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  #51  
Old 11-07-2012, 06:27 AM
Grumman Grumman is online now
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Originally Posted by JRDelirious View Post
The level of oppression in Oceania has progressed beyond the point where you can have a Schindler, he'd be unable to "save" anyone, he'd just get broken and be forced to betray them, or they'd all eventually get caught and broken themselves...
This is an idea that has caused a lot of harm in the world, but it's not actually true. Torture does not work that way. Torturers know it does not work that way.
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  #52  
Old 11-07-2012, 06:41 AM
Luk3112 Luk3112 is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
Because Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

But, no, Lumpy, I agree with you. Smith isn't particularly heroic, and that's the point of the novel.
Exactly
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  #53  
Old 11-07-2012, 10:36 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I agree with the OP (back in 2005) to the extent that Smith was supposed to be seen as a failure not a tragic hero. But I disagree about him being a failure because of liberalism. Smith could just as easily have been a conservative.

The key is that 1984 isn't about the events that are happening in 1984 - these are simply the inevitable denouement. What the book is about, although they're barely mentioned, are the events that led to 1984. Smith, and millions of people like him, stood by and let Oceania happen. And now they're paying the price for it.

Orwell's message was that if you were living in Oceania in 1984, your situation was hopeless. So you had to do something now to avoid ending up there. You can't be complacent and think you'll do something when things get really bad. By the time they get that bad, you'll no longer be able to do anything about it. You have to stop Hitler or Stalin or Mao before they come to power not wait and see what they do after they get in power.
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  #54  
Old 11-08-2012, 02:24 AM
grude grude is offline
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I agree with the OP (back in 2005) to the extent that Smith was supposed to be seen as a failure not a tragic hero. But I disagree about him being a failure because of liberalism. Smith could just as easily have been a conservative.

The key is that 1984 isn't about the events that are happening in 1984 - these are simply the inevitable denouement. What the book is about, although they're barely mentioned, are the events that led to 1984. Smith, and millions of people like him, stood by and let Oceania happen. And now they're paying the price for it.

Orwell's message was that if you were living in Oceania in 1984, your situation was hopeless. So you had to do something now to avoid ending up there. You can't be complacent and think you'll do something when things get really bad. By the time they get that bad, you'll no longer be able to do anything about it. You have to stop Hitler or Stalin or Mao before they come to power not wait and see what they do after they get in power.
That is actually why I am amused when concerns about authoritarianism are dismissed with accusations of paranoia and a "call me when the jackboots are executing people in the street", the only problem is that when that happens it is far too late.
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  #55  
Old 11-08-2012, 04:55 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is online now
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I agree with the OP (back in 2005) to the extent that Smith was supposed to be seen as a failure not a tragic hero. But I disagree about him being a failure because of liberalism. Smith could just as easily have been a conservative.
My opinion is he wasn't a failure or a tragic hero. He wasn't capable of being either. Within the context of the novel, they are ideas that don't (or can't) exist. Newspeak has made them unconcepts.

You can make the same argument for Room 101. Everyone has a secret fear, but it turns out that it's exactly what the Party tells you it is. O'Brien didn't read anyone's thoughts, he simply stated what you were thinking, and that is what you were thinking. Anything else would be unthink.
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  #56  
Old 11-08-2012, 05:28 AM
Gagundathar Gagundathar is offline
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Orwell's genius in this work is not just what he wrote in the narrative.
It was also his creation of Newspeak.
I STILL hear people say 'doubleplusungood', but I am among a geeky cadre.
The idea that language controls people is very powerful, and the effects of that are long-lasting.

Last edited by Gagundathar; 11-08-2012 at 05:29 AM..
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  #57  
Old 11-08-2012, 07:03 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Originally Posted by Grumman View Post
This is an idea that has caused a lot of harm in the world, but it's not actually true. Torture does not work that way. Torturers know it does not work that way.
That's the point. O'Brien is part of a scheme that in fictional Oceania is successfully planting this in the minds of anyone who dares try to think about it. He tells Winston that the purpose of torture is torture itself, anymore. Breaking Winston is convincing him of that and that there is no way out of it.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 11-08-2012 at 07:07 AM..
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  #58  
Old 11-08-2012, 08:55 AM
Shodan Shodan is online now
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Originally Posted by Grumman View Post
This is an idea that has caused a lot of harm in the world, but it's not actually true. Torture does not work that way. Torturers know it does not work that way.
Sure it's true.

They are not trying to get information about Winston's associates, or his petty conspiracies against the Party. O'Brien already knows all about that. He is trying to break Winston down and remake him in his own image - he says as much.

And it does work that way in the real world - witness the show trials under Stalin.

The novel says that, after enough torture, Winston will confess to anything, true or false. It's part of the collective solipsism that O'Brien talks about. If the Party tells you it's true, it's true. It's the same reason they vaporized Sime. He was a good Party member, but the Party said he was guilty, and so he must have been.

"In politics or religion, two plus two can equal five." This is politics - therefore two plus two equals whatever the Party tells you. The torture is to break you down until you believe whatever the Party tells you.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. All else follows from that." Therefore - the Party tells you that 2 + 2 = 5, as Winston doodles in the dust (what an image) at the end of the novel.

Regards,
Shodan
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  #59  
Old 12-05-2012, 11:26 PM
Alysa Alysa is offline
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@Grude, I saw the movie "Brazil" (well most parts of it it) and must say the protagonist of the movie in almost no way resembles any real character-traits with Winston Smith, I first read the book "Nineteen-Eighty Four" by George Orwell and than saw the movie "1984" by Michael Radford and what I can deduct from both the book by George Orwell and the movie "1984" is that Winston Smith is a serious guy, while the character from the movie "Brazil" is not, that guy is a complete idiot with as far as I know (luckily!) no resemblance in the real world, while one can more easily meet a guy like Winston Smith!
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  #60  
Old 12-06-2012, 01:15 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Originally Posted by Gagundathar View Post
Orwell's genius in this work is not just what he wrote in the narrative.
It was also his creation of Newspeak.
I STILL hear people say 'doubleplusungood', but I am among a geeky cadre.
The idea that language controls people is very powerful, and the effects of that are long-lasting.
Except if Newspeak worked, not only would we not have the word 'antibiotic', we wouldn't even have been able to invent antibiotics.
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  #61  
Old 12-06-2012, 02:16 AM
Ibn Warraq Ibn Warraq is offline
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Originally Posted by Grumman View Post
This is an idea that has caused a lot of harm in the world, but it's not actually true. Torture does not work that way. Torturers know it does not work that way.
I'm not sure what you're saying here.

Are you saying that torture isn't an effective way to get someone to give up information or are you saying that people who are tortured don't suffer from some sort of pseudo-Stockholm Syndrome and adopt the cause of their torturers or something else?
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  #62  
Old 12-06-2012, 06:03 AM
Maastricht Maastricht is offline
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The first sentence of Anthony Burgess's response to 1984, 1985, is, "1984 is a comic book." (That is, it is a joke, not that it's a graphic novel.)...
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Another (slight) hijack: 1984 was published in 1948. Was the novel a big hit in the late 1940s/1950s? Or has the book become more popular over time?
Burgess book "1985" was my favourite as a young adult. The first half of it is a very good analysis of Orwell's 1984. He writes all sorts of interesting stuff about the inspirations of Orwell in writing it, including the bleak years shortly after the war. When the post war euphoria was over, people got fed up with the economic bleakness and enforced austereness, and the beginning of the Cold War. 1984 is a comic (funny) book in the sense that it magnifies and parodies many aspects of the post-war period. But to us readers who got interested in the early eighties, when the book got popular again, those cultural references are lost and so we can''t see what is funny about the book.

The second half of Burgess' 1985 is his own novel about a dystopic England. An England overrun with youth criminality and violence, over-powerful unions (the protagonists wife dies in a fire because the firemen were on strike in sympathy with the other unions), Arab money taking over England, and laughably bad education, made bad because no-one wants to be an elitist and actually seem to have knowledge. Orwells doublespeak is replaced in Burgess England with "official workers English" a sort of cockney without any interlectual words in it.
It was a fun read in the eighties, and I'm happy that many of Burgess fears have been proven, by recent history, to have been unfounded.

Last edited by Maastricht; 12-06-2012 at 06:08 AM..
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  #63  
Old 12-06-2012, 07:10 AM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is offline
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I can't read about Orwell's doublethink without thinking of all the US political leaders who refuse to dispute some ancient cleric's estimate of the world as a few thousand years old, or their dismissal of evolutionary theory in favor of Biblical literalism. They must know in some part of their minds that what they are espousing in factually wrong, yet they doublethink it away. And their followers are not much better. A study conducted a few months ago showed that viewers of Fox News are less well informed than people who follow no news at all. The Ministry of Truth exists, my friends, or at least, its beginnings.
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  #64  
Old 12-06-2012, 07:37 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is offline
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Originally Posted by Evil Captor View Post
I can't read about Orwell's doublethink without thinking of all the US political leaders who refuse to dispute some ancient cleric's estimate of the world as a few thousand years old, or their dismissal of evolutionary theory in favor of Biblical literalism. They must know in some part of their minds that what they are espousing in factually wrong, yet they doublethink it away.
Heck, that's not even an extrapolation; IIRC, that's pretty much word-for-word. Consider the bit right after O'Brien patiently explains that the world "is as old as we are, no older" while handwaving away evidence of the dinosaurs:

Quote:
"What are the stars?" said O'Brien indifferently. "They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it."

Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O'Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:

"For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?'"
Orwell is delighted to point out that such beliefs can easily persist so long as folks compartmentalize 'em away whenever accuracy is called for.
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  #65  
Old 12-06-2012, 05:29 PM
Alysa Alysa is offline
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"Orwell is delighted to point out that such beliefs can easily persist so long as folks compartmentalize 'em away whenever accuracy is called for" but to me that's exactly the point O'Brien is revelling in the thought that he's able to make belief whatever nonsense he's willing to communicate to Winston!
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