Reading Corner: Nineteen Eighty-Four

Reading Corner: Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four or 1984 by George Orwell was a book that I always intended to read. Generally speaking, I enjoy “classic” literature. Most of the books that fit that type of category are there for a reason, and I enjoy and appreciate creative writing of a higher quality. I also have a bit of a taste for dystopian futures, possibly in part because I am lucky enough to not live in a world of that kind. There always seems to be potential for that sort of thing lurking just around every corner.

One of the reasons that I wanted to read this novel was because it is the origin of the concept of “Big Brother” and the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.” There are so many cultural references that we assimilate and use without knowing the source, and I think it’s kind of fun to go looking around and find out why that phrase gets used a certain way to mean a certain thing. It gives it a new significance. I definitely feel differently about my own personal use of the phrase “Big Brother” than I did before I read the novel~

Obviously, the book has no direct or even indirect connection to lolita fashion in the slightest. However, just for the sake of it because I can, I’m going to briefly attempt a few very slight connections, threadbare though they may be. I found that there were some parallels that I drew, namely in terms of comparisons and analysis.

The novel’s setting is a uniform, standardized world in which luxury is heavily rationed and highly illegal. Despite this, some people still long for beauty and indulgence. I think that’s just a part of human nature, but it’s stronger in some people than it is in others. Lolita fashion is an indulgent luxury, and similarly it appeals to some more strongly than it does to others. (Personal taste plays a role in this sort of thing, of course, as we don’t universally enjoy the same luxuries.) Although it’s easier to buy lolita fashion items outside of Japan than it was, say, five years ago, it’s still not terribly easy. There’s a lot of work in tracking the exchange rates, factoring in customs, checking sizes, making reservations for collections, and saving up. Usually, lolita live in areas that are rather hostile towards our clothing, rather than accepting. From the people they live with to the strangers they pass on the street, there are many remarks and reactions that can be very disheartening and off-putting. Thankfully the fashion isn’t illegal (although it certainly would have been in Oceania!), but there can definitely be a stigma and some girls (and boys) do feel it’s the sort of thing they have to hide and enjoy privately–while it lasts, if it can last, until they can get to a better situation.

That is really a very general thing, but what I found personally more interesting was the book’s Newspeak. Newspeak is a modified, simplified language designed to control by removing capabilities of expression. The sinister purpose of Newspeak isn’t related to what I found amusing–instead, I was interested by the fact that the shortened and combined words that make up most of the vocabulary for Newspeak are somewhat similar to the casual terms used by the English-speaking lolita community. Newspeak words like “crimethink” and “plusgood” make me feel like they’d fit in with “colorway” or “brolita.” The community uses abbreviations far more than combined words, but I found it amusing. It made me wonder what would be included or removed from a language dedicated to discussions about the fashion.

These things that I’ve mentioned here are very general and have no impact on Orwell’s work, which really is fantastic. Lolita fashion completely aside, since it’s not relevant to the novel in the first place, I enjoyed reading it, no matter how much I cringed or how many times I shuddered. I wish I had taken the time to read it earlier! I feel like this is a really great book to read to encourage us to think for ourselves, rather than letting others do it for us or limit our ability to do so. I certainly don’t want to live in a world ruled by “the Party!” Despite the time that has passed, this book is still relevant. I can’t help think that perhaps it will always be relevant; there will always be the same fears of the same type of rule that removes so many of our basic freedoms and rights.

I’d rather fear it than see it realized.

(Don’t worry, something happier next time! But I really do like writing about what I read, even if it has nothing to do with cute sparkly fun-times. ♥)