[ExI] to my fellow renaissance life forms
pharos at gmail.com
Sat Aug 14 09:20:49 UTC 2021
On Sat, 14 Aug 2021 at 05:51, spike jones via extropy-chat
<extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> If it has been a while, re-read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, and read carefully please. This applies to people in every country everywhere.
> Read some of the other old time classic lit, such as Lord of the Flies, and Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach.
Orwell wrote 1984 and Huxley wrote Brave New World.
Consider who turned out to be more accurate.
Quote from Postman 'Amusing ourselves to death' in 1985 ----
Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed
oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to
deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it,
people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies
that undo their capacities to think.
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
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
Quote from Ben L Self in 2021 --
In the years since Postman published that passage, I think the
internet and the general proliferation of recording technologies have
given us a little more cause to be concerned about the kind of
propaganda-infused “groupthink” and the prospect of the “surveillance
state” Orwell feared than Postman predicted. The internet has
certainly become a powerful tool for surveillance and the spread of
propaganda and disinformation, and if you want to see a disturbing
modern manifestation of Orwell’s dystopian vision, look no further
than to what’s been happening in China.
That said, the overwhelming impact of modern media and communication
technologies has clearly been to numb and distract the public through
pleasure, rather than to forcefully deprive us of our autonomy. In
that sense, I think Huxley (and by extension Postman) was spot-on.
The two ideas that most stick out to me from the passage are
(1) that “people will come to love their oppression [like any
addiction], to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to
(2) that we will be bombarded with so much information (most of it
trivial) that “we would be reduced to passivity and egoism” and “the
truth would [thus] be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”
Those two fears have clearly been realized to a disturbing extent.
Spike's frontiersman independent spirit is clearly more opposed to
Orwell's view of oppression from governments and restrictions on his
freedom. But for the great majority of the modern world's population
the greater threat is voluntarily giving up their freedom in return
for pleasure and distraction.
It is the current version of 'wire-heading' --
Civilisation ends bathed in continuous pleasure.
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