Wednesday, April 05, 2017
HUXLEY, ORWELL, AND TRUMP
Huxley "began “Brave New World” as a parody of H.G. Wells, whose writing he detested, and it remained a book that means to be as playful as it is prophetic. And yet his novel much more accurately evokes the country we live in now, especially in its depiction of a culture preoccupied with sex and mindless pop entertainment, than does Orwell’s more ominous book, which seems to be imagining someplace like North Korea.
Or it did until Donald Trump was inaugurated. All of a sudden, as many commentators have pointed out, there were almost daily echoes of Orwell in the news, and “1984” began shooting up the Amazon best-seller list. The most obvious connection to Orwell was the new president’s repeated insistence that even his most pointless and transparent lies were in fact true, and then his adviser Kellyanne Conway’s explanation that these statements were not really falsehoods but, rather, “alternative facts.” As any reader of “1984” knows, this is exactly Big Brother’s standard of truth: The facts are whatever the leader says they are. If you’re a rereader, thumbing through your old Penguin paperback, those endless wars in “1984,” during which the enemy keeps changing — now Eurasia, now Eastasia — no longer seem as far-fetched as they once did, and neither do the book’s organized hate rallies, in which the citizenry works itself into a frenzy against nameless foreigners. Even President Trump’s weirdly impoverished, 12-year-old’s vocabulary has an analogue in “1984,” in which Newspeak isn’t just the medium of double talk; it’s a language busily trying to shed itself of as many words (and as much complexity) as possible." (emphasis supplied)
See both essays at