It's probably not the best time to be asking this, what with the impending nativities, but would anyone like to read Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World with me? It's available as a free Kindle download, and I'm intrigued by the fact that it's quoted by Pope Francis.
I like a good, thumping piece of doom-mongering: the overturning of the global order, the Fate of the Individual in a World Gone Mad, all that. 1984 had me from the moment the clocks struck thirteen, and I'm devoted to films that feature the downfall of New York, always with the Statue of Liberty being drowned, or frozen, or buried in sand: the toppling of the green lady never fails to make me snicker, and not because I rejoice in the heavy-handed metaphor of the humbling of the US's power - hardly: we know damn well in these parts on which side our bread is buttered, and China is unlikely to be so merciful, and occasionally, bountiful, an overlord to us as the US has been, these past sixty years. No; I laugh because it's absurd that we cling to a symbol of stability, even when it presides over (let's say it) an increasingly toxic reality. Don McLean had it right, so many years ago:
The standing of the Statue is a greater rebuke, now that we are well beyond freedom and dignity and are amusing ourselves to death, than its inevitable crumbling will be, however and whenever that occurs.
“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. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”
― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
So, with those cheerful thoughts in mind, would anyone like to take a clear-eyed, Eeyore-ish look with me, at a past future? At the very least, it will make the Christmas rush more palatable, fa-la-la.
If you are all too busy, or if this blog has truly gone dark, I'll just post some comments after this.