Friday, February 1, 2008

Future Progress of OneState

“We’re breaking all of the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” - John Cage
The last 10 chapters of We left me with a lot of questions, chief among which is "What is the future of OneState?" The Benefactor and government seem to indicate with their final proclamations in the State Gazette that the future of the state is nothing short of perfect happiness for all eternity; the final revolution has been quelled.

Their means of ensuring future perfection is the Great Operation, which eliminates all traces of Imagination from the society. But without imagination, how can the nation hope to make any progress? How can they send spaceships to distant planets and spread their happiness without the creative thinking which is so vital to engineering and problem solving?

Just 2 days ago I finished a delicious Chinese meal, and found this message in my fortune cookie: "Discontent is the first necessity of progress." This simple message was what started my current line of thinking about the book.

I've concluded that without imagination, OneState is doomed to stagnation and eventual collapse. The most basic purpose of the socieity--structured life without imagination--holds the seeds of its destruction.


Lucia said...

The timing of that fortune cookie was impeccable! I agree without your predictions for the future of the One State, and I think that it is a reflection of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the oppressive government that stifled Zamyatin’s work and the work of many other artists like him. In banning the freedom of expression, they banned outspoken discontent and criticism. And, as you pointed out, they were unable to progress.

Brian M said...

I definitely agree with your analysis. It seems as if the only change that can occur is that which results from creativity...which would have to come from one's imagination.

I wish I could get such insightful messages in my fortune cookies!

Ana said...

I liked your blog. I think it's kind of odd that they believe that imagination is bad but yet they have an entire society based on math. I don't think Zamyatin realized that when doing math the most important thing is to have a creative and imaginative outlook on how to solve a problem. So I completely agree that the society is going nowhere. It actually kind of bothers me that they use math as an antithesis of creativity, when really it's just the opposite... In fact... I can't think of many things that are more creative than math. WORD

Lucia said...

I don't know how to edit my comment, but I definitely meant that I agree WITH your prediction. I don't even know what agreeing "without" your prediction would mean anyway. Sorry.