Friday, February 1, 2008

Thoughts On Imagination, Souls, and Happiness

From page 90 in We:

A soul? A soul, you say? What the devil... I told you, we must cut out imagination. In everyone... Extirpate imagination. Nothing but surgery, nothing but surgery will do...

1) So imagination, in the eyes of the One State, is a sickness. Why?

In class, the idea came up that imagination could be considered "bad" because it provides the possibility of always imagining that things could be better. Imagination could promote ongoing unhappiness or discontent.
But it seems that by the same reasoning, imagination provides the possibility of always imagining that things could be worse. So imagination could also promote ongoing happiness or content.
It is exactly this variability and uncertainty that makes imagination "bad" in the mind of the One State. It is the dreaded X. It allows for creativity. But why is this bad?
Try to imagine a computer that had creativity or imagination. How efficient would it be? You tell it to calculate something and it thinks for a second, then asks "Why?". A computer that has the ability to step outside of the realm of code is not very efficient or useful. Maybe this is why the One State fears the "soul". Like computers act only according to their logic commands and code, the One State citizens without souls act only according to their logic and reasoning. They fear that if all of the citizens start developing these souls, the "wonderful" order and efficiency that the One State holds dear will be ruined. The citizens will be rendered useless.

2) Is the One State really achieving happiness for its citizens?

In order for "Good" to exist, "Evil" must exist. In order for darkness to exist, light must exist. The same seems true for happiness. If unhappiness is not a possibility, how could happiness be one? The One State citizens can't be happy. They are feeling something else. Safety maybe. Their lives, like those of computers, are decided for them. They are safe from error.


Haseeb A. said...

I liked your observation under 2) and following that...You are saying that we cannot experience happiness without having unhappiness in society. Thus the One State is keeping its citizens 'safe from error'. This is a great point to show that the citizens are robots or machines because humans cannot be safe from error. It is human to err.

emma said...

i found your observation under 1) interesting. if the one state wants everyone to be like a robot or a computer so they can control them and the numbers will do as the one state desires, why don't they just create machines to fulfill this desire? do you think maybe they don't have the technology to build these types of machines yet? maybe they just want to control everything and everyone. wouldn't it be easier if they left human beings alone and went to another planet and started their own ideal society? do they truly believe their way is the right way, the only way, and that everyone must follow their rules? are they being genuine when they say that they can help people achieve a perfect life? this book left me with a lot of questions.