Can Reading Be a Form of Resistance?
The last couple of months I've been reading, thinking, absorbing and processing the results of November's election. But this week was different. After January 20th, I began asking myself what I was going to do. Because I can't just sit back and watch the apocalypse.
Any thinking person who is shaken by the idea that elected officials can present "alternative facts" when they don't like the actual facts needs to read George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language." Here are a couple of relevant excerpts:
"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus, political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombed from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification."George Orwell wrote his essay in 1946. It is just as true today. And there's this:
"Political language--and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists--is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
We as readers can seek the truth, be careful and scrupulous readers of political language, and be willing to spend the time and effort to cull the real stories, the real truth,behind the obfuscations and lies of politicians and those who serve them. And then we can really resist--on social media, on the streets, and through contacting our elected officials. But first we have to make the effort to be informed and intelligent--and not to be credulous consumers of "fake news" (once known more bluntly as lies).
The Reading Public Wants an ExplanationWith the advent of "alternative facts" coming from the White House, readers across in the United States and Great Britain are looking for answers, and they are turning to books. As has been widely reported, George Orwell's 1984 is now a bestseller, along with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Clearly, the reading public believes we are moving toward a dystopian, dangerous future. The Sinclair Lewis novel It Can't Happen Here is sold out on Amazon, as is Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism.
If reading dystopian fiction makes you feel better (or worse), or if it is just what you're doing to cope or process, I'd recommend Octavia Butler's prescient Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. And if you're thinking about climate change and the environmental impact of an administration seemingly hostile to science, I'd recommend Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, starting with Annihilation.
And I haven't even touched on the catastrophic, devastating policies of this administration for public education. But I think that requires a whole separate post.
Tell me, how do you resist?