My highlights of 1984

3 minute read

  • To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.
  • They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies.
  • If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable — what then?
  • “Was life better before the Revolution than it is now?”
  • They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones.
  • … and even when you are not paralyzed by fright or screaming with pain, life is a moment-to-moment struggle against hunger or cold or sleeplessness, against a sour stomach or an aching tooth.
  • They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour.
  • The children, on the other hand, were systematically turned against their parents and taught to spy on them and report their deviations.
  • She was very young, he thought, she still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.
  • To hang on from day to day and from week to week, spinning out a present that had no future, seemed an unconquerable instinct, just as one’s lungs will always draw the next breath so long as there is air available.
  • History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.
  • The thing that impressed Winston in looking back was that the speaker had switched from one line to the other actually in mid-sentence, not only without a pause, but without even breaking the syntax.
  • But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous.
  • Cut off from contact with the outer world, and with the past, the citizen of Oceania is like a man in interstellar space, who has no way of knowing which direction is up and which is down.
  • The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.
  • Individually, no member of the Party owns anything, except petty personal belongings. Collectively, the Party owns everything in Oceania, because it controls everything and disposes of the products as it thinks fit.
  • The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living.
  • They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect.
  • But by far the more important reason for the readjustment of the past is the need to safeguard the infallibility of the Party.
  • For to change one’s mind, or even one’s policy, is a confession of weakness.
  • Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad.
  • … all over the world, hundreds of thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same…
  • … because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal.

Categories: Reading

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