Book Review: 1984, and Truth against totalitarianism

I just finished reading 1984 by George Orwell for the first time. Somehow, this book was not part of my high school reading curriculum. I feel like my high school English class had a huge reading list, and each class read only a selection — friends of mine read 1984, and my class read Brave New World, which I loved.

This book is a must-read for anyone who feels compelled to understand the psyche of fascism and totalitarianism.

If a reader comes to this book looking for character development, reasonable plot pacing, or much scene work beyond didactic dialogue, they will not find it. They will also be missing the point. From a story perspective, I really enjoyed the section focusing on Winston and Julia’s relationship, even if their time together ended rather abruptly.

Orwell’s story is a mechanism to explain the idea that totalitarianism seeks control as an end itself. The ideology doesn’t matter. Control over every aspect of life – even over thought, if it can be achieved – is the entire aim of the totalitarian system. To gain power over people and keep it is the only goal.

This book is a product of its time and timeless, as applicable a warning against fascism now as it was seventy years ago. As a lover of history, I was interested in the alternative rendering of the post-WW2 order, but I know there are likely other stories where this is the focal point, rather than the exposition dump Orwell uses. This section was particularly frightening to me as the end of the book drew near, as it provided a view into a world where Truth does not matter – even upon learning the truth about your reality, a totalitarian system’s entire existence is predicated on controlling you in spite of it.

Steve D

dreaminsanity: THE MARTIAN, the Oscar’s, and Rational Thought

Image of Mars, http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6453
Image of Mars, http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6453

I watched The Martian last night for the first time. After reading the book by Andy Weir a couple months ago, I was excited to see what Hollywood would do with such a detail-rich and well-researched story. They glossed over most of the super-scientific information (understandably so) to get to the heart of the human interest story of an astronaut lost on Mars, and the NASA scientists and astronauts trying to bring him home. Continue reading “dreaminsanity: THE MARTIAN, the Oscar’s, and Rational Thought”

Literary Inspiration – What are Rights?

I think about George Carlin a lot. He was one of the first comedians I really started listening to when I was about eight… which is probably too young. But I think his cultural impact goes far beyond being a stand-up comedian. I really think he was a modern-day philosopher, especially as he got older and the subject matter of his comedy became more existential. I don’t know if he believed all of the ideas that he presented on stage, but he at least had the intellectual capacity to consider and explain them – convincingly. Continue reading “Literary Inspiration – What are Rights?”