Sunday, December 09, 2007

Blog off

Just read Ben Elton's new book Blind Faith. It feels like the culmination of a manifesto which he has been working through with his earlier books like Dead Famous and Chart Throb. Set in a dystopic, contradictory London, a bizarre version of fundamentalist christianity has mingled with numerology other forms of hokey spiritualism, capitalism, pornography and confessional reality tv culture to create a nation of obese idiots who live off donoughts and burgers, wear next to nothing and blog their entire lives on the internet. In a celebration of conspicuous capitalism, children are named after food products or cars.

Like all good dystopic novels, it takes today's trends and turns up the volume, just a little bit. Although America is not blamed, a great deal of what Elton is predicting seems to stem directly from the religious conservatives who have dominated the political landscape in the US for the last decade.

In this future society, privacy is seen as heresy - people are encouraged to "share" everything, and to celebrate their individuality, whereas in fact everyone is identically mundane. Worse still, the floods are not blamed on global warming, but on God's wrath for people believing in evolution and daring to have imaginations (only God is allowed to create ideas). As a result, all fiction is banned and evolutionists are burned at the stake. "Empowered" women are forced to get breast enlargements and shave their pubic hair off, while homosexuality is punishable by death and marriages are only expected to last 2 years. And worst of all, modern medicine is viewed as witchcraft, so the infant mortality rate is 50%. As usual in his books, Elton pokes fun at annoying teen-speak, religious-speak and "I'm OK, you're OK" self-help speak.

It's a bit of 1984, a bit of Farenheit 451 and a bit of Brave New World thrown in. I read those three books in my teens and they all had profound impacts on me. Elton's book is a bit too much of a rip-roaring, large-print read to have the same effect - but I appreciate where he is coming from. And it's good to see someone who shares my old-man frustration with a lot of society's current foolishnesses. So get it for Christmas - before they come and get you!

5 comments:

Fin De Fichier said...

Wow! It sounds terribly, terribly prescient. Unfortunately the stupid people are outbreeding the intelligent people. And as I've blogged about before, fundamentalist religions of all types are an all too convenient means for the powerful to keep the non-powerful in line. Much easier to control people who have closed their minds to possibility of improvement, except in "Heaven". I look at the Muslim world and just think to myself, why don't the women rise up? But they've had > 1000 years to do so and haven't.
I thought this was a really powerful essay:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/07/opinion/07ali.html

Fin De Fichier said...

Nothing worse than an American painting with too broad a brush. Of course I know Pakistan had a female prime minister, etc. etc. but, generally, conditions are quite poor for Muslim women, even in that country.

BHUVAN CHAND JUYAL said...

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Old Cheeser said...

Sounds quite intriguing, although I didn't much like "Dead Famous" and gave up on it. Thought it was being and oh-so-funny skit of reality tv shows, Big Brother and the like, but actually wasn't that funny atall. Maybe I'll lend the latest one out from the local library.

matty said...

If evil is coming --- it is coming from this country of mine. ugh. i want to move to the UK ...or even Canada.

Anyway, someone who reads my blog in OK sent me a book which comes from that post secret website --- A Lifetime of Secrets.

...so I guess this will be my holiday read.

The other post secret book really bummed me out.