Tuesday, June 14, 2011

News without news.

I listened to NPR this morning, and scanned "The New York Times" both the paper and the online editions. No news of the three wars we are fighting. It brought this to mind:

From Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death."

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 information that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

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 distraction."

In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us.
Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

7 comments:

Sean Peake said...

Four wars... you forgot the drones in Yeman

geo said...

They're easy to forget. The Times is covering, on its front page. an artist who paints blobs of gum stuck to sidewalks.,

Sean Peake said...

I'm not surprised, but that's just the Orwell in me.

dave trott said...

I hadn't heard this before George, but it's definitely true.
I read an interview with a British soldier who just returned from Afganistan.
He said he went to the pub and all antone wanted to talk about was who would win 'X factor'.
He couldn't believe it.

peggy said...

the truth is hidden in the sea of irrelevance -- fed by a tyranny living off distraction... to shamelessly rephrase...

David said...

Mmmmm, bread. Mmmmmmmmmm, circus. Mmmmmmm ....

jls209 said...

This is by far Postman's finest book. He died the day Schwarzenegger was elected Governor, almost as if it was his final resistance against the onslaught of amusement.