and all that was said of Goldstein seemed to him to be true."

The hate ceremony seemed to me to have a type of religious fervor to it, similar to ceremonies from various religions where the participants are worked up into a frenzy of religious fervor. ...which one would assume is part of the brain-washing process, eh?


message 39: by Yolande (new)

Yolande  (sirus) | 246 comments Thanks for that link Traveller. I am fascinated with semiotics and a while back I got De Saussure's General course in linguistics. I want to start there and work my way through the prominent linguists.


message 40: by Traveller (last edited Jan 24, 2015 05:17AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Yolande wrote: "Thanks for that link Traveller. I am fascinated with semiotics and a while back I got De Saussure's General course in linguistics. I want to start there and work my way through the prominent lingui..."

That book is really good - I've reviewed it if you're interested - I'd actually wanted to post a link to my review- the bit under "sign" there might be of interest for this discussion, but I somehow felt doing that might appear too much of a shameless plug. :P

But talking of brainwashing, our talk of such reminded me this very very shocking piece of CIA history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_...

I know it looks like a hoax, but that is really true. It actually happened, unbelievable as it may seem.


message 41: by Traveller (last edited Jan 24, 2015 05:51AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
..and of course I can't help commenting on the sexism inherent in the idea that it has to be a male who looks at the kitchen sink - though I know full well that its simply a sign of the times. In the early 20th century (and the one before, of course) women were supposedly totally helpless and men had to fix the kitchen sink.

Well, serve them right - dirty stinky job that it is! LOL. XD Haha.

Also, the public hanging reminds me of The Handmaid's Tale.

Also, the youth groups was indeed a device that all of the totalitarian regimes mentioned in the side-reading thread used to use to indoctrinate children from a young age. Mussolini's Black Shirts, Franco's Falangists, the Nazi's and the Soviet government all had youth movements that did all the things that Orwell describes there - they did hiking and camping and singing and marching - and of course, they had brainwashing sessions disguised as 'fun'.


message 42: by Saski (last edited Jan 24, 2015 06:19AM) (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Traveller wrote: "PS. Those of you who had read We - the diary feels like a bit of déjà vu , doesn't it?

Definitely kept thinking of We, though perhaps not with regard to punishment. I might be misremembering but weren't executions in We public events? In 1984 "it was unusual for political offenders to be put on trial or even publicly denounced."


message 43: by Traveller (last edited Jan 24, 2015 06:05AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Ruth wrote: "Traveller wrote: "PS. Those of you who had read We - the diary feels like a bit of déjà vu , doesn't it?

Definitely kept thinking of We, though perhaps not with regard to punishment..."


Hmm, but in 1984 there is the public hangings for war crimes. You also had that in Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, where offenders were publicly... er... killed and then hung up for all to see. (view spoiler)


message 44: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Traveller wrote: "Notes about Goldstein:

He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of sp..."


I agree on both points: Goldstein as universal hero and McCarthyism.

I am amazed how long shades of McCarthyism lingered. In the mid-80s, I believe, when I got my first semi-teaching job, even though I was only an aide I had to sign an oath to protect the constitution and fight communism.


message 45: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Traveller wrote: "Also, not sure what you meant by: "if Orwell has a more Saussurean structuralist bent, which maintains that the signifier should refer directly to the signified." ? Not sure if I understood you correctly there, but to me it almost seems the opposite? As if signifiers and signified are actually getting mixed up in Orwell's text?

I would say not 'almost' but rather deliberately the opposite. One can practically predict upcoming Newspeak words.


message 46: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 399 comments Traveller wrote: "But talking of brainwashing, our talk of such reminded me this very very shocking piece of CIA history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_..."

Oooo, I remember first hearing about this back in the 80s on a Pacifica Radio after-midnight program (hmmm, maybe they were right to make me sign that oath). Thanks for the link!


message 47: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Karin wrote: "Orwell seems to believe that language should act as a transparent window into an objective reality. I think Orwell sees semantic gaps as a threat..."

Ah! I'm not sure he believes it should, but I certainly think he wishes it could. But I also think he plays with words enough in his essays to accept that "semantic gaps" are not necessarily threatening.

I agree with Ruth that the mixing of signified and signifier is very deliberate.

Traveller mentioned our discussion of Embassytown. Unfortunately, that discussion sums up everything I know about de Saussure, and that and our discussion of Foucault's Pendulum contains almost everything I know about semiotics.


message 48: by Garima (new)

Garima | 12 comments Traveller wrote: "..and of course I can't help commenting on the sexism inherent in the idea that it has to be a male who looks at the kitchen sink - though I know full well that its simply a sign of the times. In..."

I jumped straight to your comment, Trav because that is one of my concerns about this book...that inherent sexism. Once you'll go further into the story, you'll find its presence in a more pronounced and rather shocking way. Here's an article addressing the issue: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainm...


message 49: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Poingu wrote: "Honestly, knowing the ending this time has cast an entirely different light over my impressions of the book, page by page. I hope that is not a spoiler for anybody. .."

To tell you the honest truth, I realize that I had completely forgotten my previous reading of the novel. I have read and learned so much between this reading and my first? reading, that I'm actually even starting to wonder if I really had read it....I'd definitely read Animal Farm, and I clearly remember bits out of that - though at the time that I had read that, I didn't know much about the Russian Revolution and Soviet history, so a lot of that had also gone over my head at the time.

So in a certain way, reading 1984 now feels to me like my first time, but I do suspect the ending might not be an ecstatically happy one. But please don't tell yet, just in case others also don't want to know before the time. We'll make a thread especially for the ending section where we can discuss it without fear of spoilers. :)


message 50: by Traveller (last edited Jan 27, 2015 11:51AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 2524 comments Mod
Garima wrote: "I jumped straight to your comment, Trav because that is one of my concerns about this book...that inherent sexism. Once you'll go further into the story, you'll find its presence in a more pronounced and rather shocking way. Here's an article addressing the issue: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainm... .."

Oh golly... I try to overlook low-key instances of racism and sexism and so on when the author was simply acting in keeping with their place and time, but I agree that it really jars, so that is sad... :(

Whoopsie, perhaps just put out a spoiler warning regarding his two articles - they contain HUGE ending spoilers... :O


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