Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Orwell was only 21 years off

If you've never read George Orwell's 1984 but plan to do so someday, stop right here. I'm going to write about how it ends.

After being tortured to within an inch of his life and brainwashed out of that oh-so-uncool desire for freedom, Winston Smith is assassinated while sitting in his beloved Chestnut Tree Cafe under the giant portrait of Big Brother.

"Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

Here is the problem with those who choose a life in politics in contemporary America: Washington, the various state capitals and even a great many city and town halls are infested with ignorant men and women who believe 1984 has a happy ending!

That is why, as welcome as is the recent Oakland Tribune editorial about Orwell's great novel, I have my doubts about the terrific idea contained therein: That we collect 537 copies of 1984 and send them to every member of the House and Senate, as well as the president and vice president. Hell, let's get 546 copies and throw in the Supreme Court justices - although they seem to be most in need of copies of the U.S. Constitution.

I've just cited the main problem with the idea: These fools think learning to love Big Brother is a good thing. My other problem with the idea goes back to one of my other favorite novels, the one that inspired the title of this blog, Fahrenheit 451.

If we give away 537 copies of 1984, that's 537 copies of that important novel thrown down the memory hole, as good as burned to a crisp. 537 copies that could very well be given to someone who will actually read it, 537 people who may take it to heart and stand up and say, "Excuse me, but our very own supposedly free nation is described in this dystopian novel. What are we going to do about this?"

I'm not giving away my copy of 1984; it's one of the very small handful of novels I have read more than once and intend to read and re-read again. But what the heck, maybe I'll buy one and send it to the Oakland Tribune, or maybe even direct to my congressman. Even if only 1 percent of the imperial legislature reads and understands it, that's six more lawmakers with a conscience than we had before.


Anonymous John Newman said...

These chains of freedom are getting a bit more heavier.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tribune will continue collecting copies of 1984 through the end of January... although copies have come in from across the nation, more are needed. Please help! 401 13th St., Oakland CA 94612

2:01 AM  

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