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George Orwell

average rating is 5 out of 5

Dystopia, Science Fiction

R. Alex Jenkins

I am absolutely awestruck by 1984.

Funnily enough, I didn’t enjoy it that much on first read because of how bleak it is, but on reflection, I love this at a completely different level.

My whole life is somehow encapsulated by this book, as a drab routine-driven existence where nothing makes any difference and you might as well erase your entire history and start anew each day with scant reward. This sounds depressing, but so is life if you get to the nitty gritty of it.

Imagine living in a society where the upper echelons are permanently obfuscated and out of reach while you drudge through paperwork just to keep the cogs churning for everyone else, never understanding why or how to improve the situation. Always being afraid of third-party reports that could incarcerate you forever, never being able to party, let go or let down your hair. Having to remain an anonymous number with no tangible benefits.

How can a society even exist at this level you ask yourself? Because there's a huge community on the other side occupied by the working classes and, if you can cross over to that level, offers a real living experience. Men get drunk, people have sex, washer women hang clothes on lines while whistling in the sunshine and surrounded by babbling kids.

But here we are, in this grey area, this middle-realm of anonymity, struggling with status that means nothing to anyone and not even ourselves, pushing pens, typing stuff into keyboards that no-one reads, going about our routines without knowing why.

1984 is so much more complex than this, but reminds me to occasionally branch out and reach for the skies whenever I can. Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect, rich, famous, or young, beautiful and free. Congratulate yourself for being who you are and free to walk out of your self-induced prison whenever you realistically want. We place these restraints on ourselves because society bears witness to conformity and standing in line, so we do it, unhappily, for most of our lives, just like in 1984.

There is a lot of great dystopia out there: Brave New World, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, A Canticle for Leibowitz, etc., and 1984 is the bleakest and most thought provoking of the lot.

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