When most people think of Orwell's 1984 they think of Big Brother, the omnipresent government intrusion into the lives of its citizens. This is of course a concern but a much more disturbing aspect of the novel is the ever lasting war between Oceania and Eurasia.

The way we are conducting this present war on terror (and even to call it a war on terror is rife with Orwellian double speak or more precisely doublethink) there will be at least a generation that will never know what it's like to live in the United States during peacetime.

There are few choices when you're in a war, you win or lose. A negotiated truce as we have in Korea isn't even an option. And we are a long way from our enemy suing for peace. So we have entered 1984 through the most unlikely of circumstances.


Cartoon Modern

I bought this book the other day and highly recommend it. If you're old enough you'll remember seeing these cartoons and if you're not this book will be a revelation. The author has a web site that has even more material.


Election Day

I don't know how you decide who to vote for but I've developed a rather unique strategy to determine who gets my vote for. On election day I count the number of people I see holding up candidate signs on street corners and highway overpasses and the one that has the most signs gets my vote.


The Weight of Things

Like everyone else in the known universe I’m thinking of selling my house. This will necessitate picking up everything I own and putting it someplace else. The task of moving has me thinking about the weight of things. It isn’t just their physical weight but their spiritual weight I’m considering. My objects as carriers of meaning. Objects as a means of identification.

We all do this. People that become hoarders see an imaginary potential in every object they pick up. They imbue objects with such weight they are eventually drowning in them.

As hard as we work to acquire objects you’d think we’d be happy to always be around them but that’s not the case. People take vacations not to escape life’s responsibilities but to escape the objects in their life. If a vacation only entailed escaping responsibilities we could easily do that without leaving home. No, people seek a completely different perspective, from their which they will return transformed and the ordinary will no longer seem ordinary. It’s in this absence of the familiar that we are able to take a measure of things.

There are other situations in which we are estranged from our familiar objects, none of them as pleasant as a vacation. A stay in the hospital, a prison sentence, the priesthood or the military. In all cases a transformation is the desired outcome. It is an odd human trait that through all these situations we want to acquire souvenirs to bring back to our normal lives as a reminder of the journey (Is this why we take so many pictures while on vacation?).

Since we are destined to live our lives with our objects the problem becomes how we characterize them. Do we see them as individual entities? If so we become curators of a museum of our own making. If we see them as tools to achieve a goal then we have to examine the goal. If our goal is to live a comfortable life we can get by with very few things and by extension very little money. Some peoples goal in life is sex which isn’t really healthy because they begin to see other people as objects. I think a more noble goal would be to achieve a transcendence of sort. Like a permanent vacation. A life of exploration, creativity, and discovery.