Blog Post #10:
The issue I take with the New York Times' analysis of 1984 is their misunderstanding of its implications. For us now in 2009, George Orwell could have used any year to convey his vision. It could have been 2001 or 2849. The fact is that in 1949, 1984 seemed a long ways off and that's why this type of science fiction, totalitarian future is conceivable. Our world could turn into this as well in the distant future and that's what's frightening. Its also what makes 1984 timeless. The only time 1984 will cease to be significant will be when this type of world is realized and all copies of this book are destroyed anyways.
The section I've chose to analyze is the segment in pages 301-310. Winston is sitting in the Chestnut Cafe after his stint in the Ministry of Love. His mindset is also drastically changed from earlier in the book. He is actually concerned about Oceania's war with Eurasia for the first time. In the Chestnut Cafe, there is a telescreen that is routinely broadcasting news from the war "front". In the beginning of the section, things aren't looking good for Oceania. On page 301, Winston remarks, "The news from the African front was disquieting in the extreme. On and off he had been worrying about it all day. A Eurasian army (Oceania was at war with Eurasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia) was moving southward at terrifying speed." All throughout the book Winston muses that perhaps the front doesn't exist and that the news may even be lying about who Oceania is at war with in the first place. Here, Winston not only recognizes the war, but is actually worried about it.
The reason this section stands out for me is that it reminds me of the news today in a vague way. The news basically tells you what to believe is important. Rarely do you hear about the defeats and losses of war, but hearing about a victory is much more commonplace. Plus, when their is a victory, it is always a decisive victory or a very important one. This reminds me of another section from the book. On page 310 after victory is announced, "-bring the war within measurable distance of its end-victory-greatest victory in human history-victory,victory,victory!" This theme is repeated throughout the book. Things don't look so good for Oceania, then victory is achieved and it is a huge deal. Obviously, we know as readers that the war will never come to an end and Winston used to know this too. The agenda setting of the Party drills into its members the importance of the war. So while today's world isn't quite what 1984 is, there are definitely certain aspects of the book that can be seen today.