A man came by the house today. He was a man I’ve known my entire life. And it wasn’t the first time that he’s ever showed up at the house.
He had some cards that he was wanting to know the value of. Some Yugioh, Pokemon, Magic, and some other cards that I’m not sure of. I told him that I had gotten out of cards a while back, and didn’t know how much they were worth. He then started saying some very profound things that I was not expecting.
He’s had some drug problems that I’ve known about. He was on a scooter. And I don’t recall what exactly started it, but suddenly, he started talking about religion. Unprovoked. But it was not like what you might expect when being preached at. Most of the time, when someone is preached at, they hear about how terrible they are as a human being, and all of the things they need to do to alleviate themselves from the consequences of their sin. But this conversation was nothing like that. In fact, one might say that it was the exact opposite.
He started talking about energy. He said that energy is neither created, nor destroyed, but that it just exists. That there’s no time. That there is only energy. That we are energy, and that we all share this common humanity. We all share upon this energy. And we can give good energy, or we can give bad energy. But the energy is always there, and we can’t destroy it. It reminded me very much of a Bill Hicks joke: “All my point is, all my point is is there’s a lot of ways to look at the world. You know what I’m sayin’? Why pick the way you learn over TV? Cause it’s usually wrong. You ever see a good drug story on the news? Never. News is supposed to be objective, isn’t it? Supposed to be the news. But! Every drug story is negative. Well hold it. I’ve had some killer fuckin’ times on drugs. Let’s hear the whole story. Same LSD story every time, and we’ve all heard it: ‘Young man on acid thought he could fly. Jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.’ What a dick. He thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off from the ground and check it out first? You don’t see ducks lined up to catch elevators to fly south. He’s an idiot. He’s dead. Good! You mean there’s one less moron in the world? Wow, what a fuckin’ tragedy, huh? I guess I’m one car-length up in traffic tomorrow. How about a positive LSD story? That would be newsworthy. Don’t you think? Anybody think that? Just once? To hear a positive LSD story? ‘Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration; that we are all one consciousness, experiencing itself, subjectively. There is no such thing death. Life is only a dream. And we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.’”
One connection I made between the two of them was the drugs. But I don’t know if drugs really tell the whole story. Maybe they do in Bill’s case, but I’m not sure about this guy’s. But he continued. And things got really deep.
He said he’d be sitting around, drinking and smoking a bong with some people, and they’d say to him “How can you call yourself a Christian when you do all of that?” And he said to them that they didn’t get it. He told me that he’d tell them that the Ten Commandments aren’t laws which need to be strictly obeyed, but are rather more common sensical than that. To paraphrase, he said “Think about it. ‘Obey your father and your mother.’ That’s just natural, isn’t it?” The thing that struck me about this conversation was that I’ve been thinking some of these very things myself. He continued:
Once again, to paraphrase, he said “Life isn’t about obeying the laws of God. It’s about love. It’s about all of us loving each other. It’s about giving good energy through love. We are all part of this loving energy. And it doesn’t disappear: it just gets transported somewhere else when we die.”
Here was a man I hadn’t seen in months, if not a couple of years. Who I’ve known my whole life. Who just came to my house and started telling me this stuff. He asked a couple of times if I understood what he was saying. And, to my shock, I actually did. I’ve been thinking some things lately, but they aren’t fleshed out enough for writing. But I actually did understand what he was saying. And when I told him so, he’d say “I know you do.” And I could tell that he was being genuine. That he was serious. We shared a very human moment together. I thought “You know, I know people who would’ve asked him to leave. But I’m glad I just stood here and listened to him.”
He could be pretty emotional at times. Not to the verge of tears, but just very excited. I thought about telling him to calm down because I didn’t want the neighbors to check out what was happening, but he seemed to sense it every time without me saying anything. Of course, he couldn’t contain himself at times. He wasn’t sad, and he wasn’t angry, but he was very enthusiastic. Passionate. But he felt completely genuine to me. He wasn’t putting on a show. This man was pouring out his heart. And I could feel that.
He told me some very personal things about himself that I will not ever repeat to anyone. I don’t know if he was high or not. I believe I could smell a little liquor on him. But I swear, in that moment, I think his head was more clear than it had ever been.
He said he’d talk to Biblical “scholars”, to use his term, at nearby churches. Talking to them, presumably, about some of the things he had been talking about to me. He didn’t seem to think that they actually got it. Once again, it was a miracle that I was on the same brainwave as him. Maybe my natural thought processes are just as scattered as his, but I understood what he was saying. For the most part.
There were some things about tectonic plates and volcanoes and the world opening up that I was skeptical of. But I dismissed those pretty easily, because he was back on the loving energy topic pretty quickly. I don’t know if he’s right, if he’s wrong, but I guess time will tell.
He said “I’ve never told anybody any of this stuff. I’ve rarely read any of the Bible. But something just compelled me to come here and say all of this stuff.” And I understood exactly what he meant. It was a very touching moment.
He also said some stuff about seven nations, like America, Brazil, Peru, and others being a “seven-headed beast”. That “liberty” was just a myth. That there was some volcano off of the coast of southwest Australia that was going to open up like a pit of Hell. I was a little skeptical of all of that. He started losing me there. But I agreed with him, and understood what he was saying, earlier about loving energy, so I stuck with him.
He said he loved me, and I told him I loved him too. And we hugged each other. I could tell that he was genuine. And then, he was on his way.
I thought about that moment. I thought about dwelling on it. About trying to force that moment to be meaningful every moment of my entire life from here on out. But that isn’t how moments work. Moments exist within a specific time and place. Forcing them beyond that makes them lose what made them magical in the first place. But it gave me some interesting thoughts about love, and about advantage.
The way I grew up to think about love is incorrect. I thought that one had to love everybody to the fullest extent that one could, so that the world would be a good place. So that we could all get into Heaven. But the first part of that is actually more important than the latter, believe it or not. I treated love as something to always be working toward and striving for. But not just love: perfect love. “Am I being as loving as I could be?” This question always bothered me tremendously. Religion had taught me that I should love my fellow man, but how do I know how much I need to love my fellow man? Well, this was never answered specifically, but I believed that the answer to that “amount” question was the same as other “amount” questions that religion attempts to answer: “As much as you can, but that will never be enough. But you have to struggle towards that goal, anyway.”
So I put a lot of pain upon my heart to try to love people. But it only made me resent them. It made me hate myself. It confused me. I’m introverted by nature, and my idea of “love” (such as always listening to everything someone says when they talk to you, never disagreeing with someone, never getting angry at someone, etc.) was immature and, plainly, just incorrect. My old way of thinking about love put a lot of pain upon my heart that created a lot of hatred. And I don’t think my old way of thinking about love was even correct.
I believe that guy was on to something. I believe that love is a lot deeper than that. Way deeper than that. He said that he was struggling to find the words to explain what it was that he wanted to explain, and I feel the same way at the moment. I’ll bring up a conversation that I had with my best friend recently, Devin Stevens.
I called him up one night cause I hadn’t talked to him in a while. I was thinking some things about religion, and I know he’s been thinking and writing about it for a very long time now, so I just wanted to hear some of his take on religion. I asked him some questions. And he told me some personal things that I won’t break to anyone, but he’s planning on making these public in a giant religious treatise that he’s writing, so I look forward to seeing the complete piece myself. But as we talked, I came to the conclusion that, even among Christians, each person’s faith is different from one another. Christians experience Christianity differently. That was one thing that seemed very clear to me in that conversation. And I was very relieved.
It made me think of politics. In politics, force is used to make everyone “equal”, but it destroys their humanity and makes them miserable in the process. It made sense to me that, much like humans need freedom to experience the fullness of their diverse, individualistic humanity, that this humanitarian diversity and individuality would be experienced with God as well. God has made us individual, and diverse. That’s got to mean something holy. God created the Earth, and made us out of dirt. Despite our sins, I don’t think that God hates humans, nor do I believe that He hates the Earth. He created it, after all. No, most of the things He hates are common sense, I believe, just like that guy who came by my house was talking about. Stuff that most of us just naturally hate, like murder, or theft. Basic, common sense stuff. Yes, that is the stuff that God hates. That is the stuff that a loving God hates. That’s the stuff that love hates.
My old conservative ways of thinking about love and God, I have now come to believe, were wrong. There was too much emphasis on “completeness”. Too much emphasis, in effect, on the impossible. Which led me to failure, which led me to fear. But the emotion which plagued me the most about love, the old way I thought about love, was guilt. When I was younger, if I would’ve heard a story like that man told me today, I would’ve felt extremely guilty. My life has been nothing like his. And yet, this man was showing me love, and saying that we had a common bond. I would’ve felt guilty about that when I was young. But the truth is that I’ve had a much easier life than he’s had. It does make me feel bad for him, although I hope he can turn his life around, and I hope that what he said in our meeting today continues with him throughout the rest of his life. But I didn’t feel guilty today. I didn’t feel guilty for not having the troubled experiences that he has had. I just felt lucky. I felt blessed. I didn’t feel like a “better” human being than him, but I felt absolutely blessed. I said to myself “I have been lucky. I have been advantaged.” But that didn’t make me feel any need to bring myself down to any level that he has been at. Rather, it made me realize, or rather, it made me continue to think what I’ve been thinking about for a while now, that life is about taking advantage. It isn’t about “taking advantage” of someone else, but it is about “taking advantage” of yourself. Life is about taking advantage of your natural, God-given abilities and desires. That’s how human progress moves forward. That’s how things get better. When people experience the fullness of their humanity, and become the best that they can be. Not out of fear, but out of love for the world. Striving for improvement, maximizing their natural skill-sets. Bringing other people joy. The key is to accept what you have. Accept whatever it is that you have. And the key is to eliminate false humility. The key to love is accepting it when other people give it to you, for whatever reason that they do. Accept it, and move on to the next thing in your life.
For me, I’m pretty smart. Halfway decent with words. I can’t feel guilty about these things simply because I’m smarter than someone else, or a better communicator than someone else. And that lack of guilt on my part does not mean that I don’t love someone else. Advantage and disadvantage aren’t signals of love. Guilt isn’t even love. Love was that moment when this man told me very personal things, I listened to him, and then we hugged each other. The differences in our lives, past and present, had nothing to do with love. I shouldn’t feel guilty for having a much easier life than he had, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish him the best of luck in the future, and feel sympathy for his past.
That’s the biggest thing I need to continue developing in my life: how to take advantage of myself. How to remove anxieties and guilts, and be the best goddamned Cody Alan Reel that I can fucking be, with whatever it is that I have been given.
I’m sure I’ve heard this a lot growing up, and I’m sure I’ve dismissed it frequently, but all of those phrases about “Life being about the experience”, and “Living life to the fullest”, make a lot more sense to me now. The lesson didn’t come from the church. But I’m going to continue to take full advantage of myself, and figure out how to feel emotionally about myself as I go along. There has been a large transformation on that front as the years have gone on. A complete 180. A lot of blessings, and a lot of introspection. It’s a process. It’s an odd mixture of myself and things outside of my control. I’m going to think about it and write about it as much as I can stand it. As much as it brings me satisfaction to do so. But that’s part of my individual journey here on Earth.
I wish everyone the best of luck, and I hope that everyone can take full advantage of themselves.
This video is really, really fucking good.
This is one of those books that is hard to do justice with a review. The copy that I read, borrowed from my best friend, has a preface by Walter Cronkite written in 1983, and an afterword by Eric Fromm in 1961. I’ll share a little bit of each of these before I write my own review. I’m only not sharing the full preface or afterword to at least try to preserve a little of their copyright.
Here’s various passages from Cronkite’s preface:
“‘Big Brother’ has become a common term for ubiquitous or overreaching authority, and ‘Newspeak’ is a word we apply to the dehumanizing babble of bureaucracies and computer programs.”
“Seldom has a book provided a greater wealth of symbols for its age and for the generations to follow, and seldom have literary symbols been invested with such power. How is that? Because they were so useful, and because the features of the world he drew, outlandish as they were, also were familiar.”
“What Orwell had done was not to foresee the future but to see the implications of the present – his present and ours – and he touched a common chord. He had given words and shapes to common but unarticulated fears running deep through all industrial societies.”
“1984 is an anguished lament and a warning that we may not be strong enough nor wise enough nor moral enough to cope with the kind of power we have learned to amass. That warning vibrates powerfully when we allow ourselves to sit still and think carefully about orbiting satellites that can read the license plates in a parking lot and computers that can tap into thousands of telephone calls and telex transmissions at once and other computers that can do our banking and purchasing, can watch the house and tell a monitoring station what television program we are watching and how many people there are in the room. We think of Orwell when we read of scientists who believe they have located in the human brain the seats of behavioral emotions like aggression, or learn more about the vast potential of genetic engineering.”
“Critics and scholars may argue quite legitimately about the particular literary merits of 1984. But none can deny its power, its hold on the imaginations of whole generations, nor the power of its admonitions . . . a power that seems to grow rather than lessen with the passage of time. It has been said that 1984 fails as a prophecy because it succeeded as a warning – Orwell’s terrible vision has been averted. Well, that kind of self-congratulation is, to say the least, premature. 1984 may not arrive on time, but there’s always 1985.
Still, the warning has been effective; and every time we use one of those catch phrases . . . recognize Big Brother in someone, see a 1984 in our future . . . notice something Orwellian . . . we are listening to that warning again.”
Here’s some highlights from Fromm’s afterword.
“The Christian thinkers of the late Middle Ages emphasized that although the ‘Kingdom of God’ was not within historical time, the social order must correspond to and realize the spiritual principles of Christianity. The Christian sects before and after the Reformation emphasized these demands in more urgent, more active and revolutionary ways. With the breakup of the medieval world, man’s sense of strength, and his hope, not only for individual but for social perfection, assumed new strength and took new ways.
One of the most important ones is a new form of writing which developed since the Renaissance, the first expression of which was Thomas More’s Utopia (literally: ‘Nowhere’), a name which was then generically applied to all other similar works. Thomas More’s Utopia combined a most penetrating criticism of his own society, its irrationality and its injustice, with the picture of a society which, though perhaps not perfect, had solved most of the human problems which sounded insoluble to his own contemporaries. What characterizes Thomas More’s Utopia, and all the others, is that they do not speak in general terms of principles, but give an imaginative picture of the concrete details of a society which corresponds to the deepest longings of man. In contrast to prophetic thought, these perfect societies are not at ‘the end of the days’ but exist already – though in a geographic distance rather than in the distance of time.”
“This hope for man’s individual and social perfectibility, which in philosophical and anthropological terms was clearly expressed in the writings of the Enlightenment philosophers of the eighteenth century and of the socialist thinkers of the nineteenth, remained unchanged until after the First World War. This war, in which millions died for the territorial ambitions of the European powers, although under the illusion of fighting for peace and democracy, was the beginning of that development which tended in a relatively short time to destroy a two-thousand-year-old Western tradition of hope and to transform it into a mood of despair. The moral callousness of the First World War was only the beginning. Other events followed: the betrayal of the socialist hopes by Stalin’s reactionary state capitalism; the severe economic crisis at the end of the twenties; the victory of barbarism in one of the oldest centers of culture in the world – Germany; the insanity of Stalinist terror during the thirties; the Second World War, in which all the fighting nations lost some of the moral considerations which had still existed in the First World War; the unlimited destruction of civilian populations, started by Hitler and continued by the even more complete destruction of cities such as Hamburg and Dresden and Tokyo, and eventually by the use of atomic bombs against Japan. Since then the human race has been confronted with an even greater danger – that of the destruction of our civilization, if not of all mankind, by thermonuclear weapons as they exist today and as they are being developed in increasingly frightful proportions.
Most people, however, are not consciously aware of this threat and of their own hopelessness. Some believe that just because modern warfare is so destructive, war is impossible; others declare that even if sixty or seventy million Americans were killed in the first one or two days of a nuclear war, there is no reason to believe that life would not go on as before after the first shock has been overcome. It is precisely the significance of Orwell’s book that it expresses the new mood of hopelessness which pervades our age before this mood has become manifest and taken hold of the consciousness of people.
Orwell is not alone in this endeavor. Two other writers, the Russian Zamyatin in his book We, and Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World, have expressed the mood of the present, a warning for the future, in ways very similar to Orwell’s. This new trilogy of what may be called the “negative utopias” of the middle of the twentieth century is the counterpoint to the trilogy of the positive utopias mentioned before, written in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.1 The negative utopias express the mood of powerlessness and hopelessness of modern man just as the early utopias expressed the mood of self-confidence and hope of post-medieval man. There could be nothing more paradoxical in historical terms than this change: man, at the beginning of the industrial age, when it reality he did not possess the means for a world in which the table was set for all who wanted to eat, when he lived in a world in which there were economic reasons for slavery, war, and exploitation, in which man only sensed the possibilities of his new science and of its application to technique and to production – nevertheless man at the beginning of modern development was full of hope. Four hundred years later, when all these hopes are realizable, when man can produce enough for everybody, when war has become unnecessary because technical progress can give any country more wealth than can territorial conquest, when this globe is in the process of becoming as unified as a continent was four hundred years ago, at the very moment when man is on the verge of realizing his hope, he begins to lose it. It is the essential point of all three negative utopias not only to describe the future toward which we are moving, but also explain the historical paradox.”
(Here was a footnote in the book. 1. It should be added that Jack London’s The Iron Heel, the prediction of fascism in America, is the earliest of the modern negative utopias.)
“…can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love – that is to say, can man forget that he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one? It must be noted that the three authors do not take the simple position of psychological relativism which is common to so many social scientists today; they do not start out with the assumption that there is no such thing as human nature; that there is no such thing as qualities essential to man; and that man is born as nothing but a blank sheet of paper on which any given society writes its text. They do assume that man has an intense striving for love, for justice, for truth, for solidarity, and in this respect they are quite different from the relativists. In fact, they affirm the strength and intensity of these human strivings by the description of the very means they present as being necessary to destroy them. In Zamyatin’s We a brain operation similar to a lobotomy is necessary to get rid of the human demands of human nature. In Huxley’s Brave New World artificial biological selection and drugs are necessary, and in Orwell’s 1984 it is the completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing. None of the three authors can be accused of the thought that the destruction of the humanity within man is easy. Yet all three arrive at the same conclusion: that it is possible, with means and techniques which are common knowledge today.”
“The importance of Orwell’s concept of war lies in a number of very keen observations.
First of all, he shows the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function. Furthermore, he gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of its opponents [emphasis mine]. Orwell’s picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a ‘stable’ deterrent. This soothing picture ignores the fact that with increasing technical ‘progress’ (which creates entirely new weapons about every 5 years, and will soon permit the development of 100 or 1000 instead of 10 megaton bombs), the whole society will be forced to live underground, but that the destructive strength of thermonuclear bombs will always remain greater than the depth of the caves, that the military will become dominant (in fact, if not in law), that fright and hatred of a possible aggressor will destroy the basic attitudes of a democratic, humanistic society [emphasis mine]. In other words, the continued arms race, even if it would not lead to the outbreak of a thermonuclear war, would lead to the destruction of any of those qualities of our society which can be called ‘democratic,’ ‘free,’ or ‘in the American tradition.’ Orwell demonstrates the illusion of the assumption that democracy can continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war, and he does so imaginatively and brilliantly.
Another important aspect is Orwell’s description of the nature of truth, which on the surface is a picture of Stalin’s treatment of truth, especially in the thirties. But anyone who sees in Orwell’s description only another denunciation of Stalinism is missing an essential element of Orwell’s analysis. He is actually talking about a development which is taking place in the Western industrial countries also, only at a slower pace than it is taking place in Russia and China. The basic question which Orwell raises is whether there is any such thing as ‘truth.’ ‘Reality,’ so the ruling party holds, ‘is not external. Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else . . . whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.’ If this is so, then by controlling men’s minds the Party controls truth.”
“An American writer, Alan Harrington, who in Life in the Crystal Palace gives a subtle and penetrating picture of life in a big American corporation, has coined an excellent expression for the contemporary concept of truth: ‘mobile truth.’ If I work for a big corporation which claims that its product is better than that of all competitors, the question whether this claim is justified or not in terms of ascertainable reality becomes irrelevant. What matters is that as long as I serve this particular corporation, this claim becomes ‘my’ truth, and I decline to examine whether it is an objectively valid truth. In fact, if I change my job and move over to the corporation which was until now ‘my’ competitor, I shall accept the new truth, that its product is the best, and subjectively speaking, this new truth will be as true as the old one.”
“Truth is proven by the consensus of millions; to the slogan ‘how can millions be wrong’ is added ‘and how can a minority of one be right.’ Orwell shows quite clearly that in a system in which the concept of truth as an objective judgment concerning reality is abolished, anyone who is a minority of one must be convinced that he is insane.”
“Related to this is another example of ‘doublethink,’ namely that few writers, discussing atomic strategy, stumble over the fact that killing, from a Christian standpoint, is as evil or more evil than being killed.”
“Books like Orwell’s are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too.”
Reviews such as these are enough to destroy a young man’s confidence, and make him wonder why he’s writing a review at all. But the point, I suppose, isn’t to write a “better” review, but, merely, to write a personal one. I think that’s worthwhile.
The first time that I read any of this book was in high school. It was an assigned reading. Which means that I didn’t read it.
I tried to read parts of it, but I was quite stupid back then, and didn’t understand what the “Party” was. I didn’t understand “political” parties. Yes, I had almost graduated high school without realizing that. That was really my first experience with the book. That’s it. Depressing, I know.
I came to get an idea of what the book was about by frequently hearing terms like “Orwellian”, or even phrases like “straight out of 1984”, mixed with varying contexts. I didn’t need the book “1984” to realize that politicians were crooked and liars. So, through context clues, I came to understand a little of the general theme of the book. Nowhere near enough, but a minor taste. Funnily enough, I tried to fill in the gaps, and, after reading the book, realized that I failed. I knew of the word “doublethink”, but never thought of the phrase that often. Instead, I thought of something called “doublespeak”, which I interpreted to mean as just plain old lying. I’m glad I read the book, however, because it’s a much deeper story than just “lying”. Over and over and over, things felt eerily similar to today. Today, where Americans are “thankful for their freedoms” while they keep getting trampled upon. Celebrating American nationalism while ignoring domestic tyrannies. Yes, “doublethink” is alive and well in America today. Internet “meme” culture makes these instances of “doublethink” all too aware; particularly among libertarian “social circles” online.
I’ll start with a couple of critiques, then, attempt to give it at least a miniscule of the praise that it deserves. I know that the book is “dystopian”, but I enjoy poetic ways of saying things. I hope, as a writer myself, to be able to express poetically. I also eagerly await finding other “poets” (I know I can read poems, but I want poetic ways of saying things within prose as well). But the book is dystopian, and I guess it’s a little much to expect poetry in a dystopian novel. And it is only a minor critique, anyway. But I also get the sense that Orwell, like Cronkite, is a little “anti-technology”. I think it is evident that Orwell didn’t like television (as all of the “telescreens” in the book were used for spying and for barking out orders), while all of the books were rewritten to fit an agenda.
I also am not a fan of television. At all. I don’t pay for cable, nor satellite. Just “the internet”. I grew very tired of television, particularly advertisements, over the years. Also, it is very easy to get frustrated with “news-watchers” or “TV gorgers”, but, in my opinion, there’s too much focus on attacks of the technology itself. As I said, I do find television to be deplorable, particularly the way advertisements occur on them. And it does deserve critique. But let’s not become so blind by hatred of technology that we attack technological progress itself, and forget all of the good things that technology does for us. There’s a temptation to do just that; particularly among Conservatives, but I’ll get into that in a second. But focus more on the deplorability of the “proles”, not so much the technologies with which they entertain themselves.
Sure, it is one thing to bash atomic weapons, and some of the torture devices that exist in the book. It’s acceptable to bash technologies which exist solely to destroy, especially in particularly inhumane ways or at particular scales of destruction. But television isn’t an atomic weapon. I suppose that I don’t read enough to warrant giving a defense of “moving pictures”, but I’ve studied economics for a little while now, and I’ve started to really appreciate the technology that we have today. It certainly makes sense to me how one would praise books over television. I wouldn’t be able to successfully argue against that, and I’d agree with that. TV just does things in front of your eyes, including brain-deadening advertisement after advertisement after advertisement (although, thanks to technologies such as TiVo and DVR, people aren’t subjected to them as often as they used to be). Whereas books are far more engaging of the brain. So I can understand defending books against “telescreens” (in the realistic way screens are today, even though, increasingly, our devices are spying upon us, with “Big Business” and “Big Government” teaming up against us all. There’s that word again: “Orwellian”).
But I have also spent basically all of my life around old Conservative grumps who complain about “kids these days” and the technology that they have. These old people enjoy the fact that they have smartphones, but hate the fact that children do. They’ll say “Technology is corrupting our youth”, or whatever. In truth, it is really envy on the part of these old people. Many of these old people really did have difficult childhoods, and they are envious that children today don’t have it as badly as they did. That’s not a satisfactory indictment against technology. One has to wonder if many Conservatives, who claim that guns are “just a tool”, feel that way about video games, or smartphones, or what have you. Of course they don’t. They can’t apply their “tool” logic universally. That’s a major problem with Conservatives. I know that Cronkite and Orwell had deeper meanings than that when they criticized technology in the way that they did, but that has to be in one’s mind: How much of their critique is just old grumpiness?
However, even though, one one side, there are Conservatives who unfairly bash “technology” simply because it is “new”, or whatever their justification ultimately is, there is an opposite, although still negative, side of that coin. And that is “scientism”. “Scientism” is the belief that humans can be subjected to the scientific method such as a pool stick is to a cue ball. I’m not talking about, say, the effects of medicines on cells, or whatever. I’m talking about “social engineering”. I think Orwell discussed this brilliantly. Some people have a fallacious belief that we are better than we’ve ever been, as in morally superior to those in the past. I can understand that belief to a certain extent (as, for instance, slavery is more universally regarded as repugnant today than it has ever been), but these people go way too far with that idea. They’re the exact opposite of Conservatives, but they are still dangerous, if not more so than Conservatives. They treat the passage of time, and technological progress, as ipso facto improvements upon man’s ethics. This isn’t really “new”: it’s been around for a long time now. “If it is scientific, it can’t be immoral.” Ignoring, say, inhumane, unethical scientific testing which has been done historically, or attempts in the early 20th century to replace God with “science” (more specifically, the State’s application of “science”), leading to the deaths of countless millions. Science doesn’t eliminate man’s natural inclination towards hubris. “Science”, in fact, seems to ignore “man’s nature” constantly. It basically comes right out and says “There is no such thing as human nature”. And this was even before the “sexual Progressives” of today had taken over as they have now. Science-minded people seem to have an aversion to the concept of “human nature”. Unless, of course, they’re talking about how scientifically stupid most people are. But the pride of “science-minded” people is still alive and well today. Trying to push us more and more into statism, while, ironically enough, the “traditional, old-fashioned” Conservatives are their “biggest enemy”. It just makes one wonder why so many people think similarly. Interesting. It also makes you wonder how any ever thinks differently.
For more discussion on “human nature” and “apriorism”, check out some Austrian-school thinkers such as Murray Rothbard and David Gordon.
Of course, I didn’t even go into detail of how else “science” has replaced “God” with how it is fearfully preached by people who don’t even understand what it is that they are preaching. They are afraid of being “heretics”; afraid of not being accepted by their peers. So they scream “science” constantly, not understanding it themselves, but putting the utmost faith in anyone who calls himself a “scientist” (legitimate or not), much like faith was put into the clergy before the Reformation.
But, to continue with “1984”: The main character, Winston Smith, is old enough to remember a time before “the Party” took over. This also made me think of Conservatives lamenting a “bygone” era. Now, within the context of the book, I was fine with this lamentation. But in “the real world”, it’s annoying. Old Conservatives seem to think that the ’50s were the holiest generation on God’s green earth. With each passing day, they complain about how much more lost the world is becoming. Never mind the fact that in the very book that they claim to “believe” in, the Bible, one of the very first siblings ever created here on earth killed the other one. No, still yet, there’s some bygone era that was holier than today. No, the truth is that these Conservatives are full of shit. This, of course, is not to say that there aren’t legitimate lamentations of a bygone era. Of course, as tyranny increases, it is perfectly understandable and acceptable to think of a past time more free than currently. But that’s not all that Conservatives do. They have rose-tinted glasses for the past, regardless of how horrible the past really was. But, then again, don’t Conservatives complain about the past as well? Conservatives complain about today, and the technology that exists. Which, I suppose, is a complaint that the technology didn’t exist back then. But they are supposed to be “authorities”: they can’t admit to the young ones that they are jealous of them. Let’s just spank them and condemn them for playing video games. You know, the “responsible” thing to do. In fairness, once again, I don’t believe this was the gist of Cronkite’s discussion of technology. I think Cronkite was mainly concerned with how government (or cronies in connection with government) could use the growing technology for nefarious purposes. Also, he has some legitimate concerns about privacy. Google Earth is kind of frightening. Most of the time, when I use it, I’m just interested to see how accurate things are where I live. But it doesn’t bother me that much. Who cares if satellites can see my neighborhood? I can see my neighborhood when I go outside. I can see my neighborhood online if I take pictures of it and post them. The only concern that I have with it, in truth, is the fact that Google and the government are in each others’ pockets. I think that is a legitimate concern with technology, and I know both Cronkite and Orwell thought about technology in that same way.
But, “Conservative” analysis of technology aside: What did I think of the core message of the book, about Statism taking over the world? The book is excellent. I greatly envy Orwell. “1984” is a book that I wish that I had written. The book is obviously transcendent. While reading the book, I felt a combination of dread and hope. I really think it would be hard for anyone to view the book any other way. The dread is obvious. It is obvious to anyone who isn’t a “prole”; to anyone who isn’t a “knave” or “dupe”. People have spent, and continue to spend, their whole lives making careers out of warning about tyranny (and countless other “screamers” who aren’t doing it professionally). Fromm did an excellent job of contrasting pre-WWI writing with post-WWI writing. Most certainly, people continue to warn against tyranny today. Crediting Orwell the whole way through. Praising “1984” seems futile, because it really speaks for itself. It spoke, and the world continues to carry it on. It is a libertarian torch. The only differences between the passings of the torch are the specific words used, but the praise is universal among people who value freedom. The dread runs parallel to conclusions drawn to today from the book. If one looks hard enough, one can see that every day is a step towards 1984. And it is very easy to see 1984 when one takes account of how many of his fellow citizens don’t see 1984.
So 1984 is very clearly a tale of the human condition. About the conflict that exists within us. The desire for freedom, and the desire for control. It is a ceaseless ping-pong game with no winners, and where everyone dies at the end of it. Control is futile, and control is Hell. There’s very little solace for a man who has a gun pointed to his head, and there will always be someone in the future who faces a barrel, just the same. There will always be someone ignorant of the barrel, someone staring down the barrel, someone holding the barrel, someone trying to wrestle away the barrel, someone trying to destroy the barrel. There’s no end to evil on Earth. Not ultimately. There’s only fighting it, or perpetuating it. You can’t “ignore” it away. It will consume you.
But the ultimate takeaway that I’ve drawn from “1984” is a reinforcement for a developing belief of mine that I’ve had for a little while now. And that belief is to enjoy freedom when you have it. I spend a lot of time listening and talking about liberty and tyranny. I get something from it. Despite the similarities between America today and “1984”, there are significant differences. America is freer than “Oceania”, “Eurasia”, and “Eastasia”; the three “countries” in “1984” (I think it is fair to say that this holds true, even though the story only takes place in “Eurasia”, specifically, in what used to be London). Appreciate it. Don’t be so foolish as to believe tyranny an impossibility, but enjoy your freedoms while you have them. It isn’t 1984 quite yet. And don’t let it get there. Who knows how to alert the proles, if it is even possible to do so. But regardless of who is listening, scream out. If the heart desires freedom, scream out about it. It doesn’t matter who finds you odd when you’re screaming freedom. Do it while you can. As much as you can stand it. Express yourself, as much as you want to, while you are able. Make it whatever you want to make it; as serious, or as silly. Just do it. Despite trends toward it, there still isn’t a Ministry of Truth just yet. I’m sure there’s aspects of the Ministry of Love that the public doesn’t know about. And the Ministry of Peace remains in full effect, as always.
Overall, my takeaway is simple. Yes, 1984 can happen anywhere, anytime, including “here”. Don’t be so naive as to believe that your “country” is different. But take full advantage of any freedoms that you have. Exercise your humanity while you are still human. Enjoy your freedoms. And just read the book for yourself, if you haven’t already. And if you have, well, maybe read it again.
Went to Walmart so that I could get an outdoor mat to have one for each door. A blood van was there. It wasn’t the American Red Cross: it was The Blood Connection. They asked if I’d give some blood, and I said I would.
I was pretty anxious. I’m used to blood and needles from going to the doctor as a kid. But I was afraid they’d find something wrong with me (I’ll get into this later). I tried to calm my anxiety, however, because I thought that might skew the results somehow. She said my blood pressure was a little high, but that’s no surprise. Smart people who think about the world get stressed. I just dismissed it. I have been working on managing my stress, however, because it has finally started to become too much for me. Fascinating how the outdoors relieve stress. I think it has something to do with the fact that it is out of our control. The trees grow, and produce air, outside of our control. That’s comforting.
She said something, maybe hemoglobin, was 17, and it should be between 13 and 20. Everything seemed good.
Answered some questions beforehand. Read about AIDS, and needles, and shit. Scary stuff. Finally went to the chair to donate. “Are their needles clean?” I was thinking. Whatever. If I catch something, I catch something. Just relax. The van probably isn’t outside of Walmart to give people diseases. They’re probably trying to do good for people who need blood. People need blood. It does them good. People need it, for reasons I don’t care to fully understand. You can have it.
It took a little while. Some sugar beforehand, some sugar after. Waited in the van for a little bit, then walked out. Thought about going full “Cody mode”, but that wasn’t going to work. Walked slowly. Stay calm. Everything was fine. Got my mat, and left.
I thought about Dad. Dad always gave blood. It feels good to give blood. I hope somebody can use it. I figure that as long as I’m healthy enough to give blood, that means I’m doing good. Dad reached a point where they asked him not to donate anymore. I guess as long as I’m still healthy enough to give blood, I’m doing good.
There are two kinds of people in this world: people who never see a problem until it is too late, and those that constantly see problems when there are none there. I watched a video yesterday that Jordan Peterson was in (I don’t care for finding the exact timestamp. Sorry), and he confirmed something that I’ve always believed. My history regarding how I view health is pretty complicated. Religion did some pretty shitty things with how I view health, but I won’t get into all of that here. Suffice it to say that I’ve always felt guilty for being healthy, or smart. I’ve had to retrain myself philosophically to think about health differently. If I pity those who are unhealthy, what does that mean? That means I want them to be healthy. So why shouldn’t I be happy for myself, or anyone else who is healthy? Why should I feel guilty for having what I want everyone to have? The reasons for guilt are depressing. Basically, religion is, all too often, synonymous with guilt. I have deep problems with that.
I will do my best to not be someone who doesn’t accept a problem until it is too late. Prevention, prevention, prevention. Shit happens. But I don’t want to wait until it is too late. I don’t want to be someone who trains for marathons, but I’m going to think about my health. If that adds extra stress to me, then so be it. “Cody, too much stress is unhealthy-” Please shut the fuck up.
The two kinds of people in this world, that I mentioned above, are affected by everything. People who never see a problem until it is too late help create Nazi Germany. I won’t be one of those people. I’d rather be a person who sees every tiny encroachment of liberty as a step towards Nazi Germany. Sure, I’ll have to deal with people calling me “nasty names”. But it’s worth it. Fuck you, and fuck Nazi Germany. Fuck not taking care of yourself. Fuck the State. And fuck the idiots.
As I was going through the mats, I thought of something. I’ve always had a problem with speaking well. People in the South don’t like good talkers. Their inferiority complexes make them uncomfortable. This, of course, affects everyone from time to time: not just “Southerners”. I single out “the South” because I have a lot of problems with the culture I grew up in. But I realized, as I was picking up a mat, just how important words are. It’s important to speak well. You can’t make arguments without language. Language is very powerful. It is important. It is a tool. A tool that can be improved. It is sad when people manipulate with their language. But I’ve had enough of that for one lifetime. I “experimented” with lying when I first got a computer: getting up the courage to “talk” (lol) to women. Telling them what they wanted to hear. And hating every fucking second of it. I thought about that, and thought about “the news” from when I was growing up. There was always some story where someone was involved in a scandal, and they always said they were innocent. Constantly. Somebody was always lying. I thought “Why are these people making the world worse?” And that furthered my hatred for lying. I wanted to stop lying. Honesty was therapeutic. And that’s where I am today.
Of course, with honesty comes responsibility. You can honestly do some horrible things by accident. Honesty doesn’t mean you can escape the consequences. That’s scary to me. I try to think about making sure I don’t put myself in positions where I could accidentally do something reprehensible. The thought of going to jail is frightening. The thought of being innocent and going to jail is even more frightening. But a clear conscience goes a long, LONG way. That’s one reason that I hate religious conservatism so fucking much.
I realized that speaking out means other people will speak out as well. I don’t like people. I humorously thought today, while sitting in the parking lot, that I’m part of the “autism spectrum”. I honestly hate people. To my fucking core. But I don’t want them imprisoned. I don’t want them sick. I want them to have what I have. And I want to leave them alone because I want to be left alone.
I hate talking because I am bad at it. I don’t like being around angry people. I don’t like arguments. I’ve often found myself in a position retracting from a debate where the other person was actually enjoying it. A misread communicatory signal. Must be that spectrum in me. But I realized that a large reason why I don’t like talking to people is that I’m not a good arguer. I’m not good enough with language. There’s SO much room for improvement. I guess a lot of people don’t care that much. That’s why they call you “smarty-pants”, or whatever. But I need language. I need this. I don’t fully understand why. But I need it. And I need to improve upon it. It’s simply a tool. It cleanses my spirit, and helps me navigate socially. It will still be my goal to avoid socializing as much as possible, but when I can’t, I need to be able to speak for myself.
It’s all a process. All improvement.
That’s all it is.
Thanks for reading.