When 2+2=22

“You may have a reason why two and two should make five, but they will still make but four.” -Samuel Johnson

We all know, if we’ve even so much as heard of Orwell’s 1984, that a totalitarian government can brainwash its citizens into believing that 2+2=5. Well, maybe it could happen. It would actually be very hard to accomplish. The novel is an exercise in imagining the power of language to erase and impose.

And while Orwell’s ’84 does an astounding job at creating a world alien and familiar where the state has coerced us to accepting any lie imaginable, the truth is that it doesn’t have to take an all-powerful oligarchy to do so. Continue reading

My Students Get 1984 More than Capitol Hill

My students immediately saw the relevance of 1984’s endless wars with Eastasia/Eurasia and the omnipresent surveillance of Big Brother.  Who knew they’re smarter than Washington?  Free Manning.  Lower the sabre over Syria.  Ignorance is strength.  It’s time we show the world our weak side.