What I’ve Been Reading–1984

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in What I've Been Reading | 0 comments

teaserbox_27680941Call me a cliche, but I did what so many other people are doing these days–I read George Orwell’s 1984. Somehow, it was one of those classics I never managed to get to, despite an English major and a career in literature. (I never read The Illiad either. I admit it. I only recently got around to Middlemarch.)

So much was chilling, so much was eerily familiar. If you’ve read it, you don’t need me to go into it–the glorification of war, the vicious hates that transfer all critical thinking and all criticism away from the powers-that-be onto vague, nebulous, ever-changing others. And of course, the doublethink. Mexico will pay for the wall, but they won’t, but they will. War is peace. Obama bugged Trump Tower, but he didn’t, but he did. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

And yet…somewhere in there I found a sliver of hope. No, really.

Winston Smith is not a very heroic hero. He isn’t terribly brave. (Julia is much bolder). He’s not all that smart. (All his instincts about people are completely wrong.) He doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

All he has going for him is some basic humanity. A joy in rare physical comfort and glimpses of beauty–the smell of real coffee, the clouded loveliness of old glass. A sense of the past as something that actually existed. Brief love shared with a woman. These are small things.

But look at what the Thought Police and the Ministry of Love have to do to get him to surrender. Look at what he endures. It takes hours and days and actually years of brutal mental and physical torture before all that is good in Winston is ground down to nothing. He’s a simple man, an ordinary man, just one man–and it takes all their resources to undo him.

Humanity dies, but it doesn’t die easily.

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