Monday, February 04, 2013

George Orwell’s 1984 revisited

Kee Thuan Chye published his play, 1984, Here and Now, in 1987 at the height of Mahathirism. What title would he give it if he were to update the play now, after a quarter of a century? 1984, Still Here, Now?

I decided to revisit the George Orwell's 1984 seeing it sitting in my iPod (a free download) for a while. I was simply looking for something to read, and not because the 13GE is around the corner. I was barely twenty pages into the book (on my tiny iPod screen) when I had to laughed out loud. It was so like home!

1984 is still here, now!

Everyone has heard of Big Brother, so I’m not going into that, but I found interesting, the structure of Ingsoc: people were either members of the Party, or proles (those who lived on the outside, who were regarded a little more than animals). ‘The proles are not human being,’ he (Syme) said carelessly ... nobody cares what proles say ... What was required in a Party member was an outlook similar to that of the ancient Hebrew who knew without knowing much else, that all nations, other than his own, worshiped “false gods”. Listen, listen, listen! Their gods are not even gods!

Then, there was more.

For those who have forgotten, 1984 is written from the point-of-view of Winston Smith who worked in the Ministry of Truth, his job being to falsify history and create new ones on a daily basis -- we should be familiar how this works.

Today he (Big Brother) should commemorate Comrade Ogilvey. It was true that there was no such person, but a few lines of text and a couple of faked photographs would soon bring him into existence ... It struck him (Winston) as curious that you could create dead men but not living ones.

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in.

It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and noser-out of orthodoxy.

Parsons was Winston’s fellow-employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralysing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms -- one of those unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more than even the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended.

Winston thinks he can trust O’Brien, in whom he thinks he sees a tiny glint of reasonableness and understanding, but that only leads him to Room 101:  Always, Winston, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever.

Listen, listen, listen. And the name of the arch-enemy of the people w-aaa-s ... Goldstein! A Jew!