In a typical non-leap year, April 11th is the 101st day of the year.
In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Room 101 was the most feared room in the Ministry of Love. It was the room where Winston Smith was taken to be “rehabilitated” by O’Brien.
In the following passage from the novel, Winston learns what form of torture he will be facing:
‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world. . . .’
‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’
‘In your case,’ said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’
The fate of everyone who enters Room 101 is to face his or her worst fear and to believe, in the end, in something that is not true. In Winston’s case, O’Brien makes him believe through torture that 2+2 = 5, and that he (Winston) loves Big Brother.
Interestingly enough, at the beginning of the 1999 film The Matrix, Neo lives in Room 101. This is probably not coincidental since later in the film Neo learns that his life and the entire known world inside the Matrix is a lie.
The world of books gave us the dark side of the number 101 from the mind of George Orwell, but it also gives us a much more positive side in the form of book titles.
A quick search on Amazon.com will yield an amazing variety of titles with the number 101. There are two main reasons this number is so prominent.
First, it refers to basic introductory material on any topic, as in basic introductory college courses like English 101 or Psychology 101.
Second, it refers to the number of options that will be provided on a topic, such as 101 Things to Do Before You Die.
A recent search on Amazon.com yielded more than 100,000 titles containing the number 101. Here are some examples from the first category – basic intro material:
Missed Fortune 101: A Starter Kit to Becoming a Millionaire
Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know
Triathlon 101: Essentials for Multisport Success
Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About the American Legal System
Anger Busting 101: The New ABCs for Angry Men & the Women Who Love Them
Hollywood 101: The Film Industry
Rick Steve’s Europe 101: History of Art for the Traveler
Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera
Life 101: Real World Skills for Graduating College Seniors
Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family’s History and Heritage
And here are 10 titles from the second category – 101 options:
101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged
101 Things to Do With a Slow Cooker
101 Great American Poems
101 Secrets a Cool Mom Knows
101 Useless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu
101 Ways to Bug Your Parents
101 Must-Know Blues Licks
101 Power Thoughts
101 French Idioms
101 Cost-Effective Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home
Today’s Challenge: Brainstorming 101 or Your 101 Course
Brainstorming 101: What brainstorming question can you generate that will yield at least 101 answers? On the 101st day of the year, brainstorm your own 101 options list. Create your own question, such as “What are 101 different ways to say ‘thank you’?” or “What are 101 reasons to procrastinate?” or “What are 101 alternative uses for a paper clip?” Number each item on your list. If you run out of ideas, ask other people for ideas on how to answer the question, and use their ideas to generate more of your own.
Your 101 Course: If you were to present a basic course for beginners, what would be your topic, and what would be the course’s content? Create a title for your course, and write a course description that outlines the specific content of the course. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
Quotation of the Day: I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. -Socrates in Plato’s Republic