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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Brave New 1984

Reagan/Bush is 1984

Bumper sticker I saw during that past presidential election.

I initially read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four not long before the odometer matched Orwell's title.  This year, I read both again.  Huxley himself contrasted the two authors' forecasts:  Huxley letter to Orwell.  My memories of reading possessed a distilled nature;  I recalled the feelies, and a few other details from the softer dystopia.  Much more lingered in mind from the decade of 1948 transposed, the rat mask, the clock striking thirteen, the Two Minutes Hate.

Both utilized the rule of three:  War is Peace (War and Peace?), Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.  Community, Identity, Stability.  Each presented centralized authority. Three Weeks in a Helicopter, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, are the creations within creations.  Huxley indicated an exit:  "He had discovered Time and Death and God," not apparent in Orwell.

As to which author better extrapolated -- someone asked Burroughs if he would rather have Graham Greene or Conrad?  Why not have both, he responded.


  1. Two books I keep meaning to re-read - I remember the 2 minutes hate, a lottery where although winners were reported no one ever knew anyone who won, and that they were always at war such that as soon as one lot of hostilities ended, war started with the others (so much so that you didn't really know who the enemies were) - and weren't there cameras watching you all the time that you couldn't get away from.

  2. In 1990 I thought these kind of dystopias would not happen anymore, but see what is happening in Russia nowadays (Putin is ticking the boxes: War is Peace - Yes, Ignorance is Strength - Yes). I'm also thinking about the Bush family lately, and how they have affected the Middle East, after I watched some videos and photos of the militant Isis. People are really enjoying democracy over there...

  3. Lisa, your description of Ninety Eighty-four sounds much like the world we find ourselves in now. I hear Down and Out in Paris and London by Orwell is good, I'll have to get to that sometime. Rob, I think Putin and Russia are working on the Freedom is Slavery part also, with restrictions on assembly, freedom of speech, and so on. The situation in Iraq reminds me a little of what happened in South Vietnam after most US troops left in 1973. We seem doomed to repeat history.

  4. I liked Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" and other shorter pieces like "Inside the Whale" & "Decline of the English Murder." A very talented writer.

  5. Ray, thanks for the recommendations, hopefully I'll read more Orwell beyond 1984 someday. What I want to read is always way behind what I actually get to.