Rereading 1984

By David Michael Newstead.

Last summer, I unexpectedly found a first edition of George Orwell’s 1984 in a used bookstore in Washington D.C. The novel had been buried in a pile of miscellaneous paperbacks, hiding in plain sight. For how long? I’m not sure. So when I realized what it was, I immediately grabbed it and headed to the register. I guess I was surprised to even see something that rare. Then again, finding the book in 2016 might have been an omen of things to come. Eagerly, I bought it and re-read it. The story, of course, was the same: Big Brother, the Thought Police, and the rest. The difference was that the world around me had changed since the last time I’d read it. It’s a book that only becomes more relevant with each passing day. And in some countries, it isn’t far from reality as it is.

Besides the narrative though, the paperback itself started to intrigue me: the look, the feel, how the pages smell, how it fits in my hands, the original cover art, and the signs of wear and tear from over the years. This particular copy was slightly beat up, but still in good condition for something printed in the late 1940s. And that’s when I thought about it more. Here’s an object – almost 70 years old now – that’s an analog relic in an increasingly digital world. It is a lingering connection to and a warning from the distant past. When it was first printed, World War Two had just finished and the Cold War was in its earliest stages.

Plenty has happened since then and who knows where this book was for all those years before I got it. Regardless, today some Orwellian themes are just a description of disturbing norms across the planet: widespread government surveillance, propaganda, and political doublespeak. Maybe the methods have been updated overtime, but there’s a reason 1984 and other dystopian novels have had skyrocketing sales lately. George Orwell, for his part, fought against fascism and oppression and passionately believed in objective truth. Safe to say, that battle continues.

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Annual 2016

By David Michael Newstead.PhilosophyAnnual_nodots.jpg

Posted throughout 2016, this collection includes interviews with feminists and gender experts, a conversation with the creators of #MasculinitySoFragile, and an in-depth look at misogyny in America. Other highlights include a feature on the 80th anniversary of the anti-lynching song Strange Fruit and an insider’s view of the on-going investigation into Syrian war crimes.

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Best of 2016

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By David Michael Newstead.

Some highlights from throughout the year.

The Origins of #MasculinitySoFragile – The first in a series with the creator of the popular hashtag, discussing gender issues and toxic forms of masculinity.

A Conversation with Paul Elam – An in-depth interview with anti-feminist Paul Elam.

Discussing Safe Bars at a Bar – A podcast interview on the launch of the Safe Bars program in the District of Columbia.

An Interview with BEARD PAC – A conversation on politics, facial hair, and American history with the founder of a satirical Super PAC.

Politics and Social Media – A podcast interview with digital strategist Alan Rosenblatt on the role of social media in the 2016 presidential election.

Fatherhood and Feminism with Nikki van der Gaag – Gender expert Nikki van der Gaag discusses new research on fatherhood around the world.

Strange Fruit in America – The first in a series on the songwriter Abel Meeropol and the disturbing significance of his best known work, the anti-lynching song Strange Fruit.

Seek Justice for Us: An Interview with David Crane – The former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone discusses his indictment of Liberian President Charles Taylor, the need for expanded human rights laws, and his on-going investigation into Syrian war crimes.

Chest Hair: A Personal Reflection – Just a random aside on life.

Russia Past & Present with Peter Kenez – An interview with historian Peter Kenez on the impact of the Russian Revolution and Russia in the modern world.

Russia Past & Present with Richard Pipes – An interview with historian Richard Pipes on the impact of the Russian Revolution and the 2016 presidential election.

Re-watching American Psycho – Revisting the renewed significance of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel.

Countering Street Harassment – An interview with DC Councilmember Brianne Nadeau on her efforts to counter street harassment in the nation’s capital.

A Nation of Immigrants, Revisited – A look back at JFK’s classic on the contributions of immigrants to American society.