I have come to learn to not always trust a man wearing a cross. While the decorum is quite notable, I often forget that while some enjoy the metaphysics of the thing, others just enjoy roman torture devices.
I decided to take a small break from reading the Ender Quartet and pick up this lovely gem. Its been on my reading list for a while and seemed small enough to be a nice diversion from the reality bending philosophy that Orson Scott can’t seem to get enough of.
Generally, I am not a big fan of an allegorical writing that seems to just give away all of the deeper meanings that I would love to uncover on my own time. When an author gives away their message so easily, I feel like the reader is being insulted. That the writer says, “Ha! This is a beautiful piece of knowledge that I have to share! But wait… My audience won’t understand it so I better just tell them what to think for them!” This, I also believe, is the difference between The Divine Comedy and Animal Farm.
Now that I’ve had my rant, I must say that on terms of being almost allegorical, The Alchemist really stole my heart away. I picked up the book and couldn’t stop reading because I had to understand and see and feel what Santiago was seeking. I would love to give you some deep insight that I found hidden within the pages of this Brazilian masterpiece, but I can’t. The book is what it is, and I love it all the more for that.
The story is quite simple: Santiago, a young shephard, is called to begin a quest towards his Personal Legend, finding a treasure in this instance, the reader follows along his quest through Spain and Egypt.
The overarching theme through this story is that every person has a Personal Legend. A purpose that they were mean to achieve in their life. The Universe guides them towards their goal, although not without trial, by giving them omens. What I find especially fascinating about these elements of the story, is that Paulo illustrates both a Christian and Muslim influence on the main character’s faith; however, it is clear that God is God and that no religion can truly know Him or His works. He guides Santiago through all trials to find who he really is.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for the soul-seeker that is trying to find their own Personal Legend to run with in life.
Let me tell you the most beautiful story I know.
A man was given a dog, which he loved very much.
The dog went with him everywhere,
but the man could not teach it to do anything useful.
The dog would not fetch or point,
it would not race or protect or stand watch.
Instead the dog sat near him and regarded him,
always with the same inscrutable expression.
‘That’s not a dog, it’s a wolf,” said the man’s wife.
‘He alone is faithful to me,’ said the man,
and his wife never discussed it with him again.
One day the man took his dog with him into his private airplane
and as they flew over high winter mountains,
the engines failed
and the airplane was torn to shreds among the trees.
The man lay bleeding,
his belly torn open by blades of sheared metal,
steam rising from his organs in the cold air,
but all he could think of was his faithful dog.
Was he alive? Was he hurt?
Imagine his relief when the dog came padding up
and regarded him with that same steady gaze.
After an hour the dog nosed the man’s gaping abdomen,
then began [eating him]
all the while studying the man’s face.
‘Thank God,’ said the man.
‘At least one of us will not starve.’
An excerpt from Orson Scott Card’s “Children of the Mind.”
A small reminder that where one species may hold only love and affection, another is still bound by the laws of nature and death.
A world that is void of Knowledge and Truth is a world that is void of Freedom. We would wander around at the mercy of those above us and seek to gain only what was in front of us. Never mind that the world is burning down around our little patch of green, we would be perfectly content. We would see thinkers beheaded, the writer chained away, and the speaker silenced. What would it matter though, so long as the justice of the ruling party was carried out? Isn’t it enough that the government would crack down on murder, theft, and indecency? What more could be desired than the justice and peace that is spread throughout the land?
A world that is void of Justice is a land that is full of Chaos. The land of “Do-As-You-Please” would grow until it engulfed all of society. Man would steal, murder, lie, and laugh. Corruption gone along with the government that would for so long have held back the flood gates of man’s heart. Do not be mistaken, I do not intend to claim that all of mankind would fall into the depths of chaos at the lack of governing power. People could exist with the lawless love of nature. Caring for one another and holding together a society that would not need justice due to a lack of injustice. However, Dystopia rises at the breath of a single man and Utopia at the calling of many.
Recently, I read a wonderful piece by Alan Moore that is known by the name of “V for Vendetta.” In my opinion, the comic associated with the popular movie has been set aside for the romantic story of the brilliant masked anarchist. However, I set about reading it and discovered that, while the movie portrays a wonderful story, the book holds many more strings of thematic plot than I had expected that all lead to V being completely villain before victim. The main of these plot elements is the focus of this little article: Which should society hold more dearly, Freedom or Justice?
Ultimately, the first paragraph of this article describes elements of the world that we find V fighting against. A world ruled by a tyrant in love with a super computer called “Fate” (this portion of plot is completely left out of the movie). Fate is essentially a machine that is able to see and hear everything under the government’s influence, giving the people a fearful awareness that they are not far from the grasp of the government’s “justice.” V claims that Lady Justice belongs to the people; that those in authority, while in a place a power, have a duty to uphold the law in a manner that befits the populace. Of course, this does not happen otherwise the story would be rather boring because it would lack a conflict. No, the government, or the tyrant rather, has taken upon himself to take away Lady Justice and be bound by Fate to do as he pleases. So what else can V do but cast aside Lady Justice, his true love, for the sweet mistress “Anarchy”?
V hacks Fate and forces all receptors to shut off for three days, causing all of London to be able to do as it pleases. This begins what he calls the beginning of “The Land of Do-As-You-Please,” bringing the story to the world I describe in the second paragraph of this article. This is essentially the anarchy that most people imagine. Riots become common, violence is found at any place that it’s required, and robberies overcome many businesses. All of this occurs as V watches and waits.
And thus we return to the simple choice between Freedom and Justice. Realistically, the story of V entwines the extremes of both. Freedom is displayed as pure anarchy and Justice as total control by a authoritative individual. The question, I believe, has a simply complex answer: Why not both?
The true solution to the question of choice is to find a balance between the true anarchy that we assume is part of human nature and the legalistic control of a super-power. We humans are not particularly good at finding balance, but that is the only way we can hope to have the resultant of Freedom and Justice in harmony, which is Peace.
My timing on writing this is merely a coincidence in relation to the recent revealing of America’s surveillance habits; however I do think it is worth mentioning here. I do not find it surprising that a government would endeavor to electronically monitor its people. I was aware of the idea when I first typed my name and birthday into Facebook and continued to comment upon my life for the WORLD to see. How could I not expect a politically motivated force to be curious as to what its citizens had to say? A post-it note has no privacy on a white wall. I will not, however state my opinion concerning the action of surveillance itself, but ask you this: Are these actions for the good of Freedom or Justice?
Let’s just hope the world will never see a power like V.
I sat nervously on the bench beside the long oak doors that led to the court room. Marble pillars stared down around me, passing preemptive shadows upon my face. My head throbbed as my cold reflection peered back from the polished floors. The dim lights of the waiting hall felt like spotlights to my blurred vision.
What had I done? What could I do?
The doors swung inward with a faint swoosh and I felt my body go rigid. A voice echoed from the darkness beyond the doors like the doors themselves had a voice to speak with.
“It is your turn Mr. Turing.”
I quietly shuffled into the courtroom. The room was shrouded in darkness except for a small lighted path leading to the defendant’s chair, a frail desk that was marred and wounded from its previous occupants. I slipped into its cool seat and immediately the path fell dark and its light was replaced by the illumination of the Judge’s seat high above me. His face was covered in shadows from the bright light above him. The Justice required such measures to protect its Judges from the ill-reputed mass that was the Lawless.
“Mr. Turing,” the Judge’s voice boomed through the darkness,”You have been charged with the most unforgivable of all crimes known through our dear system.” The Judge’s voice wavered slightly as though the mere thought of my crime was too much. “You have risen up to create Anarchy in the Land of the Just. And as our laws allow, we give you a jury to hear your case.”
At this, a panel of light appeared to my left. Although its glass was smoked to protect the faces of my peers, I could make out the figures of the twenty Jurors. Each silently shifted towards one another, whispering. Above them all, sat the single Head of the jury. A deep set silhouette that held the full appearance of his authority.
“We have reviewed your case Mr. Turing,” continued the Judge, “and by our superb discretion,” he graced the Jury with a small nod,”have arrived at a quick and solid verdict. We have asked you to come before us now with your statement so that we may be rid of this burden.”
Cold sweat felt almost as if it was pouring down my forehead. What did I dare to say to these people? The very captors that I sit before could be my saviors. I stood slowly, trying to hide the shaking of my hands.
I began my plea. “Sir, I stand before you as an innocent man that ha-”
The judge slammed his hand down on the large book in front of him, “There! So you claim to be innocent!”
“Yes, but sir I-”
“You have given your statement. A statement that surely sheds the light of Truth upon the unsightly insolence that could only befit a blind and guilt-ridden man!” He slammed his hand down once more before I could speak.
“You, Mr. Turing, are found guilty before the Jury and the Justice. What is your final statement?”
I could no longer hid my trembling. My body shook as fire swelled up in my chest. Before I could stop myself, I grip the desk and lifted it above my head. As it flew towards the glass screen that held the Jury, I could only wonder why they had not thought to bolt it down.
The glass shattered, raining down millions of crystals, shining light that pierced the darkness of the courtroom. As the glass came down around the Jury, I could only make out the form of the Head of Jury scramble to avoid injury. The silhouette had come to form a small bald man, fat and in a tattered suit. I stood and stared at the robotic figures that lined the rows, with their puppet master gone they sat staring at me with blank, cold eyes.
Maybe speaking out for liberty is more of a crime than I thought.
Over a month ago, I had been working on my collection of literature and Ray Bradbury’s dystopic novel, “Fahrenheit 451″, was next on the list. I rushed home, like I always do when I buy a new and mysterious book, and eagerly began to tear apart the world within the pages.
I didn’t move until I had almost completely finished the book. I was, and still am, hooked! Since reading 451, I’ve read about 6 of his short stories, only scrapping the surface of this writer’s wonderful works.
From what I have read though, I have to come to a simple and completely logical conclusion: Ray Bradbury was psychic. Either that or he had a time machine, either one is absolutely a possibility.
I know you’re probably sold already, but I also know that some of you aren’t so believing. (You know who I’m talking about) So please bear with me.
Ray Bradbury loved, in a paranoid kind of way, the potential dangers of technology. His stories held within them a prediction of what kind of effects that the human race could expect if we fully immersed ourselves into an age of information without caution.
“The Pedestrian” implies that someday it will be considered unacceptable to NOT be engaged with technology at all possible times. “All of Summer in a Day” illustrates that an individual full of knowledge surrounded by the ignorant and accepting is alienated and destroyed. “Sound of Thunder” teaches that man’s disobedience to the laws of nature ultimately results in the downfall of man. And finally, “Fahrenheit 451″ sums up the three short stories into a single novel, that is so compelling that I can’t help but consider that someday the technology we built up to free ourselves, to enlighten ourselves, will be our own downfall through our own lack of initiative.
Are these really predictions anymore, or have they begun to manifest themselves?
This generation has seen a new door open that gives them access to all the information in the world. Any book, any trivia, anything. Its ours. We have the ability to communicate from across the globe with other people. These are opportunities that past civilizations could not have even have dreamed of having.
Instead of taking advantage of these sources of brilliance, we find ourselves overwhelmed with the information we sought. We drown in a sea of advertising and controlled content. What’s more is that the very fountains that threaten to drown us our now the crutches by which we stand.
Our societies’ interactions are being reduced to Facebook or Tweeting. Since when has it become easy for two human beings to have an entire interaction using a limited number of characters?
So maybe I’m a little off on the time traveling psychic theory, but Ray Bradbury was right about the direction humanity is moving. And I think that we can change our ship’s course.
The solution is not to simply stop using the technology we developed, that would be ridiculous. The solution is to know the limit. To know when to put down the little box that is holding your mind captive, and talk to another human being. When to stop reading an article and actually take the time to process what you’ve read.
Maybe at the end of the day, we can stop being slaves to the toys we’ve created and remember that lives still go on even when all the lights are off.
(Here are some of Bradbury’s stories that I’ve found at various places online:
Usually, I am quiet. Usually, I can think of a million words to describe, to answer, and to question. But now? Now I am speechless. I am wordless. I am usually quiet, but I don’t want to be silent. I want to tell the truth.
Now, no words are volunteering to be spoken. No words can let me speak the truth to you. Why? Because I am scared. I am scared of the future. The monsters of the past look me in the mirror and say that tomorrow is no different.
Let me say the words I need to say. I can’t wait. I won’t wait. My revolution is now. My thoughts shall be overturned. If I fail, it is better for the building to crash down around me than for me to fall alone.