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Victor Frankenstein: Trodden Hero or Veiled Villain?

Victor Frankenstein: Trodden Hero or Veiled Villain?
Mary Shelley’s masterpiece analyzed. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-20 — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (80 KB).

Victor Frankenstein suffers decision paralysis in any time of crisis. While valiant in his struggles to create life, he immediately becomes the coward, assuming his creation to be a menace and running from it in terror: “one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs” (Shelley 51). It’s hard to trust Victor to be a reliable narrator, when he claims helplessness with such vigor, for example, in the second encounter with his monster, he recounts, “I thought of pursuing the devil, but it would have been in vain” (70). When the creature kills little William and frames Justine, Victor does nothing to save her from her unjust execution: “a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me” (76). He is merely pacifying his conscious with a shallow justification.

This aversion to action is a persistent theme throughout the novel. These examples just scratch the surface:
• “I could not answer” (83).
• “The being finished speaking and fixed his looks upon me in the expectation of a reply. But I was bewildered, perplexed, and unable to arrange my ideas sufficiently” (146).
• “I would have seized him, but he eluded me” (172).
• “I was unable to pursue the train of thought . . . and I wept bitterly” (189). Frankenstein finds solace in crying over his dilemma.

This is his flawed argument for destroying the female monster: “she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness” (169). Has Victor not already heard the monster’s lengthy tale of how he became soured on humanity? It is established that the monster’s malice is due to others mistreating him, so Victor’s argument seems merely an excuse to abandon his work.

Dr. Frankenstein continually underestimates the being’s malice and power. Even after two murders, he taunts, “you may torture me, but I will never consent” (146). Is he so blind to not see that he is condemning his friends and family to death, rather than himself? Further, he interprets “I shall be with you on your wedding-night” (172) to mean that Elizabeth is not in danger. He looks ahead: “in that hour I should die and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice,” the only negative being the “tears and endless sorrow, when [Elizabeth] should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her” (173). Victor justifies going forward with the wedding, purporting that the monster will do what he pleases anyway: “he did not consider that threat as binding him . . . he had murdered Clerval immediately” (194). Yet somehow, he is shocked and dismayed when it Elizabeth that is murdered (202). Did he not hear his creature’s pleas for a companion, or is he blind to both apportioned revenge, and the axiom, “misery loves company”? Is not the death of Victor’s wife the most logical revenge for the death of the monster’s would-be wife? The monster promises such revenge outright: “Shall each man . . . find a wife for his bosom . . . and I be alone? . . . Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness?” He goes on to say, “you shall repent of the injuries you inflict” (172), foreshadowing drawn out misery for the doctor, rather than a hasty death. Apparently, Mr. Frankenstein never learns.

Why did Shelley write Victor this way? First, we can identify a literary element: if Victor stops the monster before he commits murders, the book would not be interesting. But it is more—perhaps it is because we are so quick to trust and empathize with Victor, as he is the narrator throughout the tale, that we must come to see, through his indifference, he is actually more evil than his creation. When I first read the book, I pegged Frankenstein as good. Even though he admits to being the murderer several times, such as this lamentation: “I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer” (88), to me, he is only crying for help, like Justine’s coerced confession (81-82). However, through the above analysis, we find that Frankenstein is apt to be an unreliable narrator, biased to support his inaction. His warning of the monster: “he is eloquent and persuasive; and once his words had even power over my heart: but trust him not” (216), may better describe himself. As in legal tort, he has a “duty to rescue” his family from his now malevolent creation, yet he continually ignores it; his best idea is repeatedly shouting “wretched devil!” and “abhorred monster!” (95), followed by promising to create a woman, only to “[tear it] to pieces” (170). For the monster, this is sadistic torment, but the doctor excuses himself again, claiming it to be preferable to “[inflicting] this curse upon everlasting generations” (170). In the words of Edmund Burke, “no passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear,” and I see that Frankenstein is crippled by fear, wavering on any decision. Shelley has written a subtle allegory between the lines: do not believe narration immediately, as even if it appears trustworthy, it is always written in the interests of the narrator. Frankenstein tells us many times that his fate is sealed: “destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction” (33), but he really is a man who loves misery—a murderer through negligence, who wishes for pity in his twisted account. He is the real devil.

Going further, there is a connection that suggests Frankenstein subconsciously desires William and Justine to be struck dead. As a youth, he thinks of Elizabeth as “[his] more than sister, since till death she was to be [his] only” (26). In her ominous letter, she writes to the newly homesick Victor, “Justine has returned to us, and I assure you I love her tenderly,” and “little darling William” has “sweet laughing blue eyes, dark eyelashes, and curling hair” (60). His reluctance to pursue the monster (70) or exonerate Justine (76) could be out of selfishness—he will now have Elizabeth’s love all to himself, despite her crushed spirit.

But wait—are you ready to take this to the next level? Maybe, just maybe, Frankenstein and his monster are one in the same. Frankenstein is Dr. Jekyll and the monster is Mr. Hyde, not through a scientific transformation, but dualistic personalities. Whenever the two appear together, be it in their discussions in the mountains, or encounters in the forest or arctic, there is no one around to see them. This quote is merely Frankenstein’s dark side overtaking him: “you are my creator, but I am your master; — obey!” (171). After Elizabeth’s murder, Frankenstein recollects, “I rushed towards the window, and drawing a pistol from my bosom, fired; but he eluded me” (202), followed by the monster vanishing, not to be found even after a search of several hours in and about the lake. Frankenstein himself admits, “we returned hopeless, most of my companions believing it to have been a form conjured up by my fancy” (202). Perhaps this is the truth? Afterwards, Victor mourns, “a fiend had snatched from me every hope of future happiness; no creature had ever been so miserable as I was” (203). Remaining “silent when [he] would have given the world to have confided the fatal secret” (191), I see that the secret is not that he created a monster; the secret is that he is the monster. This intensifies his guilt and seclusion, adds weight to his terrible illness and remorse, and gives truth to the statement he makes in his nightmarish haze: “Justine, poor unhappy Justine, was as innocent as I, and she suffered the same charge; she died for it; and I am the cause of this — I murdered her. William, Justine, Henry — they all died by my hands” (190). This is not the remorse of a moral but self-blaming man, but rather the admission of a bipolar assassin who is tortured by having no one with whom to share his monstrous deeds. When he says about the dæmon: “once his words even had power over my heart” (216), he is talking about the dark side of his conscious. The whole act of creating a woman is to satisfy Frankenstein himself; he realizes that Elizabeth would never be his wife if she knew he was a blood-thirsty murderer, and so he wants a monster so that “we shall be more attached to one another,” “cut off from all the world” (147). I propose that all the references to monstrousness are metaphors for Victor’s black heart, and that Shelley has created a work of art that is truly Romantic; the entire novel miserable and revolutionary, a battle of light versus dark, good versus evil, all wrapped up in one self-contradictory character. Shelley, by writing in such a complex undertone, has given her novel depth; it is infinitely more interesting than the standard good versus bad, white hat versus black hat, or even the edgier hubris (flaw of arrogance). The dualism is in the narrator’s very statements: “Justine . . . was as innocent as I,” yet “they all died by my hands” (190); the inactive reader skips right over it. Frankenstein is the veiled villain.

Work Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Random House, 1992.

Cannibalism and Slavery

Cannibalism and Slavery: An Analysis of Equiano, Swift, and Rousseau. Question-and-answer format. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-03 (Updated 2008-07-17) — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (90KB).

Question One: Who is Olaudah Equiano’s narrative, Travels, directed toward, and what point of view does the author use?
Travels is directed not only toward the slave-holders who claim to be Christians, but also the people who rely on goods produced by slaves, such as consumers of sugared tea in eighteenth-century England. It is shown that “some six to seven million slaves were transported to work on sugar plantations in the West Indies” (Fiero 616), so sugar alone was a source of much suffering. When Equiano writes, “O, ye nominal Christians! Might not an African ask you, Learned you this from your God who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you?” (619), he is calling out the hypocrisy in believing in a merciful, just god who gives countenance to all, except slaves. The account is written from a riveting first-person perspective, with the reflections following Equiano’s thoughts: “I no longer doubted of my fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted,” he vividly recalls upon seeing the slaves chained together wearing faces of “dejection and sorrow” (618). As “he mastered the English language” (616) and writes that the slave ship’s crew spoke a tongue that “was very different from any I had ever heard” (618), we can deduce that Equiano’s autobiography is not for the people of his original Benin tribe.

Question Two: Which conditions described by Equiano are most contrary to the ideals of the philosophes?
People being stolen away, flogged, and forced to live at the bottom of a filthy ship for the long journey to slavery—this is not at all in accord with the motto of the philosophies: “wipe out all evils” (Fiero 606). Equiano recalls, the ship is “so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself”; the fledgling slaves are “almost suffocated” (618). Even the sheep and cattle of the day were treated better! Yet our noble Thomas Jefferson almost sanctions such depravity, seeing the blacks as being “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind,” the inferiority being “a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people” (620). It is always necessary to claim slaves to be sub-human—it is merely the device that justifies the crimes being committed. There is no other way to support the ugliness of slavery, while in tandem, holding pretty ideals such as Locke’s statement that humans should “be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection” (602), or Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal” with the “unalienable rights” of life and liberty (604). Because slavery was such a benefit in the absence of mechanical automation, it persisted, despite contradicting enlightened thinking.

Question Three: What is the real thesis of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”?
Anything can sound reasonable, but we cannot look just for our gain; we must also be ethical. Even Sunday-morning Christians consider killing and eating babies to be morally objectionable. What Swift really supports is not cannibalism, but instead reforms to combat poverty in Ireland, such as “taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound,” introducing “prudence and temperance,” and using “what is of our own growth and manufacture,” as exclusively as is reasonable (Fiero 623). “A Modest Proposal” is profoundly satirical writing, so these ideas are presented as what cannot be spoken of, because there is no effort implement them. As Swift sadly concludes, “let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ‘till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice” [not included in the Fiero excerpt]. The author is ingenious in his use of “shock value,” as the last paragraphs—the thesis for reform—are far more influential than they would be in an ordinary essay.

Question Four: What is the character of the narrator in “A Modest Proposal”?
“A young healthy child” is a “wholesome food” (Fiero 622); the narrator does not see the evil in killing and eating children, unlike the audience and author. Swift satirically derides his own beliefs toward the end: “let no man talk to me of other expedients,” such as “learning to love our Country,” “quitting our animosities and factions” (Catholics versus Protestants), and “being a little cautious not to sell our country and conscience for nothing” (623). The narrator dislikes these noble proposals, instead finding his or her idea of infanticide to be the way: it will “greatly lessen the number of Papists” (Roman Catholics), provide “eight shillings sterling per annum” yearly to “the constant breeders” (622), and be “a great inducement to marriage” (623) while providing a new delicacy for wealthy landlords, improving the quality of life for the poor, and ridding them of their burdensome progeny. The separation between the author and narrator is much more solid than in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” as Swift’s “profoundly moralizing body of literature” (621) is wholly separate from the outlandish ideas that seem to be pushed seriously in “A Modest Proposal.”

Question Five: When does the reader discover Swift’s irony?
While “A Modest Proposal” is in line with works of its day, such as The Satires by Juvenal, modern readers, unfamiliar with the style of writing, are totally shocked upon reading the statement, “a young healthy child is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” (Fiero 622). While I discovered the irony upon reading that sentence (I perused Fiero’s lead-in first), many may continue to think the piece is serious, perhaps even to the end where Swift makes his real proposal, which is of “parsimony, prudence, and temperance” (623). In fact, it is a safe assumption, that because Swift sustains the deadpan satire for so long, a good portion of his readers, several paragraphs in, will be convinced of his conviction. Hopefully, the statement, “a child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends” (622) is so laughable that the irony becomes obvious.

Question Six: What are the reasons for human corruption, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality among Men? How does he want us to live?
Rousseau believes that property, surplus, and collaboration are all the seeds of corruption. His philosophy: “As long as men . . . applied themselves only to work that one person could accomplish alone and to arts that did not require the collaboration of several hands, they lived as free, healthy, good and happy men” (Fiero 637). This is not at all the case in the twenty-first century United States, as we rely on hundreds of others at our workplaces, and for essentials such as food, water, power, and computer networking. Rousseau laments, “how much misery and horror the human race would have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes,” disputing “the first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, though of saying ‘This is mine’” (636). As the QUANTA class has been well taught by Dr. Michael Flota, as soon as it was “found to be useful for one man to have provisions enough for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced . . . [and] slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and flourish” (637)—this is the birth of surplus. We are corrupted by mechanization and the privatization of property to compete viciously with our fellow people, but in the primitive days of hunting and gathering, where the Earth had no owner, we had a more perfect society, despite its perceived obsolescence.

Work Cited

Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Volume II. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Freedom vs. Human Nature

Freedom vs. Human Nature: The Battle of Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, and Smith. Question-and-answer format. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-02 — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays
PDF version (90KB).

Question One: How do Thomas Hobbes and John Locke differ in their ideas about human nature?
Hobbes believes that people must be united under the ironclad rule of a mortal god, be it a lone monarch or ruling assembly, to which we in unison say, “I authorize and give up my right of governing myself” (Fiero 601), that being the birth of a commonwealth. In his undeniable pessimism, Hobbes announces that our “natural passions” are “partiality, pride, [and] revenge,” so much so that the “laws of nature,” “justice, equity, modesty, [and] mercy” can only be maintained as long as we are constantly in “terror of some power to cause them to be observed” (600), which must be a mortal god, acting in concert with the immortal god, to enforce them at the threat of the sword. In contrast, Locke thinks of humans as blank slates. Hobbes’ “natural passions” only come about through our interactions with the world. Like with Hobbes, we all have the right to be “free, equal, and independent” (602), but we can only be removed from our property and subjugated to another if we consent. To “join and unite into a community” with stricter rules is fine, so long as “the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest” (602), as this does not harm the freedom of those who elect not to join. Contrary to Hobbes, if the rulers make laws for their benefit at the expense of the people, there is tyranny, and the people are entirely right to revolt. Simply, in the land of Hobbes, the people are the slaves of the rulers, but in Locke’s world, the rulers are the slaves of the people, hence the term, “public servant.”

Question Two: What ideas did Thomas Jefferson borrow from John Locke to write The Declaration of Independence?
Jefferson’s idea that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights” (Fiero 604) is harmonious with Locke’s statement that we are, by default, “all free, equal, and independent,” though we may choose to give up freedoms for “comfortable, safe, and peaceable living” (602), always at our option. In tyranny, we must throw off the shackles of our oppressors, even if it requires a forceful and bloody revolution—this both Locke and Jefferson agree on. In Locke’s powerful words, “tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to,” and the people, “acting without authority,” may oppose such so-called magistrates just as they would a foreign invader (603). Jefferson is similar, stating that when the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are alienated by a government, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,” replacing it with a fair system (604).

Question Three: How is this excerpt from The Wealth of Nations [abridged title for An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations] related to the excerpt from the same work in The Humanistic Tradition Volume II (Fiero 605)?

. . . every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

In An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Smith writes that “we expect our dinner” not from “the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker,” but because of “their regard to their own interest” (Fiero 605). There is no charity in the hearts of our merchants, nor any loyalty in the shrewdness of our customers, yet everything is peachy because the invisible hand takes care of it all—business owners cut costs, raise quality, and lower prices, not to help consumers, but to trump their competitors and make more money for themselves. In Fiero’s excerpts, the “invisible hand” is not named as such, but the whole page is dedicated to it, with Smith stating that when bartering, we must “never talk to [the merchant] of our own necessities, but of their advantages,” and that “the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers” must not be legitimized by the government, as it is “directly opposed to [the interest] of the great body of the people” (605). The idea of a wall of separation between business and state, where the “invisible hand” thrives in industries free of governmental regulation, is sanctified in Smith’s passage in this question: the laborer “intends only his own gain,” but in doing so is “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention,” and that end is promoting the public interest and society at large, whether the catalyst is merchants lowering prices, employees working harder for promotions, or home-owners operating yard sales to rid themselves of their possessions.

Question Four: How is the “Christian allegory” (Block 15-20) related to the assumptions of Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, and Adam Smith?
Hobbes, Jefferson, Locke, and Smith, despite their unique and differing ideas, all believe that we can better ourselves and build a wondrous society with effort. When looking for the cause of our short-comings, they look for individuals, not systemic blame, nor “original sin,” as in Christianity. Hobbes sees the bad apples who harbor revenge and do not value the liberty of others. Jefferson and Locke know that a government is needed, but that the magistrates are not godly and can be disputed, when they become corrupt or self-serving, defying our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Fiero 604). Smith sees that the individual employees and business-owners, in their untiring efforts to benefit themselves and live securely, can “be of the greatest value” in contributing to society as a whole. They all were undoubtedly influenced by the Christian allegory: we are lost but can find ourselves through hard work, self-discipline, and god, or by extension, when you become fat, the path to morality is “greater personal discipline,” and when the economy fails, it is because “people fell into temptation and prosperity disappeared” (Block 16). However, the Age of Enlightenment is more refined: we are not hopeless, we can grow and better ourselves to build a heaven-like community on Earth; “the promise of reason [is] the realization of an enlightened social order” (Fiero 599), not an omnipotent God who controls us and everything. Halley’s comet is not God’s wrath, fate does not rule our actions, and the individual can make waves across society. These are the principles of reason’s age and philosophers, who know logic, secular thinking, and are optimistic about humankind.

Works Cited

Block, Fred L. The Vampire State. New York: The New Press, 1996.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Volume II. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Critical Analysis: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

The first entry in my new essays section. The story of Omelas is a fascinating classic, and I recommend it for anyone who likes to think.

A Critical Analysis of “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” a short, fictional story by Ursula Le Guin. Question-and-answer format. Text included. Essay and annotation by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-01-18 — http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/essays/
PDF version, with an annotated copy of the text (1.3MB).

Question One: What is a utopia? Does Omelas meet the definition?
Omelas is a utopia, though not of the lifeless type that the word inspires. Le Guin notes that the inhabitants are not “bland utopians,” not “simple folk,” nor “dulcet shepherds” (2). The residents need not live simply—there can be all sorts of luxuries, wondrous technologies, drugs, beer, and orgies in the streets, because their happiness is not based on possessions, but rather, “a just discrimination of what is necessary,” “what is destructive,” and what is neither (2). This insight is the definition of a utopia; when everyone knows it, wars, slavery, and competition is not needed (2-3). The children are happy, and the adults, “mature, intelligent, [and] passionate” (2), with no need for a hierarchal church or government (2-3). The city is beautiful, the weather and harvests are kind and abundant, and most everyone healthy (5), yet this is just the icing on the cake. It is indeed a utopia, for all except the suffering child (4-5).

Question Two: What is the narrator’s opinion of Omelas?
Our narrator sympathizes with the citizens of Omelas, even going so far as to name the child’s plight as the source of all compassion in the town. “There is no vapid, irresponsible happiness”; all the residents know that “they, like the child, are not free” from the “terrible justice of reality” (6)—that one human, just as important as any other, must be dehumanized for the democratic benefit of the majority. Knowing of the child “makes possible the nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science” (6); it drives and inspires, gives compassion and robs the people of their innocence. “To throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed,” Le Guin reasons (6). The few that leave, leave without incident, in the dead of night never to return, as their quite protest, going “through the beautiful gates” and farmlands, “to a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness” (7). The narrator seems to find the dilemma at Omelas to be acceptable, as he calls those who leave “incredible” (6), saying that he “cannot describe it at all,” but “they seem to know where they are going” (7). His opinion, like the adults in Omelas, is that idealism must yield to pragmatism; it is too much to ask for everyone to give up the niceties to save one person from a life of torture and suffering.

Question Three: What is the symbolic connotation of the locked, windowless cellar in which the lone child suffers?
The forsaken child is the rotten foundation which their beautiful society rests on. In the iconic words of Honoré de Balzac, “behind every great fortune there is a crime,” and the crime here is that the utopia of Omelas is supported on strict terms: “there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child” (6), lest he be pulled, even for a second, out of his “abominable misery” (5). Children learn the terrible fact between eight and twelve, and no matter how well their parents explain and justify it in advance, the new discovery is sickening and angering (5). It may take months or years, but they will come to accept the torture of one for the benefit of the many—pragmatism will rule over whatever ideals they once held, as they know that the very hour they would save the child, “all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed” (6). Quite a price indeed. We have ethical dilemmas in the real world that are similar yet more murky, such as euthanasia for the hopelessly ill and elderly, triaging in disasters and on the battleground (not every limb, person, or finger can be saved), and wars that are supposably1 fought for the good of the world, but result in millions of deaths and injuries. The story of Omelas symbolizes them all, and as in all such systems, there are some who “walk straight out of the city” (7), never to return, unwilling to bear the guilt. Others gain peace of mind by deciding that the lost child could not possibly be human. He or she is sub-human, and is instead referred to as “it” (4-6), “too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy” (6), and thus the crime is just.

Question Four: In the story, do you find any implied criticism of our own society?
Le Guin criticizes “a bad habit” that trickles down from the “pedants and sophisticates” (2), the classy intellectuals that teach us to celebrate pain over pleasure, violence over peace, and despair over delight. We are taught that “happiness [is] something rather stupid,” while the “banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain” (2) is replaced by fascination with death, deviance, and necromancy. A utopia is a backwards kingdom filled with happy, simple-minded subjects. In the real utopia, there are no careless princesses to be rescued by valiant princes, no arch-bishops to create the newest refinements to an oppressive religion, and no misguided soldiers to fight bloody wars in the name of freedom. You can be happy and peaceful without being a naïve, passionless simpleton. When we come to believe that “only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting,” we have come to “lose hold of everything else” (2). No technological wonders can provide happiness when our thinking is collectively flawed. “Joy built upon successful slaughter” will not do; we must be joyous like the citizens of Omelas, where “the victory they celebrate is that of life” (3), and not of death and suffering.

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