Recent Entries in Books

A few days ago, I alluded to a project, "Project 1985", which stemmed from my new, deeply passionate (and possibly illegal) love of the book 1984.  In the post, I said, If all goes according to plan, I'll have something fans of 1984 can buy and hopefully would love to have.  Thanks to DIY publishing site, I'm happy to report that Project 1985 is a complete success!

Here's my test copy, which they sent to me for free - awesome sauce!:


For the uninitiated - or as a refresher to those who haven't read it in a while - here's what The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanual Goldstein, is.

NOTE: Mild spoilers below ('mild' in the sense that I detail a plot point of the story, but I don't give away any endings).

In the story, protagonist Winston dreams of meeting members of an alleged rebellion group, The Brotherhood, when he finally meets O'Brien, a rebel leader, face to face.  They discuss the details and rules of infiltration, and:

Under the pretext of giving him a copy of the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary, O'Brien gives him "the book", The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, said to have been written by Emmanuel Goldstein, leader of the Brotherhood, which explains the perpetual war and the slogans, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
So Collectivism is basically a rebellion manifesto which Winston carries around and reads during the course of the story.  1984 includes most of two of Collectivism's three supposed chapters, so there's exact text available.  Of course it reads exactly like an underground manifesto would, outlining the truer histories of the world to which no one dare pay heed in a Big Brother climate.

And so I decided to make The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism into a real book, which you can buy here direct at, for just $14.68.  I'm not making a dime off of it; it's a buy-to-print model, I just designed it.  (This also helps me avoid any copyright infringement, since it's technically fair use.)

The book is pocket-sized (as is alluded to in the story - and as a manifesto would be), and black as night on the covers.  In the story, Collectivism is supposed to be hidden as a Newspeak dictionary, but I thought I'd just put the title out there in the IRL version, as to intrigue your friends and family as it sits on a bookshelf.

My desire here was to make a simple souvenir for 1984 fans; a takeaway transmedia keepsake (is it trans if it's across the same platform?).  The deeper meaning of this book, of course, as it sits quietly and indiscreetly, is that of a subtle indication of your passive enlistment, as was Winston's, in some abstract real-world, underground community.

Books 1984

1984b.pngWAR IS PEACE



Some time in my grade school years, I once put off a book report until it was almost too late to do anything about it.  (To this day, I still occasionally have this nightmare.)  With a couple of days to spare, I scoured my book shelves, looking for something relatively short.  I found Animal Farm, by George Orwell, which, not only had I not read it, I had had no clue as to what it was about.  (And looking back, I'm not even sure how I got it.)  I think I read the entire book right there in front of the bookshelf in one sitting.  I loved it, and relished in my first experiencing a book with allegory - nevermind such conceptual undertones as governments, human nature, and the impossibility of utopia.  And while I can't be sure, this was likely the point in my life when I began using the term "no way".

Over the years I grew closer to science fiction as a genre with which I felt most akin, both in literature and film.  In 2005, Amber and I caught V for Vendetta when it was still in theaters, and I was blown away.  (Yes, yes, I'm sure the graphic novel is better; I'll pick it up someday.)  I consider myself very conscious of the world around me, and at a time when the world was finding new ways to turn itself further upside down and inside out, this movie was pure candy.  But now, having finally read 1984 - and this is not a slam on Alan Moore or anyone else - I see how derivative anything even remotely dystopian is, compared to Orwell's One True King.

1984 was, simply, the best book I've ever read.  There's nothing I can really say about it that hasn't been said already.  It's 300 pages of wonderful science fiction ...that are also terrible realities.  Written in 1949, it's surprisingly contemporary in tone, deeply compelling, and fast-paced.  I have a bit of ageism when it comes to selecting books, and will admit to considering older books much more dubiously than recent ones (I'm not assuming quality; I'm just being realistic about what styles of writing keep my attention).  But reading 1984 was a better experience than reading probably half of the other very good and far more recent books littered around our apartment.

If you've read it before and consider yourself a fan (I'm cautioning not to use the word 'follower' here), there's really not much to say.  Let us exchange the briefest of glances, a la Winston and O'Brien, and continue on our way.

If you've never read 1984 before and can handle topics like conspiracies, human suffering, dystopian futures, and totalitarianism, I implore you to pick up a copy.  Pay with cash.

Further, I recommend the Signet Classics print with the above cover.  There is a superb afterword by Erich Fromm, who makes his own - as he puts it - "keen observations" on Orwell's writings.  I won't give it all away here, but specifically his notes on the term "free world" and applying the concept of doublethink to corporate communications is fascinating.

Finishing the book left me in that rare state where I don't want any more - no sequels, no compendiums - but I still felt the need to do something creative, to make something.  So I have two things.  The first, which I'm calling "Project 1985", is in the works; I'll have some info and updates as it develops.  If all goes according to plan, I'll have something fans of 1984 can buy and hopefully would love to have.  I wouldn't mind making a few dollars on the endeavor, but more importantly, there's a thing I feel needs to be made, because when I finished the book, I wanted this thing badly myself.  If lawyers don't screw it all up, I could have it ready in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned!

The second thing, which is far less exciting and much crappier, is the image below.  I had the oh-so-clever idea of Photoshopping a picture of Bush reading "My Pet Goat" on 9/11, but I could only find that one common picture and the book is obscured.  Instead, I used this other, far more hilarious image of him reading a book called "America" alongside a young girl, where he's holding the book upside down.  The first commentary: Bush reading 1984 to kids.  The second, which is a little hard to read, is a "W" inserted in Orwell's name, reading "George W. Orwell".  (It's extra amusing in that Bush could never actually author a book because he was practically illiterate - hilarious!).  And the third bit is that "America" is still upside-down on the back cover of Bush's copy, which might as well be printed like that on all real world back covers of 1984.  Crappy Photoshop work, I know - whatever, maaan, it's art!


Steve's new book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History, is now on sale.  (Barnes & Noble lists it, but doesn't seem to be selling it; click the link to buy through
Next month, Steve Seidman, a professor of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College, has a new book coming out, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.  From the Barnes & Noble synopsis:

How effective are election campaign posters? Providing a unique political history, this book traces the impact that these posters--as well as broadsides, banners, and billboards--have had around the world over the last two centuries. It focuses on the use of this campaign material in the United States, as well as in France, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, and many other countries.

The book examines how posters evolved and discusses their changing role in the twentieth century and thereafter; how technology, education, legislation, artistic movements, advertising, and political systems effected changes in election posters and other campaign media, and how they were employed around the world.

This comprehensive and original overview of this campaign material includes the first extensive review of the research literature on the topic.

Seidman is currently covering this year's political campaigns on a variety of platforms.  In June of this year, he was featured on National Public Radio's Bryant Park Project, including a discussion about Barack Obama's campaign imagery.  (You can read about it here, discuss it here, and listen to the podcast here, though I haven't had any luck getting it to play.)  He extends the conversations through a blog on the Ithaca College site, as well as a Facebook group.

As an Ithaca College undergraduate and graduate alum, and current member of the strategic communication departments advisory council, I've unfortunately only had a handful of encounters with Steve.  But his ideas about and knowledge of just this kind of strategic communication are deep and very exciting.  For anyone interested in graphic design / visual communication and politics (especially this year), I implore you to follow this conversation (and pick up a copy of his book).


Eric Tabone is Operations Manager at the digital strategy consultancy, Undercurrent. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his awesome wife and two kick-ass cats.

All original opinions and commentary throughout this blog (comments excluded) are Eric's alone, and do not necessarily represent Undercurrent in any way.


Recent Entries

  • Project 1985: Success!

    A few days ago, I alluded to a project, "Project 1985", which stemmed from my...

  • 1984

    WAR IS PEACEFREEDOM IS SLAVERYIGNORANCE IS STRENGTHSome time in my grade school years, I once...

  • Steve Seidman - Update

    Steve's new book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through...

  • Steve Seidman's "Posters and Election Propaganda"

    Next month, Steve Seidman, a professor of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College, has a new...