Technology and Individualism

Konopka, Jakub 2013. Technology and Individualism in The City and The Stars by A. C. Clarke. Bachelor thesis. Supervised by Ladislav Vít. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy. University of Pardubice.

The more technology advances, the more it: "...threatens to slip from human control" (1977, p. 5). He argues that the impact technology has on humanity is enormous; hence the humanity is in danger of becoming almost lost. (Konopka 2013: 8)
Curiously, this is exactly the narrative that goes along with discourse on advances in surveillance technology. Namely, that in Orwell's time it was natural to presume that there are people on the other end of the telescreen, who plug into your telescreen at will. Today, we're heading down the road of having automated systems or ultimately even artificial intelligences keeping track of our every move, and not only through webcams, but due to everything we do already being done with computers and handheld devices. In some video about Orwellophobia on youtube it was even speculated that we may one day change roles with the robots we currently build in computer labs and humans will exist only in a zoo or a special habitat while A.I.'s run the show. Grade A fearmongering, sure, but probably not an impossible premise.
Truth, for Heidegger, is what he calls 'revealing'. It means that truth is not composed only from the knowledge; but it embraces all the ways in which a person can relate to things of the world (1977, p. 11). Heidegger explains that humans are not genuine knowers; people perceive the world also through emotions, desires, goals and so on. In other words, in order to be rich in spirit, a person needs to experience a great variety of truths. Otherwise, one risks a danger of potential dehumanization. (Konopka 2013: 8)
This sounds like pluralism. I don't really deal with "truth", but the idea seems valid enough: that people relate to the world in manifold and multiplex ways, not only through the referential function (whether a proposition is true or false), but also through the emotive function (people have feelings about some aspect or another of the world, and express their emotions accordingly), the conative function (have desires, goals, motives, purposes, wants, needs, aims, and other forms of orientation pressing upon the world). Even the other three functions are applicable in this connection: people relate to the world metalinguistically, pondering the name or label of one aspect or another; phatically by "connecting" with the world at large, achieving contact and communion with it (e.g. looking for your place under the sun, wanting to be part of the world community, etc.), and of course poetically/aesthetically by, well, seeing the beauty in what exists. The scheme of language functions can indeed be metaphorically applied on most anything.
Another comment on modern technology Heidegger has is that it looks at everything according to its possible use. He argues that for modern technology nothing is simply 'good' on its own, but 'good for' something. He calls this concept 'standing-reserve'. According to Heidegger, technology transforms humanity into standing-reserve. He demonstrates his thoughts on an example of the profession of a forester. The forester, who previously worked for himself, begins to be commanded by the lumber industry, which in turn is at the mercy of the print industry. The print industry or any other manufacturer of goods, then, transforms the reading public or any other consumers into a source of its own profits (1977, p. 18). (Konopka 2013: 9)
Isn't this just utilitarianism? Applied on modern interconnected society, but utilitarianism nevertheless. It makes sense from a structural point of view, but empirical reality looks different, for there are also unemployed people and people without any useful skills who stand in reserve for nothing but consuming and surviving, meagerly. Same goes for the opposite pole of extremely rich well-to-do people who contribute little to the world. The same applies to technology. Not all of it is useful for something. E.g. useless inventions and all sorts of unnecessary gadgets. (Just think of all the smartphone apps that aren't good for anything but tricking people into paying for them.) // But I guess I'm taking this too literally and in an absolutist manner. Below I find a similar sentiment in one of my favourite thinkers (Ruesch).
Therefore, the technology turns mankind into resources that need to be exploited and exhausted. (Konopka 2013: 9)
Is this a Foucaultian reversal? I would think that technology is the resource that humans exploit and exhaust, not vice versa. Technology does not have agency yet, does it?
At the end of the first edition of Utopia, there was a poem about the island of Utopia. This poem helped to clear the meaning of 'utopia' greatly by distinguishing its three main features:
(1) it is isolated, set apart form the known world; (2) it rivals Plato's city, and believes itself to be superior to it, since that which in Plato's city is only sketched, in Utopia is presented as having been achieved; (3) its inhabitants and its laws are so wonderful that it should be called Eutopia (the good place) instead of Utopia (VIERIA, 2010, pp. 5)
Even though the term was established in the sixteenth century, it does not mean that the notion of an ideal society had not appeared until then. (Konopka 2013: 10)
I was just thinking that More's Utopia is certainly not the first utopia. Campanella's The City of the Sun comes to mind as an example that fulfills all of these conditions (especially the third), but now that I look it up I find that it was published in 1602, not around the 14th century as I had falsely remembered.
An early example that influenced many utopian writers to come is Plato's book The Republic. The dialogue depicts an austere society where the governing class called 'guardians' devotes itself to serving the interests of the whole community. Plato argues that private ownership of goods would corrupt their owners by encouraging selfishness. (Konopka 2013: 10)
Huh. Although there (probably) isn't genetic relation between Plato's Republic and Orwell's Oceania, it is an interesting congeniality that the guardians can be compared to the thought-police and discouraging selfishness to the newspeak crime of ownlife.
Moreover, Jacob Talmon, Herbert Spencer and others claim that the utopian impulse itself is inherently dystopian since utopianism searches for perfectibility, and thus, it is incapable of accepting anything below it standard. Such ideology might easily result in punitive methods of controlling behaviour which inevitably leads to some form of a police state. (Konopka 2013: 11)
This most likely concerns the epigraph of Huxley's book, but I'm pleasantly surprised that Spencer dealt with this topic. I recently had my first acqaintance with Spencer's writings and found him to be a wonderful read in itself. Although the common sentiment is that nobody read Spencer already by the 1920s, I wonder if I should take up reading him more extensively. The phrase "punitive methods of controlling behaviour" is bold because this is exactly what I'm writing my thesis about. The sentiment is actually similar: in a totalitarian context these punitive methods are irrational and unjustifiable while modern forms of technological surveillance and terrorist hunting is widely framed as rational and justified. (Although this concerns mostly U.S. foreign politics of the 00s.)
In the middle of the century Karl Marx introduced the concept of alienation, an assumption that the division between the social classes would inevitably become wider and the conditions of the rich would side with utopia while the poor would be pushed towards dystopia and mechanization. (Konopka 2013: 12)
In Oceania, governed by oligarchical collectivism, this is very much the case: only the 15% of the population, the Party, is considered civilization while the Proles are treated like animals, all while steadily spewing propaganda about improving their well-being. But then again Orwell was essentially writing a critique of (Stalinist) communism.
Some futuristic fantasies of the late nineteenth century such as Richard Jefferies's After London; or, Wild England, or W.H. Hudson's A Crystal Age accepted the notion that the most fundamental social evil - "the essential seed of dystopia" as Stableford calls it - was the separation of human beings from a harmonious relationship with the natural environment and its inherent rhythms. (Konopka 2013: 13)
So a critique of urbanization? Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic comes to mind. In any case it does seem to be the case that a lot of dystopias (Zamyatin's We; Huxley's BNW, Bradbury's Fahrenheit as well as Orwell's 1984) are set in an isolated city (Glass City, London, an unspecified city, and London again, respectively). Still one of the most extreme examples of this direction is the Estonian dystopia Kurbmäng Paabelis, which as a "surrealist baroque novel" can legitimately invent a mythical Tower-world which is a City-cosmos in itself, embedding what little nature there is (e.g. the desert level) as decorative architecture. In ot her words, some dystopian works take this idea to its logical conclusion by excluding anything but the city - everything is city.
Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was written after the Second World War. His world-state was darker and used punishment and fear instead of the manipulation of a pleasure (CLAYES 2010, p. 119). (Konopka 2013: 14)
Yup. That is pretty much it. Huxley even wrote to Orwell, saying that his own horrible vision of the future is better, since the policy of boot-in-the-face cannot last for ever, and that more likely the dys/u-topian conditions will be achieved by people willingly taking up barbiturates and self-hypnosis (e.g. soma and hypnopaedia). He was not far off, as modern trends towards prescription medicines and ideological echochambers (e.g. Ritalin and Bullshit Mountain) demonstrate. Still, thinking now about Jon Stewart's "Chaos on Bullshit Mountain" and how Fox News operates by systematically inciting anger about made-up bullshit, it does present a striking similarity to the Two Minutes Hate, but in the form of a 24h news cycle.
The dystopian genre has not spread only in literature, but hand in hand with the rise of science fiction genre it also has appeared in the emerging cinematography. (Konopka 2013: 14)
This. It is scary how well not only the general idea but some very unnoticeable details of Orwell's 1984 are captured in the movie Snowpiercer. I've even tried watching everything on 4chan /tv/'s Dystopian Film Chart a few years ago but only made it halfway through before giving up because some of the movies on that chart are culturally iconic but by modern standards just horribly naive and ill-conceived - e.g Death Race (1975) and Judge Dredd (1995).
Thomas Whissen in his book Classic Cult Fiction: A Companion to Popular Cult Literature explains that this delusion is achieved by dehumanization, uniformity, fear or lack of the knowledge about the outside world or simply by inability to change. (Konopka 2013: 15)
In Orwell's world all these factors are present, but "lack of knowledge about the outside world" can very well be supplemented by a lack of knowledge about the inside world. In fact, this aspect is present in the three I'm most familiar with (Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury). History is rewritten or destroyed, the inner workings of the government is unknown, and the social order seems to be propped up by a thin veneer of lies and hidden truths. This is most characteristic of Winston's attempt to find out what the world was like before the revolution. He reads a children's history book and interviews an old Prole, but neither source is reliable. So it is with the Brave New World, where everything before the World Order is viewed as savage, much like in Oceania the revolution was not preceded by the industrian age and renaissance, but directly the middle ages. This is of course a lie, but such is the history in that world. To quote Orwell: "How could you tell how much of it was lies? It might be true that the average human being was better off now than he had been before the Revolution. [...] Day and night the telescreens bruised your ears with statistics proving that people today had more food, more clothes, better houses, better recreations - that they lived longer, worked shorter hours, were bigger, healthier, stronger, happier, more intelligent, better educated, than the people of fifty years ago.Not a word of it could ever be proved or disproved." (Ch. 7)
In most of the dystopias there is also a group of people who are not under the complete control of the state. It is this society that the main hero of the novel puts his or her hope in. (Konopka 2013: 15)
This would be the famed Brotherhood, a resistance movement of thoughtcriminals. Winston makes the fatal mistake of misinterpreting O'Brien's "flash of intelligence" with him during the Two Minutes Hate as a sign that he is part of the Brotherhood, and O'Brien is more than welcome to espouse that belief by giving him Goldstein's book, only to push him over the edge, to get a confession out of him in the guise of a pledge of allegience to the Brotherhood. This is what makes 1984, as some say, bathetic - that is, anticatharctic. You hope, along with Winston, that the Brotherhood is real and there will be a revolution, only to be bitterly disappointed when Winston is duped and tortured. This is something that I like much more in Olev Remsu's Kurbmäng Paabelis - he plays with the same theme, but there the resistance is real and although the hero dies anticlimactically with grenades in his pockets, out of exhaustion, it is the case that the main character's brother, who is a member of the equivalent of the thought police, e.g. someone like O'Brien, turns out surprisingly to also be part of the resistance movement. Since it is a surreal novel there is also the case of "doubles" - the main character is always mentally contending with his rival who in the end turns out to be himself, after the revolution and a stay in the mental hospital. Although complex and convoluted, it makes for a much more interesting read due to the fact that Remsu is a scholar of dictatorship and resistance, sprinkling italian terrorist catchphrases here and there. (I am saddened that this great work is not and probably will not be translated to English, since it is not a popular book even in Estonia and it would be expensive and difficult to translate a 500 page brick, made only more difficult by Remsu's frequent neologisms and archaisms, not to mention loanwords from various languages. Why must some good literature also be so darn difficult?)
The main protagonist is usually different from the rest of the population. Unlike others, he or she understands that something is wrong with the society and questions the existing social and political rules. He or she also tries to change the system, but fails. (Konopka 2013: 15)
To quote the part that I left out (in [...]) in my previous quote from Orwell: "The only evidence to the contrary was the mute protest in your own bones, the instinctive feeling that the conditions you lived in were intolerable and that at some other time they must have been different." (ibid, Ch. 7)
The loss of emotional response can be seen in already mentioned Fahrenheit 451, for example. After Mildred has passed out, the maintenance people came with the stomach pump and the blood transfusion machines. They were not even doctors and they showed no emotions while saving the person from a certain death. (Konopka 2013: 17)
I had a slightly different interpretation. The relevant passage reads: "And he thought of her lying on the bed with the two technicians standing straight over her, not bent with concern, but only standing straight, arms folded. And he remembered thinking that if she did, he was certain he wouldn't cry." (Bradbury 1953: 40) I don't think it's about emotions. The "impersonal operators" standing over his unconscious wife are just as emotionless as Montag himself, whose relation with Mildred is mere facade. Rather, I think what hit him hard was finding out that these technicians performs this same casual life-saving operation nine or ten times a night. I think it's the extent of the problem, not the casualness of the solution, that gives Montag a reality-check. But that's just my impression and the difference is not really all that important.
Human connections have also been affected by growing consumerism. Relationships between people are perceived as an ordinary matter that needs to be consumed, not taken care of. There is no difference between relationships and consumer goods anymore. The role of the relationship is to be satisfied with the person one chooses. (Konopka 2013: 17)
This is certainly not the case with 1984, where there are only faint traces of consumerism in the trash produced for the Proles to keep them satiated (e.g. machine-created popular music, kaleidoscope-written poetry, and Party-produced pornography). Consumer goods and human relationships intersect in another way: deficit products (e.g. shoelaces, razor blades) must be acquired from the "free market" (which is forbidden), and the ersatz chocolate, sugar, and coffee can in very rare cases be briefly punctuated by the real things through connections with the inner party (or, you know, steal from them). The human relationships in 1984 are strained in a wholly different manner: anyone can be a spy and/or just report your unorthodox behaviour and get you unperson'ed. That is why there are so many instances of checking, controlling, concealing, suppressing, etc. your facial expressions and other physical symptoms of having an inner life of your own. There is no place for feelings, desires and intelligence in a "horrible brainless empire", as Orwell elsewhere described the goals of Hitler, but which very well suit Oceania.
Similarly to Heidegger, Neil Postman argues that the western cultures have become obsessed with the scientific facts; he alerts that if the development does not change its course, many societies will become what he calls a 'technopoly'. Technopoly is a society that is obsessed with the benefits of technology to the point where everything needs to be measured and assessed on the basis of how efficient or logical it is. (Konopka 2013: 18)
I know of a slight variation on this theme in the work of the Swiss-American social psychiatrist and cyberneticist Jurgen Ruesch: "The new world is structured around systems made up of man, machine, and the environment surrounding them (Boguslaw 1965). Technology no longer serves people exclusively; it is also subservient to robot and gadget. Persons no longer own land; they have lease and share in rotation whatever facilities they need, and special arrangements have become collective and discontinuous. Man has ceased to be king pin in the modern order. The individual has become anonymous, and history is being written in terms of social movements or technological achievements." (Ruesch, "Psychotherapy in the Computer Age", 1972[1968b]: 763-764) In other words, is steadily indeed becoming like one of the first quotes above about the role reversal between humans and technology: increasingly it is the case that machine does not serve man, but that man serves the machine. Norbert Wiener's groundbreaking book on cybernetics, The Human Use of Human Beings could soon probably be supplemented by "The Machine Use of Human Beings". Hashtag fearmongering.
Postman explains that technopoly is not only a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. (Konopka 2013: 18)
Cue stereotypical stoned hippie voice: Whoa, man, far out. Technology, like, isn't just outside in machines and shit. It's, like, inside of you, too, where you think and stuff. That's deep, man. (Also this.)
To specify his definition, Postman notes that technopolies often redefine what its inhabitants think of religion, of art, of family, of politics, of history, of truth, of privacy or of intelligence (1993, p. 48). This shift in meanings takes place because such person is, as Heidegger explains, enframing the world only by a logical discourse of science and technology. A person who feels comfortable in technopoly is a person that is convinced that technical progress is humanity's prime achievement and the instrument by which one's most profound dilemmas may be solved. (Konopka 2013: 18)
Oh dang, I might be a technopolist. I do feel that computers and internet makes a large portion of traditional culture (including theatre, museums, and other cultural institutions) pointless, can overthrow religion (e.g. growing atheism among mormorns who now have access to unbiased facts about their church's establisher), and so on.
The difference between the two cultures is that Diaspar is far more developed. In fact, Diaspar has reached its final step of development, there is nothing more to invent. Because of that, Diaspar's aim is just consumption and 'being'. (Konopka 2013: 19)
This is reminscent of Cracked.com's interpretation of Star Trek: their technological society has invented everything there is to invent, all social problems have been eradicated and humans are all homogeneous, reliving old historical periods as a form of entertainment and sending discovery crews out into the space to find something new to entertain them.
In addition, each piece of art is evaluated by the society and the fate of the artistic work depends entirely on how many votes it receives. If the masterpiece gets enough votes, it is stored in the memory banks of the city, otherwise the art is dissolved. (Konopka 2013: 20)
This feels scarily accurate in other tendencies in modern internet as well. Just think of reddit! Everything passes through the filter of upvotes and downvotes - news, pictures, videos, ideas, comments, questions, everything. We can only take solace in that what is downvoted to obscurity is not "dissolved" or deleted, but remains somewhere in the archive, and if it has any merit it can always be dug up. It's kind of like the law of poetic conservation: manuscripts don't burn.
The central computer represents the final and greatest technological invention and the end of evolution since it is perfect: "The Council ruled Diaspar, but the Council itself could be overridden by a superior power - the all-but-infinite intellect of the Central Computer" (2001, p. 66). The complete trust in technology is also proven in times of danger. (Konopka 2013: 21)
I guess Diaspar must have been the influence for a Stargate SG-1 episode in which the team discovers a polluted planet with a safe environment dome and a utopian central-computer-controlled society in it. It turns out, of course, that the energy resources are decreasing and the central computer has steadily been sacrificing people and minimizing the dome, but all knowledge of unperson'ed people is erased from people's minds through their mind-links (which are like bluetooths with neural interface and internet). When the team discovers that the central computer is doing this, they try to convince the people to take off their mind-links, but by that time they are convinced by the central computer that taking off their mind-links would kill them. (cf. S07E05 - "Revisions")
The consumerist ideals can be captured by hypnopaedic proverbs: "'But old clothes are beastly,' [...] 'We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending'" (2007, p. 42). (Konopka 2013: 22)
To this one can contrast the anti-consumerist, I mean really anti-consumerist, ethos of P.O.S. in his track "Music for Shoplifting": "So what you think? New shit, or fix what I have?" When I was a teenager I chose to mend my favorite wool-gray hoodie, colour it with my own drawings and wrote this line on it. // On second thought I would put emphasis on the word "beastly". According to a BBC documentary on Orwell, when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, it was exactly this word that he kept in mind. Curiously, the word itself appears only two times in the whole novel and both in relation with Winston's traumatic childhood: "'A rat. I saw him stick his beastly nose out of his wainscoting." recounts Julia (Ch. 12), and later "'I expect you were a beastly little swine in those days,' she said indistinctly. 'All children are swine.'" (Ch. 15) A relation with Animal Farm is possible, but the implications about Winston himself being a rat are astoundingly complex: he describes all other characters as some sort of "creature" or another, so it would not be unimaginable that between the lines Winston himself is just as animalistic; this is reinforced when he gives the general impression of people working in the Ministries as "little dumpy men, growing stout very early, with short legs, swift scuttling movements, and fat iscrutable faces with very small eyes" (Ch. 5); further, the colloquial meaning of "rat" is snitch, which he certainly is in the end when he betrays Julia; more illustrations could probably be found - the whole listless life Winston leads is very rat-like.
No emotional attachments to the objects are possible because everything is a product of a mass production and therefore any object loses its uniqueness. When item's purpose is fulfilled or the item is damaged, it is destroyed or replaced by another one, completely identical to the previous one. Consequently the technology offers only the material satisfaction, not the emotional tone. (Konopka 2013: 23)
In other words, objects do not have a stamp of personality on them. From the anthropological theory of how people make functional objects like tools "their own" this is indeed impoverishment. In Orwell's case there is one instance when Winston buys a round piece of glass with a coral in it. The old thing is beautiful, but also incriminating. If he was found having it, he'd be sure to be sent to forced labour camp.
In both technopolies, people are rather being entertained than being active participants. Such state of mind does not require any cognitive effort; therefore people are passive in thinking or their cognitive processes are limited to prescribed ways. (Konopka 2013: 23)
I've heard a similar viewpoint about current technology, e.g. laptops versus tablets. One enables creation - you can write with a laptop; while the other enables only reception (and very limited input) - tablets are convenient for watching videos and scrolling through 9gag, but inconvenient for reading long pieces of texts and even more so for actively participating in the reception of the text as I am currently doing by responding, writing my own comments. It's one thing to read a text, but a wholly another to react to it, to have a conversation or dialogue with it.
When John, the Savage confronts the world controller Mustapha Mond, he complains about the dullness of such entertainment: "'Othello's good, Othello's better than those feelies'" (2007, p. 194). The world controller acknowledges John's statement but explains that any high art can threat the stability of the World State and therefore it is forbidden. (Konopka 2013: 23)
To this one may respond that if art is capable of threaten the stability of social order, then that is one feeble social order indeed.
Second of all, the stability represents unchanging safety and only what is unchanging can outlast forever. (Konopka 2013: 23)
Poppycock. Cultural history demonstrates the exact opposite, that what lasts the longest is in fact the stuff that changes with time, adapts to new conditions, new ideas, new points of view. Christianity, for example, could never fit in today's society in its "catacomb" (1st - 2nd century) or even "desert fathers" (4th - 5th century) forms, but in its modern forms it does just fine. It is even more likely, as demonstrated by the Sanskrit grammar, than stuff that gets too rigid, achieves perfection and becomen unchanging, is sure to be abandoned. // Change is the only constant.
Orgy-porgy is promoted from the childhood so that it is considered as a common aspect of one's life. The name of the activity rhymes so that it supports the idea of sex being an innocent game. (Konopka 2013: 25)
Oh how I dislike that paronomastic phrase. It reminds me of A Clockwork Orange style unnecessary rhymes in 4chan /r9k/ autism greetexts. E.g. >cashed my good boy pointy-wointies with my mummy-wummy to get some tendy-wendys - I think they use this technique sometimes to intentionally emphasize the infantile character of the robot autismo. Some goes for "Orgy-porgy" - it's not so much innocent as it is infantilized. In BNW this makes sense, as children play "erotic games" as a normal course of action.
Unlike in Diaspar, in the World State sex is completely a matter of consumerism. It is reflected in the use of the term 'pneumatic', when a female person is aesthetically appealing to a male [...] (Konopka 2013: 26)
I think this is a slight misinterpretation. It is not aesthetic appeal or attractiveness that is at issue, since the higher casts are attractive by default. "Pneumatic" is by dictionary definition related to being moved or worked by air pressure, as pneuma is literally "wind" in Greek. I think it more likely that what is meant by "pneumatic" is more like physical fitness, e.g. being good at sex. If you're socially obligated to have a lot of sex with a lot fo different people, it makes little difference how they look like, what matters is how well they perform. The immediately following conclusion that Huxley's use of "pneumatic" when describing an arm chair to emphasize humans being products is perfectly superfluous. The word itself is already a mechanical metaphor, e.g. not humans as products but humans as machines. But, again, it makes a very insignificant difference how one interprets it.
When she realizes that John loves her, she quickly takes her clothes off and is prepared for him to take her. All her clothes are rapidly off thanks to zippers. A zipper represents how easily one can take off his clothes, in other words, how easily one can have an intercourse with another person. (Konopka 2013: 36)
"She [Julia] stood looking at him [Winston] for an instant, then felt at the zipper of her overalls. And, yes! it was almost as in his dream. Almost as swiftly as he had imagined it, she had torn her clothes off, and when she flung them aside it was with that same magnificent gesture by which a whole civilization seemed to be annihilated." (1984, Ch. 10)
Secondly, Huxley uses the behaviour of the head nurse to represent the irony of the contradiction between the old and the new because a nurse as a profession is in the real world generally looked atthe one that is supposed to help people and care, but the head nurse in the book expresses no sympathy with John or his mother. (Konopka 2013: 37)
Now that I think about it there is an alternative interpretation possible, regarding the congeniality between Huxley and Winston with regard to sexual indiscriminacy. Namely, both Lenina and Julia represent the new order - Lenina is conditioned by hypnopaedia and Julia has adapted to Ingsoc principles while maintaining her corrupt sexuality (she is a sexcruminal, a person who enjoys sex), while both John and Winston represent the unique individual disillusioned with the official orthodox dogma. When the women unzip and give themselves up for sexual intercourse, they are in a sense destroying civilization, but in the specific sense which comes with introducing an extraneous connection to the argumentation. Namely, both Lenina and Julia represent the Western, specifically American, sexual mores. This is perhaps more apparent in Huxely than in Orwell, where it is almost between the lines that England is now "Airstrip One" and its own currency and traditions have been replaced by the dollar and the traditions of "the other end of Oceania" (America). This connection with sexuality makes sense only insofar as one considers that both Huxley and Winston were Victorian Englishmen, and with Huxley, who travelled around America extensively, this is especially probable that he experienced first-hand the looser sexual mores of Americans, who at that time (during the 1930s) already had, for example, the practice of "petting", which was introduced to England and the rest of Western Europe when American soldiers were stationed there. That is, the sexual culture of New World is contrasted to the one of the Old World. But I doubt if anyone has studied this, as it would necessitate looking at the authors' biographes and making unsound, or at least unverifiable, conjectures.


Blogger said...

eToro is the #1 forex trading platform for beginning and established traders.

Post a Comment