Tuesday, June 8, 2010

learning, understanding and accepting

There is this book which I read a few days back - 1984 by George Orwell. It's a book about how bad a society becomes when the body serving its interests becomes all too powerful. In the book, society is a country and the the body is the government of that country. Though I never write book reviews, this book is different because there are tons of similarities when I look around. Even today, independent thoughts are being curbed, ideologies being forced, people made to work with little gratification, etc, etc. Anyways, if you haven't read the book and you are planning to do so, then you might not want to read the rest as what follows might be a spoiler.

My most favorite character in the book is this guy called OBrien who serves the government and plays a very crucial role in the book. It was really horrifying to read what he did to the protagonist. How he was able to use fear and hatred to brainwash him. The reason why I was really taken by that aspect was because it happens all too frequently these days. A place where the governing body has too tight a control, where decisions are taken unilaterally and a person finds himself really helpless. In such a place, a person has very little choice but to surrender his thoughts and work like a comrade. Where the governing body passes its agendas (and ideologies) without the consent of normal people. And as they portray in the book, in the end, the human spirit is weakened and crushed. People forget what it is stand up and fight for their own rights. Partly because they have never seen anyone do that. Why? Because people who were their superiors never did that either.

And faithful to the back page summary of the book, there is something there for people with original thoughts - Room 101. As oBrien aptly put it, the USP of their torture was "Learning, Understanding and Accepting"

> The first part is learning where they learn that they should have shut their head long back. Exercising head and thinking is dangerous. Where they learn that they do should what they have been asked (blindly without questioning) and leave the thinking to the governing body.

> Second step is understanding where they understand that they have to pay a heavy price for not shutting their heads. They understand that they are insane and that they are wrong in believing that sanity is not statistical. They begin to understand that they are insane to even think that they could have done something or changed something.

> and then comes the third part - acceptance. The person believes it's his fault and that he should have been punished long ago for his insanity. Eventually he is. This is the phase that the governing body wants because it doesn't want martyrs. It doesn't want people to follow the footsteps of that person. And in doing so, makes sure no one again rises against the system.

Actually the book got me thinking in many ways. I imagined myself in the protagonist's shoes asking myself what would I have done and unfortunately there was little one could really do. One can do little against a governing body that changes itself like a chameleon and comes out all powerful and not ready to budge from its policies and ideologies. Actually the two biggest things in the book were a) doublethink and b) Room 101. Doublethink made sure the party spread ignorance, lies and deceit while keeping itself pure and safe. Room 101 for purging people who questioned the body. Like OBrien constantly said, "What happens here is for ever." The change that takes over you in Room 101 is for ever. You are never the same. Your fears are unleashed to an extent where you love (fear) the all powerful body and don't see any other way other than heeding to their demands. And it's not submitting yourself unwillingly. You submit yourself willingly and beg for wrongdoing.

Kind of a digression but it sort of reminded me of Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. When asked how did he preserve his sanity in Azkaban, he said he made sure he clung to one happy thought and didn't allow the dementors to take it away. hmmm... makes me think what would he have done in Room 101 because in both cases, the dementors and the governing body used fear and misery as their weapon in crushing an individual.

If I had to pick my favorite quote or sentence, it would OBrien's - "Obedience is not enough. Unless he [person in question] is suffering, how can you be sure he is obeying your will and not his own?"

In summary, an awesome book, a timeless classic which i might pick up again because the place where I am in, it reminds me of the world painted in this book.



Neuron said...

Rad plus Major Frust!! I'm gonna have to go with both, to describe the book.

tsp said...

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree

@nks said...

pretty strong review ...

I feel like giving it a try ...

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