Image © Peter Groesbeck
"1984, a blueprint for the “perfect” police state, is Orwell’s prophetic warning to his contemporaries and to future readers about the most terrifying component of such a state: unremitting surveillance. In the words of an elusive character in the novel named Emmanuel Goldstein, “By comparison with that existing today all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient” because “in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under surveillance” (p.137). (1) It is this feature, he realizes, that gives a government absolute control."
"That’s the problem, it seems to me, with surveillance. It is an extremely crude and, more importantly, fundamentally flawed way of trying to control behavior. The 19th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham thought that if people believed they were under constant scrutiny, they would behave better."
"Brave man who bounces away, with that drag foot pride associated with ghetto superstars. Brave man in camouflage gear, and bullet proof bib and AK 47, keeper of law and order, courageous tax payers’ beneficiary. Following orders, doing his job."
Rigging is Just Rigging (Or, A Nation Held Hostage) by Muthoni Garland
"'Ati he will only negotiate when there is peace? Basi si aongee na maiti. (Then let him speak to the dead)' This spoken in Kiswahili. A few others laughed with him. Their bitterness was palpable. The coast is largely sympathetic with opposition party, ODM, and I could well imagine that their off-duty remarks amongst each other would be about how Kibaki had confirmed he was not interested in ‘hearing’ their point of view. That they were expected to not only accept that Kibaki was now their legal president, but also swallow the continuing arrogance and impenetrability of his leadership."
Other Voices: Creative Non-Fiction
"Do you know how it feels to sleep alone in a car park? A kind of freedom, but one that comes with a price? Choosing that spot between petrol, oil and piss? That moment when you suddenly snap out of sleep, last night’s wine wearing off, and you sit there in the cold and the dark and you start to shake. You shake so much you can’t even grasp that half empty bottle."
"Playing at the bottom of a very steep hill at Valley Forge Park, we could not see where they were coming from. The sun was glaring so hard down the long hill that it hurt to look at the intensely green grass. But as my brother came closer, I saw a rock whizz past him from somewhere higher up. Looking uphill, almost straight into the sun, I couldn’t see anything but felt a rock strike my head hard—I crumpled to my knees. Then instantly I understood, even before the yelling, that kids uphill were hurling rocks at us."
"He groans and rubs his face with his hands. ‘Oh, my life is just a mess!’ He looks at you and you both crack up laughing. This is a familiar routine."
© 2005 - 2008 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas.