Tag Archives: Winston Smith

“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