Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Orwell was only off by 29 years

The world that George Orwell envisioned 66 years ago has finally arrived.

Orwell was only off by 29 years

Meet America's newest best-selling author -- George Orwell. The past future (although the actual year 1984 did have its Orwellian moments) that the British author and public thinker dreamed up in the late 1940s has finally come to America, and book buyers are responding. Check out the sales for Orwell's dystopian masterwork, 1984:

Sales of George Orwell’s ’1984′ are up 69 percent on Amazon, according to a list on the website.

The book’s 60th anniversary (sic) was on June 6th, amidst a flurry of real-world news stories on secret government surveillance.

Amazon lists the paperback version of the book as the nineteenth biggest book on the “Movers and Shakers” list. The current sales rank is 110.

What are people looking for out of Orwell in June of 2013? The answer might be found in some of the quotes from this book:

          

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. […] The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.


On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette Packet — everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.


Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.


The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.


The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word "war", therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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