Monday, November 16, 2009

Or, Well, What?

I still find myself intrigued and disturbed by 1984, and have dog-eared so many pages (it's a library book - my bad!) that I'm going to buy a copy. The text has cast a filter on my news consumption (and even sports viewing!) lately, and in light of the apparent continuation of our "little" wars in Afghanistan and Iraq I'll share this quote:

"Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this is by continual warfare. The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence in the long run, too intelligent. (I'm not sure about that -- fat and complacent might be more like it.) Even when weapons are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labor power without producing anything that can be consumed." Are we on the path of continuous warfare? And let's not forget that we are the largest weapons producing nation in the world, a fact that should make any sane person a subversive. Along with this continual warfare is all the pomp and jingoism and choreographed mourning for the killed soldiers, who gave their lives for their country. Don't bother asking why the f*ck we're over there anyway.

The other insight I picked up from 1984 was how the populace needs to be kept joyless. Anger, pain, cynicism, bullying, violence and fear are all legitimate emotions or psychological states because of their ease of manipulation. The prevalence of these negative energies, or the condition of cynicism, which is so prevalent in most media, has caused the poet Robert Hass (and many others in different ways) to state that merely "Feeling human is a useful form of political subversion."

1 comment:

Mishon Aileen said...

An interesting take compared to Huxley's Brave New World where everyone is soma'd out of their ability to have pain, jealousy etc.

Also with the promotion of negative energy all over the media, I believe people come to feel a certain attachment to these dark modes of living and physically forget how to be happy. Apparently many of the chemicals released in our bodies when we are happy are on a "use it or lose it" basis, so the more you spend time happy, the more capacity you have for "happy chemicals."