I finally finished 1984, by George Orwell. While I wouldn’t say it’s an easy read, it is an interesting one. It took me about two weeks to get through, and that’s mostly because it’s not a book I particularly wanted to read in order to “relax.” Some classics have nice language, but are boring stories. This book has an interesting story and is well written. There are times it’s either more or less interesting, but overall, it’s a book I recommend reading, at least once.
I talked a few days ago about my thoughts on how scary the society’s attitude toward language is, so I won’t return to that. The book had a fast paced plot with accessible language and good writing. The problem with the book is that the subject matter is too weighty to read it primarily for relaxation. Last time I read it, for whatever reason, I had to force myself, and I lost interest halfway through. This time, though I read it from the beginning, it kept me pretty riveted.
I believe that this book is timeless because it deals with concepts and ideas, a reality that could happen, rather than events. Yes, the book is laid out in a dystopian future (published in 1949, it was the future), but the book isn’t primarily about the plot. This an extreme example of where society could go. It’s an extreme example of losing one’s humanity. If you’re controlled, suppressed, made to think and act a certain way, you lose humanity. Throughout the book, whenever they talked about the “lower classes,” the Proles, I thought, “Well, can’t he (the main character) just go be a Prole? That’s what I’d rather do.” The thought of being watched and controlled is intolerable to me.
What scares me most about this book is that I see little things happening here and there. From the beginning, I’ve said that I’d rather be less secure on an airplane than go through so much security. I’d rather be less safe than know the NSA is watching and listening. I’m okay with life’s uncertainty. In theory, what’s going on isn’t so bad. But where does it stop? If our rights erode a little bit at a time, how long will it take before they’re gone?
These are my questions… I’m unfortunately not political enough to have good answers. I want freedom to think and act and be as I choose. Our system of government evolved so that certain people could represent the rest of use. But are they representing us anymore?
The sad truth is that those in power will always want more power. And they get it by saying it’s for our own good, something that sounds good enough at first that those of us who just want to live our lives will buy it. At first.
Read 1984. Discuss it with people. It’s a good book whether you look at it as purely a work of fiction, as a warning, or a reality.