Reflections on 1984

September 26, 2016 | minutes read

Working the normal nine to five job leaves little time for personal reading, which is why every morning, as soon as I situate myself on the bus, I immediately rip out a book from my backpack and read.  I guard this meager time like a gambler and his poker chips. Without these short thirty minute rides to and from work, I wouldn’t have been able to finish 1984.

But I did.

Flipping to the final page, uttering the final line of 1984, left a gaping hole in my stomach. A profound sense of loss.  It’s rare for a book, or anything for that matter, to leave me devastated.  I just sat there, on the couch, with the book folded over my lap, staring into space. Contemplating.

OBrien’s systematic interrogation — broken down into three concrete phases — destroyed Winston mentally, emotionally, and physically.  By the time Obrien had finished with Winston, he was only a “shell of a man”.

Big brother won.

On the plus side, though, the timing of reading the book could not have been more perfect. Had I been forced to read this in highschool (it’s not uncommon for this book to be compulsory reading), my unprepared mind would not have been able to process Orwell’s distopia .  With the global surveillance programmes revealed (thank you Edward Snowden) is the idea of big brother that out of the question ? I think not.

You know when you are reading, mid paragraph, and you stumble across a unexpectingly beautiful sentence?  Here’s one of my favorite quotes, when Winston has an empiphany, in the final scene, as he’s being painfully tortured:

Perhaps one did not want to be loved as much as to be understood

I’m returning 1984 back to Billy, my book shelf, with plans on re-reading the book. It’s definitely worth a second read.


I’m Matt Chung. I’m a software engineer, seasoned technology leader, and father currently based in Seattle and London. I love to share what I know. I write about topic developing scalable & fail-safe software running in the AWS cloud, digital organization as a mechanism for unlocking your creativity, and maximizing our full potentials with personal development habits.

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