Saturday, August 5, 2006

Second time's the charm

The first time I tried to read 1984, I didn't really absorb it. Let's face it, high schoolers -- for the most part -- just aren't that interested in hearing about the dangers of mind control when they spend six hours a day being lectured to, remonstrated, and molded into the school board's idea of accomplished young adults.

But rereading it was good, particularly in the current sociopolitical context. Yeah, yeah, old saw, but fitting. Rewriting history? Bending words to one's will? Harping on GW Bush's administration and the way in which Rummy et al have trampled on civil liberties is more or less fruitless, but I'm lazy, so I'll do it anyway. Every voting American with two brain cells to rub together should read -- or reread -- this book.

On the importance of history and remembering:
"When there were no external records that you could refer to, even the outline of your own life lost its sharpness. You remembered huge events which had quite probably not happened, you remembered the detail of incidents without being able to recapture their atmosphere, and there were long blank periods to which you could assign nothing." "Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth."

On literature (and a fairly accurate reflection of my response to books on the Modern Library list):
"It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order...The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already."

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