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1984

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1984

Post Number:#1  Postby Artdude » 08 Jul 2011, 17:37

Orwell's 1984 is one of, of not the most significant political novel not just of the twentieth century, but in the great catalogue of literature.

But why? and does it have any significance to today (like everybody says)?

The themes examined upon first glance are rather seperate from the world we inhabit today. The dystopian novel, or indeed any kind of fictional dystopia is a considerably vexed one, when trying to relate it to modern society. We have no kind of repression or ultimate control imposed upon us like the characters in 1984. We have rules and laws and restraints, but that is how civilisation works. That is quite simply the only way in which to control and moderate a successful and compatable society. To this end, we suffer nothing like the conscription Winston faces in 1984.

On the other hand, the rules and laws (which I previously suggested are integral to successful civilisation), are often pushed too far. The tight control over pensions, jobs, health care and education are often overly controlling. This is one of the key features of Dystopia or dictatorship -ultimate control over everything which is essential to human life. By controlling these things, our governments are fuelling revolution/rebellion, which gives them the opportunity to suppress further, and so it continues.
We have not reached this stage yet. We are arguably far from it. But look at how we can be so easily controlled now - Billboards in city streets (Times Square for example,) Ipods, interactive television, internet on the phone, the sudden rise of the IPAD. Anyone ever considered how similar an IPAD is to a telescreen in 1984? It's not long before we have Ipads which can be mounted on the wall. How long - therefore - before the interaction becomes two-way. How long before people can interact with YOU through the ipad. These are not implausible suggestions. To this end, 1984 is a warning of things to come. It gives us a glimpse into a fictional, but possible world.

In summary, it has some significance, but it truly is limited. It's only function is a warning, (let's face it, your not reading it for enjoyment. The writing style is so bland and uninteresting.) But this warning is based on the 'what if's', the 'could possibly's', and the 'it is plausible that's. To this end, 1984 is not only unenjoyable in writing style, but has realtively little significance on today's society - given that everything is predicts is based on quite fundamental gambled outcomes.


What do you think?
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Post Number:#2  Postby Maud Fitch » 09 Jul 2011, 00:06

Personally I think George Orwell had a very vivid imagination. By sheer coincidence, some things came to pass.

"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face...; was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5.

Some say it predicted FaceBook.....
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Post Number:#3  Postby Fran » 09 Jul 2011, 04:13

By coincidence I was thinking about 1984 last night & then I log on to my favorite site & lo and behold Artdude is posting about 1984 .... is this an example of mind control? :D

What brought 1984 to mind was the reports on the News of the World phone scandal ... makes you wonder just how far off Orwell was!
IMO Orwell outlines what would be nirvana for any totalitarian regimé or corporation, the ability to watch everyone, all the time ... and the real beauty was you didn't need to watch all the time you just had to convince people that they could be being watched. The process whereby Winston outlines how someone starts apparently voluntarily to control their own thoughts I found truly chilling.

I agree with Artdude, 1984 is not an easy read, nor is it particularly well written but Orwell had superb foresight & turned a forensic eye on society. IMO both Animal Farm & 1984 should be up there among the most important books ever written.

The ease with which so called intelligent human beings can be manipulated has been shown over and over again and we don't need to look too far to see how society can be hijacked by totalitarian forces.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Wendell Phillips
"When all is said and done - there's a lot more said than done."
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Post Number:#4  Postby StephenKingman » 09 Jul 2011, 04:43

I was just going to post the point that Fran made about the News of the World. I think 1984 is still hugely relevant to the themes of today, just witness the powers that media have over politics and society and trials, they control a huge amount of the world and even taking the hacking scandal as an example, if someone wants to find you and track you they will. Big Brother really does watch you (but only if you are a person of interest, i dont subscribe to the theory that the government are watching and tracking every single person 24/7) and the media can control your fate and the fate of the powers-that-be. Politicians depend on the media to promote and expose them at election time, said politicians turn a blind eye to questionable journalistic practices such as hacking and biased crime reporting etc etc as they know deep down that the media have so much dirt on them that they literally have them by the short and curlies.

It makes me laugh how people think that with the closure of the NOTW paper that its the end of the matter- the paper will simply 'rebrand' and be published under a slightly different matter, same sh!t different name. And all the responsible journalists will walk away scot free because you cannot take a defunct paper to the court for libel. 1984 remains, like Animal Farm, as relevant today as it ever was..
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Post Number:#5  Postby Chris from EnterTheStory » 09 Jul 2011, 05:56

Definitely. It's a very good example of the power of books - the ideas weren't new, and are not perfect, but they give people an easy way to talk about ides that are otherwise complicated. And I think the ending to 1984 is very powerful. I used to be in a very intense cult-like religion and can completely relate.
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Post Number:#6  Postby Bighuey » 09 Jul 2011, 12:03

I think 1984 is close to being with us now, and in places like China it is already a reality. I read it when I was in high school and it scared the living s--- out of me. Someone said something about facebook, probably everyone who has internet is on it its staggering how the goverment or anyone could get information about millions of people just from social networks. Even the discount cards that the supermarkets give you and run through their scanners, that information goes to the goverment so they even know what kind of food you eat. Orwell was a prophet, like in his book even now who knows who Big Brother really is?
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Post Number:#7  Postby Artdude » 09 Jul 2011, 13:58

Firstly, I have to say that I'm glad that this post generated some enthusiasm over the usual "I suppose it's alright" kind of response to most things on this site.

Anyhow - everything people have posted has been really interesting. However, I think it has to be added:

The media, politics and technology are often - as you all correctly point out - used for bad or manipulative ends. The News of the World scandal recently is a good example. However, everyone tends to focus on the bad bits, and forget the amazing things about technology. Without our technology as it is, we couldn't televise events such as the olympics, music festivals, or party political broadcasts. Most people are probably choking on their coffee at this point, but I'm serious. Party political broadcasts, and other election campaigns are the most informative that they've been in the history of government. They are sometimes used for bad - but look at how well informed you are about politics in todays society, considering the immense amount of ignorance in preceding centuries. Everyone in the modern world has potential access to an informed and educated decision about how their country is run. This is a good thing surely? Similarly, the rise in technology has increased human solidarity - our communication is the most efficient, most accessible, and most enjoyable it has been in the history of language. I would argue that this has increased human understanding of other cultures and other countries. This I see as good.

So yes, it has been used for bad, but I would suggest that there are numerous good things to say about the rise in technology.
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Post Number:#8  Postby Fran » 09 Jul 2011, 17:00

@Artdude
I find myself agreeing with your views on the positive aspects of technology.
However, while information is much more readily available, in western countries at least, I am not sure how many ordinary citizens take the time or make the effort to inform themselves. So many seem to be happy on a diet of shallow, irrelevant nonsense about the doings of so called celebs or alternatively take blatant racist nonsense as gospel just because it's on the front page of some cheap tabloid or said with total conviction by a news channel desperate to fill the hours of broadcasting time. Few people seem to have the attention span to actually delve deep into issues, to actually question and weed out the motivations much less the hidden agendas.

Also, while of course technological advances are a big theme in 1984, we do well to remember that thought control has been operating with varying degrees of success by all the worlds religions ... some more successfully than others.

The threat to individual freedom is not necessarily from the most obvious source.
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Post Number:#9  Postby StephenKingman » 09 Jul 2011, 17:36

@ Artdude, yes i agree that technology has made political activity more available than ever before and there are a lot of benefits to our evolution in communication etc but does that mean politics is any less corrupt? People are still people, and politicians are still politicians, whether they are in 1711 or 2011. They still have an agenda and an angle and will use anything at their disposal to achieve this. They will lie and spin and lie and deceive the people who elected them and ironically will use the technology of hacking, spying etc to control even more people so its actually helping their cause at the end of the day.

@ Fran, good point regarding people and their priorities. This could quite easily be the most apolitical generation there ever was, particulary in Ireland where we sit back and accept huge pay cuts and tax burdens just so the rich can stay rich, we complain till we are blue in the face but not enough of us have the will to do anythign about it. A depressing number of people, especially the young, just live for the next party or Facebook update and are totally blind to the evil and corruption around their whole lives, thus making it even easier for the media and government to feed them a heap of lies and dress it up as "business as usual". 1984 got one thing right- Big Brother is an omnipresent force. A good or bad force? Well thats food for thought.
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Post Number:#10  Postby StephenKingman » 10 Jul 2011, 03:13

Eh, who moved this? I will assume Scott, thanks. :?
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Post Number:#11  Postby Artdude » 10 Jul 2011, 14:09

My apologies - it was in the wrong place.
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Post Number:#12  Postby Maud Fitch » 10 Jul 2011, 23:43

Artdude wrote:Firstly, I have to say that I'm glad that this post generated some enthusiasm over the usual "I suppose it's alright" kind of response to most things on this site.


Not everyone has the eloquence of an honours graduate. Or could it be that e-technology is already segregating us into literate 'haves' and 'have nots'? Are we our own Big Brother filters?
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Post Number:#13  Postby Fran » 11 Jul 2011, 04:33

Maud Fitch wrote:
Artdude wrote:Firstly, I have to say that I'm glad that this post generated some enthusiasm over the usual "I suppose it's alright" kind of response to most things on this site.


Not everyone has the eloquence of an honours graduate. Or could it be that e-technology is already segregating us into literate 'haves' and 'have nots'? Are we our own Big Brother filters?


Goes back to my point about the inability to concentrate for more than 30secs ... indepth immersion in a topic is IMHO being bred out of the human race (a bit like the good old appendix). In a few generations human beings will not be capable of communicating in more than 140 characters & indepth analysis will go the way of the dinosaurs.
I tell you Maud, the end is nigh :(
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Post Number:#14  Postby Vogin » 12 Jul 2011, 04:08

Aaaaah, this is exactly my favorite topic.

I believe technology is the most important and superior aspect which will completely transform our society (to the point where currency will be obsolete). And yet, as any and pretty much all things, it can be misused and misinterpreted - which often happens in 2011.

1984 (and similar books for that matter) should be taken and thrown into faces of everyone who thinks Orwell's talking about utopian nonsense. What we need to do is employ a massive change in education rather quickly, because right now we're balancing between modern humans and controlled sheep...
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Post Number:#15  Postby Artdude » 15 Jul 2011, 17:20

Maud Fitch wrote:
Artdude wrote:Firstly, I have to say that I'm glad that this post generated some enthusiasm over the usual "I suppose it's alright" kind of response to most things on this site.


Not everyone has the eloquence of an honours graduate. Or could it be that e-technology is already segregating us into literate 'haves' and 'have nots'? Are we our own Big Brother filters?


I didn't intend to cause offence. It was just nice to really discuss something. I didn't mean to seperate anyone :)
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