Tag Archives: Big Pharma

Chapter 7, novel-in-progress, “Covid-1984, The Musical”

Suzanna Hamilton as Julia in Michael Radford’s 1984

In Chapter Seven the love story between Julia and Winston progresses further.  Orwell’s Julia has very little intellectual curiosity about the workings of the Party, which sort of confuses Winston, since he’s very interested.  Julia is more of a survivor than a reformer.  In my version of 1984, I follow Orwell’s lead again in setting up this kind of dynamic between the lovers. But I had to give my female character a little more smarts than Orwell did, since I find Orwell to be a bit sexist in his depiction of his empty-headed female lead. Orwell’s Julia works as a mechanic in the fiction-machine writing department at the Ministry of Truth.  (That’s nice comedy, Orwell.  It really is true that genre fiction might as well be written in a factory.) My Julia uses AI machine learning to create really awful academic papers using the latest feminist and transhumanist jargon.

This chapter is dedicated to my friend Daniel Donnelly. Thank you for your support.

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Chapter 6, novel-in-progress, “Covid-1984, The Musical”

Syme is my favorite character in Orwell’s novel. Remember him? No? He’s the nerdy linguist who is overly enthusiastic about his work reducing the English language to Newspeak. Syme is not a hero. He is one the villains in 1984. But he is a fascinating character in the way he has bought into the lies and helps bring about his own end.

Orwell understood that a natural language is an instrument of thought. If your instrument has plenty of flexibility, ambiguity, and redundancy it can be used creatively. Technologists hate that about language; they try to deny that language is wild and alive and cannot be tamed or reproduced mechanistically.

In this chapter, after bringing Julia and Winston a little closer together, I introduce my version of Syme, who, of course, works in AI translation, today’s equivalent of the Newspeak project.

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Chapter 5, novel-in-progress, “COVlD-1984, The Musical”

Chapter Five of “COVID-1984, The Musical” takes place in Russia.

I live in New York, ground zero of the two major crises this century,  but I was away from home on 9/11 and when Covid hit.

On 9/11, I was in Santa Fe. Planes were grounded and I was stuck. I wouldn’t  have been able to get to my home in Tribeca near the towers even if I had driven back to NYC because the whole area was restricted, with armed guards on every corner checking IDs, and my ID had an old address. So I stayed in my little casita, which had dial-up internet, no television, and I missed all the media coverage.

When the Anthrax scare quickly followed, I was in Belagio, Italy–at the Rockefeller Villa of all places, hobnobbing with a UN delegation–for the entire month of October 2001. Also no TV and no outside news. I didn’t even know about the Anthrax until I returned to the U.S.. Weird that it never came up in conversation at dinner.

And once again, in 2020 when the Covid lockdown commenced, I found myself far away from home, in St Petersburg, Russia. Again planes were grounded and I was stuck, but safe and not subjected to the U.S. news cycle.

I did not experience first-hand any of these traumatizing events.  I was never afraid that I would die.  I missed the 24/7 fear porn.  That may be one of several reasons why my perspective is different and I  seemed to be immune from Stockholm syndrome.

In this Chapter, I place my hero, Winston Smith, in Russia, so that you can see through his eyes how different the situation was there during lockdown.  I’m not saying their government is any better, but the people, the Russian people lived Orwell’s 1984 and they were not inclined to let the boot get back to stomping on their faces.

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Chapter 4, novel-in-progress, “COVlD-1984, The Musical”

I’m posting Chapter Four without an introduction. It’s been a tough few weeks in the anti-totalitarian trenches and I only have enough energy to work on the actual novel, not the chapter introductions.  The Covid Cultists are really ramping things up, which means they know they are losing.  Hang on.  The darkest day will come soon (literally on Dec 21) and after that, I promise, more light will come.

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Chapter 3, novel-in-progress, “COVlD-1984, The Musical”

Isolation is a form of torture. It’s dehumanizing.

George Orwell chose to create characters for his dystopian vision who had been dehumanized after generations of living under a totalitarian regime. When Winston first sees Julia, he fantasizes about smashing her brains out with a rock. Julia is portrayed as having simple animal instincts, surviving only to enjoy a few barnyard pleasures before slaughter. As compelling as Orwell’s narrative is in other ways, it’s often difficult to relate to Winston and Julia on a personal level, and it’s hard to imagine them as heroes.  The reader wonders, Will they be able to regain a sense of human dignity?

Today, many people are being pushed into isolation. How do you date during a lockdown? How do you share a kiss when you don’t even shake hands anymore? How do you smile behind a mask?  There’s a new Puritanical campaign against human intimacy and physical connectedness that could irrevocably harm a generation or two.

In Chapter Three, I introduce my idea of love in a time of totalitarianism.

(Need to catch up? Go to Chapter One.)

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Chapter 2, novel-in-progress, “Covid-1984, The Musical”

Preview of Covid-1984 The Musical, Chapter Two.  (Not ready yet? To catch up, go to Chapter One.)

This installment is dedicated to Thomas, Heather and Valerie. Thank you for your support.

Orwell fans will appreciate Chapter Two as I begin to follow the outline of 1984’s opening scenes. As I noted in my introduction to the first chapter, I’m releasing this novel in installments even though I haven’t yet written the final chapters.  I hope to provide us “proles” with a way to imagine how to bring down the Big Brother machine, because bring it down we must.  Let’s make (up) history together. I still don’t know exactly how my Winston Smith is going to overcome the propaganda and the torture, but I’m getting some ideas when I look around me and I see all the people in the streets and online standing up and saying, I will not comply.

Keep up hope. Keep  your sense of gallows humor. Keep singing. Danser Encore.  It shows our strength, and it’s really disconcerting for our would-be tyrants. Continue reading

Chapter 1, novel-in-progress, “Covid-1984, The Musical”

I’m writing a novel, Covid-1984, The Musical, relating to events that are currently underway. It usually takes me more than a year to complete a novel (then it takes another year for the publisher to edit and print), so I’ve decided to release this one in installments in order to try to help alter the course of history as I write about it.  How? you may ask. Well, by being optimistic and by humbly offering a way to imagine how we can climb from such a low point to a happy resolution. Orwell’s novel, 1984, starts low and descends even lower. I want to break the spell of his narrative.  He didn’t have any faith in the proles. I do. I am inspired by the powerful protests that are going on all over the world, where people are singing, and some, like the French and the Maori, are even dancing.  In contrast, the dances of the medical professionals during lockdown were so inappropriate for the situation that these scenes will go down in history as symbolic of the perversity of the psychological manipulation we were subjected to during that time.

Will we continue on the suicidal path charted for us by monomaniacal technocrats? or will we say, Pfuck that, and exile them to their island bunkers forever? and, once that’s done, how do we make healthy new lives for ourselves? It’s up to us. It really is.  We are many; they are few. This is the sequel to my 2015 novel about 9/11, Locus Amoenus. Continue reading

Hudson Valley News

It’s news in Amenia when a local novelist starts thinking about writing.  Over salads at Four Brothers Pizza in Amenia, I chatted with fellow novelist, Steve Hopkins, about my plans to continue the story line of my 2015 novel, Locus Amoenus. That book is a satire about a 9/11 widow who remarries and her son Hamlet becomes depressed.  You get the idea.  I think of the new work as a Hamlet Part 2, or possibly Covid-1984, or Covid 9/11, or some other such satire in the posthumous style. Continue reading

“All right then, I’ll go to hell.” -Huck Finn

Jim_and_ghost_huck_finnNext month, I will be talking to a group of anti-war activists about the role of literary fiction in undermining the bad narratives that prevent critical thinking. I look to my favorite political satirist, Mark Twain, as an example.

When Huck Finn ponders whether or not he should turn in his friend Jim, a runaway slave, he is deeply conflicted. Good Christian society of the day has taught him that slavery is sanctioned by God. Huck truly believes that to help Jim escape would be immoral. But he decides, “All right then, I’ll go to hell.”

It’s moments like this in literature that serve humankind best in its often-halting progress toward tolerance and peace. Throughout history, good, decent people routinely condone revenge, segregation, greed, fascism and war, simply because they follow those they admire most. Every era has its own peculiar blindness, and going against complacency and conformity of neighbors can be more difficult than directly confronting a tyrant. It is often a disenfranchised voice, such as Huck’s, that awakens the literature of a nation, makes it more self-critical. Sometimes the voice needs an author—a humorist, a poet, or a good story-teller—to help him speak in a way that he can’t be ignored or further ostracized. Continue reading