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Hi, I'm Odile, a historical linguist from the Netherlands who also likes to write about music, games, and history. Check out my longer blog posts and other writings on Sub Specie.

Currently reading

Signs: an Introduction to Semiotics
Thomas A. Sebeok, Marcel Danesi
Language and Space
Lynn Nadel, Mary A. Peterson, Paul Bloom

Nineteen Eighty-Four (BlackBirds)

Nineteen Eighty-Four (BlackBirds) - George Orwell This is one of those books that's been on my got-to-read list for years, but I only came around to it now. Glad I did, though. 'Nineteen Eigthy-Four' is a work that one hopes will turn out not to be prophetic, but so far, reality seems dead-set on the way of crushing that hope. Sure, Orwell's vision of the ultimate power-machine, the party-controlled state, is an exaggeration of any form of state power we've seen thusfar on the earth, but it serves as a reminder to us individuals that we should guard our interests, and severely question any amount freedom we're pressed to give up for supposed security and progress.

In the end, I'm too much of an optimist to believe that a governmental body like the Oceanic state party could ever really come into existence. Could a vast body of 'proles' be kept in permanent sedition by mindless entertainment and war propaganda, and would party members really sacrifice all individuality to the power of the party as a whole? Perhaps not. Then again, I'm too much of a pessimist to dismiss the possibility entirely. Mankind has shown monstrous faces before, and continues to do so on a daily basis.

But most importantly, as a skeptic, I say the key strength of the book lies in its subtleties. The effect of language of expression and ultimately, on thought. The way information management controls history, opinion, and again, thought. The way bodies of power act like gravitational focal points, drawing ever more power for power's sake. These are things that we can observe in our daily lives, even though the direct context may be different from the fiction present in this book. That, apart from its merits as an unsettling and at times toucing novel, is where the true strength of this classic book lies.