Saturday, 8 June 2013

1984. George Orwell (advanced)

The 8th of June marks the date of publication of 1984, by George Orwell, the pen name of an English novelist and journalist whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair. He was opposed to all forms of totalitarianism and injustice and wrote articles and fiction around them.

Some terms that he coined have entered the English language and originated concepts that hadn't been considered before, but became realities in later years: cold war and  Big Brother are just two of them. His novel depicts a crude world in which privacy is absolutely forbidden. People's emotions, work, time, passions, thoughts even, are owed to Big Brother, a political idol who no one knows and may not even exist. However, he is omnipresent, watching everyone anywhere all the time. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU can be read on walls and posters in all public places in Oceania, and so it is, as every second of each person's life is under surveillance by thousands of telescreens, even in their own private homes.

There's a Party, the elite, who make sure every citizen obeys the rules and lives exclusively for Big Brother, the leader who 'protects' each one of them and makes sure all enemies are destroyed, so that 'no threat affects the people of Oceania'. As long as there is an enemy, the Party is safe. But they, too,  have a terrible foe, the one they fight against with all their power: Intelligence. Individual thinking is the beast.

The language is adapted to these principles, and Oceania has their own language with selected terms that shape everyone's mind. History is altered, too, to fit the needs of the Party. The Party is always right and no one has a right to object to it or even question it.

Is this world possible? Or was it only in Orwell's imagination?

Orwell invites his readers to think (no more and no less) of the worst possible scenario.

Do you know what is in Room 101? Take a look...

(Click on Choose Language (bottom left) and then English 100% to read the subtitles).

It is the most dreadful place imaginable, where only terror is possible, where your worst fears become a reality.

A few questions for you:
  1. Think carefully before answering: What is your worst fear?
  2. Do you keep a personal diary? Have you ever done it?
  3. When would you consider your personal space invaded?
  4. Can one rebel privately? Or must one make it explicit and public?
  5. Where does one's integrity lie? 
  6. Could the world depicted in 1984 become a reality?
  7. And finally, could you solve this problem?: two plus two equals...

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