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Hedges v. Postman on Huxley and Orwell

axugene wrote (via Tumblr message inbox) in response to this quote post I erroneously “sourced” to Orwell, and then blundered again, changing it to “Neil Postman” (after I reread the meaxistentialist OP):

That thing about Orwell and Huxley that maxistentialist posted (which you reblogged) is not by Orwell, the author is actually Chris Hedges in “2011: A Brave New Dystopia

At the time he published it I thought that he deserved another Pulitzer because of his clarity in this particular post.

For some reason, I still see a visual of this text plastered in Postman’s writing, I thought. But I remember the Chris Hedges article referenced here too, and became very confused. A perfunctory Google search pinpointed this:

Neil Postman – last paragraph in Forward to: Amusing Ourselves to Death:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.

Chris Hedges – 3rd paragraph in Truthdig essay: 2011: A Brave New Dystopia

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission.

Curious, and wondering, just like the comment poster declaring this obvious Hedges riff on on Postman to be puzzling why Hedges did not credit Postman for this little compare/contrast ditty on Huxley v. Orwell, I checked out some of Hedges writing to see if Postman is referenced anywhere, on this topic or on another media subject thread. Far from an exhaustive, I searched these three books:

  • The World As It Is — a collection of Hedges’ columns and a Kindle search for ‘Postman’ came up empty

  • Death of the Liberal Class — just one, on page 207, a reference to “cultural critic” Neil Postman pointing out how meaning is distorted when language (words, sentences) is taken out of context

  • Empire of Illusion — just one, on page 65 (in a chapter on the degrading pornography industry), a quote from Postman on how Las Vegas now serves as the “symbolic capital” of America now

Again, not a complete search, but I swore I remember Hedges overtly framing (and crediting) Postman on this Huxley v. Orwell compare-and-contrast. Ah well, hopefully, someone on the internet will prove me wrong (or not).

 

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