Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Heart of the Crystal: Looking Back at 1984 Feraco Search for Human Potential 26 February 2014.

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "The Heart of the Crystal: Looking Back at 1984 Feraco Search for Human Potential 26 February 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Heart of the Crystal: Looking Back at 1984 Feraco Search for Human Potential 26 February 2014

2 1984 forces us to be human, and to notice what we do as human beings forces us to be human, and to notice what we do as human beings. We hope for an impossible outcome, placing our trust in characters we have no reason to believe…or even like. We hope for an impossible outcome, placing our trust in characters we have no reason to believe…or even like. Its characters spend each day in a lopsided battle to preserve their dignity and control, treating nuggets of fresh awareness and self-knowledge as though they’re treasures. Its characters spend each day in a lopsided battle to preserve their dignity and control, treating nuggets of fresh awareness and self-knowledge as though they’re treasures.

3 I mentioned that the Star diagram was incredibly distorted for Winston, a man whose every action carries with it the possibility of retaliatory execution and erasure. I mentioned that the Star diagram was incredibly distorted for Winston, a man whose every action carries with it the possibility of retaliatory execution and erasure. What are independence and security for him but abstract concepts, ideas whose very existence fade further with the publication of each edition of the Newspeak dictionary? What are independence and security for him but abstract concepts, ideas whose very existence fade further with the publication of each edition of the Newspeak dictionary? How can he hope to understand love when everything we know about relationships and family structures has been twisted and corrupted beyond recognition? How can he hope to understand love when everything we know about relationships and family structures has been twisted and corrupted beyond recognition? How can he find enlightenment when everything and everyone that governs his existence seeks to further enslave him in ignorance and separate him from his history? How can he find enlightenment when everything and everyone that governs his existence seeks to further enslave him in ignorance and separate him from his history? And how can he develop an identity when his entire job depends on his ability to make his influence invisible? And how can he develop an identity when his entire job depends on his ability to make his influence invisible?

4 Yet the Star exists for Winston, just as it exists for each of you. Yet the Star exists for Winston, just as it exists for each of you. Every moment from Parts One and Two is about his attempt to drag one of those disparate points a little bit closer to himself. Every moment from Parts One and Two is about his attempt to drag one of those disparate points a little bit closer to himself. Part Three, on the other hand, is about how each of those points is systematically torn from him. Part Three, on the other hand, is about how each of those points is systematically torn from him.

5 First, the Party removes his independence (via imprisonment). First, the Party removes his independence (via imprisonment). Next, they remove his security (through physical torture). Next, they remove his security (through physical torture). They then begin destroying his knowledge and understanding (torturing him into believing he’s insane, entering the second stage of re-integration). They then begin destroying his knowledge and understanding (torturing him into believing he’s insane, entering the second stage of re-integration). They take away his sense of identity (“we will empty you and fill you with ourselves”). They take away his sense of identity (“we will empty you and fill you with ourselves”). Finally, they destroy the last vestige of humanity within him – his love for Julia. Finally, they destroy the last vestige of humanity within him – his love for Julia. It’s worth noting that as long as Winston can cling to one of the Star Points, he cannot be beaten. It’s worth noting that as long as Winston can cling to one of the Star Points, he cannot be beaten. The Party can destroy everything about him, his body and mind, but they cannot declare victory until they earn that final, desperate surrender. The Party can destroy everything about him, his body and mind, but they cannot declare victory until they earn that final, desperate surrender.

6 I’ve described Orwell’s study of humanity in terms of the Star Points, and I want you to notice the contrast the author consciously draws between his “sides” (the human and inhuman). I’ve described Orwell’s study of humanity in terms of the Star Points, and I want you to notice the contrast the author consciously draws between his “sides” (the human and inhuman). The Party is, by its goals and by its very nature, inhuman. The Party is, by its goals and by its very nature, inhuman. You can’t really imagine other human beings doing this to one another – doing these things to people they know, to people with whom they have relationships – and yet Orwell does just that. You can’t really imagine other human beings doing this to one another – doing these things to people they know, to people with whom they have relationships – and yet Orwell does just that. The dehumanized Inner Party is particularly eerie because O’Brien serves as its avatar, putting a “refined” face on ruthlessness and greed. The dehumanized Inner Party is particularly eerie because O’Brien serves as its avatar, putting a “refined” face on ruthlessness and greed. The Inner Party are gluttons – not just because they enjoy better tobacco and food, but because they consume simply for the sake of consumption. The Inner Party are gluttons – not just because they enjoy better tobacco and food, but because they consume simply for the sake of consumption.

7 If you’ve read The Inferno, you remember Dante’s punishment for the Gluttons: that they’re doomed to rot in piles of trash and filth, freezing and distorted and torn apart until they no longer resemble their human selves. If you’ve read The Inferno, you remember Dante’s punishment for the Gluttons: that they’re doomed to rot in piles of trash and filth, freezing and distorted and torn apart until they no longer resemble their human selves. With that image in mind, Oceania’s environment makes more sense. With that image in mind, Oceania’s environment makes more sense. The Party represents what we’re willing to do in the pursuit of more – how quickly we’ll sacrifice basic human qualities in order to justify a desirable end, or what terrible lengths we’ll go to in the name of control and protection. The Party represents what we’re willing to do in the pursuit of more – how quickly we’ll sacrifice basic human qualities in order to justify a desirable end, or what terrible lengths we’ll go to in the name of control and protection. In other words, they are what we become when we throw away the Star, when we dedicate all of our energy to the amassing of power for power’s sake. In other words, they are what we become when we throw away the Star, when we dedicate all of our energy to the amassing of power for power’s sake.

8 The other element I want you to notice lies on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Inner Party. The other element I want you to notice lies on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Inner Party. We’re told that the proles are mindless and disgusting, contentedly grinding their way through each day without questioning why their lives take the shapes they do. We’re told that the proles are mindless and disgusting, contentedly grinding their way through each day without questioning why their lives take the shapes they do. Yet they are the source of Winston’s tentative optimism, his great sleeping hope for the future. Yet they are the source of Winston’s tentative optimism, his great sleeping hope for the future.

9 Theoretically, the proles will rise up one day and undo the damages the insurgent middle class has wrought on the rest of the world; sheer numbers dictate that they will overthrow the Party. Theoretically, the proles will rise up one day and undo the damages the insurgent middle class has wrought on the rest of the world; sheer numbers dictate that they will overthrow the Party. You’ve already noticed that Orwell always foreshadows developments. You’ve already noticed that Orwell always foreshadows developments. Do you really think his repeated insistence (through Winston) that the proles will rise up, bookended with Winston’s repeated (and eventually proven) assertion that he will be captured and killed, was an accident? Do you really think his repeated insistence (through Winston) that the proles will rise up, bookended with Winston’s repeated (and eventually proven) assertion that he will be captured and killed, was an accident? Nothing in this book is accidental… Nothing in this book is accidental…

10 What are the proles obsessed with? What are the proles obsessed with? A lottery – a probability game. A lottery – a probability game. Since the odds are overwhelmingly high that the proles – the 85% of the population currently dominated by the Party – will eventually become tired of living under someone else’s boots, a knowledge of odds seems to be a worthwhile and symbolic pursuit. Since the odds are overwhelmingly high that the proles – the 85% of the population currently dominated by the Party – will eventually become tired of living under someone else’s boots, a knowledge of odds seems to be a worthwhile and symbolic pursuit.

11 The proles’ greatest strength is that the Party takes them for granted and ignores them as deeply as they ignore it. The proles’ greatest strength is that the Party takes them for granted and ignores them as deeply as they ignore it. Their reasoning is exquisitely “doublethinkful”: Party orthodoxy holds that the proles aren’t dangerous because they lack the intellectual capacity for danger, but they also stay largely out of the proles’ lives to keep from spurring them into action. Their reasoning is exquisitely “doublethinkful”: Party orthodoxy holds that the proles aren’t dangerous because they lack the intellectual capacity for danger, but they also stay largely out of the proles’ lives to keep from spurring them into action. Thus the proles are simultaneously a source of comfort and danger, the jet of gasoline fueling the Party’s engine as it shoots past an open flame. Thus the proles are simultaneously a source of comfort and danger, the jet of gasoline fueling the Party’s engine as it shoots past an open flame.

12 The Party’s inability to crush the proles entirely leads them to hold the massive group at arm’s length. The Party’s inability to crush the proles entirely leads them to hold the massive group at arm’s length. The problem with that approach is that the Party’s power lies in its proximity; for Winston and others, the appearance that the Party seems to be everywhere keeps them in line. The problem with that approach is that the Party’s power lies in its proximity; for Winston and others, the appearance that the Party seems to be everywhere keeps them in line. By removing themselves from the proles’ daily lives and thoughts, the Party allows them to retain their humanity – which is the greatest weapon in an ideological battle against the Party itself. By removing themselves from the proles’ daily lives and thoughts, the Party allows them to retain their humanity – which is the greatest weapon in an ideological battle against the Party itself. By allowing its most dangerous opponent to retain its humanity, the Party may have devised its own demise. By allowing its most dangerous opponent to retain its humanity, the Party may have devised its own demise.

13 True, dangerous individuals are hunted down and killed – but look at how far Winston – the character Orwell took such pains to cast in a negative light from the start – got on his own! True, dangerous individuals are hunted down and killed – but look at how far Winston – the character Orwell took such pains to cast in a negative light from the start – got on his own! It may seem unlikely, but the odds are actually overwhelmingly stacked in favor of the proles; it’s simply a matter of noticing that truth and acting on it. It may seem unlikely, but the odds are actually overwhelmingly stacked in favor of the proles; it’s simply a matter of noticing that truth and acting on it. Orwell drops hints that this will happen; whether you believe him determines whether you feel 1984 ends with hope or despair. Orwell drops hints that this will happen; whether you believe him determines whether you feel 1984 ends with hope or despair.

14 Around this time a few years back, I had a conversation with a student named Kat Thompson regarding the concept of narrative-as-magic-trick. Around this time a few years back, I had a conversation with a student named Kat Thompson regarding the concept of narrative-as-magic-trick. If you’ve watched The Prestige, you know that there are three elements to any good magic trick. If you’ve watched The Prestige, you know that there are three elements to any good magic trick. “The first part is called the Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But, of course, it probably isn’t. “The first part is called the Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But, of course, it probably isn’t. The second act is called the Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret...but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. The second act is called the Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret...but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call the Prestige.” But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call the Prestige.”

15 It’s easy to see how Winston’s journey could satisfy the criteria I just listed. It’s easy to see how Winston’s journey could satisfy the criteria I just listed. He’s ordinary, plain, mildly repellant – a walking Pledge. He’s ordinary, plain, mildly repellant – a walking Pledge. When this ordinary man dares to be different, dares to live – when our Prufrock rises up and disturbs his universe – we’re astonished. When this ordinary man dares to be different, dares to live – when our Prufrock rises up and disturbs his universe – we’re astonished. If Part One is about allowing you to examine the ordinary object, Part Two is about doing something spectacular with the object. If Part One is about allowing you to examine the ordinary object, Part Two is about doing something spectacular with the object. But, of course, all things must return, and Part Three’s deliberate unraveling of everything Winston accomplished is the literary equivalent of putting the woman who’s been sawed in two back together. Or is it?

16 I would submit instead that Orwell is doing something particularly devious with his narrative, with his magic trick: I would submit that he’s intentionally misdirecting your attention. I would submit instead that Orwell is doing something particularly devious with his narrative, with his magic trick: I would submit that he’s intentionally misdirecting your attention. This has very little to do with the doublethinky mindset that we adopt as we read: we understand that the Party is uncrushable, we read Winston say as much over and over again, yet we simultaneously expect the impossible – this little man to overthrow the Party. When the story ends, we assume the story ends. But did the story begin where we began? Why, then, would it end where we end? By adopting the narrative perspective that he does – the perspective of an Outer Party member – Orwell leads us into adopting the same trapped mindset as the rest of the Party, even though we know that the Party can’t be trusted. That is to say, he encourages us to dismiss the proles – the true Pledge.

17 At its core, 1984 isn’t just a five-alarm siren raging against the spread of a particularly toxic brand of totalitarian Communism. At its core, 1984 isn’t just a five-alarm siren raging against the spread of a particularly toxic brand of totalitarian Communism. It’s not even simply a warning about what could happen if we allow it to, let alone a stab at an accurate prediction of the future. It’s not even simply a warning about what could happen if we allow it to, let alone a stab at an accurate prediction of the future. Orwell’s book is chiefly about what happens to us when we abandon the author’s idea of connection, of cooperation, of unified efforts to build a better world. Orwell’s book is chiefly about what happens to us when we abandon the author’s idea of connection, of cooperation, of unified efforts to build a better world. It is a warning not simply against Communism, but against isolation.

18 Winston is at his weakest in Room 101 because he is fundamentally alone. Winston is at his weakest in Room 101 because he is fundamentally alone. But the Party is isolating itself just as thoroughly, trying to make itself disappear completely from the consciousness of the proles. By aggressively making itself stupid, rigid, perfectly orthodox, incapable of perceiving an unanticipated thought, the Party is likely dooming itself. Because while it will come to operate on Duckspeak, the proles still, and always will, use Oldspeak. They may be asleep, but they aren’t dead. The Party is death – and seems dead-set on driving itself into a position of complete vulnerability with respect to the threat at its doorstep. And the point of the story, at least while we’re reading it, isn’t for Winston to succeed: it’s for the Party to fall. And the point of the story, at least while we’re reading it, isn’t for Winston to succeed: it’s for the Party to fall. That’s why I can see the ending as simultaneously brutal (for Winston) and open (for the proles). Your mileage may vary.

19 As for the theme of oppression, it’s not hard to find it here. As for the theme of oppression, it’s not hard to find it here. If you’re looking for specific examples, look at the ways in which the Party controls its citizens from waking (the Physical Jerks) to sleeping (the telescreens watching them as they sleep). If you’re looking for specific examples, look at the ways in which the Party controls its citizens from waking (the Physical Jerks) to sleeping (the telescreens watching them as they sleep). The Eye always watches you – or at least you think it does, and you don’t really want to risk finding out whether it’s working. The Eye always watches you – or at least you think it does, and you don’t really want to risk finding out whether it’s working. Thus the telescreen becomes a self-sustaining system of control – no one even needs to monitor them as long as people believe the surveillance is active. Thus the telescreen becomes a self-sustaining system of control – no one even needs to monitor them as long as people believe the surveillance is active.

20 1984 is built on loss – the loss of our humanity, our heritage, and our thoughts. Winston loses everything in the end because he allows himself to be isolated, to be severed from humankind (something he resists instinctively, just like Bumstead; this is why he comes to feel affection for his torturer). Winston loses everything in the end because he allows himself to be isolated, to be severed from humankind (something he resists instinctively, just like Bumstead; this is why he comes to feel affection for his torturer). Once that happens, he loses himself. Once that happens, he loses himself. His desperate screams in the rat- cage are the death rattles of his soul, with his freshly emptied body crying out for physical preservation. His desperate screams in the rat- cage are the death rattles of his soul, with his freshly emptied body crying out for physical preservation. At the end, he’s hollow and alone. At the end, he’s hollow and alone.

21 Those “close” to him are killed or torn from him. Those “close” to him are killed or torn from him. He cannot enjoy a family because he’s lost the concept of what a family should be. He cannot enjoy a family because he’s lost the concept of what a family should be. He cannot enjoy much of anything; the basic human right to the pursuit of happiness has been removed. He cannot enjoy much of anything; the basic human right to the pursuit of happiness has been removed. Before he reaches the very end, Winston loses his paperweight (an important symbol in the book, and a charmed object for him), the most concrete link to the past in a book filled with them. Before he reaches the very end, Winston loses his paperweight (an important symbol in the book, and a charmed object for him), the most concrete link to the past in a book filled with them. Winston dreams of the past, but such dreams are transitory, and disappear upon waking. Winston dreams of the past, but such dreams are transitory, and disappear upon waking. He loses song lyrics; he loses his wife. He loses song lyrics; he loses his wife. His job deals with loss, and as long as Winston’s doing his job well, no one will even know he’s doing it. His job deals with loss, and as long as Winston’s doing his job well, no one will even know he’s doing it. In other words, Winston’s job is about losing truth so effectively that no trace of himself exists to be remembered. In other words, Winston’s job is about losing truth so effectively that no trace of himself exists to be remembered.

22 Everything done in Oceania is done out of fear. Everything done in Oceania is done out of fear. People compromise themselves out of fear, or play on fears in order to elevate themselves. People compromise themselves out of fear, or play on fears in order to elevate themselves. Winston refusing to express himself outside of the diary in Part One is an example of the former; Parsons’s daughter’s decision to have her father imprisoned in order to gain attention is an example of the latter. Winston refusing to express himself outside of the diary in Part One is an example of the former; Parsons’s daughter’s decision to have her father imprisoned in order to gain attention is an example of the latter.

23 It is the fear of the Unknown Other that sustains Oceania’s drive toward war – and the fact that the fear is completely misplaced, that Oceania’s enemies are identical to itself, only makes it more effective. It is the fear of the Unknown Other that sustains Oceania’s drive toward war – and the fact that the fear is completely misplaced, that Oceania’s enemies are identical to itself, only makes it more effective. By fearing Neo-Bolshevism and Obliteration of the Self/Death-Worship, followers of Ingsoc can assure themselves that their way of life is superior to other ways, and that those other ways threaten a familiar existence. By fearing Neo-Bolshevism and Obliteration of the Self/Death-Worship, followers of Ingsoc can assure themselves that their way of life is superior to other ways, and that those other ways threaten a familiar existence. This gives them something to fight for and against, which gives the country the ability to sustain itself (and the Party the ability to hold power). This gives them something to fight for and against, which gives the country the ability to sustain itself (and the Party the ability to hold power). In this way, 1984’s central paradox is revealed: the country can only survive in its current fashion if it keeps destroying itself from within. In this way, 1984’s central paradox is revealed: the country can only survive in its current fashion if it keeps destroying itself from within. This war – not simply on Eastasia or Eurasia, but on everyone within the Party’s extensive reach – brings peace. This war – not simply on Eastasia or Eurasia, but on everyone within the Party’s extensive reach – brings peace.

24 Memory is both useless and extremely dangerous. Memory is both useless and extremely dangerous. It’s useless because the Party can annihilate you for remembering something you aren’t supposed to know; they have an entire Ministry dedicated to destroying/altering memory and preserving those changes. It’s useless because the Party can annihilate you for remembering something you aren’t supposed to know; they have an entire Ministry dedicated to destroying/altering memory and preserving those changes. To remember something is to make yourself a target, to weaken your chances at a long life; to remain ignorant is to give yourself strength. To remember something is to make yourself a target, to weaken your chances at a long life; to remain ignorant is to give yourself strength.

25 Moreover, memories are unreliable. Moreover, memories are unreliable. The Old Prole Man doesn’t seem to be giving Winston any information he can use (although those who re-read the section will notice Winston simply doesn’t know how to recognize the information he’s been given). The Old Prole Man doesn’t seem to be giving Winston any information he can use (although those who re-read the section will notice Winston simply doesn’t know how to recognize the information he’s been given). Winston’s own memories of the past come and go. Winston’s own memories of the past come and go. He begins to doubt his own memories once he’s forced to do so. He begins to doubt his own memories once he’s forced to do so. What’s the point of remembering something when it can’t do you any good? What’s the point of remembering something when it can’t do you any good?

26 However, memory represents the Party’s Achilles’ heel. However, memory represents the Party’s Achilles’ heel. You can convince people they’re insane once they’re in your clutches, but what happens if some of your targets evade you for a while? You can convince people they’re insane once they’re in your clutches, but what happens if some of your targets evade you for a while? What happens if their influence spreads? What happens if their influence spreads? Fewer things make people instinctively, obsessively angrier than being lied to or about, and the fury of the proles upon finding out they’ve been duped all along would be tremendous. Fewer things make people instinctively, obsessively angrier than being lied to or about, and the fury of the proles upon finding out they’ve been duped all along would be tremendous. This is why the Party obsesses over making itself look perfect in the past even as it tries to stop people from thinking; it’s trying to cut off the means of its own destruction. This is why the Party obsesses over making itself look perfect in the past even as it tries to stop people from thinking; it’s trying to cut off the means of its own destruction.

27 Conflict exists within certain members of Oceanian society; it is that internal conflict that leads to thoughtcrime. Conflict exists within certain members of Oceanian society; it is that internal conflict that leads to thoughtcrime. That’s why Newspeak, doublethink, etc. are each predicated on the idea of ordering everything. With order, conflict (and the need for it) becomes unthinkable. Notice, also, how many of the conflicts in 1984 are manufactured. The battle between the Brotherhood and the Party is almost certainly fake; so, too, is the war itself. The prisoners of war are real, but they’re just fuel for the hate machine – like so many coals in so many furnaces. Why manufacture conflict? Because people tend to do stupid things in order to feel safe. The promise of conflict (and the chaos that ensues) paradoxically allows the Party to hold power as the bastion of safety and stability Oceania needs.

28 Freedom, on the other hand, doesn’t exist, even for the Inner Party. Freedom, on the other hand, doesn’t exist, even for the Inner Party. While the Party gains total control over virtually anything it wants, it also controls itself. It may give itself access to “luxuries,” and its members may be able to shut off their telescreens – but it imprisons its most powerful members in the vise of doublethink most strongly. The proles are the only ones who are free, along with the animals, because they aren’t supposed to matter. The proles are the only ones who are free, along with the animals, because they aren’t supposed to matter. It’s just another paradox: the more you matter, the less free you are.

29 Finally, the party corrupts everything – the family instinct, the sex instinct, the urge to belong, compassion for others – that makes a person a person. Finally, the party corrupts everything – the family instinct, the sex instinct, the urge to belong, compassion for others – that makes a person a person. Look at Winston when we first meet him. Look at Winston when we first meet him. He has no idea where his wife is, or what happened to her – nor does he care. (Kierkegaard’s quote screams in our ears here.) He has no idea where his wife is, or what happened to her – nor does he care. (Kierkegaard’s quote screams in our ears here.) This is a chilling image of what the Party can do to the idea of family, underscored by the Parsons’ children running roughshod in Chapter II. This is a chilling image of what the Party can do to the idea of family, underscored by the Parsons’ children running roughshod in Chapter II.

30 The Party also perverts the sex instinct to the point where human beings are no longer supposed to desire it – yet it simultaneously forces them to engage in actions that now disgust them. The Party also perverts the sex instinct to the point where human beings are no longer supposed to desire it – yet it simultaneously forces them to engage in actions that now disgust them. By conditioning people to hate what they are now forced to do, the Party asserts its total dominance over them. By conditioning people to hate what they are now forced to do, the Party asserts its total dominance over them. That’s the key to the corruption in it’s all about asserting control over people (for the sake of getting to do so). That’s the key to the corruption in it’s all about asserting control over people (for the sake of getting to do so).

31 As for the people, Winston is the book’s protagonist, an unhealthy middle-aged man whose simultaneously optimistic and pessimistic perspective provides us with access to Orwell’s horrifying world. As for the people, Winston is the book’s protagonist, an unhealthy middle-aged man whose simultaneously optimistic and pessimistic perspective provides us with access to Orwell’s horrifying world. Winston is mildly intelligent, although certainly not a genius. Winston is mildly intelligent, although certainly not a genius. He’s perceptive enough to pick up on certain Party lies, and his ability to remember the past makes him unusual. He’s perceptive enough to pick up on certain Party lies, and his ability to remember the past makes him unusual.

32 What makes Winston stand out, however, is his willingness to be guided by his instincts. What makes Winston stand out, however, is his willingness to be guided by his instincts. It’s his instinct that makes him realize that the world’s gone wrong somehow, his instinct that drives him to meet with Julia rather than condemn her as a thought-criminal, and his instinct that inexorably drives him into O’Brien’s clutches. It’s his instinct that makes him realize that the world’s gone wrong somehow, his instinct that drives him to meet with Julia rather than condemn her as a thought-criminal, and his instinct that inexorably drives him into O’Brien’s clutches. He’s a flawed human being, and not an incredibly likeable one. He’s a flawed human being, and not an incredibly likeable one. There’s no reason to believe that this ordinary man can defeat an unbeatable system. There’s no reason to believe that this ordinary man can defeat an unbeatable system. His normalcy, however, allows him to be honest, and leads us to trust him in ways we trust no other character. His normalcy, however, allows him to be honest, and leads us to trust him in ways we trust no other character. What we see with Winston is what we get, and there’s something comforting about that in a world where parents can’t even trust their children. What we see with Winston is what we get, and there’s something comforting about that in a world where parents can’t even trust their children.

33 Julia begins the book as Winston’s imagined enemy; he views her with a combination of lust and disgust during the initial “Hate” scene. Julia begins the book as Winston’s imagined enemy; he views her with a combination of lust and disgust during the initial “Hate” scene. (Winston’s true enemy also makes an appearance in this scene, but we’ll get to him later.) (Winston’s true enemy also makes an appearance in this scene, but we’ll get to him later.) However, Part Two paints Julia as an enthusiastic (yet apathetic) ally. However, Part Two paints Julia as an enthusiastic (yet apathetic) ally. She’s overjoyed to make contact with someone else who loathes the Party, and her unusually quick wits allow her to see through Party doctrines that even Winston swallows unthinkingly. She’s overjoyed to make contact with someone else who loathes the Party, and her unusually quick wits allow her to see through Party doctrines that even Winston swallows unthinkingly.

34 However, her interest in overthrowing the party is mild at best. The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism literally puts her to sleep. However, her interest in overthrowing the party is mild at best. The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism literally puts her to sleep. She has the gifts Winston needs with none of his drive. She has the gifts Winston needs with none of his drive. Together, they make a revolutionary; apart, they are incomplete halves. Together, they make a revolutionary; apart, they are incomplete halves. As the only major female character in the novel, Julia’s painted pretty shallowly, which is a shame. As the only major female character in the novel, Julia’s painted pretty shallowly, which is a shame. Orwell may have intentionally botched her portrayal to emphasize the “damaged humans” motif, which is one of the reasons the Julia/Winston conversations sound so oddly stilted (whereas the Winston/O’Brien conversations seem fairly normal)…or he just couldn’t write believable female dialogue (a sadly common problem for male authors). Orwell may have intentionally botched her portrayal to emphasize the “damaged humans” motif, which is one of the reasons the Julia/Winston conversations sound so oddly stilted (whereas the Winston/O’Brien conversations seem fairly normal)…or he just couldn’t write believable female dialogue (a sadly common problem for male authors).

35 Limitations aside, Julia gives the novel its narrative kick. Limitations aside, Julia gives the novel its narrative kick. Her partnership with Winston drives the middle section of the book, and their separation sets the stage for the conclusion. Her partnership with Winston drives the middle section of the book, and their separation sets the stage for the conclusion. Without the bond between the two main characters, the book could have ended fairly quickly. Without the bond between the two main characters, the book could have ended fairly quickly. Instead, the silent battle each fights (and loses) on behalf of the other prolongs their pain – and makes their individual defeats all the harder to stomach. Instead, the silent battle each fights (and loses) on behalf of the other prolongs their pain – and makes their individual defeats all the harder to stomach.

36 O’Brien is the novel’s multifaceted villain, a figure whose influence hovers over the entire narrative until the final chapter. O’Brien is the novel’s multifaceted villain, a figure whose influence hovers over the entire narrative until the final chapter. He is, like Julia, both unusually perceptive and frustratingly blind. He is, like Julia, both unusually perceptive and frustratingly blind. As a member of the Inner Party, O’Brien engages in the strongest type of doublethink. As a member of the Inner Party, O’Brien engages in the strongest type of doublethink. Doublethink enables O’Brien and his ilk to maintain their stranglehold on power in Oceania, and allows him to justify what he does to Winston and others. Doublethink enables O’Brien and his ilk to maintain their stranglehold on power in Oceania, and allows him to justify what he does to Winston and others. Yet he simultaneously seems to think that he’s doing something that’s almost noble – even though he’s clearly aware he’s “evil.” Yet he simultaneously seems to think that he’s doing something that’s almost noble – even though he’s clearly aware he’s “evil.”

37 O’Brien fascinates readers as thoroughly as he fascinates Winston. O’Brien fascinates readers as thoroughly as he fascinates Winston. There’s a seductive air of mystery about him, and that mystery leads us to hope irrationally – as Winston does – that he’ll save the day in the end. There’s a seductive air of mystery about him, and that mystery leads us to hope irrationally – as Winston does – that he’ll save the day in the end. He seems so refined, with his spectacles, servants, and wine. He seems so refined, with his spectacles, servants, and wine.

38 His betrayal of Winston punches readers in the proverbial gut, and the revelation that he’s been waiting to snare Winston immediately removes any sort of rationality from readers. His betrayal of Winston punches readers in the proverbial gut, and the revelation that he’s been waiting to snare Winston immediately removes any sort of rationality from readers. Think about what you thought as you read the end…you probably felt dread, and anger, and disappointment, but were you thinking things through logically as you turned the pages? Think about what you thought as you read the end…you probably felt dread, and anger, and disappointment, but were you thinking things through logically as you turned the pages? Had you been hoping Winston would somehow escape the seemingly inescapable? Had you been hoping Winston would somehow escape the seemingly inescapable? Were you still holding out hope in Part Three? Were you still holding out hope in Part Three?

39 Finally, O’Brien represents contradiction, and not simply through doublethink. Finally, O’Brien represents contradiction, and not simply through doublethink. He is the father figure who punishes, the torturer who perfects through torment, the darkness and the light. He is the father figure who punishes, the torturer who perfects through torment, the darkness and the light. When he leaves the narrative for good, he leaves behind a “perfect” Winston – a Winston who is no longer himself. When he leaves the narrative for good, he leaves behind a “perfect” Winston – a Winston who is no longer himself. In this way, O’Brien is a sort of “anti-god” – the creator who destroys. In this way, O’Brien is a sort of “anti-god” – the creator who destroys.

40 Parsons is another type of villain altogether. Parsons is another type of villain altogether. He’s not malevolent, but he’s definitely dangerous. He’s not malevolent, but he’s definitely dangerous. While O’Brien is dangerous because his insanity turns his brilliant mind toward evil ends, Parsons is dangerous because men like O’Brien are powerless without the support of him and his kind. While O’Brien is dangerous because his insanity turns his brilliant mind toward evil ends, Parsons is dangerous because men like O’Brien are powerless without the support of him and his kind. Parsons blends mindless, blind loyalty with tireless enthusiasm in order to support the Party, and the Party taps this “stupid nationalism” whenever they need to shore up their power. Parsons blends mindless, blind loyalty with tireless enthusiasm in order to support the Party, and the Party taps this “stupid nationalism” whenever they need to shore up their power. They do it to the Outer Party, they do it to the proles – and they do it well. They do it to the Outer Party, they do it to the proles – and they do it well.

41 Parsons crosses into self-parody when we see him in Part Three; he’s completely unaware that he didn’t say anything against the Party, and splits his time between loathing himself for his “disloyalty,” feeling grateful to Big Brother for “his” willingness to “cure” him, and feeling proud of his daughter for loving the Party enough to turn in her own father. Parsons crosses into self-parody when we see him in Part Three; he’s completely unaware that he didn’t say anything against the Party, and splits his time between loathing himself for his “disloyalty,” feeling grateful to Big Brother for “his” willingness to “cure” him, and feeling proud of his daughter for loving the Party enough to turn in her own father. It never occurs to him that unconscious speech against Big Brother shouldn’t be an offense punishable by death. It never occurs to him that unconscious speech against Big Brother shouldn’t be an offense punishable by death. However, nothing is funny about that scene; most readers are either disgusted, horrified, or some combination of both. However, nothing is funny about that scene; most readers are either disgusted, horrified, or some combination of both.

42 Parsons’s patriotism is as relentless and mechanical as the actions of any Inner Party member, and that’s why he, and those like him, are so dangerous – more dangerous, I would submit, than the Inner Party itself. Parsons’s patriotism is as relentless and mechanical as the actions of any Inner Party member, and that’s why he, and those like him, are so dangerous – more dangerous, I would submit, than the Inner Party itself. Without people like him, the Inner Party has no one else to protect it from the larger Outer Party, let alone the proles. Without people like him, the Inner Party has no one else to protect it from the larger Outer Party, let alone the proles. Ironically, the Inner Party is incredibly aware of history and historical trends (I say “ironically” because they are simultaneously dedicated to eradicating that history). Ironically, the Inner Party is incredibly aware of history and historical trends (I say “ironically” because they are simultaneously dedicated to eradicating that history). They know all too well that some of history’s worst atrocities have been committed by leaders who were empowered by the violent and the loudmouthed, the angry and the stupid. They know all too well that some of history’s worst atrocities have been committed by leaders who were empowered by the violent and the loudmouthed, the angry and the stupid. The support from millions of Parsons powers the Party, and when they’re used up, the Party discards them like so many used batteries. The support from millions of Parsons powers the Party, and when they’re used up, the Party discards them like so many used batteries.

43 Syme works in the Ministry of Truth, and edits an edition of the Newspeak dictionary. Syme works in the Ministry of Truth, and edits an edition of the Newspeak dictionary. He is the anti-Parsons, resembling O’Brien more than anyone else. He is the anti-Parsons, resembling O’Brien more than anyone else. His casual dismissal of the proles, along with his enthusiasm for Newspeak and the destruction of thoughtcrime, make him a wonderful supporter of Party ideology (Winston thinks to himself that Syme’s mind is “viciously orthodox”). His casual dismissal of the proles, along with his enthusiasm for Newspeak and the destruction of thoughtcrime, make him a wonderful supporter of Party ideology (Winston thinks to himself that Syme’s mind is “viciously orthodox”).

44 Yet his mind makes him dangerous because, like Julia’s, it’s too perceptive. Yet his mind makes him dangerous because, like Julia’s, it’s too perceptive. The Party does two things with strong minds: It incorporates them (O’Brien says they “got him a long time ago,” implying that he did not always occupy his privileged position) or destroys them. The Party does two things with strong minds: It incorporates them (O’Brien says they “got him a long time ago,” implying that he did not always occupy his privileged position) or destroys them. Syme is destroyed. Syme is destroyed. But it’s important to note that it’s not Syme's knowledge that makes him dangerous. But it’s important to note that it’s not Syme's knowledge that makes him dangerous. After all, if that were the case, the Inner Party would be too busy executing its own members to function. After all, if that were the case, the Inner Party would be too busy executing its own members to function. Instead, it's his ability to reason that threatens the Party. Instead, it's his ability to reason that threatens the Party.

45 His death is the book’s casual reminder of the lost value of intelligence – and the danger inherent in “standing out.” His death is the book’s casual reminder of the lost value of intelligence – and the danger inherent in “standing out.” Note that while Julia insists that yelling with the crowd is the only way to stay safe, Syme shows that’s not necessarily true. Note that while Julia insists that yelling with the crowd is the only way to stay safe, Syme shows that’s not necessarily true. It’s more accurate to say you have to be the crowd in order to ensure your safety, especially considering how the Party aims to obliterate the “self” in its followers. It’s more accurate to say you have to be the crowd in order to ensure your safety, especially considering how the Party aims to obliterate the “self” in its followers.

46 Ampleforth is a poet who works for the Ministry of Truth. We see him a couple of times – he’s mentioned when we first see Winston at work, interferes with Winston’s initial attempts to meet Julia, and thrown into prison at the outset of Part Three. Ampleforth is a poet who works for the Ministry of Truth. We see him a couple of times – he’s mentioned when we first see Winston at work, interferes with Winston’s initial attempts to meet Julia, and thrown into prison at the outset of Part Three. His crime was his decision to preserve “God” as the final word in the second line of a Kipling couplet.

47 Ampleforth matters because his crime matters. Ampleforth matters because his crime matters. The nature of his crime is two-fold. Orwell is obsessed with language and the ways in which it controls our ability to think – just look at Newspeak! Orwell is obsessed with language and the ways in which it controls our ability to think – just look at Newspeak! His other writings also grapple with the idea of words giving and limiting power – well- chosen words have the power to liberate, and so on. His other writings also grapple with the idea of words giving and limiting power – well- chosen words have the power to liberate, and so on. Ampleforth is an extension of Orwell himself, especially because he decides to preserve Kipling’s rhyme – something the author, an obsessive lover of language himself, doubtlessly would have done. Ampleforth is an extension of Orwell himself, especially because he decides to preserve Kipling’s rhyme – something the author, an obsessive lover of language himself, doubtlessly would have done. (What is Orwell saying, then, when Ampleforth is finally dispatched in the worst possible way?) (What is Orwell saying, then, when Ampleforth is finally dispatched in the worst possible way?)

48 Secondly, look at the word he left in – “God.” Secondly, look at the word he left in – “God.” While the Party itself is clearly atheist, it’s not exactly secular – the devotion they demand to Big Brother goes beyond “cult” levels and becomes a type of worship. While the Party itself is clearly atheist, it’s not exactly secular – the devotion they demand to Big Brother goes beyond “cult” levels and becomes a type of worship. They substitute human fiction – Big Brother probably isn’t even real – for the human spirit, just as they substitute fiction and deceit for everything else. They substitute human fiction – Big Brother probably isn’t even real – for the human spirit, just as they substitute fiction and deceit for everything else.

49 Ampleforth’s imprisonment doesn’t represent atheistic overreach – it represents the intentional destruction of the spirit and the soul. Ampleforth’s imprisonment doesn’t represent atheistic overreach – it represents the intentional destruction of the spirit and the soul. If you think about it, the entire purpose of the Ministry of Love – especially Room 101 – is to defeat the soul. If you think about it, the entire purpose of the Ministry of Love – especially Room 101 – is to defeat the soul. It only makes sense that Ampleforth’s refusal to pervert a poem any further would threaten the party enough to warrant his destruction. It only makes sense that Ampleforth’s refusal to pervert a poem any further would threaten the party enough to warrant his destruction. After all, what is poetry but the language of the heart? After all, what is poetry but the language of the heart?

50 Charrington is eventually revealed to be a member of the Thought Police. Charrington is eventually revealed to be a member of the Thought Police. Before then, he appears to be a kindly and discreet shopkeeper. Before then, he appears to be a kindly and discreet shopkeeper. He provides Winston with the seeds of his own destruction – the diary, the paperweight, the loft, and access for (and to) Julia. He provides Winston with the seeds of his own destruction – the diary, the paperweight, the loft, and access for (and to) Julia.

51 We should be suspicious when he refuses to engage in thoughtcrime himself (refusing to finish the song), but we, like Winston, are too caught up in everything else to notice that this fellow seems a bit odd. We should be suspicious when he refuses to engage in thoughtcrime himself (refusing to finish the song), but we, like Winston, are too caught up in everything else to notice that this fellow seems a bit odd. In fact, we’re just as willfully blind about Charrington as Winston is for the exact same reasons; we want to believe he’s everything he seems because we want to have a source of hope in a narrative that, at the point of Charrington’s introduction, has been incredibly bleak. In fact, we’re just as willfully blind about Charrington as Winston is for the exact same reasons; we want to believe he’s everything he seems because we want to have a source of hope in a narrative that, at the point of Charrington’s introduction, has been incredibly bleak. Just as Winston knows how his life will end, we know how the book will end. Just as Winston knows how his life will end, we know how the book will end. We just don’t want to acknowledge that the book can only end one conceivable way. We just don’t want to acknowledge that the book can only end one conceivable way.

52 Considering he’s a member of the Thought Police, Charrington’s picked a perversely perfect location, surrounding himself with relics that contradict orthodoxy. Considering he’s a member of the Thought Police, Charrington’s picked a perversely perfect location, surrounding himself with relics that contradict orthodoxy. After all, how better to catch those with dangerous thoughts, with a dangerous interest in a non- existent, non-Party-sanctioned version of the past, than to run an antique shop? After all, how better to catch those with dangerous thoughts, with a dangerous interest in a non- existent, non-Party-sanctioned version of the past, than to run an antique shop?

53 Finally, the Skull-Faced Man and the Fat Man (identified later as Bumstead) represent dueling arguments regarding human nature. Finally, the Skull-Faced Man and the Fat Man (identified later as Bumstead) represent dueling arguments regarding human nature. Which describes us as we are? Which describes us as we are? Are we fundamentally, foolishly, irredeemably good – compassionate to a fault, even at the end of all of our selfishness and deception? Are we fundamentally, foolishly, irredeemably good – compassionate to a fault, even at the end of all of our selfishness and deception? Or are we really just creatures of self-preservation? Or are we really just creatures of self-preservation?

54 The Skull-Faced Man represents our survival instinct. The Skull-Faced Man represents our survival instinct. He’s been literally starved by the Party – an effective visual metaphor – but his desperation to survive confuses us. He’s been literally starved by the Party – an effective visual metaphor – but his desperation to survive confuses us. It’s not until we see Room 101 that we understand his fear. It’s not until we see Room 101 that we understand his fear. It’s not physical survival he wants, but spiritual survival; he still believes a piece of himself remains, and he had held out hope that he’d keep it until he died. It’s not physical survival he wants, but spiritual survival; he still believes a piece of himself remains, and he had held out hope that he’d keep it until he died.

55 Bumstead, on the other hand, represents one of the Party’s greatest frustrations – that its conditioning isn’t perfect. Bumstead, on the other hand, represents one of the Party’s greatest frustrations – that its conditioning isn’t perfect. With the knowledge that he’s being monitored by every telescreen in the room, Bumstead still walks over to the Skull-Faced Man and offers him a hidden supply of food. With the knowledge that he’s being monitored by every telescreen in the room, Bumstead still walks over to the Skull-Faced Man and offers him a hidden supply of food. It’s almost compulsive – an action that reveals a conscience that can’t be “properly” betrayed. It’s almost compulsive – an action that reveals a conscience that can’t be “properly” betrayed. The inhuman shriek that issues from the telescreen is the fury of an authority that can’t accept anything less than perfect devotion, and the violence they deal out in response indicates an almost childlike ferocity at not getting what they want. The inhuman shriek that issues from the telescreen is the fury of an authority that can’t accept anything less than perfect devotion, and the violence they deal out in response indicates an almost childlike ferocity at not getting what they want.

56 We see Bumstead receive this retribution and judge his actions as stupid, but that decision is also one of the only purely honest ones we see in the book. We see Bumstead receive this retribution and judge his actions as stupid, but that decision is also one of the only purely honest ones we see in the book. Bumstead guiltily and unwittingly stands up for the things we say we’d die to defend – honor, kindness, and brotherhood – and pays for it. Bumstead guiltily and unwittingly stands up for the things we say we’d die to defend – honor, kindness, and brotherhood – and pays for it. But the mark of principle is not whether it appears for free in times of goodness, but when the cost is high, in times of darkness…even in the place where there is none. But the mark of principle is not whether it appears for free in times of goodness, but when the cost is high, in times of darkness…even in the place where there is none.


Download ppt "The Heart of the Crystal: Looking Back at 1984 Feraco Search for Human Potential 26 February 2014."

Similar presentations


Ads by Google