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Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell, Thomas Pynchon CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH REVIEW*(* entertainment purposes only) For my real 1984 review: (click here)1984 v. The Divine Comedy(with apologies to Dante Alighieri)Setting: an exotic bazaar somewhere. Joseph Stalin is perusing the stalls. He happens past George Orwell’s stall.Orwell: You! You there! You seem to be looking for something! What’s your pleasure? Essays? Satire?Stalin: (avoiding eye contact) [in a thick Russian accent] No. No, my friend. Just looking, that’s all. (starts to walk away)Orwell: (motioning to Stalin's uniform) A sharp-dressed man like yourself? You’re looking for a dystopia!Stalin hesitates, interested.Stalin: Well, of course if you have something good to show me… if the price were right….Orwell: (chuckles) The price?! Picture a boot stomping on a face… FOREVER! (slams a copy of 1984 on the table in front of him) How are you going to put a price on something like that?Stalin: (poker faced, but blushing with excitement) Nat- naturally a boot stomping on a face is good…Orwell: (picks up the book and begins to read a passage aloud) “...He who controls the present, controls the future.He who controls the past, controls the present...”Stalin: (swooning, puts one hand, open-palmed against his chest) Poetry!Dante Alighieri (occupies the stand across from Orwell) overhears the sales pitch.Dante: [in a thick Italian accent] You lika the poetry?? (picks up a copy of The Divine Comedy and begins to read aloud)"...Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura ché la diritta via…"[Editor’s note: Midway through the journey of my life I found myself within a dark wood where the straight way…](Dante puts down the book and makes a motion kissing his fingers.)It’s a beautiful! (to Stalin) You ever hear so beautiful words inna your ear?Stalin, unimpressed, turns back to Orwell.Orwell: He’s not interested in your poems, Dante! Mind your own business!(turns back to Stalin, and begins to explain…)See, this dystopia is air-tight. The entire world is divided up into three…Dante: (interrupting) Whaddya do over there, Orwell? Hawking a-junk a-dystopias again?(reaches over and pulls Stalin toward him) You a BIG man! You gotta think a BIG! What dystopia’s a BIGGER than a Hell? Hell is the (emphatic hand gesture) classico dystopia!(picks up an illustrated copy of The Divine Comedy again, and gestures to a picture of Count Ugolino della Gherardesca buried up to his neck.)Looka here- we gotta everybody a buried to their a neck… eating a’ head, a’ the man in front a him….(Stalin is impressed)Stalin: (nodding, with a slight smile) I do like that! It’s horrible, and it’s cheap! (snaps his fingers, as he suddenly gets an idea) …And I could make each man dig the hole he was going to be buried in himself!Dante: (shrugs, agreeable but not particularly impressed) You can do how-a you like…Orwell: (flips pages nervously, until he finds the right spot)Room 101! It’s located in the basement of the “Ministry of Love”! It’s a torture chamber which contains each man’s worst fear!Stalin turns back to Orwell, interested.Stalin: (encouraging) Go on… Orwell: Well, this fellow Smith is scared of rats, so they put his face up close to a cage with two rats…Stalin: (excited) Genius!! Why haven’t I thought of that?!Dante: (unimpressed) You only gotta one way to control.Stalin: (annoyed, but curious) What?Dante: (dismissive gesture toward Orwell) Is only a scaring and inflicting pain… Only hurting all the time. (motions to The Divine Comedy) We gotta the fear for Hell, but also we gotta the hope for Heaven. It’s a two ways to control.Orwell: You’re talking to a big-time totalitarian dictator here! You think he wants to bother with hope?Dante gives a knowing look to Stalin.Dante: (to Stalin) When Mr. Hitler breaka the treaty an’ attack you… whaddya you did? Stalin: (sheepish) Well, I kind of hid for a few days because I didn’t know what to do… (resolute) But then I FOUGHT! We fought back and defeated Hitler!Dante: (annoyed that Stalin is missing his point) Yes, yes.. But whatta you did with the church?Stalin: (looking guilty) Well, we opened the churches so people could prey for Hitler’s defeat…Orwell: (astonished, pointing at Stalin) You…!???Stalin: (trying to explain) I… it was...Dante: (beaming, vindicated) You a see?! Even "Mr. Atheist State" knows: the people needa’ hope too! Two ways to control!Stalin: (puts down money on Dante’s table) Okay, I’ll take a copy.Stalin and Dante conduct the transaction, and Stalin walks off, perusing the pages of his new book.In walks James Madison. Madison: (to Dante and Orwell) I wonder if you might be able to help me. I’m trying to convince my colleagues at the U.S. Constitutional Convention to include a Bill of Rights, but I’m having difficulty showing some of them why freedom of speech and the right to bear arms is important. Have you got any cautionary tales?Orwell: Have I got the book for YOU!(Dante slaps his hand over his eyes) Mama mia!(long pause)...(message appears on screen: JUDGES DELIBERATING)...MATCH POINT: 1984, on a technical point for extreme present-day relevance