Thursday, October 29, 2009

Burgess & Orwell

To re-emphasise the nature of the relationship drawn in today's lecture between Orwell's dystopia and Burgess' cacotopia, the latter designed A Clockwork Orange, in part, as a complement to -- a companion for -- 1984.
Update: 'counterpart' was the wrong word here (OED): better, 'companion' 22/01/07

Burgess is a novelist (among other things, as befits a polymath) not a politician, and therefore more than able to proceed, to create, in a non-adversarial, way.

1984 gives an imaginative representation of a dictatorship from the Right: modelled after the Soviet Union under the monster Stalin, it showed a rule from a single powerful voice -- to wit, Big Brother (albeit the text leaves a suggestion that the dictator may be in fact a façade for a ruling oligarchy.

Based on his experiences in late-1950s Britain under Socialism, and in harmony with his advocacy of individual free-will, Burgess designed a fictional representation of tyranny from the Left -- prefiguring very closely, as it turned out, the actual state of affairs in Eastern Europe. The will of the Collective, the meanness of life under the forcible egalitarianism of State control, and the irrelevancy of individual free-will in regard to the dogma of the 'greatest good for the greatest number' -- this is Burgess' contribution to a literary opposition to a fuller range of possible tyrannies, either of the Right or the Left.

Someone asked my how Burgess' vision relates to Ayn Rand. I would say that Burgess would be very uncongenial to Rand, for his vestigal Catholicism and his dislike (in harmony with Orwell) of the 'Will to Power' dogma that Rand so single-mindedly found alluring.

  • u-topia lit. 'no-place'
  • dys-topia lit. 'broken-place'
  • caco-topia lit. 'evil-place.'

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