It is so turned around these days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Brave New 1984

When I was in high school I was fascinated with futurist (don't know if that is an actual term) thinking. Books like George Orwell's 1984, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley inspired me to think about where technology and social constructs would take us in the future. I remember borrowing heavily from both books in a high school Creative Writing class to create a similar world. Back then I was impressed by how close their visions of the world came to pass. Quite frankly, with each passing year, the similarities are frightening. My story was set in 2315, if I remember correctly, and every inch of the Earth had been developed. All except a 100 by 100 mile patch in Colorado. That's where people went when they became useless (over the age of 40). After living a life surrounded by buildings, factories and dwellings they could get a glimpse as to what nature would look like had we not developed and urbanized everything. After spending a day there, they were shot. Give me some slack here....I was in high school. But I thought for a high school student my theme was quite estute (BJ pats himself on the back). That when you live in a city or urban local, you are surrounded by man's creation. There is very little to give you pause and reflect without the praise directed back to somebody or some institution. But in the wilderness you are surrounded by God's creation. In an effort to snuff out God, the society in my story had created a world almost completely void of God's creation.

I bring this up because lately I have been listening to a podcast by Ravi Zacharius where he makes reference to both of these books. He makes a point about these books that I had not thought of. Where I had once thought that these books were quite similar, Ravi points out how completely different their overall philosophies are. Orwell was concerned about the restriction of information and freedom. Huxley was concerned about the abundance of pleasure. I think that Huxley's point rings true in the end. Or should I say "more true."

Yes I think that there is some pretty funky stuff that our government is probably hiding from us. Yes big brother is starting to pop up in more and more places. Yes our language is getting slaughtered by the new techno-culture. These things Orwell got right. But he guises it in the form of oppressive government and conspiracy. Huxley realized though that with the advent of technology came great founts of pleasure. His idea being that there would be no need for conspiracies or book burning because nobody would care enough to read them. I think that Huxley gets it right. That's where we are as a nation/society now. Consumed with pleasure, filled with diversions, caring only until the next episode of The Sopranos. This is a bad place to be friends because it is only going to get worse. Blogging is just the tip of the berg of ice. If you don't believe me then check Second Life out. I was just researching it for work today and wasted/spent 5 hours on it.

I write all this to say that we are a culture that is looking more and more for meaning. But yet the current Progressive thinkers will tell you "there is no meaning, except what you infer to be meaning." Which is why I am not at all surprised as to why people are ready to accept the pursuit of pleasure (not happiness) as meaningful. It makes us feel like there is meaning without any of the trappings of God or morality. I am not sure who said it but it goes something like this. "Meaninglessness does not come from growing weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from growing weary of pleasure."


At 8:17 PM, Blogger Eyebrows McGee said...

"But yet the current Progressive thinkers will tell you "there is no meaning, except what you infer to be meaning.""

Be nice. I'm a progressive with an absolutist moral theology. :)

Have you read Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke? He apparently wrote it to show the ethically vacuous, terrifyingly empty "future" that many fans at the time and still today (scary) consider a "hopeful" version of the future.

Personally, it makes me have nightmares.

And if you're doing future-based science fiction, read Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward." It's not that great as a story, but it's like the first American utopian novel which paves the way for sci-fi and so forth. His cousin (Francis B) wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, and Edward was the son and grandson of Baptist ministers.

It's interesting just in that Bellamy esposues a sort of quasi-communist utopia for the spiritual and temporal perfection of America, whereas after the rise of the Soviet Union, such a position is impossible if not ridiculous! But Bellamy saw no conflict between communism and Christianity or American patriotism. He may be the coiner of the term "nationalism" (w/r/t America) and envisioned it as a cooperative idea, not an individualistic one.

Anyhoo. It's interesting.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger BJ Aberle said...

"Be nice. I'm a progressive with an absolutist moral theology."

I think that is somewhat oxymoronic. The last thing you will here a progressive say on a college campus or at "Move On" is that they believe in morals. If anything they would espouse a moral relativistic view. I guess our view of a progressive is different.

From the little you wrote about Bellamy, it sounds as if he hits on another topic that I am planning to write about. That Liberal Progressive thought is actually seeking utopia. One example would be how litigious our society has become. We can hardly walk down the road or drink a cup of coffee without some sort warning or disclaimer confronting us. It may seem that it is this way to protect victims, but I propose that it is this society’s way of trying to create a world where nothing can possibly go wrong.
"Well what is wrong with that?" one may ask.
"Nothing," I would say except that utopia will never be achieved here on Earth. Despite how hard we try. Instead we will have people who are afraid to leave their houses because of the potential liability they may incur. People will be afraid to speak their minds because of the potential of hurting somebody’s feelings, and thus being labeled a "bigot" or "intolerant." People’s hearts will slowly grow ignorant towards the needs of others because the risk of getting involved is too high. What we will end up with are silent streets, empty parks, and hardly anybody caring enough to risk running for a public office. Yes it will be peaceful. But our homes will be filled with every sort of vile disgusting behavior imaginable. Because, after all, our homes will be the last quasi vestige of privacy. Just as Christians are being asked to keep their beliefs more and more out of the public sphere. In the future every belief will be kept private. Every thought kept silent. And those who will dare to walk outside will say nothing and feel nothing. Looking and acting like everyone else, thinking this is utopia, this is the epitome of our existence. Heaven will finaly seem to be here on Earth.

Kinda reminds me of an Ayn Rand book.

Disclaimer.....The previous writing is merely conjecture and pondering by the author. Oneproblem is not responsible for content that you may deem untrue, ridiculous, satirical, scary or just plain stupid. As always your comments are welcome, and thanks for reading. Peace.


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