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Old March 19th, 2014, 01:58 PM   #41

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What I found interesting about 1984 was how the ruling party kept control by using language, control of information, produced hate toward the other 2 continents to burn off energy, surveillance and how the party kept tight control of consumer goods keeping them scarce.
Orwell probably used Post War England as a model where the economy was still suffering, rationing continued, no job development for years. Whereas in the U.S. the opposite occurred where the consumer economy took off. Maybe the consumer culture is a way that the U.S. government controls its citizens? Let them have as much as possible so they focus on their next purchases seen as needs rather then on good government?
This is probably worth reading, in the authors own words:
George Orwell: Notes on Nationalism
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Old March 19th, 2014, 03:46 PM   #42

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Glad you mentioned Huxley's Island, which provides a kind antidote to the darkness to Brave New World and Orwell's 1984. Certainly with Huxley the books are about conflicting ideas with the characters just personifying different views.
Actually I think that the ultimate meaning of Island is very dark. It basically states that evil will always triumph over good due to evil's lack of morality. This worldview is very dark, but it is interesting how it is presented in the utopia of the island.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 05:40 PM   #43

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Actually I think that the ultimate meaning of Island is very dark. It basically states that evil will always triumph over good due to evil's lack of morality. This worldview is very dark, but it is interesting how it is presented in the utopia of the island.
Good and evil are not the words to describe the events in the Huxley's Island.
The prince doesn't want to achieve his goals for some evil deeds, he wants to modernize the island and make it more prosperous. It would be more fitting to describe his deeds as ''unvirtuous'' in the christian sense of the word.
He is led by jealousy, greed and greed.
Tough it is understandable that this thought could be formed from this book I do not think that this was Huxley's intention.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 02:39 PM   #44

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Good and evil are not the words to describe the events in the Huxley's Island.
The prince doesn't want to achieve his goals for some evil deeds, he wants to modernize the island and make it more prosperous. It would be more fitting to describe his deeds as ''unvirtuous'' in the christian sense of the word.
He is led by jealousy, greed and greed.
Tough it is understandable that this thought could be formed from this book I do not think that this was Huxley's intention.
Yes, but the dictator from Rendang, who is an extremely violent dictator, takes over the island in order to exploit its oil. The islanders are unable to stop it, and don't really try to stop the invasion beyond asking the dictator nicely. They don't even ask any other countries to protect them, due to their morality. This could be interpreted as stating that the only way good can defeat evil is be stopping to evil's level. It could also be saying that morality is the single most important thing, but either way evil triumphs over good.
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Old March 23rd, 2014, 10:06 AM   #45
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The Mute Protest in Your Bones: an essay on the organization of discourse in Orwell


Winston reminds me of one of Dostoevsky's heroes. In The Karamazov Brothers, Alyosha describes his brother Ivan with these words: "...his is a stormy soul. His mind is held captive. There is a great and unresolved thought in him. He's one of those who don't need millions, but need to resolve their thought." Winston is also held captive by a great and unresolved thought, and the entire novel describes his desperate attempts to express this thought.

According to the literary critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, all of Dostoevsky's important characters are "held captive" by a "great and unresolved thought." Every detail of the imagery is determined by this leading idea and the character's attempt to resolve it. For example, Raskolnikov is monomaniacally possessed by a single thought (one could perhaps call it a "Napoleon complex"), and this is expressed with appropriate imagery. His cluttered and squalid room, his old, broken down hat, his rambling walks through the streets of St. Petersberg, all of these details help to define the image of Raskolnikov in the novel, and all are precise expressions of the idea that he is enslaved to. The idea is inseparably wedded to the imagery.

Sometimes the leading thought can be expressed in a simple formula. For example, "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted" - that neatly summarizes Ivan Karamazov's fundamental idea. The formula does not exhaust the idea in its entirety, however, but is merely a convenient symbol for something of much greater depth and complexity. It is the idea, not the slogan representing it, that motivates Ivan to participate in patricidal schemes that are so exceedingly complex that even he is not fully conscious, until the climax, of the depth of his involvement. Dostoevsky exhaustively explores every single nuance of Ivan's idea at a very leisurely pace (it is a thousand page novel, after all).

Mikhail Bakhtin:

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...What an intense dialogic life that idea leads through the the course of The Brothers Karamazov, what heterogeneous voices relay it along, into what unexpected dialogic contacts it enters!

On [this idea], the reflections of other ideas fall, similar to what happens in painting when a distinct tone, thanks to reflection of the surrounding tones, loses its abstract purity, and only then begins to live an authentic "painterly" life...
This is similar to Orwell's technique. Winston's idea can also be expressed in a formula: he knows in the deepest core of his being that 2 + 2 = 4, no matter what Big Brother may assert. They can beat him and torture him, and he will indeed submit in every physical sense, but in his heart, regardless of what he confesses with his mouth, he knows, and can never truly forget, that 2 + 2 = 4. That is his formula. By examining the point when this formula first emerges in the novel, we can gain insight into Orwell's artistic method.

In the seventh chapter of the first part, the narration depicts Winston's state of mind while scratching the varicose ulcer on his ankle and scribbling in his dairy. He is reacting to a passage from an official history textbook for children, borrowed from a neighbor. He is thoroughly familiar with the story, because he was given almost the exact same textbooks as a child. They are all about the "glorious Revolution" that overturned the evil capitalists - "fat, ugly men with wicked faces." No matter how bad the current conditions in Airstrip One, it is apparently nothing compared to what came before, when children where flogged and starved and worked to death by evil men in frockcoats and stovepipe hats, and when London was supposedly nothing like "the beautiful city that we know today." Winston knows the story backwards and forwards, and he knows it is completely false, but he can't exactly prove it false.

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...How could you tell how much of it was lies? It might be true that the average human being was better off now than he had been before the Revolution. The only evidence to the contrary was the mute protest in your own bones, the instinctive feeling that the conditions you lived in were intolerable and that at some other time they must have been different...
It is important to note that this is from the narration - not from Winston's diary. Winston feels an instinctive antagonism towards the status quo, but he is unable to clearly express it, and so the narrator must express it for him. However, through the course of the seventh chapter, Winston struggles to articulate this "mute protest." He is already more articulate than in chapter six, when he attempted to write in a halting and embarrassed manner about a humiliating sexual encounter from his past. Now, as expressed in the narration, his thoughts seem more fluid and logically connected. He begins by reflecting on the proles. Only if the proles rebel can the system ever be overturned. In attempting to analyze why the proles seem unwilling to revolt, he jots down a thought, but immediately afterwards, the following occurs to him: "That... might have almost been a transcription from one of the Party textbooks." He is still struggling to find his own voice, it seems. He then transcribes a passage from the above mentioned Party textbook that was borrowed from a neighbor, and he ponders that for a minute. He remembers the time in 1973 when he saw the three reformed heretics, Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford, in the Chestnut Tree Cafe, years after their trials and confessions. According to the details of their confession, all three had been in Eurasia in 1965, where they had first hatched their viscous and evil conspiracies against the authorities. Winston once came across a dated photograph at the Ministry of Truth that proved this to be a lie. Even though the document was destroyed, he still clings to it in his memory - the one tangible piece of objective evidence, which he actually held for a moment in his very own hands. He begins to realize that he actually understands perfectly well how IngSoc functions and how it manipulates history (he has unique insight as a worker at the Ministry), but he still doesn't know why. While he struggles to understand the motive, he studies the portrait of Big Brother on the cover of the history textbook.

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The hypnotic eyes gazed into his own. It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you — something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses.
In his inner struggle with this menacing enemy, Winston desperately needs an ally. Suddenly, the face of O'Brien appears before his mind's eye. "He knew, with more certainty than before, that O’Brien was on his side." Armed with fresh courage, he precedes to crystallize his thoughts with greater clarity than ever before.

Quote:
With the feeling that he was speaking to O'Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
That is the final sentence of the chapter. Orwell is brilliant in how he orchestrates the voice of the Winston in his diary, the words of Big Brother from the history text, the voice of the narrator - all carefully interwoven and inexorably building toward this critical moment.

Every element is carefully composed and invested with precise significance. Every image evokes a thought, a point of view, a philosophy. The one thought that dominates everything is IngSoc - an idealistic philosophy that denies not only "the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality." Winston is forced to be a materialist by necessity; if they deny external reality, he must affirm it. However, to call IngSoc a philosophy is not strong enough language; it is more like a physical force - something that presses down, that penetrates, that batters. This is of course symbolized by the face of Big Brother which Winston constantly sees glaring down on in him, as he does in the scene we are discussing, on the cover of the history textbook. Immediately in the narrative, in Winston's mind, this image is brought into contact with another image - the face of O'Brien. We will only learn the complete significance of this in the final chapters - O'Brien is not an ally.

The image of these two faces in juxtaposition is prepared by another important image - the photographic proof of Big Brother's duplicity that Winston once held in his hands. The photograph is symbolic of memory - not just Winston's own personal memory, but the principle of memory in general. This principle, along with the principle of external reality, is something that Winston is trying to have faith in. They are important aspects of the great, unresolved thought which holds him captive. This image also has two faces; it is revealed later that the photograph was not something that just randomly came into Winston's hands, but was consciously put there by O'Brien himself, as part of an elaborate plot, in the style of MK-ultra, that has been victimizing poor Winston for decades.

One of the more complex images in chapter seven is of Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford at the Chestnut Tree Cafe. Every detail serves a specific purpose. For example, the gin flavored with cloves (the specialty of the cafe) sounds much better than the disgusting and oily "Victory gin" that Winston is forced to gulp down every day. Winston hates Victory gin; with its taste of nitric acid and the sensation it provides of "being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club." In Winston's world (Airstrip One), Victory gin is one more daily aggravation, like the Victory cigarettes that lose their tobacco if not smoked with the utmost caution, like the Victory coffee that smells and tastes so different from the real coffee of his early youth, like the annoying little ulcer on his on ankle. All of these aggravations, when compounded together, become what the narrator calls "the mute protest in your own bones." However, Winston himself is destined to one day sit in this little cafe, after he has been destroyed by O'Brien and the thought police, and like Aaronson and Rutherford, he will drink his gin with cloves. When that happens, he will no longer have to prepare himself beforehand, as when drinking Victory gin, which must be quickly gulped down like a dose of disgusting medicine. On the contrary, he will drink his gin with cloves, and he will be satisfied. The mute protest in his bones will have been erased. He will have learned to love Big Brother.

Every detail foreshadows Winston's coming destruction in the climax - the isolation of the heretics from the other patrons of the cafe, their broken down physical appearance (particularly Rutherford, whose once great body is now "sagging, sloping, bulging, falling away in every direction... like a mountain crumbling"), the strange "yellow note" that breaks through on the telescreens, followed by the song, Rutherford's tears at the song, and so on. Every detail has significance. Most impressive for me is Aaronson and Rutherford's broken noses, which Winston notices with "a kind of inward shudder... yet not knowing at what he shuddered." I shudder a little when I read that even today.

The imagery in chapter seven (in the entire novel) is profoundly ambivalent. Each detail has two meanings. O'Brien is both a friend and an enemy. The photograph is both evidence from the past and a product of IngSoc's efforts to destroy the past. In each image, we sense two different world views in violent opposition - Winston's materialistic philosophy, IngSoc's fanatical idealism. The images are arranged alongside each other in such a way as to increase the ambivalence. No single image is left alone to be contemplated in its "abstract purity," but as in a skillful painting, each distinct "tone" gains something from its reflection in the surrounding tones.

Bakhtin credits Dostoevsky with the invention of an entirely new genre of writing - the polyphonic novel. I am not willing to assert that Nineteen Eighty-four is a pure example of the polyphonic novel. I am not a professional literary critic. I would like to read a detailed study of the question by serious academics who have more time on their hands to think about these things, before I make up my mind. However, I am comfortable with the assertion that Orwell uses the same artistic techniques, just as Bakhtin describes them in Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics.

Last edited by Student; March 23rd, 2014 at 10:29 AM.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 09:49 AM   #46
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1984 isnt novel. It was prediction.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 06:08 PM   #47

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1984 isnt novel. It was prediction.
I don't like to read this topic because of the feel that someday it's very possible that 1984 becomes reality.
I think to myself: "Orwell ignore the Human spirit, revolution in that case would triumph, no matter what was the cost", but I also know that to implement "1984" system would be a long term changing, and mentalities could change just a little bit, then other little bit and in the final we see ourselves accepting what "they're selling".
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Old April 7th, 2014, 02:59 AM   #48
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I made several errors in my earlier "essay" on the organization of discourse in Orwell. The thread got me thinking about it, so I dug up my old paperback. What a great novel! The second read was even better than the first. However, my memory was faulty on a few points.

First, a minor spelling error: the word is Ingsoc, not IngSoc. That was just sloppy; the word is spelled correctly in the very chapter I was quoting from (chapter 7, part 1).

When I spoke of the photograph of Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford - such an important object in Winston's memory and consciousness - I incorrectly asserted the following.

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...it is revealed later that the photograph was not something that just randomly came into Winston's hands, but was consciously put there by O'Brien himself, as part of an elaborate plot, in the style of MK-ultra, that has been victimizing poor Winston for decades.
Wrong! Later on, in the Ministry of Love, O'Brien says repeatedly that Winston has been under observation for exactly seven years - not decades. Also, it is not directly stated that O'Brien consciously put the photograph in Winston's hands, although O'Brien does show Winston a copy, which he then disposes of in the memory hole. O'Brien then goes on to claim that the photo never even existed in the first place. A remarkable scene!

A somewhat more critical mistake:

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Originally Posted by Student View Post
...Winston himself is destined to one day sit in this little cafe, after he has been destroyed by O'Brien and the thought police, and like Aaronson and Rutherford, he will drink his gin with cloves. When that happens, he will no longer have to prepare himself beforehand, as when drinking Victory gin, which must be quickly gulped down like a dose of disgusting medicine. On the contrary, he will drink his gin with cloves, and he will be satisfied. The mute protest in his bones will have been erased. He will have learned to love Big Brother.
The sentence in boldface is completely wrong. In the end, Big Brother can make two plus two equal five, but they cannot make Victory gin taste good. From the final chapter:

Quote:
He picked up his glass and drained it at a gulp. As always, the gin made him shudder and even retch slightly. The stuff was horrible. The cloves and saccharine, themselves disgusting enough in their sickly way, could not disguise the flat oily smell; and what was worst of all was that the smell of gin, which dwelt with him night and day, was inextricably mixed up in his mind with the smell of those——
Rats. The smell of those rats, clawing at the cage that is attached to his face in room 101, the thing that he cannot name, even in his thoughts, and which he still struggles to suppress in his visual imagination, without success. In this final chapter, Winston's mind has been almost completely destroyed. O'Brien did things to him which can never be reversed. Winston has abandoned his fundamental principle, that two plus two make four. More importantly, he has betrayed Julia. He is now ready to believe anything - "Oceania was at war with Eurasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia." The stars are only a few kilometers away. Anything is possible now, except this one thing: it is impossible to make the gin taste good. It is "horrible," "disgusting," "sickly," with a "flat oily smell" that makes one "shudder" and "retch."

Strangely enough, even while listing these errors, I feel somewhat more confident in my thesis. In my limited experience, 1984 comes closest to achieving the artistic effect that we find in the novels of Dostoevsky. He was certainly a more gifted novelist than Huxley, although Brave New World is without doubt an important novel. Perhaps Huxley's universe is more plausible in a way, but his fable does not grip the reader so powerfully as 1984. Huxley depicts the conflict between John the savage and his society in a fairly compelling fashion, but Orwell does more than passively depict the conflict between Winston and Big Brother; he actually draws the reader into the conflict and makes him an active participant. I believe he is able to produce this effect because he uses the same artistic techniques as Dostoevsky.

Last edited by Student; April 7th, 2014 at 03:05 AM.
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Old April 7th, 2014, 03:04 AM   #49
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Woops
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Old April 7th, 2014, 11:03 PM   #50

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I hated "Brave New World". It seemed absolutely ludicrous to me. "1984" was prescient though. Whenever I think of the government of North Korea, I think of 1984.
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