May 7th, 2010

1984--Not just a Year in the Twentieth Century

In the aftermath of the "bomb that bombed" in Times Square, we are made more conscious of the presence of security cameras.  These are evidently ubiquitous on Manhattan and Times Square is being seen by some as a model for the rest of the country to follow.  The word "terrorism" and the phrase "national security" hardly need to be stated anymore.  Surveillance  has taken on a life of its own, something good, in and of itself, irrespective of its uses.  In the 1950s I was too young and in the 1960s too insignificant to have a dossier, but I know my face was on a lot of films and videotapes that I was not told about at the time.  Through the 70s, 80s, and 90s I wasn't aware of what was being done in the area of "security."  I do remember a couple of ominous remarks from the 1980s including a comment made to Dianne when she was protesting an Idaho state policy to the effect that her husband, being a state employee, was vulnerable and if her protest went too far there would be plenty of legitimate reasons to fire him.

In the year 1984 there were symposia on Orwell's novel; there was disagreement as to whether we were heading toward the sort of totalitarian controls described therein, but consensus that we had not arrived at that those conditions yet.  I thought at the time, that the idea that we were moving slowly in the direction of totalitarianism was was more in evidence than the contrary proposition.  Since the twin towers disaster, that trend has accelerated. 

Yesterday a bus between Maine and New York was stopped by police and the passengers were ordered to come out one by one.  One man refused and it took them hours to get him off the bus.  I silently wondered if his name were Winston Smith.

There is a saying that if you throw a frog into boiling water, it will immediately try to escape; but if you put the frog in cold water and then very gradually increase the temperature to the boiling point it will contentedly allow itself to be cooked.  Any body besides me feeling a bit warm?