by Nic Olson
‘Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone.’
Four years before I was born, this book happened. I know it was actually written in 1948 or around that year, but it might as well have been from the eighties. I haven’t read anything smarter, more relevant, from front to back, in a long time.
‘Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’
George Orwell continues to establish himself as my absolute favourite writer. Each book, essay, even sentence of his that I read, awakes a new amazement in the English language. We read ‘Animal Farm’ in high school, I’ve read a few more of his books and essays since. His style, his ideas, his story telling ability, are all something I want to be able to grasp someday, or even a portion of it, in my own writing.
This book is an slightly exaggerated picture which describes a world so backwards that one might just be able to see it happen in our lifetime. Although we are not far off, with screens on every corner of every house, monitoring through social networking sites and the cameras on cell phones. ‘The Associated Press’ touting wars as if the enemy has always stayed the same and the home government is never anything but glorious. Brainwash, torture, the lower class, history books altered. We are not far off. We’ve got to shake ourselves out of it, be strong enough to notice what is happening, and hold ourselves up to the inevitable future of pain and suffering.
So I’ve thrown down a handful of quotes of your reading pleasure. These are just a handful of the pages I underlined in red pen throughout my read. Read this book, even if you have already.
‘The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent…
The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city, where the possession of a lump of horseflesh makes the difference between wealth and poverty. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival. War, it will be seen, not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite as simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them.’ -George Orwell