Monday, September 13, 2004

Animal Farm/1984 - Book Review

So coincidentally, this post title is also the year I was born. No no, not place - year.

Just finished devouring the whole of Animal Farm (yes I know I am late but I am still learning ok?) and besides the increasing amount of angst I felt at the injustice for the less intelligent animals as I read the book, I felt no strong repel against capitalism. At least I thought that the book was meant to be focusing on that issue - that Capitalism is wrong. Or not?

SL mentioned, without reading the book by itself but merely the literature guides which supposedly explained the crux of the book, that Capitalism in itself was not a bad thing. He said that every society still practise it.

One issue I have had some thoughts about was Intellect.

To be blessed with it is to be truly lucky - or not? The simple-minded would have their simple thrills in life as well. And if the purpose of living is to be happy, then surely these simpletons have achieved their goals well.

Say, for example, a simple-minded common girl would be satisfied with staying at home tending to her little children and watch them grow up into strong, healthy adults.

Sure, that would make me happy too (should I be able to find a man who is willing to marry me!), but I will not be satisfied. Hell no! Moving to another thought-track, what is causing my unhappiness? Let's drop all pretense here - I do think I am a very talented individual. I think I am smart - and therefore, should my intellect be used to its fullest extent only to tend to my kids, I will feel deeply uneasy.

I feel that I am not making full use of it. Not that the tending of kids is a easy job of course! - but if common women can do it, I am do it too, and IN ADDITION accomplish other amazing things.

On the other hand, why this arrogance? If I were maintaining this same amount of intellect, and yet the rest of the women around me were able to build aeroplanes out of their bare hands, would I still feel dissatisfied? If my IQ were 130 now, and everyone else's is 170 and above, then surely most of the money makers in the world would be the 170 people.

Therefore, mundane tasks shall as the cleaning of toilet bowls would necessarily be my kind of job scope, wouldn't it? (assuming that the 170 IQ people are not building robots for some reason, nor self-cleaning toilet bowls for that matter).

Maybe, if I know that I can never achieve anything better than tending my kids, I will not even think of trying, and I will be a satisfied, happy individual. This is of course with the theory that gratification comes from exceeding expectations.

I shall stop thinking of the hypothetic question of me having intellect below par.

Say now, I am a pig in Animal Farm. Is it right that I abuse this knowledge - this gift of my brains - to abuse and take advantage of the intellectually-handicapped?

YES. That's what I've always thought. That's correct - I will be Napolean if I were in that story, albeit not as cruel. Why, it's not my fault that others are stupid, isn't it? I want to make it big and be a big boss and pay my staff a salary - possibly as little as possible - and I feel I have every right to earn more than them because I am more capable.

What good is it to be smart if I do not gain out of it?

With Animal Farm, I've took a step back and examined my ideologies. How unfair it is to the horses and cows! How they were deceived, over and over again by the pigs!

But what other choices are there? If the pigs - if we for a moment imagine - were kind and benevolent, they would still give out big rations to the rest of the animals for their hard work while they remain dictators.

But what gives them the rights to tell everyone what to do? What gives them the powers to take what the animals reap and pass a dictated portion back to them? Correct, the animals are willing to listen to them pigs because they are smart enough to realise that the pig's directions are possibly going to lead them into some good. But still, does it mean that if the animals are willing/yearning to be worked it means you should tell them what to do? I'm still feeling confused - exactly how I feel whenever Hermione talks about Elf rights. Of course, it boils down to whatever makes the other animals HAPPY. If they want to be dictated, so be it.

On the other hand, what if the pigs do not tell the animals what to do, and no one comes up with any caste system at all?

We all know that communism does not work. They would all flop like dead fish.

So it ends up in "democracy", where, besides the majority rule thingy, each individual is given an equal chance to make it big. Who stands to gain once again? Let's put it this way: Have you seen a retarded person make it "big" yet?

So is the world meant to be this way? For the smart to, at their discretion, take advantage of the weak?

Is that really how it functions? How fair is it to be dumb people? Or is it fair because they are so dumb that they do not even know they are leading some mediocre/hard lives and are feeling quite satisfied - and therefore everyone from smart to dumb are happy?

That about nicely sums it up.

I'm still feeling relatively lost.

Let's talk about 1984.

It starts off as a RIDICULOUS book. It is so absurd! But as I read on, the book injected so many thoughts into me that I had to pensive (Harry Potter lingo, pardon me) some of it into this new blog of mine.

To those who did not have the pleasure of reading the book, it is about Winston, who lived in 1984. Take note that I am about halfway through the book now, so it might turn out like Sophie's World where the potagonist is mere fiction. Forgive me if that is the case.

Winston stays in a society formed after the "revolution". A "party" is formed (once again Orwell focuses a lot on Capitalism), headed by the man nicked Big Brother, or B.B. for short.

It was times of absolutely no privacy, no freedom, and absolute control (by the party). "Telescreens" were everywhere - these TVs which could send you pictures would also video your every move for the "Thought Police", and record your every spoken whisper. Do not even think for a moment that you are insignificant and thus the T.P. would not be interested in your life! Oh no, they are constantly watching you!

A million other rules - Sex is not good; WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

You HAVE to support and obey the party - or they will kill you. Or in Orwell's words, VAPORIZE you. All evidence of your existence will be erased, and no trace of you left.

Everyone, out of fear of death (or simple stupidity), obeys the Party.

How ludicious, I thought. How could people actually succumb to such nonsense! If I were to live my life under Thought Police, I would rebel! I would find like-minded individuals, and change this silly system. People were born to be free!

Yet, there is a startling element of probability in this scary notion. What if I alone thought so (As Winston does too) but have no way of communicating this thought to fellow humans so as to confirm that I am not insane?

With telescreens watching everywhere, Winston could not find like-minded individuals, and even if he did find one or two, the powers are not enough to over-throw the party.

To add oil to the fire, the past is being altered away, so that in time to come, people will cease to find out how life was before the revolution began (50 years ago). This alone has the terrible consequence of making everyone blinded to the fact that it is not always been like this ... Their ancestors were once FREE.

How could the past be altered? Through sheer efforts and absolute power, the party changes statistics and destroys old prints/photographs/books.

Before the revolution, they said, the world was a sad place with capitalists in top hats. They, a small group, alone controlled the world and everyone else were their slaves.

Just as one's mind gets tangled uncomfortably in Orwell's world of 1984, he introduces a new mind-set. Before I go to that, let's talk about why it is uncomfortable.

What about OUR society now? What if ... It was not always like this? What if the Conspiracy Theory was true, and the statistics given to us (i.e. better health etc) were all fake? Total freedom - how would it be like? THEY told us that crime rates would increase, standards of living will drop (and logically thinking it sounds correct) but what if these were not true? What if, in our olden days where there was no Government and absolute freedom, there were no rape cases, because girls then are willing sex partners without society's rein on them? What if diseases we know are actually released by the Government to convince us that we would have died from AIDS without their protection against sexual crimes?

Never mind this little wild thought.

As I was saying, just as I was getting very uncomfortable about Orwell's world, Julia was introduced to the book.

A sweet young thing of 26, Winston hated her and wanted to rape and kill her because she was precisely the kind of girl he dislikes - the ones who TRULY believe in the words of the Party and TRULY believe that sex is supposed to be "a duty to the party", and the type of sneak who will report a thought-criminal to the authorities and watch him hung.

Julia was part of the Junior Anti-Sex League - a band of celibre comrades (Orwell was fond of this word) who actively work against sexual activities.

Julia was totally not what Winston imagined, and she was in love with Winston.

In a surprising twist, Orwell now focused on the love factor of their story, and I felt myself, embarrassingly, more entertained and at ease than I was when I was reading the front parts where much thinking is required of the brain.

He had a purpose in doing that ... Julia, it turns out, was a rebel as well. She adored sex and hated the party - but not in the same manner as Winston.

If Winston were looking at South East Asia, Julia was only looking at Singapore. She, like many of the other youths, have taken and accepted that the Party was there, and their way of life was unalterable. But no ... She was not about to take things down as it is either. Her way would be to break the rules in a secret manner, and do the things she enjoys the best she can.

This would be a very self-centred view. As long as it affects her, she tries to dodge it. If not, she cannot be bothered. And yes, it is precisely the reason why it is so much simpler to read suddenly- it symbolises how simple it is to be selfish, as compared to the exasperation often associated with changing something as big as society.

Both of them feeling unjustified, but very different resulting acts.

p/s: I possibly should mention this little character in the book as well, called Syme. He worked on the Newspeak (the Party's lingo) dictionary.

He was in charge of creating new words, and perfecting the ceases in the language.

Soon, Syme said, Newspeak will be used to replace Oldspeak (normal English) once and for all. For the party, Oldspeak is flawed. How can, he explained, the slogan of the party be "Freedom is Slavery"? In Newspeak, there will be no such word as "Freedom". Without the feeling (comrades were not ALLOWED to like freedom), there is no need for a word to describe it at all, and without the word (in future), no one else will ever need to know what is 'freedom'.

Now HOW SCARY IS THAT? On the other hand, it is also brilliant. How, how on Earth can I describe that I feel perplexed, or jealous, without using either words? By erasing words out of the dictionary, it is also a method to get rid of some emotions?

Winston had predicted Syme's vaporization because he is too smart for his own good, and the Party do not like these people. Winston could sense that Syme did not agree with the Party, although his every words sounded absolutely zealous. Too zealous, in fact. This is so sad because I really liked Syme.

Enough for the day, I'll review more after I finish the book. Feel so much better now! Tata!

60 Comments:

Blogger Samantha said...

Wow, this is a v.lengthy piece. Feels gd to be able to express your repressed thoughts out finally right? Haha.. yeah I understand that part where you said that sometimes you write to entertain instead of writing what you really want to. ( I tend to do that sometimes as well.. :P )If you had post this piece on your usual blog with no explanation why the sudden lack of humour in this article, no doubt there will be lots of people questioning.. or even complaining that your article is too reflective and dry.

Anyway I like your review on Animal Farm..haven't finish reading your whole article though(.. a bit too lengthy for me to read it all at this time of the night..).. but will certainly look forward reading more on this blog page of yours. :)


Oh,try Paulo Coelho's Eleven Minutes if you have the time, its a nice book as well!


Just one excerpt from it that I like:

"...Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because when it happens, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path.

No one wants their lives thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control; and are somehow capable of substaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded.

Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They made the other person responsible for all their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvellous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything.

Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it - which of these two attitudes is the least destructive?

I don't know."


Looking forward to read more on this blog! :)


SaM

1:08 PM  
Blogger silvermyst said...

but Animal Farm was written as Neo-Marxist ideology.

try Brave New World next. I found it way creepier than 1984.

and if you like social commentary, A Clockwork Orange isn't bad either.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Bubblemunche said...

Some thoughts after reading this post:

1) Intellect: Since young, we've been taught that it is most important to be smart, to excel in our studies, etc, so that we can achieve greatness in life. That is the theory, though in practice, that may not be the case. Look at the world and business leaders around us today. I'm sure their intelligence is of a certain calibre, but I'm equally sure that there are nuclear scientists out there whose IQ far outscores them. Thus, I feel that the scenario presented in Animal Farm is a tad myopic.

2) A Lawless Society: Goodness! Chaos will reign. Read "Lord of the Flies" by Wiliam Golding to see what I mean.

All in all, a thought-provoking read. Thanks for showing us a another facet of your personality, Xx ;)

6:50 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Nicely written

7:29 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

If you want something a little "off-beat", I heartily recommend the Terry Pratchett Diskworld novels, or the Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy. I have about 300 books at home, so I can give you some pointers if you tell us what genre you want to read.

7:44 PM  
Blogger kal said...

a lawless society does not automatically degenerate into chaos. there are other things that keep people civil, it depends on what school of thought you come from.

complete freedom must be restricted in order to provide freedom. restriction and freedom may seem to be opposites, but in practice restriction actually guarantees freedom.

anyway, nice reading ur blog, cheers!

9:15 PM  
Blogger Frater Bovious said...

Brave New World is very creepy. I don't want to spoil 1984 for you, so I won't say right now what about the book really got me. I'm guessing you'll figure it out.

Anyway, I like your experiment of a serious blog. But I must say, I love your Xiaxue blog. Your style is quirky and unpredictable. I commonly laugh out loud reading it.

Thanks! fb

10:00 PM  
Blogger ben said...

Bravo in your attempts for a more serious blog. I enjoyed both books a long time ago.

Animal Farm
While democracy attempts to bring more equality, you are right, it still rewards the smarter or more resourceful individuals. No matter what ideology, its still the rich that holds the power. The golden rule - he who has the gold makes the rules. ;)

1984
Heh! I liked this and have also seen the film adaptation. Its typically Orwell. Finish it and share with us your thoughts.

11:07 PM  
Blogger cherry said...

cool(:

12:49 AM  
Blogger Apple said...

heya! the serious xiaxue and the funny xiaxue are both still very enjoyable!
i enjoyed reading what you wrote about your thoughts on Animal Farm! i took literature in secondary school and this was our text during the 1st 2 years!!!! this book, though, didn't really make me think about politics! instead, i felt for the characters..haha! you must think i'm very shallow! but i really felt very sad when i read till the end...about Boxer's fate!! =(
oh...i think i have left a very unintelligent comment compared to the other readers so i shall stop here...=( looking forward though to reading more entries from this blog! (^^)

1:57 AM  
Blogger alexis said...

i similarly felt like thoughts were gonna burst out of me after reading 1984 and Brave New World. i felt as if everything is tangled up and very scary if you take it to that extreme. the sense of helplessness is very strong.

i felt that the pigs in animal farm won't last long though, even if they had brains. i think they lacked the foresight to see that the animals in the farm will work better if they are treated well. by using force they are just building up for a rebellion. communism is made to sound too idealistic but capitalism is being made a caricature of. if the pigs cared for their long-term welfare things wouldn't have gotten so ugly.

good job, can u keep up with ur book reviews? more books! :) there's a geek in everyone of us.

4:22 AM  
Blogger cherry said...

yo, xiaxue. what primary school were you in? i've been reading your archives on the funny-blog and i still dunno. maybe i missed it out or something. =x

4:53 AM  
Blogger p q said...

Hey that's why it's so fascinating- it;s so dystopic. That's why I loved 1984 and Brave New World. In fact maybe try Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, it's a very haunting story about the future with all the genetic sciences and all that. 1984 is quite absorbing, it can leave you a little stunned after finishing it.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Gum said...

Well, thought it is also about hitler, yeah & Marxcis.

5:47 AM  
Blogger CT said...

Very lengthy entry, indeed. Somehow this part of the entry, "...If my IQ were 130 now, and everyone else's is 170 and above, then surely most of the money makers in the world would be the 170 people.
Therefore, mundane tasks shall as the cleaning of toilet bowls would necessarily be my kind of job scope, wouldn't it? (assuming that the 170 IQ people are not building robots for some reason, nor self-cleaning toilet bowls for that matter)..." reminds me so much of that movie, "Gattaca" starring Ethan Hawke & Uma Thurman.
For u to analyse the storyline despite having read only 1/2 of it, is pretty impressive(maybe this is what literature classes are about. To bad we realize it a tad too late..)
Yep, it's scary, should we try to mirror the story to that of our lives-the possiblity that we may just be part of such dictatorship...Unfathomable!
Hurry up with the follow up. I can't wait!

6:15 AM  
Blogger ericssan said...

hi Wendy

nicely written geeky blog. I love it. Somehow, we can see your real you. I do confess I enjoy your bitchy blog as a leisurely read.. but after reading your geeky blog, I found you much much sexier. Gimme a Gmail invite, baby!

take care.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Psycho Diva said...

I must say this geeky blog is just as much entertaining as your normal one, hope to see more posts here!

Happened to read 1984 sometime back, felt quite shaken after reading it, makes me a little less idealistic about politics. Excellent book, with a good twist at the end. Enjoy finishing the book! :D

9:49 AM  
Blogger zip_loc said...

Hey CYY! SR here! I never knew you enjoyed poring over books the way i do :p
Anyway it heartens me to see that you are finally indulging this heretofore very much neglected facet of your cyberspace persona. Show them the brains behind the bimbo, baby! haha...
In the hope of helping to sustain this sudden spate of intense cerebral activity i would like to recommend a singularly outstanding piece of modern literature, the debut novel of Booker Prize-winning David Mitchell. Its titled Ghostwritten, and is abbbbsoluutely fantabulous. Its essentially a novel in nine parts, told in the form of nine stories from far-flung locales as Okinawa, St. Petersburg and the like. Each story is linked to the others in small, unobtrusive ways, but each trigger chains of events in another story, resulting in a collection in which the storylines are inextricably tangled together. The result displays poignantly the inescapable forces of cause and effect, a rambling exploration of the old belief that a butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause a hurricane in the Americas. The outstanding beauty of Mitchell's prose leads one on a roller coaster ride of emotions, from desperation to euphoria to equanamity to bitterswet nolstalgia. I LOVE BITTERSWEET NOLSTALGIA. It makes me wanna weep. hahaha.
So, Anyway. This is my first outward acknowledgement that i'm a blogder. Albeit an occasional one. And since i have risen out of the depths of distant history i demand that you change your introduction of me in your xiaxue blogspot account :p

oh.. and i spent 3 mins creating a blogspot account just to post this.

okay. Am beginning to feel dumb for doing that.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Nineteeneightyfear (Spoilers included).

The party knows everything
And now I’m awful at math
And I stare in awe at a faceless king
While I suffer his Loving wrath.
I live in squalidly flawless Oceania
And know of thinking, an outlawed antique
Swimming lost in a sea of voiceless mania
I fear the future of what will be Newspeak.
I am denied expression of individuality
I am denied free thought
I am denied illicit sexuality
For which all, I am caught.
In Emmanuel Goldstein's book I find comfort
But know that such is only ephemeral
For it is rebellious thoughts
I support Knowing all hope is surely decimal.
In fair Julia I found thoughts not harbored
And love for her found me stronger still
In her a trust in a fighting comrade was sheltered
Not to mention an unlawful thrill.
But fate tears the tether that binds humans together
And in O’Brien I discovered a coarse façade
In him I finally saw the hater, the butcher
For which he is denied the kingdom of God.
Hated technology
When in this course of human events
For which government owes an apology
We the people, hold our privacy as evident.
Doublethink is a crime
That we do not commit
While they drink souls and wine
It is incarceration we unknowingly permit.
I frequent the Ministry of Truth
Hence I know very well the worth of letters
I change freely the verity of records
As I breed premature alzheimers.
While we should be endowed some rights
I ponder over what is life and liberty
As I stay up lawlessly writing cold nights
What is happiness in this political purgatory.
Now I’d sell all my pity for a bit of gin
Since to me it is this drink They assign
And I’d drink to my worries all over again
And trade all my glory for a spot of wine.
But choices are a luxury I now not know
Since dreaded three words heard
And before this of course I knew the throe
Since notions of secrecy were at best absurd.
I was immersed in a corrupt celestial light
I had anticipated something less dire
I wrote same four words a score that night
And I am here for my mind’s desire.
Love is lost so closely far away
So I helplessly scream out her name
In a passionate fit of agony, my sanity did stray
Yet being locked here I must abstain.
Obscured months pass like hours and my mind breaks
As my Brother has found out my worst fear
My spirit is broken, my body aches
And I wish it upon my dear.
I become aware under the Chestnut Tree Café
d go to thinkWhere the dismiss
Calmly I enjoy my victory gin today
Not finding it a misnamed drink.
I feel happy and I feel safe
With powerful eyes draping over me
As I recall less happy days as a waif
I accept my brother now, expectedly.
If I read the words now I would agree
As inversely years ago I wouldn’t
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (1)
But since I don’t read, both couldn’t.
Don’t think, the year is now 2084
I find myself staring up upon the Lewdies’ feet
And even these find no happiness anymore
So seeking serenity I found my better retreat

6:49 PM  
Blogger silveryarn said...

I read Animal Farm back in my secondary school days (ok it wasn't that long ago either), and it really freaked me out back then, how animals become so much like human. Napolean was just...intimidating.

3:53 AM  
Blogger Kean said...

Proud of ya, dude. Even Nancy rose from the dead to praise u. And I truly must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading ur book reviews. (Damn it, hurts to tell the truth.) N while ur at it, I beg to differ bout Ghostwritten. Keep up the geeky work. N I'd also like my profile changed. Haha.

5:01 AM  
Blogger axe said...

good on you , girl! may you reach intellectual orgasm!;]

6:11 AM  
Blogger nax said...

Well..Napoleon unnerved me. The whole satire actually. I find it amazing that people dare claim the senario in Animal Farm was myopic. *coughs* bubblemunche *coughs* but no offense though. This book was a parody of the russian revolution, the only reason it became famous. If the reason for its fame is call myopia, I don't know what makes good reading.
And by the way, there are iq 170 people who are construction workers and the likes=) Intellectuals can go...
"Geniuses in the field of metaphysics, Honen and Shinran have said that ultimately, all religions are paradoxical. They have to be! For if quantum mechanics and relativity theory cannot be consistently explained in ordinary language any more than our three-dimensional planet can be accurately drawn on the two-dimensional pages of geography books, it is conceivable that Reality, which includes both quantum and sidereal worlds, is less mysterious than they are. The paradox here is that religion confronts us with its insistence that the opposites that texture the world we normally experience are, when rightly understood, actually one. Coincidentia Oppositorum. "
But hands up, how many understood that? There's not much of a advantage in our world if you can go in deep into complex issues but nobody manages to understand you.

Ramble ramble ramble...

6:22 AM  
Blogger PARIS said...

Animal Farm is not about capitalism. It is actually a critique of communism in practice. This must be taken in context of when he wrote the text, which is during the start of Cold War and news of atrocities taking place in a very communist USSR, was made known to the so-called democratic West.

As much as most like to think that communism and Marxism are one of the same, it is not. Just like you noted communist dictators are like the pigs in the story, more 'equal' than equality of the species. How communism was practised is very different from what Marx himself had conceived or theorized.

1984 is an excellent book. Who controls the past, controls the present. Who controls the present, controls the past. If you are written out of history, did you actually exist? Shan't spoil the book for you but I think it is a bloody good book which also reflects how society currently works as well.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Spidey said...

Here's a blog u might like 2 check out if u enjoy book reviews ... http://bookreviewblog.blogspot.com.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Haven't read Animal Farm yet, but I got the impression 1984 centered more on communism and absolute socialist societies rather than capitalism. It mentions "5 year plans," drawing references to Stalin's totalitarian Soviet Union and his attempt to industrialize the country. The government consists of only one party, headed by "Big Brother" whose face is plastered everywhere, constantly staring at you (reminds me of Iraq with Hussein & Hitler's Nazi Germany).

War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery... those paradoxical statements are still in practice today. As ridiculous as it seems, look a little further and people are still touting that WAR is PEACE, that IGNORANCE is STRENGTH, and FREEDOM is SLAVERY. They're just putting it in different words and coating those words in sugar so you'll be more accepting of them.

Ahh, Newspeak, that was one of my favorite subjects in the book. History has always been recorded in writing, and but before a writing system developed, we have no idea what happened on Earth. We have anthropoligist and other scientist estimates, but we don't REALLY know. Without written records, we know nothing. Orwell including an entirely different language that DESTROYED words instead of CREATING them was pure genius. Highlights the power of communication to future generations.
Of course, just like Marxism, Orwell's book only works because it's a book, a theory, not real, and he controls the effects of the cause. I don't think anything like thise could ever happen. Well, that wasn't Orwell's point (1984 was a political satire intended to be extreme and over the top, so I guess he KNEW it couldn't really work), but it DOES make you ponder and think about all the different ways government and society could have evolved in the history of the Earth....

In reality, rebellion would be imminent. Even if people never knew life could be different, they would make it different. New notions and ideas of governance would have arisen like Thomas Paine, or they would at least have MODIFIED it, despite the control of Big Brother or the Thought Police, because the Thought Police themselves can't operate without questioning their jobs. In society, governments that trample on the social contract between a government and a society never work out. Society always ends up overthrowing the government if they're unhappy enough, and with such an extreme difference in classes in 1984, that would be BOUND to happen.
The power of thought and free thinking is something you can not take away from a person. Try to crush it if you will, but it won't work, you'll still be thinking for YOURSELF, for YOU, and those thoughts will lead to the conclusion that a totalitarian society isn't at all good for you and your neighbors. Teaching an entire population something like doublethink is preposterous -- it'd never work. It's too complicated, and what about ADHD? or ADD? It wouldn't work. There'd ALWAYS be the people who oppose the system, fight the system, etc. They might "vanish," but there will then, ALWAYS be people who are smart enough to hide their opposition in the deepest, darkest corners of their mind. There will be people who could unite the paroles and fight for new governance, etc.

Then, I've always taken a rather optimistic viewpoint of people. I have faith that people are good to the core, not evil. I believe Locke, not Hobbes, in the true nature of human beings. Only according to Hobbes could 1984 have even a slim chance of working.

Enjoy the rest of the book. :] There's one part that's rather tedius, you might have already gotten through that though. It's an eerie read, and one part bothered me so much that I never picked up the book again until this previous year.

3:00 PM  
Blogger cherry said...

hahaha. um. xiaxue, were you some kind of guai kia in secondary school? the language you use is good. (not SOPHISTICATEDLONGISHWORDKIND, but more of a useitagoodwaythatimpressesreaders-kind-of-thing) science/humanities student?

4:07 AM  
Blogger The Legal Janitor said...

Hey, I suggest you research the following terms and people to help you in understanding Animal Farm better.

Lenin
Leon Trotsky
Bolsheviks
Mensheviks

Try researching on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

3:00 AM  
Blogger qu4nm1n9 said...

hey, i wish to see your review on Paulo Coelho's Eleven Minutes, provided you read it of course...

4:13 AM  
Blogger Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

If Animal Farm was supposed to be a sales pitch for neo-Marxism, it falls flat. When the private property gets seized by the Marxist Animals with their chants of "four legs good, two legs bad", they end up making a bloody mess of things, don't they?

Lo and behold, that's what Marxists have done all over the world, everywhere they've tried to fit their ideological square peg into the round hole of reality.

European style Democratic Socialism can have some merits, but even there, only if it has the invigorating element of Capitalism as the beast of burden pulling the wagon of Social Justice.

Pure Capitalism gets excessive, like in Dickensian situations, robber-barons, et al., but pure Socialism gets you nowhere, too. At a basic level, humans need a profit motive to get things done, while at the same time, need a regulatory boundary to what they will do. Mixed economies, then, are what work.

1984 is a general polemic on censorship and oppression, which can exist in any sort of a society--Islamic, Communist, Social Democrat, Capitalist, Socialist-Capitalist Mixed, or Anarcho-Syndicalist. Any of them can squash dissent and try to cookie-cut the way people think.

Brave New World and The Island were Aldous Huxley's attempts to contrast dystopia with utopia, respectively. What he doesn't understand is that his "Island" IS a "Brave New World", and yes, that is very creepy.

It's always enlightening to read his "Brave New World Revisited" before the actual "Brave New World".

Shall we go on forever about what is dystopia and what is utopia? The former is what should never exist, and the latter, what cannot. I thought we humans had more common sense than that, you know?

The real business at hand is that the owner of this blog should marry me forthwith. ;)

9:23 PM  
Blogger zip_loc said...

BWEK WONG!!!!! how dare you slam my favourite book (for now at least ><)! Humph. Well it only exhibits in stark contrast your lack of literary taste.
AND i did not rise from the dead okay! Just cos i was dormant doesnt mean i was dead. Silly wong. Too much mee sua has made you dull.

Let's go ktv sometime soon! =D

8:29 AM  
Blogger froZenZombie said...

Living in Singapore under the Singapore Goverment with its control of our print, media, educational system and Statboards... ... you ARE living with the Thought Police, XX, just a more subtle kind where you think what they want you to think. = )

9:35 PM  
Blogger yuene said...

Animal Farm never advocated Marxism as it was practiced by the Soviets, it was more a criticism of the degeneration of what was once a high ideal to the very thing that Marxism had opposed. Old cliche, but hey, Marxism was the perfect form of government until they brought the humans in.

I suggest reading Brave New World as well, it's pretty good stuff. I didn't find it creepy though, just rather logical. As a way of life it is rather plausible in an economic sense. And sort of as a related side note, a newspaper article was run in 2002 or 2003 comparing 1984 and Brave New World and who had a more realistic view of 'Utopia'. If you can find the copy of Atraits Times it was in, it's an interesting article.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Hi,

Read your blog a couple times, but this is the first I've stumbled across the geeky bits corner. Keep up the great work (like the other 1000's of emails you get, I'm sure)

I'm interested - what made you think Animal Farm/1984 was about capitalism? I'm of the opinnion that every reader gets their own (valid) interpretation, so I'll definetly be around when you post on the topic again. 1984's one of my favorite books, and it really impacted my political leanings way back when.

As I took it, 1984 was a warning against (communist) totalitarianism, how technology would enable the oppression of citizen's minds as well as their physical bodies. It's also about the dangers of Single-party, authoritarian rule. I'm a fairly patriotic American, so I took the book to heart when I first read it.

I studied abroad in Singapore last year; I'm afraid I didn't have too much fun there, but it's an experience I'm glad I had. Funny, though, I took the book as anti-communist, and you took it as anti-capitalist. Maybe the places we grew up in skewed our readings of the same book? I think Singapore is one of the few exceptions where an authoritarian state has served its people well, and its especially important since China's arguable moving to copy the same model. Not that the US doesn't have its own problems (bushes and bushes of them, actually) but you have to admit that some of Singapore's policies is a little creepy.

If you have the time from your budding celebrity career, drop me a line at signetgreat@hotmail.com (not my usual email, so it might be a while before I reply).

All the best.

3:02 PM  
Blogger xalmon said...

ah if you want to read Brave New World. you dont have to buy it. dont have to borrow even.. you can read it here... http://www.huxley.net/bnw/index.html

3:38 AM  
Blogger Miao said...

I miss this blog :(

9:33 PM  
Blogger xalmon said...

no more intellectual posts? =)

2:40 PM  
Blogger blitz said...

I have to say - Animal Farm is NOT about trashing capitalism (sorry about that). The point i think Orwell is trying to make is, that communism, which supposedly makes everyone equal, is actually as bad capitalism because some people (like the pigs) will end up taking charge anyway.

So Orwell is actually trashing communism. Yep. And i feet his book is totally marvellous too. Cheers.

8:48 AM  
Blogger comradewolf said...

Hey...aren't you gonna finish the entry? Or the book? Cuz well, the ending was pretty surprising. So--just wanted to know your opinion about that.

The rat bit was GROSS!

haha--

8:56 PM  
Blogger Xak said...

Acutally George Orwell was a commited Marxist...Animal Farm is his criticism of the Soviet Union...he realised that the Soviet Union had warped Marx's utopian dream and was severely disgusted by the way the Bolsheviks used their power to benefit only themselves, not everybody as Marxism says...so it is a criticism of communism...1984 was more on his view that technology will limit freedom in the future, as you can see by the tv thing...

6:49 PM  
Blogger KIMaster said...

Most of the comments on this post have been by 30 year old male virgins desperate to get female attention that they can masturbate to.

NO ONE GIVES A SHIT JUST BECAUSE YOU HAPPENED TO READ AN INSANELY WELL-KNOWN AND POPULAR BOOK!

Shut the fuck up and go wack off to underage pussy like you fucktards normally do.

By the way, Wendy is clearly none too bright.

"Animal Farm" was a critique of communism, not capitalism, as the previous poster correctly pointed out.

4:37 AM  
Blogger russia bear said...

political pigs indeed. pigs will be pigs.

please read "Life of Pi". i can't wait for your review. or not.

9:37 PM  
Blogger KIMaster said...

I just noticed that "Xak" stated that Orwell was a "commited Marxist". (BTW-learn to spell dumbass)

Such a statement shows complete ignorance about Orwell's life or any of his writings. Like many university students in the early twentieth century, George Orwell was originally fascinated by Marxism. It was a highly fashionable and socially accepted intellectual idea among the higher class.

However, after the atrocities, Orwell completely repudiated communism and denounced it as a great evil. Both of his classics, "Animal Farm" and "1984", attest to this.

RussianBear- You are a motherfucking disgrace to the country I was born and raised in.

Again, you're not being a clever shit by mentioning "Life of Pi".

Most people have heard of it too. It also has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

Dipshit.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Muhammad said...

i just need to post something ...

4:17 AM  
Blogger Freemason said...

Wow...PSLE score of 269. Brilliant. Tell me when you get your MBA from Havard, ok. Then we'll be even.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Freemason said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Xiaxue said...

kimaster: A lack of knowledge is not stupidity. Before I started on the book, a friend told me it was about capitalism. And so I thought it was, though later on I realised it was about communism.

I apologize, my mistake. =)

10:09 AM  
Blogger Sargunan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Sargunan said...

Hi there..Was passing by several blogs when I came across your...Sorry to say this ms pandemonia-on-blog, but despite being a Singaporean, never heard of you...Maybe my refusal to bother about the local news and the TV...

Anyway, I think a lot of the people here seem to be giving you lots of stick..Sound like a bunch of babies whining...Can they be more exciting in their damnation?...

Just wanted to comment on that book you've read...You should have finished it by now I guess...Yesh it's a great book...Good to note that you possess a humble side..Deeply appreciated by those who pride in reading interesting books like me and some other dumbass idiots who got nothing better to do than complain and still read your blog!...

The author of the book was an anti-communist..as most other Americans...and presented the plight of the Red army(made up of peasants) through Napoleon and the White army(made up of Intellectuals and the Aristocrats) through Snowball..The Red Army would go on to win the Russian Civil War, leading to the formation of Communist Russia...This explains the sad story of Animal Farm when Snowball was chased out and Napoleon took over..

Something to sent a sudden sentience to your brain and excite it I hope..Take it easy and keep it cool..Great job on the blog...Adios..

9:37 AM  
Blogger rubberhopper said...

I believe that you didn't know that the books you are reading belong to this genre called the UTOPIAN WRITING. You should take a look at Sir Thomas More's Utopia before reading the other book. But I am surprised that you would read such books.

6:31 PM  
Blogger carmen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:29 PM  
Blogger hike said...

When I was reading Animal Farm, I wondered if Snowball was sybolizing Lenin, Trotsky, or the mensheviks.
I read that its Trotsky, but i'm not sure. Also, does anyone know who old Major sybolized; was that lenin?

Thank You.

9:22 PM  
Blogger shirle said...

it was the combination of karl marx and lenin

8:16 PM  
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5:16 PM  
Blogger movieranger said...

Hi Xia Xue,
I like your unconventional perpective of animal farm. You really should do more book reviews.

Sincerely,
Kevin Roger
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2:04 PM  
Blogger china morena said...

am reading 1984 now. perhaps, you should write more reviews.

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9:29 PM  
Blogger friarminor said...

Eric Arthur Blair, er George Orwell would've been proud of you! Wait, is he dead yet? Oh, I'm sure you know!

Thanks for sharing!

11:19 PM  
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