Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If you thought you understood the world we live in, think again . . .

I've been reading a rather chilling yet darkly comic novel by British writer Ben Elton, entitled "Blind Faith." Taking place about 100 years in the future, after the Great Flood caused by global warming, the story concerns a world "where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where 'sharing' is valued above all, and privacy is considered a dangerous perversion. . .it imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a sex-obsessed, utterly egocentric culture. In this world, nakedness is modesty, independent thought subversive, and ignorance is wisdom."

It feels a bit strange to be reading this book while at the same time writing for Facebook and blogging, two of the things most prized, in fact, necessary and ordered by law in this new society. For example, here's a short passage I just read, a conversation between Trafford and Cassius, two rebels against the system, regarding books:

"'Almost anything that we might wish to read could be located on the net instantly and traced straight back to us. The internet was supposed to liberate knowledge but in fact it buried it, first under a vast sewer of ignorance, laziness, bigotry, superstition and filth and then beneath the cloak of police surveillance. Now, as you know, cyberspace exists exclusively to promote commerce, gossip and pornography. And, of course, to hunt down sedition. Only paper is safe. Books are the key. A book cannot be accessed from afar, you have to hold it, you have to read it."

Is this beginning to sound just a little too close to home for comfort?

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