1984 :: George Orwell

After reading Fahrenheit 451 and really enjoying the profound questions it raised, I decided to pick up a copy of George Orwell’s 1984. As a novel, I would place in the category of: the-books-that-are-really-really-really-boring-for-the-first-75-pages-but-get-more-and-more-interesting-as-you-go-along. It is highly political and in my opinion, delves deep into human nature and psychology quite early on in the novel.

The writing itself,  is descriptive and intelligent and yet, quite well constrained in its depiction of London – and fittingly so as it reflected the views of the ‘heretics’ of the 1984 society.

As a modern reader, with modern views on freedom, peace and war (the core contradictions of the Party) I felt like one of Winston Smith’s kind – opposed to the Party’s ways – and a companion of sorts. Of course, this also encompassed the feeling of pride in the main character and his devotion to the supposed Brotherhood. Now, I realise that this presentation of the world that Orwell created was a rather intelligent one, and the well-established link between the myself and Winston Smith (of the novel) was what drove me to read the novel, until the very end – possibly because reading further would perhaps, be alike to reading one’s destiny – and don’t we all yearn to know the secrets of our future? :)

Further along the storyline, he betrays to these values and moreover, he betrays himself and his opinions. Now, instead of  evoking the expected sense of treachery among the audience, it instead, hold an air of inevitability – brought by the thorough and gradual breaking down of the character.  And so, our ‘hero’, Winston Smith, is not really a hero at all, but a standard human with human flaws and desires – a quality that I think, makes this science fiction tale, one of credibility. It allowed me to empathise and truly understand his pain and weakness – eventually lending myself to forgiveness.

What fascinated me the most, was the extent of power and intelligence of the Party. Orwell seems to have combined his political knowledge and perception of human nature as well as human psychology to create a virtually invincible authority. However frightening and fearful it may be, it was unanimously successful in its objective – maintain immortality of power within itself. The depth of the Party’s ideology is astounding and as presented by Orwell, appears infallible. It is as if he is saying, it is here, among the power and the fear, that perfection is found – in the eyes of the Party and its subjects. This idea resonated with me – the idea that perfection can be seen if shown in the correct light – is one that can still be applied to today.

At its core, 1984 is truly centred around Winston Smith and his human journey through hope and belief and his subsequent loss of everything we deem to be human. I, being a person who can be totally absorbed by psychology for hours on ends, cannot even understand how this book changed my perspective on the future and my future but at this moment, it is safe to say that it did – and I am happy for it :)

Life of Pi :: Yann Martel

I read this book in anticipation of Life of Pi [directed by Ang Lee] the multi-award winning film that, as I’m sure you all know, has been getting both public and critic attention as – stated by the Guardian

The most beautiful film of the year, a technical marvel, and magic realism at its most magical.

To be honest, I can’t really see it as a truly masterful film. Yes, the visual aspect of it is stunning – the realism of it all was quite astounding – however, my verdict of this film is rather similar to the one I had of Avatar. Although the films were a spectacle to be seen, I believe that Avatar had a predictable plot, and that Life of Pi lacked the action to drive the film to the end. What made the film disappointing for me, was the lack of detail, so exquisitely and explicitly written in Martel’s novel. In addition to this, I felt the movie lacked a sense of “forever” that the book captured in terms of the length of Pi’s journey to his inevitable arrival on land.

I guess by now, you can deduce that I enjoyed the novel far better than the film, and so, here are a few of my favourite phrases from the novel.

Quote One :: Life & Death

This is so beautiful. I’ve never seen the relationship between life and death described so…well, beautifully

The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity – it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.

Quote Two :: Time

I have noticed this happen to me many times – when I lie idle ;)

I did not count the days or the weeks or the months. Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.

Quote Three :: Freedom

Freedom is a very confusing concept – one that I am trying to come to terms with everyday.

I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.

Quote Four :: Survival

I have a habit of dreaming too much and doing too little. Society tells us to dream but fails to really convey the action that is involved in achieving those dreams (and the hard work!)

Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.