1984

1984If there’s one imaginary world I wouldn’t dream of escaping into, it would be George Orwell’s Oceania in 1984.

In this world, a slight movement of your body or your face or a flicker of thought could betray you and get you arrested in the middle of the night. In this world, history is as precious as a long-forgotten singing game. In this world, everyone can’t be trusted, even children.

Winston Smith knows all of the rules of the party. He wakes up, goes to work, comes home before curfew. But one day he makes a detour and buys a diary. He records his thoughts and sets aflame something dangerous.

Then he meets Julia, who declares her feelings for him in one calculated encounter. They commit a rebellious act by being attracted to one another.

There’s nothing inspiring or hopeful in George Orwell’s 1984. Still, there’s much to be said about Orwell’s writing, which is beautiful as it is dark and heartbreaking. In Orwell’s negative utopia, you don’t only feel the pain of your bones, you feel their mute protest. A shout is not just a shout, but something that is envied for the freedom of its expression.

I’m most impressed with Orwell’s creation of newspeak to further depict the control and power of the party over its members. As a person who loves words, I could imagine the deprivation and grief one would feel of not being able to use words in all its beauty and function. In newspeak, I would be someone who has minussoul and minusheart.

Reading 1984 is rewarding not because I like tragedies, but because in it, I experienced what it was like to be burdened and be free of the secrets of my heart, to be human in a world of inhumans. For me, it’s a reminder of how gifted and fortunate we are because we can think, we can judge, and we can act in the present to make the future tolerable, if not ideal.

It’s a love letter from one free man to another.

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