30 November 2005


While studying for my English supplementary exam, I found out that the rest of the class read a book called the Handmaid's Tale by a female called Margaret Atwood. I say female and not lady because I suspect she may be a Feminist. Feminists have slightly more charm than an Australian on a sheep farm, but with lots more zeal. Australians on sheep farms also get action once in a while.

The book seems like my kind of thing. It is labelled a dystopia novel, a genre arguably defined by George Orwell's 1984. Since I have been taken to the principals office for being negative in my time, this bleak outlook of society is like absinthe on my palette. This novel features a Theocracy, so called because the state fulfils the roles of both government and church, which is to say the people of this dystopia wander around in a high-tech Middle Ages. The dystopia is called Gilead, which is probably a Biblical reference I would have been able to spot had I not spent my Sunday school classes wondering how working on the Sabbath is sinful, yet the preacher man only works on the most Hallowed of days. Either way, according to Sparknotes, the major themes of this novel include language as a tool of power and the complacency of the masses.

Language as a tool of power
This interests me because sub-cultures are exemplified in part by a certain demeanour. (C)Rap/Hip-Hop artists – and I use the term artist very loosely in this regard – have a certain manner in which they speak. A different way of speaking immediately allows for elitism. This is important in any Totalitarian system, because a feeling of us against them needs to be cultivated. Once this feeling is cultivated, one can persecute any of them who are considered to be a threat without much effort. This is what happened during the NAZI Reich in Germany, the Apartheid South Africa and more recently, in America with their own unique abuse of the English language. America is still one of the leading countries in the world, despite having a shaved ape as a leader. This leads me to the conclusion that what we experience of America has to be second rate, especially in light of the fact that not even half the country bothers to vote in their elections. Most Americans see not voting as a form of protest, which leads us to the next major theme in the Handmaid's Tale.

Complacency of the masses
With the recent popularity of Socialist imagery in Popular Culture, I conclude that most people simply do not know what these images mean, or know what they mean but can not see the likeness between Socialism, Fascism and Totalitarianism. The problem with a society without class is not merely the poor dress sense and tasteless bling that goes along with it, but where all is one, there is no duality. A wise man once said “there is only water, and not water.” He did not literally say it, but the message should be clear.

Plato identified three distinct classes of men in his The Republic. This book has more to do with opening your eyes than with opening any third eyes, despite what Tool fans might have us believe. Not that there is anything wrong with Tool fans. If you want to take your philosophical clues from impressive puppet shows, then be my guest. But I digress.

The classes of men are as follows: the rulers, the warriors and the producers. These men each own a soul. Plato identified three parts of this soul: cognition, imagination and some mystical intuition.

It would seem to me that the producers are those guided by imagination. They take their queues from epic poetry – of which Television or the Cinema could be our modern equivalent. These guys do not really want to see the wizard of Oz behind the curtain. Their minds are captivated by the puppet show, much like some cinema zombies are mesmerised by fireworks. This class can hardly be described as complacent, although their silent majority position prevents them from providing much resistance against idiotic role models.

The warriors seem to me to be ruled by cognition. This might seem strange, since most soldiers are seen to be mere pawns in a power struggle of financial proportions. However, from what I can gather from the cave fable, these are guys who take a stand and try to free themselves from the bonds of the puppet show, albeit in a misguided manner. This class is also complacent, but for their own gain. They realise that there is a puppet show. They know about the wizard hiding behind the curtain, but they willingly serve him for whichever reason.

By the process of elimination we are left with the rulers being in possession of some mystic intuition. I realise that my grasp of Plato is minimal, but that is what you get if you glance over Sparknotes and have only read a few Idiot's Guides concerning philosophy. The ruling class has some mystical way of ending up on top regardless of social protest. With the latter day acceptance of all things hammer and sickle, it would appear that Dostoevsky's old prophecy that the masses will lay down power at the feet of the rulers and beg them to rule over them is becoming a reality.

I realise that my grasp of Dostoevsky is also minimal, but that is because my experience of Russian literature extends to copious amounts of Vodka bottle labels and one reading of Crime and Punishment. It is peculiar how almost anything you read seems to be written in Russian characters after half a bottle of Stolichnaya. It is even more peculiar how a girl you thought had buck teeth and frog eyes seems to resemble Angelina Jolie after half a bottle of Stolichnaya. It sometimes happens that such a girl comes to resemble Angelina Jolie with Russian characters all over her skin. In these rare occasions, someone probably spiked your drink with Mescaline. But I digress.

Plato seems to reason that each person is cut out to be a cog in a wheel. This wheel is either a production line model, a warrior chariot wheel or a wheel in the sky that keeps on turning (apologies to Journey) by some strange magic. Plato further reasons that it is very difficult to move across the class boundaries, simply because the wizard behind the curtain enjoys his job and has become quite good at it. It is thus not that the masses are being ruled by a superior class that is problematic, since the the masses have a need to be ruled by someone.

Everyone is said to have free will, but very few people will exercise that right. It is a well-known sales tactic not to show a customer too many options, because the customer will not be able to decide for himself. It is better to show the average customer one or two options and sort of steer him towards one choice, otherwise you will stand there all day while he phones a friend to make up his mind for him.

Thinking is strenuous work to some.

Which brings me back to the topic - the snowman omen. That is completely irrelevant to anything I just wrote. Let me just say that we are not asexual snowmen. You can't determine the gender role of a human being by strategically shifting the carrot and the coal around. Similarly, certain people are leaders and others are followers, but most people are merely there to supply weight to either of them. Most people also make for good cannon fodder, especially the ones with Che Guevara T-shirts. Pity they don't melt when the sun shines on them.

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