I can’t understand why people look to 1984 and the Handmaid’s Tale instead of Brave New World to go looking for where we’ve gone wrong

It seems 1984 would be more useful in Russia as the Handmaid’s Tale would be more useful in Saudi Arabia- Canadians should be looking to Brave New World (a book I regret not looking at more closely when it was assigned in high school). What Huxley shows us in Brave New World isn’t a police state or a brutal theocracy, but a society where political nudging, social status signalling, shallow relationships, and the ideas that advanced technology and pharmacology can solve moral problems and quench spiritual longings are paramount. The dystopian world in Brave New World should help us hone back in on first principles; The wild man yearning for higher beauty and willing to hurt for it should inspire us

P.S. I think I’ll give The Handmaid’s Tale a closer look because it seems like the cause of infertility that impelled the dystopian world might be shallow relationships, status grubbing, and pollution, so tracing it back Atwood might share some of Huxley’s warnings 

The curate’s egg and the value of art 

It’s conceivable that a novel or a song could almost entirely be poorly written with all sorts of clunky notes and wrong turns, but then have a flash that really would redeem the whole work and the audience- even make it so much more worthwhile on an altogether higher magnitude than a flawless conventional piece. That’s what makes Every One a promising artist. 

RE: Norman Rockwell’s painting freedom of speech

RE: Norman Rockwell’s painting freedom of speech

I encourage you to look at Norman Rockwell’s painting of freedom of speech; it is what I see when I think of that great and central freedom- and it’s worth keeping in mind in our time of big data when so much speech is vile and anonymous and not intended to make anything better. When you look at the painting you will see the courage that makes the exercise of this freedom a virtue: to speak is to take a stand. You should also notice that it takes place in a physical space within a community. 

So, just as important as freedom is the importance of light. In fact you can’t have joy without both. If you lived near the edge of a cliff, you would probably still want the freedom to move as you pleased, but you would also want to see where you were moving. There is no freedom in fear. We need to be equally on guard and outspoken against infringements on freedom as we are against ignoble, soul-diminishing uses of freedom. What people really need to work on, though, is how to listen with the ear of a good neighbour, and that means being willing to bravely and humbly admit faults or lift up your voice. 

RE: The test of great art

Great art should be like a great field guide: it should make you recognize what you’ve been overlooking for so long, and, inevitably, care about it- and another thing about art: it’s a craft and a gift. That’s why sophisticated folks and virtuosos sometimes despise ‘popular’ artists, because truly great plots and melodies are gifts, not the result of painstaking dedication to working on theory.