In Other’s Words: Literature as Prophecy

In a recent post, I offered a quote from Michael Knowles’ Speechless, in which he noted that in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, authors around the world prophesied the effects of political correctness. The chattering classes of our day, particularly those who lament the loss of tradition, education, and common culture, often point to George Orwell’s seminal work, 1984, as the most prophetic of all the novels exploring the ends of unchecked political correctness. It’s easy to see how Orwell earned this honor. Are these not the expressions of a man whose brain is a crystal ball?

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

How much more these words?

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

Much ink has been spilled by postmodern commentators striving to determine whether our current cultural and political iteration has more in common with Orwell’s 1984, or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Astonishingly, we live in a time and place where both men’s visions of the future are unfolding simultaneously.

Hearthie, at Hearthrose.com, took an insightful turn at exposing all of the ways we have succumbed to Huxley’s version of the future. From her post, Soma:

In Brave New World, soma is the government supplied drug that numbs and offers blissful escape from any unpleasantness, whether great or small. Modernity has built up her offerings until it is nearly impossible to avoid dusting oneself with our own versions of soma. One starts with the obvious – the internet. But it is not the internet that is soma, it is what we grab while we are here on the web.

We grab numbness. We grab stimulants. We grab psychedelics. The internet simply makes the grabbing easier – these have been progressively more available through the years. Luxury and free time offer us the opportunity to do anything. Being humans, “anything” tends to be that which makes the pain disappear.

I was the child with few friends, the one with her nose in a book. At first it was not my deep love of the written word that drove me, it was the pain of being alone. I found friends and adventure – safe adventure, with nary a skinned knee – between the pages. One thing led to another, and most of my summers were spent with stacks of books. I gorged. I dreamt. I fell.

Music calls to some, as they lose themselves in the sounds from the radio, youtube, headphones… there is a virtual cacophony these days, where the absence of noise is more precious than the sound of rhythm. You need never be out of earshot of your favorite music.

You should click over and read the whole thing, because she’s right. The unlimited number and varied versions of entertainment are our soma, here in the West.

Pause, and think about that.

I wonder if Orwell and Huxley would receive news of their eerily accurate predictions with smug satisfaction or justifiable horror.

Quotable Literary Quote: Speechless by Michael Knowles

I am composing a review of the book I recently finished. Writing is slow going these days, but I plan to post it by Wednesday. In the meantime, I have already moved on to another book, and I wanted to share a quote from it because I love sharing tidbits of what I am reading. But y’all already know that about me.

My current read is Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds, by Michael Knowles. It’s a scholarly book with a conversational tone; in my estimation, the best kind of nonfiction. On page 73, he notes:

Leftist academics contrived the intellectual framework for political correctness in the 1920s and ’30s. Novelists around the world prophesied the political effects of PC in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Student radicals, armed with the writings of Mao and Marcuse, took up the cause in the 1960s. And in the 1970s, feminists helped political correctness break into mainstream public discourse.

“A man cannot be politically correct and a chauvinist too,” averred the feminist activist Toni Cade in her 1970 anthology, The Black Woman.

Feminists sought to overthrow a culture they decried as patriarchal by making language fickle, which itself required a fundamental restructuring of the political order.

For the record, this is not a book about feminism. It’s a book about the trajectory of language -and the political result- in the 20th and 21st centuries using thorough research and rigorous scholarship. In lieu of a formal review, I expect to give this book the same treatment I gave to Thomas Sowell’s, A Man of Letters. Insightful quotes seem far more impactful than my personal opinions of the writing within certain books.

Hope you’re having a great Monday.

Friday Faves: Funny but True

I’m not even sure how I ran across this woman, but her satirical videos of the 21st century church offer food for thought. I am feel certain that the first one is an accurate portrayal of what most of us look like to believers from parts of the world where Christians suffer heavy persecution, and even the threat of death.

The second is different and more funny, but equally tinged with truth.

“We’re called to love, not judge. You’re not a ‘mature’ Christian!”

LOL. That’s a judgement. Lastly, but certainly not least, is the deconstruction of what passes for a women’s Bible study in so many churches and church groups:

Have a great weekend!