Stop Referencing Orwell, It’s Nauseating

Whenever I hear the convenient talking point of “1984” or “Animal Farm”, you know the schtick. Whatever I don’t like…is “Orwellian”. Here’s the thing about Orwell and his fantasy stories, they are simple stories that allow the reader to walk away, suddenly believing they can finally “see the matrix”.

Another story and writer that I believe has a better grasp on the individual vs. society struggle or order vs. chaos, would be Ken Kesey and his 1962 story titled “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.iu.jpeg

There was a film also that I’m sure most are more familiar with.

the three main characters in the book and the movie are as follows:

The first charter is a fella by the name of Randle Patrick (Mac) McMurphy.

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The second character is a gal who is referred to as Nurse Ratched.

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The third character is the setting, the Psychiatric Hospital in Oregon.

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Mac, comes from a rough background, but more recently has been found guilty of the battery and statutory rape of a girl. He figures he can game the system and avoid prison by having himself declared “insane”. Figuring he’ll complete his sentence in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Once Mac is transferred to the Oregon Psychiatric Hospital, he meets Nurse Ratched. Nurse Ratched runs the facility and her word is enforced like law. She is responsible for everything that takes place within the facility and she is responsible for each and every patient there as well as the other nurses and support staff.

Mac, doesn’t like these two characters that seem to hold him back from enjoying his sentence, Nurse Ratched and the hospital. However, this is a minor inconvenience, since his sentence was relatively short…or so he thought. It’s not until he is told by Nurse Ratchet that since he was declared insane, that he could be an inpatient of that hospital and under her jurisdiction for the remainder of his life.  This news, pushes him over the edge, he contemplates escape and attempts to be as rowdy and destructive as possible, all while rousing support from his fellow inpatients. To add insult to injury, he discovers that the majority of patients are self-committed.

This new revelation confuses Mac, almost to the point of madness. Since he, himself does not maintain his own authority to simply leave whenever he wants. So, Mac begins to buck Nurse Ratched by continually breaking the rules. He is a sane man surrounded by both the insane and the sane, who tend suffer more from fear than anything else. All the while, with this institution being a medical facility, the medical staff assemble throughout the film to discuss each patient and their progress. Mac trying to get his diagnosis changed, only seems to further the notion that he is insane, the harder he tries to get out of this new quandary, the further he finds himself stuck.

Mac is portrayed as the hero and Nurse Ratched is portrayed as the villain. Yet, Mac is the one who asked to be committed, he entered Nurse Ratched’s world, and she is solely responsible for the wellbeing of the patients and the organization of her entire ward. Nurse Ratched takes some liberty herself, by attempting to control Mac with ever increasing measures that simply enrage Mac even further. Nurse Ratched exerts her control through passive aggressive means as well as through shame and manipulation of not only Mac, but the other patients as well as her own staff.

Was this always the toxic atmosphere of the Oregon Psychiatric Hospital or did the atmosphere evolve to maintain control once Mac got there? The old adage of “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”.

Anywho, Mac eventually goes too far, egged on by Nurse Ratched and attempts to strangle her to death, Mac blames her for manipulating and shaming one of the other patients to the extent that the patient commits suicide. One of the orderlys’ knocks Mac out when Mac was on top of Ratched, trying to choke her to death. Mac disappears for a day or two and the other patients think that Mac has somehow escaped. It isnt until a few days later that one of the orderlys’ brings Mac back to the ward and lays him in his bed that the other patients realize he is still there.

One of the patients that Mac grew close to comes over to talk with him and check on him, upon further inspection and no response from Mac, the fellow patient sees the scars across Mac’s head. He realizes that Mac was given a lobotomy. The patient, who had looked up to Mac as inspiration takes pity on Mac and smothers him with a pillow. The patient felt that Mac would rather be dead than simply brain dead, forever loosing his rebellious and free attitude.

So, what is there to garner from such a story? Perhaps the human condition of the individual vs. society or chaos vs. order. You see, it’s easy to constantly look outward at what is taking place and attempt to place blame. It’s the notion of good versus evil, yet, who is truly good and who is truly evil?

To live in society, whether you like it or not, there are established norms, values and laws that one must adopt to successfully integrate into society. Society doesn’t value the individual and society cannot function with a bunch of individuals. In order for society to maintain its order, dissidence must be eradicated. Since dissidence not only threatens society, but it threatens every person in a society.

However, what are the lengths you are willing to undertake to fit into society? How much do you value your own traits to the extent that you would willingly set them aside to function within society?

Who is to blame for Mac being institutionalized? Mac is.

Why is Nurse Ratched portrayed as evil and maniacal when all of the responsibility rests on her alone?

Did Mac cause his own catastrophe?

Did Nurse Ratched have to continue to push Mac?

When you think of the paradigm of these three characters, what do you walk away with? A sense of rebellion or a sense of responsibility for your own path in life?

You are either in or out, there is no nuance to whether you are part of society or if society wants nothing to do with you. Believe it or not, it’s not about and it is never about what you want, its always about society and what you are willing to sacrifice to fit into that society.

Perhaps we all are sellouts in some form or fashion, since rebellion is a death sentence.

Who’s responsible for your lot in life?

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20 thoughts on “Stop Referencing Orwell, It’s Nauseating

  1. Marleen

    I think the word Orwellian is useful as a very specific meaning — where terminology is used when it absolutely does not fit as understood and is anywhere from manipulative to oppressive. It’s a shorthand, to convey a basic concept. However, I do get tired of, especially, broader references to 1984… even if the foundation for the word comes from a piece of that story. It does seem that such references comparing current circumstances or feared possible circumstances are too generally thrown around. [And then there’s the whole “red pill” nonsense misapplied.]

  2. I actually read all three books in high school. Ya know, back in the dark ages when schools encouraged people to use their brains. Then, after we’d read the books, we discussed them.
    Nice post Dude!

    1. bottomlesscoffee007

      Thanks Granny. I don’t see any problem with Orwell or his stories. But the constant references make them practically moot when they are used as fodder.

        1. bottomlesscoffee007

          Yeah, who knows. One thing that stands out when it comes to Orwell is that every character in his stories asked to be part of the corrupt organization by their own admission or their own actions. I think that’s what most miss when it comes to popular stories such as these.

          1. Great post Coffee. I think that both characters let their ego get in the way and their drive for control is what pitted them against each other in an unneccessary way. I think the lesson for me is that you can buck the system to a certain degree, but the system (society and its rules) will always win out. The guys that don’t want to live in that system move to Idaho. But even then there’s no getting away.

            1. bottomlesscoffee007

              Thanks BDog. Perhaps you’re right. Pride before the fall perhaps, no matter where you go, you’re always there…

    2. Anonymous

      Remember tho mac isn’t real. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is as fantastical and fictional as 1984, Animal Farm or the Matrix.

        1. Thomas

          I do love your post – it’s very thought provoking. I’m definitely sick of the references to Orwell, Brave New World, the Matrix etc…but I’m also sick of people referring to an “asylum-like” condition. You’re point about mac and that he’s responsible for his own fate is very true.

  3. Do we as a society go along with all the norms and institutions of the society even when they become corrupt or do we try to change them? Not really sure what you’re saying. As for current events, the people who are ‘going along’ do so because they believe what they’re told to be true. It’s hard to convince them otherwise.

    1. bottomlesscoffee007

      Are you happy with everything about where you live? Or do you compromise to go along to get along or are you an agitator?

    2. bottomlesscoffee007

      It all comes down to what are you willing to do and how far are you willing to go and what sacrifices you are willing to make before you expect someone else to change.

      1. So far I haven’t felt like there was anything I needed to fight. I have always lived my life differently than the mainstream and so far that hasn’t been a problem. We will see if it becomes a problem. I won’t do anything that God forbids .

  4. Everyone does seem to be claiming that recent events are “Orwellian”. On the basis of the stories, I’d have to disagree. We are closer to Huxley. In fact. Orwell sent a copy of his book to Huxley to read. Huxley’s response was along the lines of “Nice book but, I’m right.” LOL!

    The difference being, in Orwell’s version, things are forced on the people. In Huxley’s version, the people willingly accept and love their chains. Either way, we get to the same place.

    If anyone had any ideas about spending their money “elsewhere” or moving “elsewhere”, that has been brought to a screeching halt.

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