from TheCritic Website
Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) has the Thought Police and Newspeak.
While Yevgeny Zamyatin's
We (1921) has numbers instead
of people - D-503, I-330, O-90: vowels for females, consonants
For this reason, dystopias are invariably told by tormented outsiders:
Given their tyrannical preoccupation with uniformity, it is little wonder that, as a literary form, dystopias emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The totalitarian regimes of Russia and Germany as well as their technocratic Western counterparts, inspired by the likes of F.W. Taylor and Henry Ford, were central sources of inspiration.
For all their apparent differences, these competing ideologies are united by the utopian attempt to redraw not just society, but the human being himself.
The increasing power of
science and technology gave rise to the idea that nature itself, in
all its messy complexity, could be finally put straight.
Known primarily for his First World War diaries and steadfast opposition to Weimar liberalism, Jünger went on to live until the age of 103, writing on topics from entomology and psychedelics to nihilism and photography.
In the second half of his career he produced three principal works of dystopian fiction:
Arguably his most chilling vision, however, is offered in an extended essay published on the eve of the Nazi ascension to power in 1932.
Having dispensed with the liberal values of the past and embraced his fate in the factories and on the battlefields of the early twentieth century, the hallmark of the new man is an uncanny resemblance - both in body and soul - to the machine.
Born to human parents,
Jünger's "worker" is nevertheless a child of the industrial age.
Whether the natural world or the human mind, Jünger argues that everything is increasingly defined by,
The result, to use Orwell's words, is,
Our readiness to hide our face
reflects the de-humanizing tendencies
the modern period...
For the uniformity of the new age is symbolized, Jünger suggests, by the sudden proliferation of the mask in contemporary society.
Given the sudden ubiquity of the face mask in 2020, across the entire globe and in an increasing number of social contexts, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that this is precisely the sort of development Jünger had in mind.
Our readiness to obscure the face reflects the dehumanizing tendencies that, for Jünger, underlie the modern period.
It represents another stage in the degradation of the individual that became explicit in the First World War.
The question for us is what it means to resemble such a dystopian vision.
Whether the call for social isolation, perpetual "vigilance", or mandatory face masks, the measures of the last six months represent more than an assault on liberty.
They implicitly enjoin us to,
Even if this Rubicon has not yet been crossed, it is worth thinking about the point at which it is. For perhaps there is more to life than its mere continuation.
Perhaps "the object", as Winston Smith well knew,