By Shafqat Mushtaq
Some people think books have lost their sheen and shine; some think they no longer appeal but, in reality, the trend is totally opposite. Books attract readers like magnets; fill them with insights and wisdom. While t books of the modern genre are superficial It is the Classics that rule the roost for very profound and significantly good reasons. The novel ‘1984’, by the inimitable George Orwell, is one such example. The epochal novel has made it to the best seller list and topping 2017 must-read list as well.
The question is: Why is ‘1984’ suddenly a 2017 must-read? There must be a reason behind this unbelievable trend that has made rendered the book as it was if published yesterday. The reason is that everything described in this book, especially in terms of the future has already begin to unravel itself in reality (which is not a good sign at all). More than a bundle of pages, it is prescient a warning about imminent catastrophe, a bulletin sounded to alert humanity that if they start living in the manner characters in the novel do, it is going to be too hard to evade doom.
Orwell imagined a world in which Big Brother has absolute knowledge about people and whatever they talk (because he is listening). The homes in his world are replete with advanced devices, less as instruments of substance, more as eavesdroppers listening to peoples’ conversations and passing on that information on to Big Brother. The great author anticipated a world devoid of human compassion, a world where nothing but hatred and wars thrill the people. It is a world in a state of complete hopelessness. He imagined all this in the novel and portrayed a horrifying picture of loss, where truth is crime and propaganda the only reality of government and the State.
While reading the book, one can see glimpses of the novel in the current state of the world, a world where only truth is political propaganda and where fake encounters, fake news, stories are fabricated on a daily basis to keep people deluded. Countries run propaganda machines to influence public opinion especially during elections; right-wing ideologues leave no stone upturned to polarize the societies. All this is leading towards a catastrophe which is potentially so dangerous that not a sign will be left behind on the earth of human existence.
It is worth citing Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella’s quote, expressed during the 2017 Build conference which says it all about ‘1984’ and thereby Orwell’s prescience:
“What Orwell prophesied in 1984, where technology was being used to monitor, control, dictate, or what Huxley imagined we may do just by distracting ourselves without any meaning or purpose – neither of these futures is something that we want”.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]