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  #1  
Old Apr 3rd, 2024, 05:20 PM
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1984 by George Orwell

1984
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Well now that we are all feeling cozy and joyful from Orc Coffee Culture---let's head for a dystopian future straight out of our past.

We now know the worst things to come in 1984 would be parachute pants and the Mullet (currently enjoying a truly horrific resurgence), and we woudl have to wait for 2024 to start to get this genuinely paranoid.

CCTV errywhere, why not in your house soon? Maybe in your house already. What will happen when Thought Police are literal, whe "Researchers from the GrapheneX-UTS Human-centric Artificial Intelligence Centre have developed a portable, non-invasive system that can decode silent thoughts and turn them into text."

Scared yet?

I am, and I have yet to crack the covers. Full disclosure, this would be a re-read for me, and I AM NOT DOWN TO REREAD! Once was plenty, but I do not regret giving it the time when I did, and I am SO down for a discussion of 1984 and all its way-too-relevant themes.
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Old Apr 4th, 2024, 01:17 AM
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I teach this novel every four years and I gotta say, in 2020 I thought it had maybe peaked in relevance, but yikes, the video fakes and AI images being passed off as real in our digital world. What would the Ministry of Truth have been able to do with ChatGPT and Bing Image Creator!

I am rereading, and I'm interested in talking about the thought police and how people are encouraged to rat each other out, and how that pertains to our lives today, where someone could be filming you at any time, and that record of the stupid thing you said or did when ou were drunk or young could be permanently attached to your identity. We Olds all joke about how glad we are that TikTok and cell phones weren't around when we were stupid kids, but yikes, it's true.

Privacy. That's a difficult conversation.
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Old Apr 4th, 2024, 09:17 AM
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I went through a Dystopia phase a few years back, reading 1984, Brave New World and The Handmaid's Tale one after the other, though I forget the order. I hope I read something happier afterwards.

Like Fillyjonk I'm glad I read it, but I don't intend to read it again, I think I remember it well enough and don't want to depress myself. However, 1984 does give me hope that we haven't reached the point where the corrupt people in power are competent enough to actually maintain their corrupt power indefinitely. The closest we have in the real world is probably North Korea with all news and media state-approved, nothing allowed in from outside. However even this is increasingly difficult in an increasingly connected world.
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Old Apr 4th, 2024, 10:28 AM
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There's a lot to be said about the points above above. I won't be able touch on all of them, but here is a reply nonetheless.

Foucault explored the topic of the panopticon in depth. Yes, I know it's Foucault, but his analysis on the panopticon is solid. At any rate, the constant reality and-or specter of being observed is the panopticon, but it is no longer some giant tower, it is each other. Here "knowingly or unknowingly" the people have become the apparatus and enforcers of "big brother", which isn't too far from Orwell's novel.

This is interesting because once an action is practiced, it becomes a social norm. All rituals (religious or political), laws, and cultural events must be practiced or become extinct. Now, people are invested to a point where it is their identity and any push back is met with lawful and-or unlawful vigilantism. In the past, privacy was something to be protected, but now privacy fosters suspicion, which is the essence of totalitarianism; but it's done in away that there is less need for genocidal behavior, as it is "voluntarily" acted out through rituals of entertainment and so on. Thus, people still truly believe they are free.

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Old Apr 5th, 2024, 10:14 AM
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Ok this was an interesting read: Foucault's "Panopticism," an excerpt from Discipline and Punish.

The plague analogy is pretty relevant to recent years, as well as the "visibility is a trap" idea to 1984. The party is kind of like a panopticon, with no privacy, and only the proles have the freedom of secrets or any deviant behavior.

To make this RPG relevant, there's a panopticon called Revel's End in Icewind Dale, a prison of the Lord's Alliance. It shows up in Rime of the Frostmaiden and also in Keys to the Golden Vault. That one-shot adventure is offered free on D&D Beyond.
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Old Apr 5th, 2024, 10:52 AM
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Thanks for linking that. It's been a long time since I've read Discipline and Punish. It's a good book and that's a great excerpt.

I agree. The frightening and fascinating thing is that the more we become "cyborgs" (Haraway) our intimacy with technology increases. Therefore, each person has the protentional to be a "bio-architectural" panopticon, not only in action but also intention, identity and thought. Orwell's Novel is on Asimov levels of prediction. [I don't mean to consistently name drop, but I can't steal ideas either.]

I would play that one-shot. I'll check it out.

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Old Apr 7th, 2024, 08:19 AM
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I always knew the Lord's Alliance was creepy. Lawful Goods are a menace.

I think its only name dropping if you are like, Last week in the Hamptons, Asimov dropped by my seance--I had it run by Cayce, of course. My my friend Herbert--- Youi know him? H.G>? -- swung by the early forties and picked him up. Lovely fellow but we got crashed by a morlock---What a dip hog. The onion-chive was depleted, but what can one do?

I think we are facing a huge threat to empathy as a concept and a skill. I think TABLE TOP is invaluable as other forms of entertainment get more and more custom, so the shoes all fit and you never have consider other shoes. Theatre, live theatre, too.
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Old Apr 7th, 2024, 11:57 AM
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Yes we are facing huge threat to empathy amongst a lot of other things. 1984 seems to be coming true in Scotland. The SNP have put hate speech laws in, as you may have heard in the news. It’s in effect a blasphemy law, which I believe will be used to punish dissent, under the guise of “protecting people”. Also there will be vexatious complaints by people to get people into trouble.
Hate speech is such a nebulous concept, that what someone might not consider hate speech, might be somebody’s else definition of it. I don’t know how the police are going to enforce these laws when politicians and lawyers can’t agree what hate speech is. Hell, even I’m concerned what I’ve written on this site might be twisted to hate speech.
Sorry to go on a mini rant here, but one of the themes of 1984 is the control of language and definitions, and sadly the SNP is using it as a how to guide, rather than as the dire warning it is.
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Old Apr 7th, 2024, 01:41 PM
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@Filly.jonk

I lean toward neutral good and chaotic good.

I can get into that kind of humor. You had me laughing.

"Theatre, live theatre, too."

I agree with your observation. I'm not much of an actor, but as an observer, I have a deep interest in theatre. Theatre is actually alive, whereas film is static (Benjamin Walter); thus, goes a long way toward empathy.

@Acathala

This is sad to hear about Scotland.

To me, the most haunting part of the book is in chapter 5 where the conversation over the destruction of words takes place. On the surface, "book burning" comes to mind, but under this, it tears at the reader-writer relationship in a way that it normalizes separation from the desire "to be a part of", as seen in other parts of the book. Therefore, I get an image from this conversation which is unfathomably nonbeing — space is mechanized.

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Old Apr 7th, 2024, 03:12 PM
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It’s coming to England if as predicted, Labour gets in. Probably USA as well. As I understand it, Canada already has these laws, and wants to expand them to thought crime levels.

I’ve heard a bit of Orwell bashing recently, by people whom, don’t understand the work, or are outright liars. I suspect we’ll hear more from these people as they seek to discredit his work.
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Old Apr 7th, 2024, 03:58 PM
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"the bashing". This is when people start blaming black cats and make the supernatural look secular.
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Old Apr 10th, 2024, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMIW View Post
Like Fillyjonk I'm glad I read it, but I don't intend to read it again, I think I remember it well enough and don't want to depress myself. However, 1984 does give me hope that we haven't reached the point where the corrupt people in power are competent enough to actually maintain their corrupt power indefinitely. The closest we have in the real world is probably North Korea with all news and media state-approved, nothing allowed in from outside. However even this is increasingly difficult in an increasingly connected world.
Right, and we can take solace in that the underlying reason for conceiving of the panopticon is that surveillance is incredibly, incredibly resource intensive. No government has ever come close to Big Brother because it turns out that watching everyone (including the people doing the watching) is prohibitively expensive, which is why surveillance agencies have to rely on informants, random scapegoating, and people complying in advance. Even Big Brother has to leave the proles largely unsurveilled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lostcheerio View Post
The plague analogy is pretty relevant to recent years, as well as the "visibility is a trap" idea to 1984. The party is kind of like a panopticon, with no privacy, and only the proles have the freedom of secrets or any deviant behavior.
The visibility trap is why I know a lot of people who are reluctant to change gender markers on their official documents or get tested for autism. Once you're on the record as a potential "deviant," you can't take that back, and the political (or at least legislative) environment in many regions has become hostile to their rights. Surveillance becomes a much more pressing issue once you've been flagged as a thought criminal.
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Last edited by Kaigen; Apr 10th, 2024 at 02:46 PM.
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Old Apr 10th, 2024, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
Right, and we can take solace in that the underlying reason for conceiving of the panopticon is that surveillance is incredibly, incredibly resource intensive. No government has ever come close to Big Brother because it turns out that watching everyone (including the people doing the watching) is prohibitively expensive, which is why surveillance agencies have to rely on informants, random scapegoating, and people complying in advance. Even Big Brother has to leave the proles largely unsurveilled.

The visibility trap is why I know a lot of people who are reluctant to change gender markers on their official documents or get tested for autism. Once you're on the record as a potential "deviant," you can't take that back, and the political (or at least legislative) environment in many regions has become hostile to their rights. Surveillance becomes a much more pressing issue once you've been flagged as a thought criminal.
Youíre assuming that itís just the government. Given how rapidly AI is advancing, itís going to be exceptional easier to keep track of you whatever youíre doing, wherever you are. Microsoft is especially evil in that you donít even own your own computer, and they can remotely access it. Weíve slept walked into a situation where weíve given big tech a lot of power, and I donít know how we undo that, given how entwined with government they are.
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Old Apr 10th, 2024, 09:11 PM
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"surveillance agencies have to rely on informants"

The changes in technology has made this processes much easier than before, not "big brother" levels, but almost everyone walks around with a camera now and uploads everything they see to their platforms of choice. Here they give the information freely, which means that surveillance is easier and cheaper. I'm curious to see how things are going to look in the next 30 years, especially with AI into the mix, as Acathala mentioned. These are factors that have to be taken into consideration to carry on an argument.
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Old Apr 11th, 2024, 08:54 AM
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I didn't realize I was stepping into an argument, so maybe I should try to shift focus back to the book so it can be a discussion instead.

One of the things that's always intrigued me about 1984 is that the appendix has a retrospective tone. It talks about how Newspeak was used and how The Party expected their plans would have played out. It reads like it was written by a historian studying a defunct government. So what happened? Did INGSOC evolve in an unexpected direction, or was it suddenly and decisively brought down?
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