Saturday, January 17, 2009

1984 and Appaloosa

I just finished 1984, by George Orwell. It's a classic book that everyone should have read well before 32. That's a tactic "refined" people use to make us "commoners" feel inferior. Oh well, I blame it on my public school education. Actually, I think it was only the AP English classes that read it...

It's obvious why this book is a classic, as it's well written and stunningly prophetic. I kept thinking, "No way, this was written in 1948!" The story not only applies to totalitarian regimes, but also to us Americans in 2o09. 

At one point Orwell drops this bomb- tell me if this doesn't apply to our brain dead and culturally conditioned society... "The goal of big brother is to get people speaking with their larynx, and not with their minds."

In our culture, the media sets so much of the agenda- what we will think about and how we will think about it. We begin regurgitating the nonsense as a regular part of our conversations, and thus, speaking with our "larynx."

The book had a lot of great insights- I could go on. But I agree with C.S. Lewis on this point- if you've read Animal Farm by Orwell, then 1984 is not a critical read. Orwell basically says the same thing in a much   l   o   n   g   e   r   way. 

If you want to be able to have a conversation about it without actually reading the whole book (thus sounding smart, a clear goal of everyone), just wikipedia it and you'll get a good summary.

Last night I was in a movie watching mood. What else is a Friday on a cold January night for? I checked out some reviews on and because I have a bent toward Westerns, I settled on Appaloosa.

This was a mildly entertaining movie. It's a story of loyalty, integrity, and honor mixed in with the classic Western drama. A little romance, suspense, drama, solid dialogue, humor, cool cinematography and you've got yourself an entertaining evening. Don't get me wrong, it won't go down as a top 5 western, but it served its purpose for me- an evening of relaxed entertainment.

Is it a good movie for a couple? Leatha was planning on going to bed, but she stayed up and watched it with me. I think she thought it was alright.


Curtis said...

An interesting follow-up might be Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" which is also quite prophetic of our generation though written in 1984 except he argues from Huxley's "Brave New World", not Orwell's "1984"... Most books I read impact me to some extent but Postman's book changed the way I live...

Thaddeus Seydel said...

hey Mark, do you have a copy of 1984 that I could borrow? I read animal farm in HS but don't remember much...

clarkitect said...

So was the last paragraph about "1984" purposeful irony? The comment "tell me if this doesn't apply to our brain dead and culturally conditioned society..." followed by "just wikipedia it and you'll get a good summary" is classic. Ahh, regurgitation. I just do not know if it was on purpose.

Unfortunately I have not read either one of these books. I find it to be the case with many books as I walk through literature (not fiction) sections of book stores. I am tempted to just read wiki articles and feign intelligence. However, if I have the policy to not watch movies based on books without reading the book, I should enact the policy of not reading wiki articles without reading the book.

Finally, the scariest regurgitation is when the media regurgitates itself and calls it research. Thanks for the "1984" analysis. You've convinced me to put it on my list of reads.

Anonymous said...

Mark, Could you explain some of the ramifications of 1984 on your views about homeschooling?

Metropuritan Mark said...

I've heard great things about that book...

I think you could get a copy of it from the library- audio or the actual book. That's what I did. I would suggest an abridged version if you can find it. The unabridged gets repetitive.

Thanks for the comment. I would challenge your view of wikipedia as an unreliable source of information. I'm not saying I'd use it as a primary research for a scholarly journal article, but for basic information I think it's great. I read the wikipedia article on 1984 after reading the book, and it was an accurate summary of the book. I think the wiki writers did a good job, and for someone who wants to have a general knowledge of the book without taking the 15+ hours to read it, it's a legit, cheap, and quick way to get it.

This raises an interesting issue. I think "feigning intelligence" is basically pride. However, is it okay to have an opinion or engage in conversation about an idea, proposition, philosophy, etc without having a Phd in it- or just having read a secondary source (i.e. encyclopedia, wikipedia, whatever...) about a person's beliefs.

I would say, "Yes, but with caution." People do this a lot in Christian apologetics. Many people have opinions about Kant or Locke or Descartes or Kierkegaard who have never read these philosophers. It's not all bad, unless their opinions are not seasoned with gracious humility.

Thanks again for making me think about this and taking the time to comment.

Finally, about its application to homeschooling...

I have gone back and forth with Tim Lubinus about education- is it amoral or not? I think a secular teacher can teach "reading, writing, and arithmetic" just as well as a Christian. Moreover, I love using public school as a training ground. It challenges me to stay engaged with my kids, and serves as a sort of incubator for life. Teachers will only have as much or more impact than a parent if the parent has abdicated all their parental responsibilities to the public school system. As my friend Jeff Tjelta says, "every parent needs to be a homeschool parent." I agree. We do van-school (last night teaching them the Elijah story on the way home from Coldstone), side-walk school, dinner-school, game-school... all of life is training them to love God with all their hearts.

But let me take another angle at your question. The closest parallel to 1984 in our present education system is teaching evolution in science class. It's damned nonsense (in the literal sense). But this is the very thing that sent me on my own path of seeking truth as a 15 year old in freshman biology. I met with my youth pastor, talked to my parents, friends, etc about it, along with reading books and writing papers. I would love for my kids to be exposed to this. I would make sure to watch "Expelled" with my teenager and engage them about what they're learning.

But I don't remember much brainwashing in Calculus class.

Anonymous said...

How was speaking only with the larynx taught to the people of 1984? Surely it wasn't in a specific class at grade school, but more of an intangible "air" of the whole culture. You say this is true of our culture. Where do you think it comes from? One strong possibility is public school. So in this possibility calculus could teach this sort of thing if regurgitation rather than self-discovery is emphasized. It was this point I was interested in your take on.