Writing, music, cycling, history, politics, saving the planet
What could be more relevant to the modern world of Fake News than Citizen Smith declaring “Freedom is being able to say that 2+2=4”. Imagine a world where we are watched all the time. Where children and parents are reported to the police for ‘thought crime’ and the harboring of any ‘extremist’ views that are out of line with the Big Brother norms. Where state snooping and draconian powers are justified by a permanent conflict that stokes fears of terrorism and sabotage. Where we join media-sponsored hate sessions with a ‘hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness’ and the rage we feel ‘could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp’.
1984 was not a prediction, it was an extrapolation of Orwell’s personal experience. Most of us have never shot a fascist, or been shot in the throat by one. We have never traveled by clandestine routes to join a civil war or narrowly escaped imprisonment by political police. We have not fought in battles that officially never took place, or read an article about battles that you personally knew did not.
This is a book that speaks for humanity and does so with clarity, brevity, and bravery. The hero is flawed and tragic. The ending is as bleak as the image of ‘a boot stamping on a human face forever’. It breaks all the rules of how to write a crowd-pleasing novel, except one – Orwell writes brilliantly and keeps the words as simple as possible. Love the writing, admire the author and heed the warning from history.