1984 and My Political Perspective MAG

By Brett Glassberg, Chester, NJ

What does it mean to be timeless? I often hear the phrase used in reference to works like the epic poems of Homer or the sculptures of Michelangelo, but are these truly timeless? Time by nature is an abstract concept, so how can anything lack time? As years pass, the words of The Iliad will fade, and the statue of David will crumble. Yet both have left an unequivocal mark on our consciousness. The works themselves cannot resist the effects of years, but the ideas they portray and their influence live on, making them timeless.

In my life many works have influenced me. Films have moved me to tears, and paintings have shown me new paths of abstract thought, but none of these pieces of art has affected me the way George Orwell’s 1984 did.

It is remarkable that in this day and age, when we are supposed to be more enlightened, we continue to make the same mistakes. Orwell saw the effects of giving up freedom to the government. He recognized the potential for abuse of power that almost certainly occurs. In 1984 he laid out the blueprints that have led many nations into the hands of totalitarian governments. Of course, at the time he was using science fiction to comment on the direction of Communism in Russia, but if he had written the book today with the title 2007, it would clearly have been taken as a commentary on the Patriot Act and the power we have given our government due to fear of a faceless enemy called “terrorism.”

When I was younger, I felt that being a politician was a boring job assigned to more knowledgeable people. Then September 11 happened, and my world began to shift dramatically. In the confusion and fear, our nation soon found itself at war. Even though I was young, I thought it strange that we would be attacking Iraq. From what I understood, the men in those planes were from Saudi Arabia, but, like everyone else, I was scared and confused. I still hadn’t found my political voice and blindly trusted the nebulous evidence filtered through the news.

Like everyone else, fear began to seep into my consciousness, kept alive by words like “terrorists” and “weapons of mass destruction.” All the while I felt that something was wrong, but I lacked the ability to express these feelings due to ignorance about the political landscape in the Middle East. I did not believe I was informed enough to take a valid stance opposing the war.

During my academic career, I have always loved reading, but I wasn’t fond of required reading in English. For me it took the pleasure out of literary exploration when the “travel options” were so limited. However, I am grateful to have been introduced to authors I may not have discovered, including Hemingway, Kafka, and, of course, Orwell.

I am certainly glad I opened myself up to 1984. The ideas it proposed confirm my fears. Out of these concepts of faceless enemies and blind trust of those in power, my political voice grew. I hope my own work will resonate with generations the way 1984 has, and perhaps also be timeless.

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This article has 1 comment.

faceless said...
on Aug. 5 2008 at 9:18 pm
this is much better as a perspective on what art is rather than a political commentary


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