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Ungod

Modern hell and heaven

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       I started reading Orwell's 1984 a couple of days ago and I couldn't go past 5 pages. True, it *was* midnight, so maybe that helped in letting it go, but I realized something the next day.

 

   From what I read (and I know the story, the 'message'- wiki), it was a somewhat correct depiction of the general feeling that people in Eastern Europe felt during the communist years, but it was so exaggerated...It was a painful read and, most importantly, boring.

   I understand the term 'dystopia', I understand that it has exaggerations, but such a society could.not.exist. The mixture of elements simply makes such a 'construction' impossible. More believable is Huxley's Brave New World, but that one portrays the human being as just hedonistic, and that is simply untrue. If man craved only pleasure, his book would have never been written. All in all, these texts not only bore me, but seem to me to be simply expressions of fear.

 

   But I remembered the reverse - utopias. And then it hit me - these are just modern (well, modern...there are utopias written from antiquity onward) heaven and hell depictions. Nothing more. I know it seems such a big difference - what's 'punishing your sins in an eternal pit of fire' have in common with 'a totalitarian government is watching you, cameras are everywhere and you can't say what you really think'? well, they're both untrue, for one. also, they scare you and, last, but not least, they give you a wrong perception of what a human being is. It seems so weird to me that all these texts ignore the bigger context - the natural one, and focus so much on the human-created environment, coming up with outlandish stuff.

 

  Now, I'm not particularly interested in correcting people's mistakes or beliefs, but I do have a huge list of books on my disk (and it's enough to visit some bookmarked sites and I can add a few hundreds easily) and for me utopias and dystopias are classified under 'bullshit, not gonna happen' category now. Yeah, I read a short version of the Bible and some sensible bits. To me, 1984 and (let's give an utopia name) City of Sun look like modern Bible bits to me, kind of saying "I dream of..." (and you can have nightmares or sweet dreams).

 

  Anyway, it's a long text, I'm wondering who will ever read this, but if you do, and you have an opinion, you can write it down here, maybe. I am more interested in opinions that disagree with mine, though it is unlikely I will change my conclusion.

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I agree and tend to feel the same about the myriad list of similar Stories. Almost all popular Myths (from children's Fairy Tales, to epic novels, to Religious Texts, to the tales told by travelling bards, etc) All have the same "quality" if they stand the test of time. They define "Good/Bad/other" and thus, offer insight to one's self.

Myths are True, not factual, and this relates to the popularity among multiple cultures, of "The Trickster/fool" (The devil falls into this more universal Archetype).
These stories are essentially "Don't do this", and in showing them done, (or in the case of a Dystopian culture, showing them "In Effect") we learn about ourselves. If the reader/listener agrees with the setting or action, that's a learning moment or at least affirmation of themselves. If they disagree, it invites the unspoken question "Why?" in their minds. Even if not consciously asked.

The threads are the same, be they Biblical, or Mythic, or from a different culture.
But the tone is the same. "Here's some goodness" and "Here's some badness". Wrapping those in an engaging Story doesn't change the inner Truth of the concept.
So I agree, that it's merely a Story, updated to more Modern society (or, vaguely historic in the case of 1984, since it's 2016 now).
The factuality is unrelated to it's inherent Truth. Edited by Maebius

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       I started reading Orwell's 1984 a couple of days ago and I couldn't go past 5 pages. True, it *was* midnight, so maybe that helped in letting it go, but I realized something the next day.

 

   From what I read (and I know the story, the 'message'- wiki), it was a somewhat correct depiction of the general feeling that people in Eastern Europe felt during the communist years, but it was so exaggerated...It was a painful read and, most importantly, boring.

   I understand the term 'dystopia', I understand that it has exaggerations, but such a society could.not.exist. The mixture of elements simply makes such a 'construction' impossible. More believable is Huxley's Brave New World, but that one portrays the human being as just hedonistic, and that is simply untrue. If man craved only pleasure, his book would have never been written. All in all, these texts not only bore me, but seem to me to be simply expressions of fear.

If you think it is exaggerated ... doesn't mean it didn't exist, only that it beyond your experiences.

Also, you have to consider every single thing/incident can be described in different ways but still being completely true. (apparently contradictory but just different point of views)

And more : if you read a book ... even if it is written on the cover "history" it doesn't mean that it is entirely correct (or faked) nor that it covers all points of views (some can be unwillingly omitted by lack of experience,perspective or details  of the writer).

 

Believing a writer / book ... it is entirely up to the person reading it / being read to / listening. You can read a history book, enjoy it and never believing a word ... just like reading a science fiction book.
 

If you can learn something from a book ... then that is indeed your gain. But you should not start reading books without remembering all of the above (that not everything that is written is entirely true nor that it is entirely false ... or something like that).

 

---

Now ... from wiki ... it sounds interesting. From what I understood from your post is that it bothers you that it uses current / recent Earth names.

Would it help if it was not using Earth's geography ? There are lots of SF books with strange & impossible things. Do those bother you ?

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Hah, nice observation, Ary, I was focusing on the whole dystopia thing I didn't pay attention to the other.

 

@no one: well, let's put it this way: I had a talk with someone and video cameras on every street and 1984 came up. The feeling I got is that he (and people I talked to in the past) believe 1984 is here, that we're living it. So I wanted to read it - what's so compelling and believable about it?

 

the way I see it, it's the image of a nightmare, it draws from reality just to paint a scary landscape; I don't see the value of it...for me. might be good for other people, who knows.

 

(I appreciate the time folks took to read and write, btw)

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I think the point is, we edge closer and closer to that reality all the time. In the UK for example, we now have advertising boards that scan the crowd in front of them and then deliver an advert that targets the largest population group in the crowd. ID cards and chips are constantly on the cards and under debate. Now it is a rolling rock argument certainly, but the question comes to bear - who stops the rock from rolling? You seem to have absolute faith that humanity as a whole could never go the whole hog, the people who are scared lack that faith. It's sort of ironic you talk about a religious ideal when it is only faith that separates the two viewpoints. If one took a purest view considering humanity's history, the rock is more likely to roll than not.

 

Z

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Funny, because the guy I talked to just returned from Glasgow :) I don't know if I want to visit UK in the near future.

 

My fear is that humans can blow up their planet/home, not that they can create a society ruled by fear and other psycho tricks. Not that I can't see them trying, but over a certain line, it's suicide. And, yes, I have faith in the survival instinct that will prevent this suicide. Of course, every now and then such instincts fail, but I don't think we should fear it. Fear accomplishes nothing, and this book is not useful as a reinforcer of our survival instinct as a  society.

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