1. Chris

    Hi there Richard. Interesting stuff. Orwell’s piece on writing is worth re-reading every so often to guard against flabby prose. Not to say that he doesn’t fall prey to some lazy scribbling himself now and again (if I remember rightly the overworn phrase “ruggedly handsome” appears on the very first page of 1984. It is a text which traps you in other ways.)

    You often hear 1984 invoked as some kind of blueprint for modern China. Certainly some of its warnings are worth heeding. I’ve always found the country some degrees closer to that other great dystopian text – “Brave New World.” Consumerism has become the real means by which people are kept just docile enough. And, perhaps because of the sheer weight of Chinese cultural tradition, it hasn’t really led to any profound shift towards individualism. Unorthodoxy remains the enemy.

    Brave New World:

    “You can’t make flivvers without steel-and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.”

  2. Richard.李志.

    Hey Chris, if this quote from Neil Postman’s book ‘Amusing Ourselves To Death’ is anything to go by you may well be right, though it does seem at present to be pinching a few pieces from both:

    ‘What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.’

    However, personally, having managed to teach my students to always greet me with “Morning sir, you look particularly ruggedly handsome today sir”, which I might point out I never tire of hearing, and from quite liking the sound of the orgy porgy, this Brave New World of super global-malled, right kind of history, right kind of news does actually seem quite pleasant. If we could just guarantee the same sort of life in the afterlife it really would be perfect.

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