Thread: Literary We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:05 PM   #6
caleb72
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OK - I've finished!

Let me start by saying that I liked this book. The idea of reading a precursor to greats like 1984 and Brave New World had me excited and mostly, this did not disappoint.

I did find it hard to follow some of his thoughts. There's quite a lot of incomplete thoughts that I think I'm supposed to grasp but am perhaps a bit too dim to understand. However, it didn't prevent me from enjoying it.

I really liked that this story was told from the point of view of someone who fervently wants to believe in the ideals of the United State. The fascinating thing about a society aiming for mathematical perfection is that it's compelling while being frightening. It reminds me that often horrific outcomes are born from happy ideals.

I might be considered a bit paranoid, but I quite often look around me and see the work of those who let such happy ideals warp into a form of subtle or unsubtle oppression. The slogans designed to reprogram the way we think about things, that bring us bleating to order.

I always think it strange when people refer to works like this as "dated". The players change but the goal of the game remains the same in any place and in any time.

Do we think that D- was actually misdirected from the golden path by I- as result of lust or love? I personally don't think so. I just think D- was really just awakening that hairy-handed core of his being and she was convenient because he immediately recognised her as different - that 'X' of her expression - the sharpness of teeth. His recollection of her filled with the symbols of the primitive, the unfathomable, the square root of minus 1.

The rest of the book is then a war between this inner beast and the mathematical purity he wishes for intellectually.

Another thought I had was that while this horrific oppression remained frighteningly compelling. Freedom remained a chaotic, violent and unappealing answer. That, in itself, is an education - that what we wish for in our society today has consequences that I sometimes think we are unwilling to accept. It's what I think gives the various United States of our day a hold over us. We can be wooed with the thought of peace, of safety; that all this suffering could end if we just....

This is the dead horse I like to flog, but in my country, the road toll - those dying in or because of cars - is an example of how the powers-that-be exert a kind of control over the population.

Slogans like "Speed Kills" and similar litter our roads and media. The use of speed signs to reduce the need for thinking, the control over what you can or can't do while in the car, the constant barrage or information telling you that you're too drunk to drive or too drowsy. And all of this is swallowed because people don't accept the consequences of chaos, of freedom. The fact that people can die on the road is somehow abhorrent and not acceptable and this oppression both subtle and unsubtle is applied in the name of controlling something that can not be controlled.

I found this book instructive and although translated from the original, I found some of the expressions to be eloquent. This phrase is an example that I think stood out:

Quote:
She burst out laughing loudly, too loudly. Swiftly, in a second, she laughed herself to some unseen edge, stumbled, and fell over....Silence.
Anyone else finished this yet?
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