Tag Archives: George Orwell

“Nineteen Eighty Four” – George Orwell

5 Nov

No blog about books could be complete without a post about George Orwell’s scary distopian future perspective.  If I searched the net, I’m sure I’d find hundreds or thousands of articles on “1984”.

SPOILER ALERT: please note that this post does reveal some details of the story (although there is also a considerable amount of the story that is not revealed here).

The final page of the novel is – to me – perhaps the most memorable section. At the end, Winston has been put through all manner of torture, as well as threats of torture to force him to betray his lover, and yet he is actually happy. Really happy!  “He had won the battle with himself: he loved Big Brother!”  Aren’t we all this way with views we know (deep down) to be uncertain?  We’re happier if we follow the crowd or at least a crowd (e.g. a fringe political group), and we ignore data or facts that contradict the views of that crowd. Of course, Winston’s situation is an extreme case but the principle is still true. He knows the Party, as represented by Big Brother, is all about lies and cruelty, yet he has forced this knowledge from his mind in order to love Big Brother.

And how did the Party manage that? By taking away his other love: by forcing him to betray her, he cannot love her. And as everyone needs to belong to a group or at the very least to be connected to another person, then without her, love of Big Brother fills the need. So he ignores the blatant evidence that Big Brother and the Party are in fact harsh and cruel liars. Less extreme examples could be found in all of us, I’m sure. It may be uncomfortable to admit it, but when you really look into a strongly held political view shared by your peer group or your wider society, you will very likely find flaws in it. But you’re happier if you ignore the doubts and go on believing your view to be rock-solid. And I really think this could apply to almost any view whatsoever: there’s very little, if anything, that is completely certain.

Personally I hold some views on certain issues that go against widely accepted views in society. I hold these views because of evidence yet it can still be uncomfortable to disagree with people, especially those I’m close to. I could be happier by ignoring evidence and just following the crowd rather than having confrontational discussions; but then I’d be happy like Winston! Of course I can have doubts about my own views also – nothing is really certain!  So I try to keep an open mind but it’s not always easy. Sometimes a decision is needed.

As Rene Descartes said “In practical life it is sometimes necessary to follow opinions which one knows to be quite uncertain, just as one would if they were indubitable”. In case it’s of any interest, that quote comes from Part Four of “The Discourse” and is shortly before the famous “I think, therefore I am” quote.

I would just like to use this post to mention my own debut novel that is now over half-way through and should be due for release probably 2016.  Like “1984” it is on the subject of mind-control and brainwashing.  Further updates to follow – WATCH THIS SPACE! For more on “1984”, check out this post written by fellow blogger Katie:

Also readers should check out this post on the subject of opinions, by another fellow blogger: http://beingcreativebc.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/so-you-have-an-opinion/#more-363

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Cruel Intentions – 1999 Movie

21 Oct

This is probably one of the best films I’ve ever seen; but I sometimes wonder what it is about it that appeals so much.

The story – which is a present-day New York remake of “Dangerous Liaisons” – follows two rather elaborate and cruel plots to manipulate and play with the emotions of two unsuspecting victims.  One is a naive young woman – Cecile – who is falsely befriended by Kathryn, whose only desire in posing as her friend is to give her false advice on her love life with the intention of making her the “premier tramp of the Manhattan” (I think it was Manhattan).  The other is Annette – an avowed virgin – who is pursued by Sebastian as she is a great challenge (“She will be my greatest victory”) and because Kathryn bets him that he can’t succeed in getting her into bed.

In short, Kathryn and Sebastian – who are step-siblings – sink to the depths of unpleasantness in their manipulation and game-playing, and beyond simply the above-mentioned too.  And here’s the thing – there is no explanation for their cruelty. Many films may feature characters who lead a life of crime because they’ve never succeeded in life on the straight and narrow, or because they simply come from a deprived background.  Not that I’m excusing any crime but I’m making a comparison, because Kathryn and Sebastian are filthy rich, independently-schooled and good-looking.  They’ve grown up with advantages and they choose to become scum.

And perhaps the appeal of the film is that uniqueness – people who are cruel with no reason other than their own selfish enjoyment and belief in their own entitlement to have their way.  [Rather like the Party in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” a member of whom states that the Party seeks power purely for the sake of power].

In both “Cruel Intentions” and “Nineteen Eighty Four” (OK, so not entirely unique), that excess of inexplicable unpleasantness can appeal BECAUSE IT IS FICTION – and therefore it provides an escape.  It can make you think “OK, so I know I have to put up with [INSERT NAME OF NEMESIS] but at least they’re not as bad as those two characters”.

And then of course there are the come-uppances. I won’t spoil the story for those who haven’t seen it, but Kathryn and Sebastian do get their come-uppances. And although the ending is ludicrously implausible – it has the feeling of a scene in a fairy-tale, something like “The people of the village all turned against the wicked witch and she was banished from the kingdom” – it still really gives a fitting ending to the film!  Maybe it’s the unashamed ludicrousness of it that appeals – as though the writer is saying “This is my idea, so what if you think it’s silly, I’ve made a bloody good film!”

And the very final scene, with Reese Witherspoon driving the open-top Jag, her long blonde hair fluttering in the wind…….  OK, I’ll stop there!