1984

Cthulhu

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AKA
Yop
#1
Woot. Mind that this thread contains uncensored spoilers, since it's a 60-year old book or something.

I bought 1984 (the book, penguin classics version) a while ago (or wait, I got it for Sinterklaas), and a while ago started reading it - mainly in the train from home to work and vice-versa.

1984 is one of the most famous books of the last 100 years or so, and depicts a totalitarian regime set in the 'future', in the year 1984. More on the plot later.

1984 is quite famous nowadays, and is referenced to a whole lot. Each time a government (say, the British) wants to install cameras, log people's behaviours*, require additional information about a person on that person's passport, everything, at least one, but usually more people make at least one, but usually more references to 1984, or its main antagonist (whose role is merely symbolic), Big Brother. TV shows, in which people were watched all the time by cameras whilst fucking, have been renamed after Big Brother, which in itself spawned an entirely new branch of 'entertainment' of people making complete and utter idiots of themselves.

*: Note I used the British spelling thar, :monster:

1984 has been the inspiration for other bits of entertainment as well, including the movie Equilibrium, in which all emotion is disabled by drugs forced upon the people by a totalitarian regime, and the comic and movie V for Vendetta, that has a similar, fascist totalitarian regime as 1984 (although not as strict or all-seeing, it seems).

1984 is basically a must-read work, and if you haven't read it, do it now. Before going into the plot and review, the last thing I read was that there's another movie adaption underway (next to the 1956 and 1984 movie adaptations) scheduled for 2010. I've got the 1984 thingy downloaded yesterday, will probably see it tonight or something. The preview looks very close to the book, so if you cba to spend a few hours reading the book itself, you could instead spend two hours or so watching said movie. Still though, a movie can't transfer the subtleties and whatnot that are described in the book, so use at your own risk.


On the plot and global outline, 1984 is divided into 3 official parts, each composed of a handful of chapters. I personally think of it as having 4 parts though, but more on that in a bit. I'll use the 4-part division of the book for great justice.

Part 1 of the book is basically a description of Winston Smith, the main character of the book, and the world he lives in. Bleak, industrial, war-torn, and everyone's always being watched and monitored at all times. Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, a ministry responsible for all information in Oceania. I'm not going to divulge any deeper into all the subtleties and whatnot, I just decided, that'll take far too long - read the book if you're interested.

But anyways, part one creates the backstory of the book, and leads up to the meeting between Winston and Julia, which, once they get it on, takes us to part 2 of the book.

Part 2 (which also contains my 'unofficial' part 3) is basically a chick flick, where Winston and his woman (half his age) get it on in secret places about once or twice a month. Between the lines there's Winston's contact with O' Brien, a member of the Inner Party, whom Winston holds as a person he can trust and who is, according to Smith, a member of an underground organization that goes against the party. He (Smith) eventually meets with O' Brien, who (sorta) swears him into the underground and gives Smith a book, the 'handbook' of said organization.

My unofficial part 3 is the reading of said book - a book in a book, woot -, which consists of chapters 1 and 3 of said book (although in the reverse order). The book is a political essay of sorts, and defines the reasonings behind the Party, its slogans (war is peace etc), etcetera. It's pretty long, but it's a good read and whatnot, and definitively important for getting the story behind the war, the Party, and the world that the two main characters live in (as well as Orwell's own visions and ideas and whatnot).

Part 4 (labeled part 3 in the book) is where - as can be expected - all goes to shit. The old pawn shop he rented a room with to get it on with his woman turns out to be Thought Police, O'Brien, the person he probably trusted the most is also a fucker. Smith is arrested and put into the Ministry of err, Love, I think, but I could be wrong. One of those anyways, and in there, he's tortured and whatnot and converted into a good Party Member. The end, :monster:.

The ending's not what you'd expect at first, certainly not if you've seen the stuff inspired by 1984 - V for Vendetta comes to mind the most, in which the protagonist finally manages to overthrow the government with some fireworks, but more by having the general populace wakes up. During the majority of the book, you (the reader) keep believing that there's going to be a massive uprising from the proles (lowest level), the outer party, or perhaps even the inner party, but that goes down the shitter pretty bad in part 3. The protagonist is completely destroyed, mind-warped, and eventually even betrays his woman - which is the point where he completely breaks and, eventually, becomes a very dull, but loyal, double-thinking, crimestopping party member that drinks filthy gin all day.

Similar to the hopes of the 'good guys' winning is the idea that perhaps the Party itself isn't as evil as you'd often believe of a totalitarian regime. Sure, they lie to their people (in the extreme, altering past history and whatnot), they get rid of those that misbehave (crimethink et al), and they watch your every move, but there's always this impression that they do it for the people's own good, or that there's some other higher reasoning behind their means of governing.

That too is pretty much decimated in part 3, where O'Brien holds a (rather epic and Hitlar-worthy) monologue about the party and its goals. The goal of the party is power, instead of power being a means to an end - power being the end. There's no goal to the endless tortures and whatnot of people when they are going to be executed in any case, but the point of the torture is the torture itself. The antagonist in 1984 (i.e. the Party, but in part 3 mainly characterized by O'Brien) is one that's truly evil, that has no ulterior motives but to control and dominate its people, no subtleties, no higher goals, no motivations, etcetera. Which is a very un-subtle approach, but since nobody's done a truly evil antagonist for a while, it becomes a miniature plot-twist in its own, whose impact is higher than that of the antagonist being a good guy in the end (which is lame btw).

So yeah, the book is hardly subtle, has a pretty clear line between the 'good guys' (who become 'bad guys', although good and bad are both interchangeable titles in this context - which is probably also why the word 'bad' has been removed from the Newspeak dictionary) and the 'bad guys', has a hardly subtle totalitarian regime (where everyone can clearly see where they're being watched), etcetera.

I'm reading the pretext to the book now, to see if there's more to comment on, but that's rather negative on the book, in terms of its two-dimensionalness, its done-over-nine-thousaand-times plot points, etc. Word of advice: Don't read a pretext before reading a book. I quit reading it when spoilers started it, so just fyi.

The pretext does have a point though: Much of 1984's appeal and literary interest lies in it being a political essay on totalitarian regimes, wrapped in a story about a 13 50+ year old emo Party member that bones his highschool fancy whilst listening to Linkin Park finds love in a young horny slut woman who is apparently proof that the Party's methods have failed miserably. I mean, if there'd be five more people like that, there'd be hordes of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks blowing up the Parliament Ministries already.

Although his (Orwell's) premonitions haven't come true, it is a discerning vision of what a world under a truly controlling power could be. It's also a good example of the pliability of people's minds - whether or not people are as influenceable in reality is to be debated, but there are certainly hints that there are. Concepts like newspeak (a form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (yes, I looked that up)), would be interesting to investigate further - Can you really influence people's thoughts by limiting their vocabulary, their means of expressing themselves? Could you stop people from thinking 'bad' thoughts by removing the wording for said 'bad' thoughts from language?

The same goes for the various techniques that the people themselves apply to themselves - crimestop, doublethink, etc. Crimestop is the act of being able to stop a 'criminal' thought right before you think it. I doubt this would be possible in reality, but, as with the previous, you'd never know. I'm sure that people could be taught to stop doing something (i.e. conditioning), but I don't think that would be possible unless the teaching methods changed, or unless a 'bad' thought could be detected and shocks or whatever applied.

The other, doublethink, is actually applied (although not in such an obvious sense) today, it seems. It's the act of holding two contrasting ideas / opinions, and believing that both are true. For example, if I say that Schrödinger's cat is both dead and alive, I'm doing doublethink. I'm confident that something like that is possible in today's world (and that it already happens), although not in the same, direct sense of the word - or at least not consciously. How often has it occurred that a certain something - say, the war in Iraq - was a 'good thing' at one point in time, and a 'bad thing' later on? How often has your take on touchy subjects like, pre-martial sex, abortion, drugs etc changed over the past years?

Anyways, I have to wrap this up, this is taking far too long etc imho. That's also roughly about what I was going to say about the book. I say that you should read it, even if you don't like (science) fiction, chick flicks, depressing books, or books with an unhappy ending (where 'unhappy' is, once again, doublethink-worthy.)

Overall: 1984 doubleplus good.



Edit: I just saw the 1984 movie adaptation of the book, recorded in 1984 during the exact dates and whatnot as Orwell had in the book (i.e. the scene where Smith enters the date 'April 4th, 1984' was shot at April 4th, 1984), and the last movie in which Richard Burton played (if that means anything to you) before he died, later that year.

I stated earlier that the movie adaptation is close to the book, and, in a sense, it is. Most (if not all) of the spoken texts are directly from the texts as they are in the book, and there's only very little additions or alterations to the book - in fact, I can only think of two: When Smith visits O'Brien in his office, Julia's not there in the movie, whilst she was in the book. I dunno what the reasoning behind that was (I might read that in the Wikipedia article on the film), and there was another alteration that wasn't really bothersome, in that Winston gets the book in the form of a new-looking Newspeak dictionary with the pages stuck together to hide Goldstein's book, as opposed to getting an old, much-used copy through a delivery thingymajig. Finally, in the book, party members call each other 'Comrade', but they've changed that to 'Brother / Sister' in the book - probably due to the Berlin wall still standing at the time.

Other than that, there's little (noticeable) differences between the book and the movie. However, since it's a movie adaptation, they've cut out large portions of the book, in terms of scenes, dialogs, and, perhaps more important, the many subtleties and deeper meanings behind the actions taken in the film, which were present in the book in both the narrator's point of view and Winston's own writings in his diary.

The movie should probably not be watched without first having read the book - it's very difficult to follow, hard to figure out the why and what behind the actions, the persons and what have you more. It reminded me of the movie adaptation of Papillion, another ye olde movie adaptation of a good book, which, whilst having loads of scenes taken directly from the book, makes little sense because they had to cut out half in order to make it fit the time allowed for it.

It's a shame, really, since people that haven't read the book simply won't get the vast majority of the movie. But it's a good movie in being able to visualize the book - in terms of style, characters, background and whatnot, it follows the book pretty much as I imagined it (although I had a more high-tech imagining of the environment, but eh, it doesn't matter much). If fact, being recorded in 1984 allowed the movie creators to follow loads of the style and technology of those years, which, as they were described in Orwell's '49 book, quite fit the era of '84 (although computer technology was more advanced in '84, but whatever).

Anyways, the choppiness of the storytelling in the movie doesn't make it easy to follow or comprehend the story. The atmosphere in the movie is very bleak, silent, with loads of dramatic music at the right times. For today's standards, it would be boring, but I quite enjoyed it.

Oh, and it has full frontal female nudity. And armpit-hair. At the same time. :monster:. If you want to see the movie, it's on Google Video, as it turns out, see here.

Also, for the lulz, John Hurt, the lead role in the movie, played High Councillor Sutler in V for Vendetta, becoming the uber bad Big Brother himself, :monster:.

As stated earlier, there's another movie-adaptation set in 2010, which I hope will be able to smoothen out the storytelling so it becomes a consistent story, and that it'll be able to properly tell the story and the ideas behind it.
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
#2
1984

WINSTON: Don't tell anyone, but sex is way better than the Party.

EVERYONE: Surprise! We're the Party.

WINSTON: Oh, rats.



... :monster:


Not much to add to what was posted above. I read this book in High School and it was definitely very good, and it deserves the status it's achieved in the literary world. Although I must admit it was very good, it's not really the type of book I'd usually enjoy. The political messages were a bit too in-your-face for my liking tbh. I felt the same way about Animal Farm. I guess I'm just not much a fan of Orwell.

Though the part where Winston and Julia were caught by the Though Police was probably one of the biggest "oh shit" moments ever. I loved the whole symbolism of the paperweight shattering just like the world around them was and whatnot.
 

Channy

Bad Habit
AKA
Ruby Rose, Lucy
#3
2 + 2 = 5

:monster:

I read this as well in highschool, more of a mandatory thing. Considering the depth of the story, half of our 2 1/2 hour English class was just devoted to silent reading of this damn book. I'm not much for politics, but it was still enjoyable. I must admit, I didn't get crap all about the 'book in a book' so I skipped that whole chapter. I found the book too hard to understand what with its continuous back peddling and reverse-ology. However I wasn't the only in class to skip that chapter. :monster:

I found the ending to be a little anti-climactic. Well, no... But for some reason I wasn't very satisfied with it. It left me with a giant wtf feeling that I had to re-read it a couple times.
 
AKA
Jesse McCree. I feel like a New Man
#4
^ It's better than having to stuff Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, one of the few books I had to be stuck with. I'd give anything to read like 1984 or War of the worlds. ='(
 
AKA
Jesse McCree. I feel like a New Man
#7
I'll blow up every city on Oceana with Aaron and the other supervillains before THAT happens.
 

Cat Rage Room

Great Old One
AKA
Mog
#8
BTW: I didn't mean to spam, that's a famous line in the book, representing the new regime's slow but sure degradation of humanity.
 

Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#9
One of my favourite works ever written, although it sucks that Orwell's pre-Animal Farm work doesn't get as much attention. Moar people need to read Homage to Catalonia.

btw, other dystopian novels I'd recommend would be We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. And then there's a ton of dystopian films I could recommend as well, starting with Brazil.

 
AKA
Jesse McCree. I feel like a New Man
#10
I love Brazil ever since it aired here on the telly. XD
And I saw We in a bookstore but cba to get it. I regret that choice...
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#11
Though the part where Winston and Julia were caught by the Though Police was probably one of the biggest "oh shit" moments ever. I loved the whole symbolism of the paperweight shattering just like the world around them was and whatnot.
Yar, although I must say that the dialogue by the telescreen operator was a bit quaint - it sounds even weirder in the movie adaptation. But on the other hand, it was kinda predictable (that they'd get DUN DUN DUUUNN! caught)

2 + 2 = 5
Or 3, :monster:. They used the 'how many fingers' in an episode of Star Trek (TNG) once, fgj.

I found the ending to be a little anti-climactic. Well, no... But for some reason I wasn't very satisfied with it. It left me with a giant wtf feeling that I had to re-read it a couple times.
Yeah, that, as well as some other elements, are rather blunt. It also makes people doubt Orwell's intentions with the book - sure, it's a story about how shit can hit the fan, but at the same time he makes the lead character a loyal subject of the Party, and leaves no hope whatsoever for mankind left. But that's also what sets it apart from the majority of books, really - the two movies I mentioned (Equilibrium, V) both had 'happy' endings, with the evil government getting overthrown by an act of rebellion.

we will abolish the orgasm
Junior Anti-Sex League ftw.

As for those other books, I should remember those, :monster:. There's far too much stuff one should read and far too little time to do so.
 

Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#12
Equilibrium's use of drugs to remove emotion is particularly inspired by Brave New World, :monster:. Also don't let 'tards tell you Atlas Shrugged is a good dystopian novel, it's shit :monster:
 
AKA
Jesse McCree. I feel like a New Man
#13
I wonder if there'll ever be stories like V for Vendetta or stories on the terrorist's point of view in bringing down a world like 1984. I know it's impossible judging by the security in 1984, But I'm sure terrorists will find a way. Like that dude in Jurassic Park said:

"It grows. Life finds a way"

:monster:
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#14
Yeah, as is indicated properly in the book itself, a society like that would never manage to sustain itself. I mean, for one it hasn't been a totalitarian world for that long - how much was it, 30 or 40 years? So there's no 'older' generation or whatnot.

Secondly, 85% of the populace are the 'proles', and 15% are party members. I can imagine that only party members would be in, say, the law enforcement, which means that the vast majority of the inhabitants of Oceania / Airstrip One would be proles, with only a small amount of law enforcement.

From what I read in the book, it wouldn't be too difficult to overthrow the government. There doesn't seem to be any advanced crowd control / mass murder tools around besides machine guns, little armed forces in the streets, etcetera. Not only that, but the prole hoods seem under less direct control from the Party - less telescreens, more liberties, etcetera. Which means that the proles could scheme a lot more - that is, if they wanted to, which is debatable at this time. However, even the proles should eventually figure out that they're getting fucked with, and act accordingly.

Yeah. And if not the proles, there has to be one of the winning party that eventually wins - no war has lasted forever, and only little have lasted more than a few years at full powar. That, and the parties all still have nukes that they haven't deployed yet.
 

Ⓐaron

Factiō Rēpūblicāna dēlenda est.
AKA
The Man, V
#15
It's worth noting that since the appendix is written in plain English rather than Newspeak, and written in the past tense, that does imply that eventually the Oceania régime was overthrown.
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#16
You could interpret it as so, but I've read it more as a means for Orwell to formalize his own ideas on a language like that. As such, I don't think it's supposed to be a part of the book itself, although, as you said, the past tense might make it look like it does.
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#18
Chemicals. They've already developed a medicine (or something) that can make you not love by getting rid of the neurochemicals / transmitters that cause it.
 
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