Friday, February 29, 2008


When I first read George Orwell's 1984 (I think I was in 8th grade), I didn't fully understand why it was such a big deal that the citizens of Oceania were forced to use a very restricted language called Newspeak.

Now of course I know that because language influences thought so heavily, a language which lacked the ability to express extreme emotion or revolutionary thought was the perfect tool of oppression. Without diversity in language, thought dies out.

VAS contains a similar argument: without genetic diversity within a species, that species is extremely vulnerable to destruction. If all humans were identical to some genetic ideal, then the first virus to come along capable of exploiting some genetic weakness would take out the entire human race.

That's an extreme example, but hopefully the message is clear. Genetic diversity makes the species stronger as a whole, even if certain individuals might seem weak.


Ana said...

You know... I'm not so sure if the message in VAS regarding genetic engineering is negative or positive. I mean, if we're basing anything based on the underlying story of Square and Circle, we know that Square ended up getting his vasectomy, so in that aspect, science succeeded over natural selection. I agree with the idea that genetic diversity keeps the species strong... that's definitely a cool thought. It also keeps us a bit more sane than we would be if everyone was the same. If they took out the quirky things in people... what a boring world that would be.

Ellen M said...

It's scary to think of a world where everyone possesses the same basic traits! I think the tone towards genetic engineering is pretty ambiguous as well. Although Square had the procedure and allows science to trump nature, he never indicates he is doing what he believes is right; rather he is doing something that has to be done.

jmartinez said...

This reminds me of that Jockey commercial where a guy and girl are about to be transformed into a Ken and Barbie, but then they run away together. Point being, it would be almost robotic to have the same basic traits as other people, a world of automatons, it would suck.