I'm sticking with the end of Chapter 6 for another post to, before we actually get to the Savage Reservation, look into the question of why such a thing exists. In my bit of shameless self-promotion in the comments of other blogs, someone asked the question of why the Savage Reservations even exist.

The Doylist reason (that is, from the perspective of the author) is so that we can meet Jon. Jon will be an important counterpoint to the Fordly way of life. Jon needs to exist, to enter Fordly society, and not be perceived as a threat by Fordly society. For those ends, a Savage Reservation makes an ideal tool. It's outside Fordly civilization but small enough that the average Fordly citizen is aware of but not bothered by it.

The Watsonian reason (that is, from the perspective within the world of the fiction) is related.

It's also related to slavery and Rent.
Read more... )
Chapter six spends some time focusing on how the world treats Bernard and how Bernard treats both the world and himself. And, in this chapter, I find myself getting defensive both of Bernard and of what it seems that Huxley may be attempting to criticize.

To the way the world treats Bernard Marx.
Read more... )
This is an entire chapter of more show-don't-tell in exposition. None of it directly serves the story. All it does is inform us of the world and a bit of how two of our major players fit into it. Still, I enjoy reading it and, were this translated into a television series, I would enjoy watching it.

I'm not just giving credit where credit is due. I do like all three of the books that I'm deconstructing. I find them to be engaging reads, such that I could quickly read through any of them in a couple days. I'm trying to remind you (and myself) that, even though I sometimes make very loud objection, they're still valuable elements of our public discourse.

So, let's go over this example of exposition done well... and then get to the part where I get a little angry with Bernard.
Read more... )
During the 1984 deconstruction, I repeatedly noted how, on the level of emotional maturity, the whole thing felt like High School. Winston Smith was a burnout who wasn't really rebellious but found a way of making his internal rebellion a source of perceived superiority to others. Well, the High School feelings aren't going away any time soon.

Chapter 4 is broken into two parts (and we're going to handle both parts in this post, no I'm not deliberately padding these things). The first part focuses attention on Lenina Crowne's perspective. She walks through the lift room, noting the various men there, having spent the night with most of them at one point or another. (Although, it should be noted, if she spent one night with all of them, that's okay and it's not like this sex-mandating purity culture would object. I just note the possibility as something Huxley probably didn't imagine.) And, she has her own aesthetic concerns on any of them.
Read more... )
We're still in Chapter three and we're only now meeting two... maybe three of the major characters in this story. All of what we've gone over so far has been exposition. And, let me say that Huxley did a great job with exposition, far better than Orwell.

Orwell just explained the various ministries, which was well enough in getting the information to us. And, hey, it was interesting enough information.

On the other hand, Huxley literally gave us a tour and answered our questions. The exact nature of the responses and which questions weren't asked also gave us information. And, he topped it off with a spite-filled rant about past sexual and familial politics that's well articulated but filled with enough bile that it might foam at the corners of the world-controller's mouth.

Good job to Huxley on that one.

Now, let's meet three of the major players.
Read more... )
Chapter two shows us a bit more of the conditioning, this time some eight-month old Delta infants. The area is prepared with bowls of flowers and bright, colorful picturebooks. All of it made to be enticing to little infants with little infant hands that like grasping bright, colorful things. The sun comes out at just the right moment to really make it all that much more enticing.

Much like for the babies, themselves, we're being set up. As all the identical babies make their way over to enjoy the colorful books and flowers, the head nurse presses a lever. Explosions, shrill sirens, alarm bells, all the things that exist to scare a baby... literally, that is their purpose. And, those are followed up with a mild electric shock to the infants.

Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks-already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined together, nature is powerless to put assunder.

Read more... )
Here we start with Chapter 1 and already I realize that I'm going to have to cut Brave New World a tiny bit of slack that I did not cut for 1984. I did not forgive 1984 its sexism and I will endeavor not to do so for Brave New World. But, I just can't read Brave New World unless I forgive its science.

The first chapter takes us to the Central London Hatching And Conditioning Centre. That is, it's the place, in London, where humans are made. It's the place, in London, where humans are mass-manufactured.

Males and females donate their respective gametes.

the operation undergone voluntarily for the good of Society, not to mention the fact that it carries a bonus amounting to six months salary.

Read more... )
A couple weeks ago, I presented my fan-theory that 1984 can be viewed as Party Propaganda. The purpose isn't to make the reader think of the Party or Big Brother as good or worthy. The Party, in its way, doesn't want to fool you. It wants you to fool yourself out of fear of the Party. No, what it wants is to be viewed as impossibly large and all rebellion to be viewed as impossibly small.
Read more... )
As a teaser for this week (because I like to pretend I have a wide audience that would spend the week anticipating the next installment), I said that I will ask if Oceana can last.

Dragoness_E immediately responded with a resounding "no" on the basis of unforeseen externalities. The externalities included a new disease a la Black Death, an extinction level asteroid (such as is found in late 90s movies and the far better done "You And Me And The End of the World"), a much more advanced civilization coming to conquer and colonize, etc. The phrase for the whole category is "Outside Context Problem".

I will agree with this. For one thing, some of those problems are problems that would and could destroy any nation without needing to kill all or most of the people within. There's an Italian movie about a world-wide outbreak of crippling-to-lethal agoraphobia. (It's on Netflix with the title "The Last Days", if you don't mind reading the subtitles.) The affliction doesn't even kill anybody. It's the isolation and the breakdown in communications that causes civilization to break down.

Any such Outside Context Problem can destroy a nation that either does not or cannot adapt quickly enough. And, The Party will not allow Oceana to be adaptive. It cannot survive a world of changing people. It can only enforce a status quo that, given enough of an Outside Context Problem, cannot last.

That said, Orwell doesn't seem to consider anything like an Outside Context Problem. According to O'Brien and The Book, of which he is part author, the only external issue is another nation, but that is handled by Doublethink Agreement among the three extant nations. This leaves, under Orwell's examination and O'Brien's belief, only the internal matter of controlling the individuals within Oceana.

In a world without Outside Context Problems and externalities, could Oceana last as it is?

Let's take a look at what Oceana is. O'Brien will tell us, in fact.
Read more... )
First a quick note, based on some of the comments I've gotten. I know that much of my interpretation doesn't match up to Orwell's intent. I'm taking a Death of the Author approach and I'm outright stating where I think Orwell is wrong.

Now, into the deconstruction.

According to O'Brien, Winston has gone through stage one, learning. The next stage is understanding, which will be the task of the current chapter. The final stage will be acceptance.

The stage of learning included O'Brien's line about meeting where there is no darkness, a line of invitation to the thought that O'Brien is like Winston himself (which he might be). It included giving Winston the book so he could read it. And, it included reinforcing the very same things, via torture, that had been expected of Winston all along.

Now, we get to the question that most plagues Winston.
Read more... )
(Note: This is a fan-theory. This is a way of viewing and interacting with the text. This is not, in any way, statement on authorial intent.)

Oceana and the means The Party has of maintaining their dominance strike me as... unbelievable. I fully believe that they'd try it. I even believe that they'd believe it. But, as means of control, these aren't very useful.

There are elements that just don't fit.
Read more... )
Trigger Warning/Content Note: There will be discussion of torture. I won't go into detail and Orwell does more telling than showing, here (which actually works out well for readability sake). But, still, here it is.

The good news is that we're working our way to the end. After I finish off with 1984, I'll move onto Brave New World. To my recollection, there won't be torture, there. But, for the rest of 1984, the topic is going to be there and whatever you choose to do for your own sanity, including just waiting until the next book, is entirely the right choice for you.
Read more... )
Here we are at Part 3, where that which was set up will lead to pay-off. This will be the part of the series in which you are meant to be at your most uncomfortable and that's a tall order. We're already uncomfortable with the ever-present eyes of Big Brother and your neighbors watching you. We're already uncomfortable with the degree that the people around us are willing to believe the obviously untrue, or at least pretend to in order to go along with everybody else. And, we're already uncomfortable with whatever degree of empathy we have for Winston Smith.

To remind, Winston Smith fantasized about raping and murdering the woman who, eventually, turned out to be his girlfriend. In one occasion, prior to getting to know her, he's internally honest enough to admit that the only reason he didn't murder her when he had motive, means, and opportunity, was a lack of trust in his own physical capacities.

He's internally spiteful of those around him. He's a judgmental prick with regards to the choices of the Proles, respecting them only in the abstract. Whatever absence of emotional abuse levied toward his wife must have been only out of fear and propriety, for all the disrespect we see, in him, toward her in his memories of their time together.

The reasons to hate him are many and I still find myself empathizing with him. In the coming chapters, with what Winston goes through, it'll be easy to forget all those reasons to hate him. Because, right here, in this part, he's somebody being tortured and, in the modern language of the real world, aggressively gaslighted.

His survival method has failed. Before he even broke from it, the foreshadowing that he would find himself here, in a room where there are no windows and the lights are never off (where there is no darkness), was set forth. Whatever else his sins, here he is.
Read more... )
The good news is we have another short chapter. It's even the end of part two of the book.

Yeah, that kind of suggests bad news, too. But, hey, it's not happening to you and Winston's a bit of a prick anyway, so let's get to it.

In the last chapter, Winston fell asleep after having read the first and third chapters of "The Book", Goldstein's missive on how The Party maintains power (with some massive oversimplifications of sociology) and the true purpose of war in the current world. Chapter ten of part two begins with him waking up feeling as though he'd slept a long time, but thinking that the old-fashioned clock (which would read 8:30) indicated that it was only twenty-thirty.

We're also told that, though Julia made sure the stove was full, it's now empty of oil. And, when they look out the west-facing window, "The sun must have gone down behind the houses; it was not shining into the yard any longer."
Read more... )
According to Orwell's thinking, the reason for the totalitarianism that's so much worse than what had come before was because people in power (whoever those people happen to be, it doesn't matter according to his theory) reacted for fear of losing that power in the face of the very real potential for total human equality. Different jobs need be done, but such vastly differing quality of life isn't, and with that loss of the need for such differentiation comes the question of, if the powerful aren't so different, why give them the power?

According to Orwell, there are four ways to lose power.

Either it is conquered from without, or it governs so inefficiently that the masses are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented Middle group to come into being, or it loses its own self-confidence and willingness to govern. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in some degree. A ruling class which could guard against all of them would remain in power permanently. Ultimately the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself.

Again, I'm going to disagree with, at least, Goldstein. At this point I can't be sure as to how fully Goldstein is a mouthpiece for Orwell, himself, or how deliberately Orwell may be playing around with limited perspective.
Read more... )
Winston Smith jumped around, so, once again, I feel free to do the same. We're still in Chapter 9. Julia returns and Winston reads the book to her.

Here we have Orwell massively oversimplifying human civilization and history.

Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle and the Low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself, just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium, however far it is pushed one way or another.

That's a sweeping generalization, but it's hard to argue the point... if only because it goes out of its way to be as general as possible. In fact, this can be applied to the vast majority of societies that have populations over, say, twenty.
Read more... )
In Chapter 9, Winston finally has The Book. The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein. Winston takes this book deliberately out of order, and I will take that as an excuse to do the same with this chapter. I'll go back to the first part of the chapter, later, but I'll do as Winston does with the book and go first to War.

The least interesting part of the focuc on War is the fact of the three nations. Oceana, Eastasia, and Eurasia all exist and are, in terms of their purposes, their philosophies, and the experience of the common citizen, identical. We'll into the direct-politics later, but first to the very concept of war.
Read more... )
Chapter eight, now. Here's where we get something important happening. Winston and Julia, approaching separately to allow for a potential thought that they both happened to be coming, coincidentally, at the same time, go to O'Brien's home.

As an Inner Party member, O'Brien lives in a gated community. He lives in a wealthy community. He has servants and access to things like real tobacco. More will come, but the most important luxury of the Inner Party is that O'Brien can turn off the telescreen.

This is immediately shocking. Julia is so taken aback that she can't speak and Winston is so taken aback that he can't hold his tongue. O'Brien can turn off the telescreen.
Read more... )
Well, if I wanted to get through this deconstruction with any kind of speed, Orwell helped me out. In Chapter five, not much happens. Syme disappears, to be commented on by some on the first day, then not commented on at all. The rest of the chapter is focused on re-establishing what we already know.

The rented room is, psychologically, very important to Winston. The owner of the antiques shop likes to talk about the past and Winston has imbued the past with a spirit that I don't think it really deserves. We rehash the fact of Winston having, for a few minutes, had that picture of people who had been vaporized. Julia doesn't care about such things. Despite viewing the Party to be a bunch of liars, she doesn't think to reject what they say except where the Party touches on her life. Winston outright tells Julia that she's only a rebel from the waist down and she finds that brilliantly witty.

Most of that is told in somewhat florid exposition. In storytelling, there's "show, don't tell". Well, I get the impulse to tell. It's quicker. It's easier. In writing, it's hard to be exactly clear on what you want your readers and/or audience to know and to never actually tell them. But, what am I complaining about? I get to move on.
Read more... )
Here we have another short chapter and even one where we can move quickly past the first bit. Winston rents that one room he thought about earlier and worries more... because that's what Winston does, now, worry.

From inside, his room, he hears a woman, working on some laundry, singing a song. With that, we get a bit more (absence of) color on the nation of Oceana.

The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound.

There's a quick bit in which Julia informs Winston that they can't meet for "the usual reason. It's started early this time." Winston quickly cycles through feeling angry at being denied something he needs to remembering that this is a biological reaity to wishing that they had been married for ten years (perhaps, in part, so that he would be more intimately familiar with, and able to provide appropriate support, these kinds of issues). It's not much to note but, judging this on the curve you need to apply to Winston, this is pretty good social and emotional maturity.

Then, we move on to the bit that has me interested and, quite frankly, confused.
Read more... )



October 2017

1 23 45 67
8 910 1112 1314
151617 1819 2021


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 22nd, 2017 10:15 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios