You probably didn’t read the most telling part of Orwell’s 1984 - the appendix

image0If there is any doubt about the persistent power of literature in the face of digital culture, it should be banished by the recent climb of George Orwell’s 1984 up the Amazon “Movers & Shakers” list. There is much that’s resonant for us in Orwell’s dystopia in the face of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA: the totalitarian State of Oceania, its sinister Big Brother, always watching, the history-erasing Ministry of Truth, and the menacing Thought Police, with their omnipresent telescreens. All this may seem to be the endgame of indiscriminate data mining, surveillance, and duplicitous government control. We look to 1984 as a clear cautionary tale, even a prophecy, of systematic abuse of power taken to the end of the line. However, the notion that the novel concludes with a brainwashed, broken protagonist, Winston Smith, weeping into his Victory Gin and the bitter sentence: “He loved Big Brother,” are not exactly right. Big Brother does not actually get the last word.