Friday, June 14, 2013 | Categories: Episodes
Sales of Orwell's 1984 have skyrocketed this week after details of a massive state-run survellience have been revealed. (Photo:luiza p.)
"This is the enemy we can see, but worse than he is the enemy within - Emannual Goldstein, traitor to the party, arch conspirator, leader of the accursed brotherhood ... What remains of the ideal of peace? Universal Peace? War is Peace! War is Peace! War is Peace! All of Oceania is plunged into ignorance - ignorance of even the most elementary principles of democracy! Ignorance is Safe! Ignorance is Safe!".From the movie 1984 based on the novel by George Orwell
Ignorance might have been safer for Edward Snowden but his revelations this week about the extent of US surveillance shocked the world. It made many to wonder whether those chilling words from 1984 are relevant today and whether the US government is a kind of "Big Brother".
Edward Snowden seemed to suggest he himself had the powers of Big Brother during an interview this week with The Guardian newspaper.
Washington seems a little uncertain what to do about Snowden, but the U.S. president did feel a need to defend domestic intelligence gathering.
"In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok but when you actually look at the details, I think we've struck the right balance".US President Barack Obama
Biographer Michael Shelden
Discovering their phone calls and emails are so interesting to their government may have made many Americans curious about an old work of British fiction. But 1984 is no laughing matter to our next guest.
Michael Shelden's authorized biography of George Orwell was nominated for a Pulitzer in 1991. His latest book is called Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill. Today he joined us from Bloomington, Indiana.
Writer Joyce Carol Oates
Our next guest is the esteemed and influential writer, Joyce Carol Oates. She's been thinking a lot lately about Orwell's prophetic novel. Her latest book is called The Accursed and Joyce Carol Oates joined us from New Jersey, where she is a Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.
Training manual, survival guide or simply a great piece of fiction, 1984 remains a masterpiece. But whether it is reflective of the 21st century ... that's up for debate.
University of Calgary Professor Harry Vandervlist
Our next guest thinks we are not quite in the Big Brother age yet. Harry Vandervlist is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Calgary. We have reached him in Leran, France today.
This segment was produced by The Current's Jess deMello.
To add to anything you hear on The Current, lots of ways to get in touch. email us from our website. Find us on Facebook. Or tweet us @thecurrentcbc.
You can also call toll -free at 1 877 287 7366. Or via Canada Post - Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.
Last Word - Apostrophe Promo
Monday on the program, a look at the debate over the apostrophe, some people are seeking to abolish the apostrophe because no one uses it correctly and it doesn't really change the way we use language. But critics strive to save the punctuation. The Current Producer Liz Hoath gets today's Last Word as she prepares to take on a can of worms.
Other segments from today's show: