08 October 2010

Variations on whatshisname's ideas

I often forget the name of the author of the well-known novels Animal Farm and 1984. I have been reading a mildly interesting collection of his essays titled, well, A Collection of Essays and I am still having difficulty remembering his name. Is it Edwards something?

One of the shorter essays in the book, written in 1939, is about the city of Marrakech (Marrakesh) in Morocco. Our author remarks upon the insignificant inhabitants of the city and then summarizes their insignificant lives in one sentence:

They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone.
This is, of course, the natural way of things, how it is supposed to be. According to the grand scheme of things, we all are meant to turn into nameless mounds of decomposing flesh and bones after we die.

Sweat, starvation and death are all in a day's work for all wild animals and many domesticated ones. It becomes an issue for Homo sapiens, because there is inequality among us; some of us sweat, starve and get buried in anonymous graves, while others relax, fatten up and get mummified in mausoleums. These sorts of comparisons create the impression that it is not fair for some people to live bad lives when there are others living good lives.

There are 2 mutually exclusive states:
1. We will all live more or less equally insignificant lives.
2. We will accept the condition that human lives are and will always be variable: some will be short, miserable and insignificant at one end, while others will be long, desirable and significant at the other end with every possible variant in between.

I don't know about Orwell, but I've been of the opinion for some time that there will always be variation among humans in terms of their levels of intelligence, income and happiness and that therefore, inequality is the norm. That's it, George Orwell! That's his name. But, why do always forget it?


Bruce Berman said...

George Orwell. I think.

Kazimir Majorinc said...

Inequality is a norm, but we still feel it as undesirable. If we share chocolate with friends, we are very careful that everyone get the same size.