January 24, 2021

Thanks for not breaking our heart.

I set out in the snow to do my sunrise run, and I made it to my vantage point, which looked like this:


No sun to see. 100% overcast. And the snow wasn't stuck to the trees, so no "winter wonderland" effect. Just deep snow on the ground, making the run something of a trudge. But as I approached my vantage point, down along the shore, I saw a man and woman up ahead, and they'd slowed down their walk and begun stamping about. 

I had to overtake them, and my normal method is to get as far to one side of the path as I can, but I took an even wider path around them because I saw that they had stamped out a big heart that stretched the whole way across the path. That's what they'd been doing up there, making a heart the size of a queen-size bed out of footprints in the snow. I was, of course, super-glad that I saw it was a heart and circumvented it. 

We exchanged a smiles and the man said something, maybe "Thanks for not breaking our heart!"

I didn't hear what he said because I had my earbuds in. 

I was listening to the audiobook "The Ministry of Truth/The Biography of George Orwell's 1984," and the passage was, coincidently, on the subject of coupled-up love. It was about the dystopian novel "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin:
The novel he started writing in Petrograd in 1920, at the age of thirty-six, is set hundreds of years in the future, in the ultra-rational despotism of the One State, a hyperbolic expression of the author’s belief that urban life “robs people of individuality, makes them the same, machinelike.” Zamyatin hones and develops ideas from Wells and Dostoevsky into a sturdy template for numerous tales of individualism versus homogeneity. In the shape of the Benefactor, Zamyatin gives us the mysterious, nameless dictator who poses as a protector. He gives us uniformed “ciphers” with numbers instead of names, and a state which represents “the victory of the many over the one.” He abolishes privacy by installing his ciphers in glass houses, constantly monitored by the secret police (“the Guardians”), except during the state-mandated “sex hour,” which, in a world without love, is organised via a ticketing system.


Yancey Ward said...

"Alexa, could you order an English translation the dystopian novel "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin?"

"Sorry, Meade, I have no information on that novel. I have blocked off the period between 10:45 and 11:45 a.m. for your daily sex hour. Will Ms. Althouse be joining you?"

Meade said...

I sure hope so!

Meade said...


gspencer said...

That is exactly the kind of image that sends me to Merle Haggard's "This Time The Bottle Let Me Down." I see it all to frequently where I live.

And to the bottle itself.

Sebastian said...

"individualism versus homogeneity"

Didn't he know that, under prog rule, homogeneity is individualism?

Woke SJW = New Soviet Man.

John henry said...

A twofer!

I've had "We" in my kindle pile for a long time now.

Based on your comment the other day, I had added ministry of truth to the pile as well.

Mainly because I am a huge orwell fan.

And it occurs to me to tie this to an earlier note on Twitter lynching and work repercussions.

Eric Blair wrote as George Orwell to keep his writings from potentially embarrassing the family.

Nevil Shute's full name was Nevil Shute Norway. In his autobiography "slide Rule :autobiography of an engineer" he explains that when he started writing thriller novels, he published as Nevil Shute to keep from bringing any discredit on his employer.

John Henry

John henry said...

"We" is free for kindle

John Henry

Temujin said...

An authorized sex hour? I didn't know that was considered 'dystopian'.

Seriously though, sex scares me. I think it's because of how I was introduced to it. The first time I had sex, I was all alone.
We'll be here all week. Please tip your waitress.

David Begley said...

I believe in love.

Cute Badger sunrise love.

John henry said...

 David Begley said...

Cute Badger sunrise love

Is that anything like muskrat love?

John Henry

Yancey Ward said...

Thread music.

Owen said...

Thanks for book references. I really need to go back into Orwell's essays. I was listening the other day to Jordan Peterson --an excellent ranter, with that wonderful Alberta/Canadian twang, eh?-- and he was talking about "The Road to Wigan Pier" and how the quality and empathy of Orwell's insights into the condition of the poor in Northern England in the 20's differed from the snobbish lip service given them by the socialist intellectuals holding forth in their pamphlets and salons.

So little has changed. We need more Orwell now.

narciso said...

Ayn rand had her own stab at dystopia called anthem

Joe Smith said...

Kiki and Elton approve.

Curious George said...

"No sun to see. 100% overcast."

This is what I hate most about Wisconsin winters...not the snow, not the cold, but day after day of overcast skies. It can last weeks, or even a month. And can be very depressing.

Joe Smith said...

"This is what I hate most about Wisconsin winters...not the snow, not the cold, but day after day of overcast skies. It can last weeks, or even a month. And can be very depressing."

I have relatives in Syracuse.

They tell me it's the city in the U.S. with the least number of sunny days.

Don't move there : )

RNB said...

I went ahead and bought 'The Ministry of Truth,' but am pre-warned that the author plunges off the tracks in the last chapter to proclaim that (OMG!) DONALD J. TRUMP IS BIG BROTHER!

RNB said...

(Anthony Burgess's '1985' was also a very entertaining look at the origin and references of Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four.' Alas, I do not believe it is available an an e-book.)

Lurker21 said...

Please lock me away,
And don't allow the day
Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness.
I don't care what they say
I won't stay in a world without the government mandated sex hour.

It seems like something we need now with all the COVID shutdowns.

Paul McCartney wrote the song. He was dating Peter's sister. Gordon died in 2009. Peter is still around. Gordon had a "soulful" look. Peter looked uncomfortably like Austin Powers.

Iman said...

Temujin wrote... The first time I had sex, I was all alone.

Did you smoke afterwards?

n.n said...

HateLovesAbortion, the wicked solution to a purportedly hard problem. That said, keep women barefoot, available, and taxable. #Feminists #Masculinists #Transhumanists

ALP said...

Ann: the pattern the bare spots make on the surface of the frozen lake make this an interesting image - IMHO. And - talk about a blast from the past - I read "We" back in high school.

Readering said...

The first city of 1 million estimated to be Alexandria, starting about a century after the death of its founder.

Joe Smith said...

"Did you smoke afterwards?"

Bringing it back around to Woody Allen, he said:

"Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."

Narr said...

Wasn't it Twain who said "We" should only be used by royalty, newspaper editors, and people with tapeworms.

The couple in Vonnegut's "Mother Night" consider themselves 'a nation of two' IIRC. And Nazi Berlin was pretty dystopic.

And speaking of TDS litcrit, one of the best online assessments of the distinctively Nabokovian dystopia in Bend Sinister devolves into rote Trump-bashing in the last paragraph.

"Did you smoke afterwards?" I don't know, I didn't look.

JZ said...

If you smoke after sex you’re not doing it the right way.

Michael K said...

Tom Brady is proving that old guys rule. My wife is beside herself as he just threw a 39 year TD pass with 1 second left in the half. I told her I was sure I could do it if I worked out a bit.

Readering said...

This is why I don't bet on sports. About to score again aleady?

Iman said...

"Did you smoke afterwards?" I don't know, I didn't look.


Iman said...

JZ sez... If you smoke after sex you’re not doing it the right way.

Joe Smith sez... Bringing it back around to Woody Allen, he said: "Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."


Increase teh grease, JZ!

That’s the Woody Allen stuff I know and love, Joe Smith!

Michael K said...

Brady is heading to his 10th Super Bowl. My wife is disconsolate. I might have to sleep in the dog house.

Patriots did not make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

Hercules, not that one though said...

Just finished my 'sex hour'. Well, hour and a half. But who's counting.

Michael K said...

More Biden gaffes, how many days had he been president ?

"I don't know what I'm signing. Sign it anyway." On video.

Darkisland said...


One of the items on my Bucket List has always been to take a vacation Wigan and walk on the pier.

It's an old music hall joke going back to the late 1800s. Going to Wigan on vacation would be like vacationing in Camden NJ. The pier was not an amusement pier like Blackpoole, but just a small, filthy, coal pier for loading canal boats.

Of course I read 1984 and Animal Farm in high school in the 60's. I never knew Orwell had written anything else until I stumbled across Road to Wigan Pier in a library while looking for something to read. Wondering if it was the same Orwell, I checked it out, read it and have been hooked on Orwell ever since. I think I have read everything he has written. All of his books and a 4 volume set, perhaps 2500 pages, of collected essays, journalism, letters, reviews and more.

One of my favorite writers. Coming up for Air is my favorite Orwell book and one of my top 10 all time favorite books.

Wigan Pier is journalism about a visit he made to the coal mining district near Wigan. Unlike most who wring their hands from afar, Orwell went there, visited family homes and stayed in a few. Went down in the mines and walked 2 miles in a 4' high tunnel to get to the coal face.

I'm not sure I agree with you about the tone of Wigan, Owen. I might have the first time I read it, in 1977 or so. But I reread it 4-5 years ago and I got a flavor of Orwell looking down his nose at the people he met. Sincerely concerned about their plight, no question that concern was real. A desire to do something via writing. But he did take a middle class viewpoint and seemed to look down his nose at those people. He seemed ot consider himself better than them. His upbringing certainly showed through, I though.

Doesn't make me enjoy him any less, though.

Darkisland said...

I mentioned in another thread that I had just finished rewatching "The Death of Stalin" about the power struggle that took place when Stalin died. Steve Buscemi stars as Kruschev and does a marvelous job, though they should have padded him out a bit.

It is a very, very, dark comedy. on NetFlix. On Amazon Prime too but you have to pay.

Two things came to mind watching it

Even with this election's clusterfarg, we are really blessed in terms of succession compared to countries like the Soviet Union.

The Soviet People really, really, really, loved Stalin. They still do. They still think Stalin had nothing to do with all the horrors. "If only Comrade Stalin knew...." was a common lament. If he had known of the horrors, the mass murders, the genocides, the holodomor and all the other evils, surely Comrade Stalin would have put an end to them.

That's not just this movie. That's pretty much everything I've ever read about the USSR and Stalin.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

Blogger Michael K said...

More Biden gaffes, how many days had he been president ?

"I don't know what I'm signing. Sign it anyway." On video.

I saw that but is it really so bad? remember the last time you bought a house? Especially if it had a mortgage? I probably had 100 or more pages with 30-40 signatures required and my initials on most every page.

Did I have any idea what I was signing? In general yes but specifically, no. My lawyer just said "sign here", "initial there" and I did.

I probably even said, jokingly, at some point in the process "I have no idea what I am signing, I hope this won't come back to haunt me."

John Henry