Monday, April 17, 2017

"1984" by George Orwell

"Of course the people do not want war... But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. " German Field Marshall

 A reader of this blog took the time to e-mail me the post I deleted by accident. Thank you , Claire. I appreciate your time and cooperation.
 Today I’m publishing my post on “1984” again, with a few “upgrades”.
  If there is something about the plot and/or characters that offends somebody, please bear with it. George Orwell is now dead so you can’t bully the author. Excuse my sense of humor here. I know, I know. Women are not expected to have this kind of sense of humor (unless they use it to pester a woman who opposes the bully in power).
 Thankfully, I’m married to a man who loves my sense of humor.
 Do people get annoyed by the use of pen-names? Hopefully not because George Orwell is a pen-name. Ladies and gentlemen: live and let live.

Here’s my essay on “1984” by George Orwell.

 ‘1984’ is a dystopian novel about a country called Oceania. (The name Oceania probably alludes to the isolationist nature of its people).  Oceania  is constantly at war, but its citizens do not know why it is at war. They do support it, though, because anybody who is not a supporter is considered a traitor.
  Hatred and rage fuel the support of this endless war. 

 Anyone who dares to oppose the dictator’s ideas or think differently is vilified and will disappear. Those who work for the party are instructed to manipulate the truth as needed.  In fact, nobody is expected to  care about the truth because their lives would be at stake if they did. Freedom is considered to be blind obedience to the leader. 
 Physical movements and facial expressions are closely monitored by screens in people’s homes, political prisoners are treated worse than criminals and love does not exist; hatred and fear condition everybody’s behavior. Blind obedience to Big Brother is what matters.

 Torture and starvation await anybody who dares to challenge the system in any way.  Another strategy of the ruling Party is to destroy words. “We’re cutting the language down to the bone. Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” “There will be no thought as we understand it now. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

  Winston is a thirty-nine year-old man who works for the Ministry of Truth. He helps to change the historical facts but, in reality, he is a free thinking person who would like to sabotage Big Brother’s dictatorship. He falls in love with a woman, and they both challenge the system by loving each other and having secret encounters that they must plan in advance.

 When Winston becomes a political prisoner a member of the inner Party confesses to him, “Our civilization is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy - everything. Already we have destroyed the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. ..”
   “There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science”.
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power”. “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power”.

 The truth is distorted to meet the leader’s interests; conformity becomes the rule.
 The society in which the authoritarian regime thrives is designed carefully to disregard critical thinking and to believe blindly in their leader. His authority is not to be questioned, and those who dare do it are punished and labeled as enemies. George Orwell portrays the dynamics of this society with striking details.

 The features that make Big Brother powerful are the following:
-Exacerbated nationalism
-Mindless slogans and repeated lies
-The destruction of language
-Use of songs and ceremonies to venerate the leader

  The past becomes mutable for the government can manipulate history by rewriting the historical facts and changing the data to keep the dictator in power.  This is done because the omnipotence of the dictator can only be preserved through lies and irrationality. 

  In Oceania the proletarians - also called “the proles”- are the majority of the population. The Party claimed to have liberated “the proles”, but, in reality, the dictator does not care about them.
“So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance.”
“All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations”.
   Contradictions are at the heart of the regime. In ‘1984’ the Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. 

    The question that lingers in my mind is whether these totalitarian leaders succeed because of the ignorance and/ or apathy of the masses or the conformism of the intellectuals. I think it is a combination of both. As Albert Einstein said, “Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Apologies to the readers of this blog...

Dear readers,
                     On December 3 2016 I wrote a post on "1984", a novel by George Orwell.
                     The novel became a best-seller on January 21 2017 and it was shared in movie theaters all over the world on April 4 2017.
                      Today I deleted the post on "1984" by accident. This action was not intentional. I don't know how to recover it, but I hope that you consider reading this book.
                     Sorry for the deletion; enjoy the read.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Sylvia and Aki (children's book)

  “Sylvia and Aki” by Winifred Conkling is the true story of two American girls of different cultural backgrounds who grew up in the 1940s in the United States of America.
     The narrative is attuned to their joys, fears, dreams and loving families, and it reveals how their happy childhoods were disrupted by the evils of segregation, discrimination and social injustice. Unexpected challenges and hardship threatened the well-being of their families and their future.

  There is an afterword that gleans relevant historical facts and relates them to the lives of the characters. We can learn a lot from history; literature offers us unique opportunities to do so.

   I highly recommend “Sylvia and Aki”. It is a book that invites us to honor friendship, learn about history and spend quality time with our children.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Still I rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room?

Just like moons and suns
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hope springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Digging in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

I’ve already described some of the outstanding qualities of Margaret Atwood’s oeuvre: ingenious satire and social insight along with well developed characters and plots.
 In "The Handmaid’s Tale" the United States of America is taken over by fundamentalist Christians. Under the new regime women are not allowed to read, work or think. They are only expected to obey  the rules that powerful men create. Women are forced to reproduce. The dissidents are severely punished.
  As part of this regime there is an underworld in which rich privileged men use women as a source of entertainment. When a woman is raped they say that she deserves it; it is God's plan.  Margaret Atwood wrote this book in the 1980s, yet it appears to be of relevance today.


  White women in America earn 75 % of what white men make; African American women make 63 %, even with the same level of education and experience; Latina women only make 54% of what white males earn. These figures show clearly that gender and ethnic discrimination go hand in hand.

 We all deserve the same respect, dignity and consideration. (And, by the way, if you don't like to hear a woman yelling, then don't excuse a man for doing so, even if he is white and American).

 If you want to understand how unconscious and conscious biases determine the way women are judged and treated differently I recommend the well researched book by Iris Bohnet: “What Works: gender equality by design.” In addition to exploring  the complexity and consequences of these biases through concrete examples, she proposes solutions to this important issue.

Friday, September 30, 2016

It will trickle down

This week I wrote my poem "It will trickle down", which was published by Leaves of Ink. You can read it here.
 I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mr. Pimp

 After reading Nita Belles's book "In Our Backyard" I was inspired to write my poem "Mr. Pimp," which was published by the New York Literary Magazine. It is included in the "Winds of Time" Anthology. You can read it here.
  Nita Belles is a heroine to me. She rescues slaves in the United States of America. Her book  educates us on what we can do to end and prevent slavery.