Monday, September 15, 2008

Howe and Rorty

Way down below is my response to these two bits of writing we had to read for my Dyspotian Film and Lit class. The writings concern Orwell's 1984:



And then I said ...

I think that Howe made some very interesting points that extended beyond just 1984. He mentions on the very first page that "man becomes a mere function of a process" and I think that this same argument could be made about capitalism. I have been out there in the 8 hours-a-day/40 hours-a-week rat race and I have found that it can be quite dehumanizing. However I do not think that is because some ultra-powerful entity designed the system that way, I think the system is just evoled to benefit itself.

I also think it is funny that Howe chose to quote Orwell as he explained that 1984 is not about the British Labor Party. Because that’s totally what I though of! (Insert sarcasm) Perhaps it is human nature to want to CONNECT to a great piece of writing like 1984 (we have all proved very good at finding connections), but if Orwell walked into class and heard us comparing post 9/11 America to the world that Winston lives in, I think he would be a little unhappy with us for missing the point. I recently read that in the 1950s Stalin had these huge and very luxurious apartment buildings built for members of the Party. What a great deal right? Uncle Joe loves us! But each apartment had a secret door that led to a secret stairwell and that is how the secret police would get into your apartment in the middle of the night if they needed to snatch you. THAT is a totalitarian state, not surveillance cameras on street corners.

Rorty seems to understand that and the quote Dr. Wexler used is perfect to drive that point home, “If we take care of freedom, truth will take care of itself”. Rorty really seems (to me) to be saying, “Everybody calm down and let’s look at this like grown ups.” He explored Orwell as writer (not as some sort of Nostradamus).

He also explored the characters in the book; he talked about how intellectuals could justify the terrible behavior of the state. I find that particularly interesting; the way that we convince ourselves to believe things. He really broke down the ideas in play and I found that more illuminating than the commentary what Howe was writing.

James Bezerra

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