1984

By George Orwell

I first read 1984 back in 1983 because my mother wanted me to read the book before the year named actually occurred. Since then, it’s remained one of my favorite books. Not only is Orwell a master when it comes to crafting prose and plot, he is also an intellectual master, a master of “great ideas.” Also, the idea of a dystopia captivated me like nothing else ever had.

Now many years later as part of my quest to teach myself about good writing, I decided to revisit 1984. Is it still one of my favorite books? And if so, why?

I think humans inherently enjoy struggling against something. It’s the reason stories remain popular with us. We gather round the television (or campfire) to learn about how to overcome obstacles. We learn about how others have behaved in certain situations in order to steel ourselves against challenges we too will surely face.

This, I think, is the appeal of 1984. Its the “us against them” mentality that resonates to our core. Human tribes surely must have had this kind of thought process, as do countries today, and social groups. How often is it that we form bonds of friendship by participating in pointing out the weaknesses of others? We like to have something in common, and one easy thing to have in common is hate.

I know I mention the “unhistorian” Dan Carlin a lot in my posts, but it is because my world seems bereft of “thought leaders” and Dan, for me, fits this bill. From listening to Dan’s accounts of warfare, the idea of strangers following and dying for a leader they have never met and would never meet in order to fight strangers that they might even like and have much in common with, seems increasingly bizarre. The fact that I find this bizarre may be my own personal thought crime.

As I revisit 1984, I am flooded with memories of Russia. I lived in Russia briefly in the 1990s and found it to be a magical place. The onion-dome churches had survived (many had), the communist party as had the faith of so many of the Russia people. In the days of the party, believers were heretics.

That strange pairing of words and ideas, where they initially seem at odds with each other but upon deeper thought ring true, is one of the great ideas of Orwell’s book.

“War is peace.”

“Freedom is slavery.”

“Ignorance is strength.”

Over the years, I have wondered if slipping into Russian culture would be similar to slipping into the pages of 1984? And, have we in the U.S., already embraced such a life?

After meeting many Russians as well as people from other surrounding republics, the idea of hating them and warring against them became ridiculous. I saw strangers help each other on the streets in Moscow. And yes, people did smile.

But we have our own problems with this 1984 lifestyle in the United States. Glued to our televisions, computers, and phones, we let a barrage of “programming” speak to us, and after my own experiences in listening to hate radio during Hurricane Katrina, I see how I myself could be influenced. “Why didn’t those people just leave when they heard the storm was coming?” This was the cry of the Republican right. I believe we are very easily influenced, even though most of us are certain that we personally are in complete control. It is my shame to this day that I listened and accepted even 5 percent of the “logic” spewed by hate radio in the fall of 2005. The lesson was an important one.

Other big ideas in the book are sex and love. Julia passes a note to Winston that reads: “I love you.” As a skeptical female, I am sent reeling. Of course she doesn’t love Winston. They don’t even know each other. The note should have said something else. Something more direct. Or, is it far better to imply what you mean?

So then, when does love start? And when does it end? How can it be created? And, how can it be destroyed? To what extent is love based on dependence? How much decision is involved? These are more questions the book raises.

1984 is a book that captures so much in a relatively small space. It leaves you thinking and reminds you that thinking doesn’t always feel good. So why do it? Why think? Why ponder? Why ruminate?

More good questions. Although after reading 1984, I’m not convinced that thinking is bad.

“You think too much,” a fan of Sergei Dovlatov once told me.

That is irony.

What’s even more ironic is that I don’t think about him any more. Once you’re convinced that someone doesn’t love you, you can let go.

That’s where love ends.

And when it does, without all that craving and infatuation, we can return to an unnatural state of bliss.

Ignorance is power.

Bliss is ignorance.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
By Marie Kondo
Tantor Media, Inc.
@2015

The Konmari method is an organizational and decluttering method devised by Marie Kondo. Marie’s central claim is that “tidying can transform your life.”

And I believe it!

“When you put your house in order,” she says, “you put your affairs and your past in order too.”

I find that listening to the audiobook version of this work is very inspirational. I’ve been doing this while I take shortcuts here and there with Marie’s method. She would not be happy.

That said. I do like her method and think it’s a good one. I just don’t think it works when clutter has gotten so very out of hand, as my case was. I also have to have a way of clearing the mess away while I get back to my work week. Advise such as take all your books off their shelves and put them on the floor, just doesn’t work for me. I would have no floor space left!

I do like her advice to touch each book to see if it brings you joy. This helped me get rid of about 50 books last weekend. And I feel so much better! Just admitting that I am not going to read those books and if I really want to, I can check them out of a library made me feel so much better.

Marie lives in Japan. A web search reveals that the average size house in Japan is about 1,310 square feet. Apartments average at around 250 square feet. My house is 545 square feet. This seems so small. I can’t imagine living in less. But as I clear out the things I don’t love and don’t use, I’m finding that I really don’t need to hold onto all of these things. I would much rather have the space than to have the objects.

“Surround yourself only by things you love.”

This is a great way to live too. I’m not quite there yet, but with Marie’s help, I am getting closer.

“Tidying must start with discarding.”

I like her advice to sort by category, not by location. And you can subcategorize if you need to. The idea is to gather every item in the category you are working on and put them in one place, such as the living room floor. That’s where you start work. What to keep? What to discard?

Marie says that for people who have problems being tidy, there are three types: The can’t throw it away type. The can’t put it back type. And the can’t throw it away/can’t put it back type.

I am in the “can’t throw it away type.” But over the last six months, I have been throwing plenty away. Maybe I’ll conquer that soon.

Tidying consists of two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to put things. Marie says to not put anything away until you’ve decided what to keep.

Tidying should only be done once.

What?

Once an for all—within a specific period of time. Quickly, where “quickly” means about half a year. (I am a little behind schedule.)

Do not put your things away until you have finished the work of discarding (for half a year???). Once you get rid of everything you don’t need, then you can put things away.

Touch each thing to figure out how you feel. “Does this spark joy?”

Some categories are harder than others. Things that bring back memories, such as photos are not a good place to start. Start with the easy stuff.

Things have value in terms of function, information, emotional attachment, rarity.

The correct order for tidying?

  1. Clothes.
  2. Books.
  3. Papers.
  4. Komodo.
  5. Misc.
  6. Momentos.

My favorite tip: “Don’t let your family see.”

It hurts people to see you throwing out stuff they gave you or to see you throwing out things that are still useful. It’s just better to make these personal decisions by yourself.

I loved this book. But like I said, I live in such a small space that I have to have a large chunk of time available to throw it all on the floor at one time. Maybe Marie’s right, but so far I can’t do it. I have given away books, but I might be able to give away more books. I have given away clothes, but I could give away more there too. Right now I am working on papers. Her advice on papers? Throw them all away.

I just love Marie!

 

My Neurogenesis Research Findings thus far…

I’m learning more about this every day, but so far I have this. For neurogenesis, you want to:

Learn something new Spanish, Music, Painting, Pottery, Video Games
Run A least a little bit
Resveratrol supplement (forget alcohol) Take a supplement; don’t drink wine
Omega 3 fish oil; extra virgin olive oil; avocado; wild caught fish especially salmon, sardines, herring; coconut oil; walnuts
Curcumin Tumeric and take a supplement
Flavanoids and polyphenols (colors) (3 cups/day; not chocolate) Blueberries, dark chocolate 85%; beets, carrots, peppers, cabbage, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches (limit fruit)
Zinc TBD
Vitamin D Sunshine; take supplements
Probiotics Take supplements; foods fermented with sea salt (sauerkraut)
Calorie Restriction TBD
Ketogenic Diet 80 fat : 20 protein (Avoid sugar, flour, rice, grains, starchy foods, etc.)
Intermittent Fasting TBD
Caffeine Two to four cups of coffee per day
Have crunchy food Homemade kale chips, nuts, celery
Proper hydration When drinking coffee, remember to drink more water
Vitamin A (avoid deficiency) Kale
Laughing TBD
Fresh herbs Rosemary with chicken; sage; thyme, etc.
Eggs with the yolk included Cholesterol is good for the brain
Music Listen to what you like; TBD
Meditation Watching your breath for 15 minutes/day; waterfall meditation
Iodine Seaweed
Vitamin E (avoid deficiency) TBD
B vitamins (3 cups/day) Kale (Vitamins: B, A, C, K, minerals)
Sleep If TBI, whenever you want it; at least 8 hours a night
Co-enzyme Q Organ meats once a week (liver, tongue, heart, gizzard)
Vitamin C Kale, Lemons, Limes
Vitamin K Kale
Sulfur (3 cups/day) Cabbage family, mushrooms, onions, asparagus

Quick List on What to Avoid

  1. Table Salt: It contains aluminum, which damages brain cells
  2. Beer (alcohol in general)
  3. Sugar
  4. Gluten
  5. Soy
  6. Grains
  7. Saturated Fat
  8. Stress
  9. Ethanol

OK, that’s great, but how do you actually do all this? I’m still refining my strategy for incorporating all this into a daily regime, but this is what I’ve got so far:

Morning

  • Take probiotic with full glass of water containing Vitamin D drops
  • Tablespoon of Fish Oil
  • Curcumin supplement
  • Resveratrol supplement
  • Coffee with Brain Octane (coconut oil)
  • 2 eggs, fried in butter from grass-fed cows
  • 1 cup kale (and other available greens) drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup berries (or colors, this could be peppers)
  • 1 cup sulfur (something from the cabbage family)
  • Listen to music (upbeat, happy, any that you like)
  • Study a few Spanish Flash Cards
  • Walk the dog (with intermittent running; as she loves that)
  • Write
  • Water with lemon juice, lime juice, ginger

 

Noon

  • 1 cup kale (and other available greens) drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup berries (or colors, this could be peppers)
  • 1 cup sulfur (something from the cabbage family)
  • Music (classical)
  • Walk the dog (with intermittent running; as she loves that)
  • Salmon or sardines
  • Read
  • Water with lemon juice, lime juice, ginger

 

Afternoon Snack

  • Guacamole wrapped in seaweed
  • Nuts
  • Meditate
  • Homemade Kale chips

 

Evening

  • Tablespoon of Fish Oil
  • Curcumin supplement
  • Resveratrol supplement
  • Brain Octane (no coffee after 1 p.m.)
  • 1 cup kale (and other available greens) drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup berries (or colors, this could be peppers)
  • 1 cup sulfur (something from the cabbage family)
  • Walk the dog (with intermittent running; as she loves that)
  • Salmon or sardines
  • Funny movies, comedians, etc.
  • 1 square of dark chocolate 85%
  • Meditate
  • Read
  • Music
  • Write
  • Work on memorizing and reciting a poem, dirty limerick, piece of music, joke, etc.

Weekends
Do all of the above, but add bacon, chicken with rosemary, organ meat

First lines from 2005

  1. Robert Heinlein was right when he said Texas was Hell.
  2. From the very beginning, he’d always left five dollars on her pillow.
  3. There are some things that everyone has in common.
  4. The first meeting is always the best.
  5. Stormy days used to make me sad, but now they just make me angry.
  6. “Ouch!” said the toddler when her father’s girlfriend winked at her.
  7. That night as Aunt Jane fell asleep in her rocking chair, Uncle Henry stayed longer than usual and looked at her.
  8. Julie and Rob had been married for five years before Julie realized that Rob’s mother was living with them.
  9. I keep recognizing strangers, people that logically I know I’ve never seen before.
  10. When she hadn’t heard from him after three days, she knew she never would again.

Alphabet Short

“Abra-ca-dabra!”

“Bossy, isn’t she?”

“Casually causing trouble.”

“Do you think he’ll notice?”

“Eventually, they all figure it out.”

“Fortunately, we’ll be long gone.”

“God forbid, we would stay this time.”

“Hell! Do you mean to say you want to stay?”

“I’d like to see what happens.”

“Jeez.”

“Keep quiet. I think he’s coming to.”

“Larry, can you hear me?”

“Mommy!”

“No, I’m not your mommy.”

“Oh, my head.”

“Purple!”

“Quit moving around.”

“Right and why do I have a tail?”

“Stay still.”

“Tell me why my hands are purple.”

“Usually, the tail turns purple first.”

“Vikings, I see Vikings!”

“What?”

“Xanadu.”

“You see, Larry’s starting to see a different landscape.”

“Zeke’s a better name than Larry for a dragon.”