Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh, the horror!

So, I heard an interesting comment about 1984 from a brother-in-law of mine. He said that after reading the book, the impression he had was that it was a horror novel. I thought that was very interesting, and quite a compelling idea. The point about a horror story is that there is no triumph over the enemy in the end. We love stories where the good guy wins, but in true horror stories the only one left in the end is the bad guy. So with this novel; there is no triumph. The establishment wins, and our "hero" is turned. We are left without hope ("hope lies with the poles"). The enemy has total control. In the end it would seem that even the mysterious "Brotherhood" was a figment of the government to further manipulate the minds of party members. It certainly seemed to work. It was his hope of joining the opposition that prompted him to expose himself so fully to his enemies.

The book is certainly an interesting thought experiment into politics and political evolution. The thing that I think is overlooked which would be a great barrier to such a governmental structure taking full root is the reality of religion. I don't think the type of situation described in the book could be achieved in reality because of religion. No government that has either banned or usurped religion has ever lasted.

I thought an interesting part of the book was the manipulation of language. They were not only trying to change peoples' image of history and reality, but their very ability to express themselves. I think language can have a very real effect on the way people think. If there is no word or expression for a concept, you are unlikely to conceptualize it. A person's language moulds the way they think. It most certainly influences the things they express. Some things just can't be said in certain languages. This was very well utilized in the novel.

I must agree with some of the other comments about the time jump at the end of the book. It was rather startling. I must admit that I was holding out for some sort of saving moment (human nature?) and found myself disappointed that he gave in and became a nobody in the end.

Kevin, I will have to add "We" and "A Brave New World" to my list of books to read. I should be starting on "Fountainhead" soon.

Well, this was jumping around a bit, but I wanted to throw out a few ideas and keep the discussion going. Micaela should be finishing the book soon and I am interested in hearing her comments.


OceanSwells said...

I liked 1984 more than We, as I could never get used to the characters being strings of numbers and characters rather than actual names. But the ideas in the story were sort of interesting. It read in a very different way (in my opinion) than 1984, but I will have to read it again, now that I don't have a test to take when I finish it.

Carol said...

My thoughts on 1984 are coming, just not tonight...

Christian said...

I am intrigued at the how book starts out only slightly dismal, but then methodically exposes the ills of a corrupt dictatorship. Orwell chooses to have this government make unjust breaches of our most sacred and vital experiences in life. The ultimate goal (unachievable I might add) of the government was to control the peoples thoughts. I think there are many interesting parallels with the gospel here. Satin would also have the same thing I think.