First, there's the artistic stele of the books. 1984 has got this graphic novel, Noir feel to it, like Walking Dead or Sin City. Brave New World has this brightly colored surreal feel to it. It's hard to compare books that are different in this way.
Overall, Orwell's world felt more real to me, like it could have been brought about by real political circumstances. The system itself is evolved around the principle that whatever improves control survives. It feels like a political system that has devolved into its current state with the original vision or rhetoric of the ideology that brought it about remaining as a vestige, like Marxism in China.
Huxley's world feels a little more fake to me. It's like some political genius designed it head to tail and things went ahead as planned. It's like Canberra (If you go there, you'll see what I mean). That makes it feel more like a made up word to me, inorganic.
Orwell's "mechanisms," training society to gradually train their minds using language, euphemism, historical revisionism, social penalties for bad thought patterns and as much control over what people see & hear as possible… it feels real to me. We see that stuff at work now as Orwell saw it in his time. It feels possible, though I think Winston's are inevitable too. Euphemisms to control thought is stronger today than it was in Orwell's time.
Huxely's mechanisms of Soma, infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis feel less real. I can't count that against the author or the book though. Brave New World is distant future. That's inevitably more fantastical and less realistic. I think he's right though about using pleasantness over direct confrontation. Humans are pleasure seeking and denied pleasure, there will always be a force of instability.
The point where 1984 slips ahead though is the book-in-the-book 'The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein.' In particular, it describes how the system must allow some non hereditary class movement. If the class system is too rigid, pressure builds up as talented individual press against the ceiling. If some are allowed to progress and there are prominent examples the class system becomes less explicit and more stable. I don't know if it's some of my earliest political exposure being socialist, but that just rings true to me. I see it today. Statistically, classes are fairly rigid, but individually, they are malleable.
I'm very biased though I think 1984 is one of the most important books I read as a teenager. It shaped how I saw things.
1984 felt just too dystopian. It just tasted wrong; like someone would have stood up and said, "No thank you" well before the point the book stepped into.
A Brave New World? That's simply distraction taken to the nth degree. Perfectly plausible.
I read Huxley's book when I was a teenager, and as you said, it shaped how I see things. Moderation and critical thinking are key in everything (moderation, even in moderation).
Good point. Technology can help create newer, more engaging distractions. Magic Leap hopes to offer a new "magical" layer on top of reality, when their devices are "on", for instance.
> 1984 felt just too dystopian. It just tasted wrong; like someone would have stood up and said, "No thank you" well before the point the book stepped into.
This is part of why there's such a push towards punishing intelligence community whistleblowers. When the public is made aware of the mass surveillance programs, they do say "No thank you."
Both books examine a different facet of human nature, and they both remain relevant to this day.
Watching how people react to the Occulus, "OMG it's sooo real!" I can't help thinking how badly screwed we are as a species when it goes mainstream. FarmVille addiction, World of Warcraft will look like a walk in the park to Occulus addicts who no longer know or care what reality is. Perhaps I'm just overly pessimistic
No matter now realistic Oculus appears, it's still just a device strapped to your face - it's not that immersive.
If people can get this addicted and consumed to World of Warcraft or Facebook games, imagine what will happen when that's literally at eye-level.
The first time I saw a 3D movie it was incredibly immersive. But after a few, the brain reconfigures its expectations, and the same inputs are interpreted as "just a movie".
The current state of North Korea indicates that this statement is wrong. When the odds are so overwhelmingly stacked against you, its hard to start a rebellion.
Granted, things weren't looking very good for the U.S. when the revolutionary war began, but we had astronomically good odds when compared to the average North Korean.
I can fairly easily envision the same happening in North Korea, where by all accounts nearly the entire population is dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. One big protest in Pyongyang, and boom.
I have been listening to lecture about the english empire and comparing americans with the lower class in North Korea is quite a strech.
I never suggested that we were battling an oppressive regime. Literally the entire point of my comment was to highlight the difference between us and North Korea; I didn't suggest the things you seem to think I did.
Where exactly is that inflection point? So far, we've complained a lot, yet we slide more into it every day, and statistically, no one is leaving.
If these two developments are allowed to continue, 1984 doesn't sound unlikely at all to me. There just needs to be one point in history where somebody grabs the power, and then it will be impossible to take that power away.
From what I've heard, 1984 was passed around as "samizdat" in the Soviet Union, and many were convinced George Orwell was actually living in the Soviet Union since his descriptions were so true to their lives.
Think of all the distractions that already occur today with smart phones, facebook, twitter, continuous streaming TV, constant video games that are always with you and continuing to grow more immersive. Here we have our growing distractions.
Now start giving these things to younger and younger children; how many toddlers do you see tapping on a smart phone or a tablet?
Add to the mix a good healthy dose of drug induced behavioral control via Ritalin or Adderall, prescriptions written for these are at an all time high http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/radical-increase-in-kids-prescrib....
Fast forward to that child as an adult; they have spent their whole life on behavioral modifying drugs and start to feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied with their lot in life. What are these "strange feelings", so off to the doctor they go where they can be diagnosed with depression and get put on some Paxil/Prozac/Zoloft so they can be content going back to that same hum drum existence they were starting to question. Since they were trained as children to take behavior modifying drugs, as an adult they are predisposed to accept this as the correct course of action.
Seems to me, at least in the USA, we are already coming pretty close to Huxley's vision today.
Not to derail the conversation too much, but fuck you. That's not even close to what depression is or how it works. Depression isn't when your life sucks so you feel bad, it's when you feel bad for no reason, even when your life is objectively pretty good. It's a well documented medical phenomenon that can fortunately be managed rather well with, among other things, medication. Comments like this, though, serve only to stigmatize treatment and actively discourage people from seeking help.
I have a close family member with depression. They've been on Zoloft for a little over a year now and it has been a huge blessing. The single biggest obstacle to getting them help was helping them overcome the social anxiety and sense of failure caused by stigmatizing and belittling attitudes like yours.
Yes, many more people are on antidepressants than in generations past. Many more people also take antihistamines daily and get an annual flu shot and nobody thinks that signals some downfall of civilization. Modern medicine has provided effective treatments for countless conditions, ranging from minor annoyances to debilitating illnesses, that previous generations had no alternative but to endure quietly. In almost every area, save this one, this is rightly regarded as a triumph of science and a huge net good for humanity. Why is it about mental illness that causes otherwise smart, empathetic, and scientifically literate people to start clutching their pearls?
You don't know me; and you almost certainly haven't seen the personal affects of depression up close like I have.
My post was in no way "belittling" depression. The fact is a mix of lazy doctors, lazy teachers, and yes lazy parents makes it very easy for children to be put on drugs for ADHD. So much so that the FDA has launched investigations into this practice, but ultimately no change has come out of. Also FACT, Ritalin and Adderall are both known to cause drug induced depression to such an extent that is has been highly tied to teen and young adult suicides. Catching this early results in treatment with anti-depressants to continue mood altering. This is a case where the patients do not suffer underlying depressive disorders, but rather it is directly caused by long term use of other mood altering drugs that in many cases were not necessary.
This is a situation where you have unwittingly stuck your foot in your mouth. You have no idea the level of irony that you just reached by trying to call me out on this.
I have, actually. The person I care about did not have any substantial pre-depression experience with mood altering substances, prescription or otherwise, but post-depression treatment with antidepressents has been a huge help to them and, indirectly, to me and the rest of my family. Nevertheless, I do have a pretty good guess as to what your experience has been like.
My post was intemperate, to say the least. Your post struck a nerve with me and provoked a reaction that was undeserved. I've had to deal with one too many "depression isn't real" and "people just want happy pills" attitudes in the past and it's apparently caused my reading comprehension to suffer. I painted with far too broad a brush and you have my sincerest apologies.
So, what's the entity without agency (agenda?) that would be objective. There is no objectivity. I don't know how well documented it is, but I doubt I really want to know. If it is well known, why isn't it prevented regularly or is it?
> Why is it about mental illness that causes otherwise smart, empathetic, and scientifically literate people to start clutching their pearls?
It's treating the symptom, not the problem. Just a hunch.
So then why isn't taking an ibuprofen for a headache, or cold medicine to help with cold symptoms the same?
Plenty of medicine treats the just symptoms, and there don't seem to be people proclaiming the downfall of society because of cold medicine. It helps alleviate the symptoms and allows the sufferer to work towards curing the cause. I would imagine that this is especially true for something like depression where the symptoms are a direct obstacle to curing the cause. I've read that exercise and a healthy diet have been shown to help with depression, which in my opinion is probably better than just taking medication. However I'd be willing to bet that someone who is currently experiencing the symptoms of depression (such as fatigue, apathy, and a reduced motivation and task salience), is going to have quite a bit a of difficulty in doing that, and sticking with it. On the other hand, if the medication gets rid of the symptoms, the individual would probably have far more success eating healthy and exercising, or addressing any other issue that may be the cause of their depression. We don't tell people to get over a heart attack or chastise those who take medicine to help with cardiac problems, we deal with the symptoms as best we can, and then we deal with the cause once we get the symptoms in check.
Now to make some wild and likely inaccurate generalizations. I frequently get the feeling that people who rally against mental health medication have the mindset of "It's their fault, and it's just because they're weak, they should just stop being lazy, buck up and get over it like I would instead of cheating and taking pills for it." or even think that they deserve it due to some unknown choice they made and should have to deal with the consequences.
Honestly, even if it was "cheating" to take a pill, and people could just get over depression if they tried hard enough, why the hell is that a problem? I'd have no qualms "cheating" and taking a medication that improved my cognition, abilities, health, or anything else even if there was no issue with it in the first place. I know I'm just knocking down my own strawman here, but isn't that the whole point of technology? We create new things so that we longer have to waste our time and effort doing things "the hard way". Why is it any different when that optimization benefits our body or mind instead of our computer? Pshh, smart phones, get over your laziness and hand deliver letters to whoever you wanna talk to, don't cheat and take the easy way out. You got hit by a drunk driver? Well that's your fault for driving, you should've just walked 30 miles through the woods instead. And now you want to go to the hospital too? Why don't you just buck up and walk on your broken leg, no one else has a problem walking. And don't give me that paralyzed crap, everyone else seems to be able to walk just fine, you just want attention. Getting surgery is the easy way out.
> think that they deserve it due to some unknown choice they made and should have to deal with the consequences
That's the conservative approach. If the depression comes from social interactions, there has to be another side of the coin, this is it.
> Honestly, even if it was "cheating" to take a pill
In the context above, it's a masquerade and can make the interaction even more difficult, because besides the obvious symptoms, there are probably others as well.
Also, a certain fear of medication based on ignorance is there, I won't deny that I don't know.
It's surprising so many on HN would
With a few exceptions, everyone on this site experienced childhood without the barrage of information and sensations that is the Internet.
It is scary to imagine how children who from birth have been trained to always look for entertainment through iPad games and the need to always be connected - how that might affect them. I suspect this is an overblown concern, people probably said the same when the television became a staple in society and human beings are adaptable. Still, children are especially malleable at that age, the impact modern technology will have on them is...interesting.
I personally witnessed people saying the same thing about TV after it had become a staple in society. I suspect that earlier that they said the same thing about radio.
I strongly feel that BNW is more realistic. Neither will play out in entirety, but we are certainly addicts of our opioid receptors.
I'm certainly not arguing that the world should be viewed solely through the eyes of the lowest classes - I think this can result in focusing on zero-sum solutions that invariably invite more tentacles of control into our everyday lives. But looking at such perspectives is a good way to get over the initial "soft controls" and see that there definitely is a system of "hard controls" backing them up.
Just like Whitman, Price, and Haddad!
Overview from Wikipedia:
"This series is about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy." —Adam Curtis'
Edward Bernays also wrote a book titled Propaganda and he invented the term Public Relations.
Edward Louis Bernays was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations". He combined the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud. He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the "herd instinct" that Trotter had described.
In Propaganda he wrote:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."
You don't need to look far to see how hedonism, particularly through television programs like American Idol and ESPN*, have supplanted the laymans need for government involvement. I see no better example of hedonism than the fact that the word 'Selfie' was awarded 'Word of the Year' by the Oxford dictionary last year: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-24992393. I work at Disney and when I look to the television monitors I see ‘inspirational’ quotes that tell me that selfishness is desirable. In particular, I have learned that ’mephobia’ is defined as the 'Fear of becoming so awesome that the human race can't handle it and everyone dies.' Disgusting…
Although I will add that Freud's theories are only one part of it. The documentary really exposes a vast plethora of social control techniques.
Along the same lines as Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent". The book is great, and there's a documentary from 92: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzufDdQ6uKg
What's that got to do with your workplace?
Selfishness is desire. It has just the negative meaning because it is either considered rude to call others selfish unless it's too much selfishness, or because it is a common selfishness, at which point it's only selfish against a third party. Just my interpretation.
Thats basiclly lenins great innovation. If you look at the leaders of the USSR, you will see people from all around the empire, while in the older system you would have the older familly based fudalism.
The soviet dream, get into the low levels of the party, work yourself up. That was not possible befor.
Marijuana legalization is Soma. We don't need as many workers any more, and pot will help to keep the drones passive.
Weed does seem to foster novel insights about longstanding things, but when it wears off the thoughts don't seem so coherent or actionable - imho. Then again I only smoke occasionally and socially, and haven't really tried eg coding while high.
I personally think all laws against drugs are immoral. But I see the present absorption of marijuana into the status quo and can only lament "not like this" - counterculture sucking up to power via taxes, regulatory complexity increasing rather than simply being erased, and persecution of other drugs even stepping up (not that I really want to see anybody putting needles in their arm. but public health, not societal banhammer). Feel good rationalizations like "change is slow" only make sense if you aren't simultaneously taking multiple steps back in other areas, and focusing on one substance seems quite myopic.
On the other hand, I don't know too many people where pot has had the reverse effect, and increased their drive. It does seem to have a numbing effect, broadly speaking.
Not saying I completely agree with the OP's sentiment, though.
Loosing desire is just a way to cope, switching one activity for the other, as both can't be combined. I am convinced the addictive effect, the positive connotation people allude to it are largely placebo.
>(myself not included)
You are not per chance paranoid or subconsciously ashamed?
Soma is described as being able to take a few grams and experience an eternity of time within a few hours. It sounds more like an intense psychedelic.
The term you are looking for is trance. Think of those manic church sessions, where people feel all so connected to god and go stark raving mad. Psychedelic trance can be achieved playing music or through meditation, as well.
Edit: Maybe It is funny if you get the message and I just don't get the kind of dark humor, though.
One word: Circumcision. Do I need to explain?
yeah, right. Which invention was there in the books, that seemed unlikely at the time and that had a significa
t impact on the story?
Drugs, microphones, cameras, TVs were basically an old hat at the time, like 50 years past for television and the phone, not comparing consumer articles. The stretch from widely available radio to TV is not a big one.
The control and deception, dissociation and assimilation likewise. 1984 was the time of WW2 no less. What do you know about the situation in some hidden archipellagos somewhere in Oceania.
BNW i found much less irritating, though it is not far from reality either. The only take away for me was sociatal exclusion, soma and population control through distraction. Enough in my bookkeeping, but not much science is involved.