I write the software for Geneffects and tend bar at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Fahrenheit 451 VS. 1984

These two future-sucks-and-bigtime works top the high school canon (notable third: Harrison Bergeron, Vonnegut), but their theories on how we get there are apogean.

Orwell's 1984 has Oceania ruled by an all-controlling upper-class, the Inner Party which frequently surveys, intimidates, tortures and brainwashes normal Party members (the middle class) while suppressing the proletariat with ignorance and trivial distractions. Liberty is restricted to such a degree that thoughts against The Party are labeled "thoughtcrime" and punishable by death.

In Bradbury's 451 the world of the future looks similar to Orwell's vision. Thought is controlled by an all-prevalent media power, but the enslavement of the people is self-imposed. Books are burned by the Firemen not because they contain knowledge which could provide enlightenment and provoke revolt - they are burned because they tend to contain thoughts unpleasant. It is this future vision which I see as the more probable of the two. Of course the transition will be far more subtle. Books will not be burnt. They will be buried under dust.


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