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qwallath

Qwallath

Hi, I'm Oscar, a historical linguist from the Netherlands who also likes to write about music, games, and history. Check out my longer blog posts and other writings on Sub Specie.

Currently reading

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo
Mary Douglas
Signs: an Introduction to Semiotics
Thomas A. Sebeok, Marcel Danesi
Language and Space
Lynn Nadel, Mary A. Peterson, Paul Bloom

We

We - 'Yevgeny Zamyatin',  'Mirra Ginsburg' This 1920s visionary science fiction book should be among the classics of novels that discuss matters of political organisation, the questions of freedom, safety, reason, privacy, religion, conformism, happiness, and imagination.

The book describs the personal struggles of D-503, a scientist in the perfectly ordered One State, whose concepts of reason, law, and organisation are challenged by his irrational attraction to the woman I-330. This attraction and its clash with D-503 ordered life ultimately drives him insane, just as the State around him descends into a (temporary?) relapse into disorder.

The ultimate issue is a philosophical one: One the one hand we have a perfectly ordered existence, where everyone follows perfect rules and is blissful always. This is - according to the books historiography - the ultimate goal also of religions that strive for annulment of the self into a greater whole. One the other hand we have chaotic existence, wild and dirty, a constant struggle for survival, but the freedom to imagine and live life by ones own rules. The question: which is preferable, and is it even possible to choose? Are humans as a species predisposed towards one or the other, or even as individuals?

We gives no direct answers, but it certainly raises these questions in a way I thought was interesting and a pleasure to read.