Oct 23, 2010

Bin Dokuz Yüz Seksen Dört (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

Original Title: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Turkish Title: Bin Dokuz Yüz Seksen Dört
English Title: Nineteen Eighty-Four
Author: George Orwell
Pages: 270
Rating: 4/5
Applicable Challenges: 50 Books A Year, Awesome Author Challenge 2010

Some time ago a friend asked me why I didn’t read any sci-fi books. He asked me this because I was spending such a great amount of time watching TV series of sci-fi channel and I was getting literally depressed when my favourites (like Battlestar Galactica or Stargate SG1) end. I just couldn’t answer him and said proudly that I just finished reading Prelude to Foundation. Of course, this was not the case. When I compare the time I spend on watching sci-fi series and movies, I cannot even guess how many sci-fi books I could have read. Why did I choose not to read sci-fi books till 2010? Believe me, I still do not have the answer but as a quick reaction to my friend’s question, I grabbed Nineteen Eighty-Four of George Orwell off the shelf.

The main character of the book is Winston Smith, a member of the party in power in Oceania. “The Party”, which rules over Oceania, enforces its rules over its citizens with the help of thought police. The thought police virtually spies on everyone via small televisions that cannot be turned off. Via these telescreens the police broadcast propaganda. If a citizen happens to get involved in a disapproved act or conversation, that person gets a visit from the thought police and disappears without a trace.

Winston works in the Ministry of Truth and his duties involve deleting all records of a person's name after s/he is taken by the thought police. Additionally, he edits newspapers in which prominent party members made predictions which turned out to be false, lowers estimates of production goals to make it appear as though everything is in surplus, and destroys or rewrites books which encourage or promote individualistic or other free-thinking behaviour.

When I finished reading the book, I was telling everyone I didn’t like a single thing about it. But it was a classic. Loved by many, banned by many… Then I started thinking about it by considering the fact that Orwell wrote it back in 1949 even before my parents were born. It was a relatively short novel but I noticed it gave me so much to think about. Then, I realized what I didn’t like was not the book itself but the things happening: the idea of Big Brother, thought police, weird ministries like Ministry of Truth and Ministry of Love, constant scarcity of resources and the whole idea of totalitarian mindset.

Being a financial analyst, it put me back into thoughts for macroeconomic policies: 3 nations constantly at war, in a never ending turmoil over ideologies. The main aim was to create a continuous need for constant production. The war was designed as a means to consume goods to create an economy in which everyone is always in need of something which is currently unavailable. Aren’t wars always the best solution to boost demand?

It was hard for me to read and imagine and think over the part where Winston meets the thought police. I just couldn’t continuously read the book when I reached the interrogations and torture sessions. It is not because I cannot read about torture but the idea of thought police and the power it held, the “Big Brother” watching over, the slogan of “War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength” were just not acceptable to me. As I read along, I always thought about whether something like this would happen for real one day. If the ideas of a book keeps my mind busy this long, I must admit it is a good book.

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