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  • تاریخ ارسال : 1393/02/29, 21:06

Dystopia is a recently coined word to describe negative utopias, and can be taken literally to mean 'bad place'. In the 20th century dystopian fiction dominates utopian fiction. There was a generally skeptical or pessimistic view about science and technology among 20th century writers. Some of the reasons for this are historical, and follow from quite real fears of nuclear war and nuclear accidents, the escape of deadly viruses, the creation of intelligent machines to rival humans, cloning etc.

Two major works of dystopian fiction are Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" (1932) and George Orwell's "1984" (1949). Both of these writers were influenced by H.G. Wells, but both had far more pessimistic ideas for the future society.

Although there are superficial resemblances between "Brave New World" and "1984", they are not really very much different. Huxley pictured a society of the near future in which technology provides all the material comforts required by human beings. There is no pain or illness, but there is also no knowledge and no creativity. Parents no longer give birth in the 'natural' way, instead children are produced in test tubes with designer characteristics depending on their destined social status. Human beings are conditioned from their artificial birth to fulfill a social role in breeding centers. Society is divided into four classes, Alphas, Betas, Gammas and Deltas, each with different breeding, clothing and conditioning to perform different tasks in society. The individual is thus likened to a single cell in the social body, unable to function individually. Unhappiness and emotion are catered for through the prescription of drugs. Criticism of this 'perfect' society comes from the 'Savage' who has been brought up outside the 'New World', and cannot understand this reduced form of human existence, without Shakespeare, without love, without emotion, without individuality.

"Brave New World" has been hugely influential as a warning of the dangers of uncontrolled scientific research. It foresees genetic engineering, cloning, test-tube babies and direct social conditioning through drugs and the media. It foresees the replacement of 'culture and education' by a form of mass entertainment, (crudely, of Shakespeare by Hollywood), and the subsequent loss of affect in human beings, the loss of the critical faculty, the inability to think for oneself.

In George Orwell's "1984" the world is divided into the three super-powers Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia. Oceania is alternating at war with one power and allied with the other. The population of Oceania consists of three castes: the Inner Party (1%), the Outer Party (14%) and the Proles (85%). The Inner Party is the ruling caste and its sole desire is to gain power, have power, and keep the power - forever. The official face of the party is "Big Brother", an oversized face on posters hanging on walls everywhere and staring from every telescreen, seeming to follow everybody with his eyes. Children are instructed to spy on their parents. Adults like the hero Winston Smith, are employed to rewrite history so that it always show that the dictatorship was right. There is no escape. Any attempt to express oneself as an individual is discovered and the person is brainwashed. At the time when Orwell wrote "1984", it was fashionable for intellectuals to admire Stalinist Russia. They thought of it as the opposite of Nazi Germany. Not long before his death, Orwell published this warning in the hope that people would realize that all dictatorships are basically the same.

Huxley and Orwell are not the only modern writers to have looked into the future and seen disaster. But neither in "Brave New World" nor in "1984" was the atomic bomb responsible. It plays a major part, however, in "The Planet of the Apes" and its sequel (at least as far as the film versions taken from Pierre Boulle's original book are concerned). In Boulle's story there was a planet where apes and men had changed places in society. In the films, however, this theme was linked to that of nuclear war, making them more topical. The astronauts eventually realize that they have returned to Earth to thousand years later. If men have resigned themselves to becoming the slaves of apes it is because of a nuclear catastrophe.



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  • تاریخ ارسال : 1393/02/27, 20:53

Given the acceleration of change, it is clear that predicting the future has become more difficult than ever. If we try to look ahead more than a decade or so, the crystal ball gets cloudy. Yet, people have always felt the need to know where they are going to. Every culture has its own stories and myths about the future, whether it is the coming of the Messiah or the Last Judgment. In our own technological society, this role has been played mostly by the science fiction genre. Since Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, scientists, writers and artists have tried to imagine the world of the future

Their visions fall in between the two broad streams of optimism and pessimism. The optimists believe that progress, fueled by scientific research, will continue to make our life better, conquering all problems. The pessimists, on the contrary, believe that problems are intrinsic to humanity itself, and that science can only aggravate them, unleashing dark forces that may forever escape control. An early and classic example of the latter view is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's novel "Frankenstein". The scientist Frankenstein, in his investigations of life and death, creates a monster which he cannot keep under control. The monster escapes and, after terrorizing the neighborhood, finally comes back to destroy its creator.

The optimistic visions have undergone several changes during the past century. The oldest ones are simple extrapolations of technological progress. They assume that all material things will just become bigger, faster, more powerful and more efficient, while culture and society remain basically the same. A typical naive prediction is.









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  • تاریخ ارسال : 1393/02/16, 18:16


Stories about a man called Santa Claus have been told throughout the years in different parts of the world. The basic story about Santa Claus is this: on the night before Christmas, Santa Claus visits the homes of all of the good boys and girls and leaves them presents under the tree and fills their stockings with candy and small toys.

The basis for the Christian-era Santa Claus is Bishop Nicholas of Myra in Lycia (now Turkey), who died in 345 or 352. He was very rich, generous, and loving toward children. Often he gave joy to poor children by throwing gifts in through their windows.

In a well known story illustrating St. Nicholas' benevolence, we find two of the basic principles of the holiday spirit - giving to others and helping the less fortunate - as well as the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace.

According to this legend, there were three Italian maidens whose families had fallen on hard times. Because their father could not afford the dowries necessary for them to marry, he was considering selling one of his daughters into slavery to get dowries for the other two. When the good saint heard of the family's plight, he went to their home late one night and anonymously tossed three bags of gold down the chimney. Miraculously, a bag fell into each of the sisters stockings, were hanging by the fire to dry. His kindhearted gift made it possible for all three sisters to marry.

The Orthodox Church later raised St. Nicholas, miracle worker, to a position of great esteem. It was in his honor that Russia's oldest church, for example, was built. For its part, the Roman Catholic Church honored Nicholas as one who helped children and the poor. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of children and seafarers. His name day is December 6th.

Although many of the stories about Saint Nicholas are of doubtful authenticity, his legend spread throughout Europe, emphasizing his role as a traditional bringer of gifts. The Christian figure of Saint Nicholas replaced or incorporated various pagan gift-giving figures such as the Roman La Befana and the Germanic Berchta and Knecht Ruprecht. The saint was called Sankt Nikolaus in Germany and Sanct Herr Nicholaas or Sinter Klaas in Holland.

After the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, the veneration of Catholic saints was banned. But people did not want to give up their annual visits from the gift-giving saint, and they did not want to forget the purpose of the holiday. In some countries the festivities of St. Nicholas Day were merged with Christmas celebrations. St. Nicholas underwent a transformation into a new, non-religious form, but he retained his generous spirit. In Germany, he appeared as Weihnachtsmann, in England as Father Christmas, and in France as Pere Noel.

When the Dutch came to America and established New Amsterdam - now New York City, they brought St. Nicholas or Sinter Klaas with them. After the British seized the city there was a great deal of intermarriage and, similarly, the legends of each group were married. Saint Nicholas became synonymous with the British Father Christmas and he began to visit homes on Christmas Eve.

St. Nicholas was slowly being transformed in America. The first "literary" description of St. Nicholas derived from Washington Irving's "History of New York" where he described him as a plump and jolly Dutchman. His book was published in 1809. In 1822, he was transformed again, this time by Clement C. Moore. His famous poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (more commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas") was published in 1923. It became very popular in the United States. Moore included such details as the names of the reindeer; Santa Claus's laughs, winks, and nods; and the method by which Saint Nicholas, referred to as an elf, returns up the chimneyhe illustrator Thomas Nast further elaborated the American image of Santa Claus and depicted a rotund Santa for Christmas issues of Harper's magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s. Nast also added such details asSanta's list of the good and bad children and Santa's toyshop at the North Pole. A human-sized version of Santa Claus, rather than the elf of Moore's poem, was depicted in a series of illustrations for Coca-Cola advertisements introduced in 1931. In modern versions of the Santa Claus legend, only his toy-shop workers are elves. Rudolph the ninth reindeer, with a red and shiny nose, was invented by an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company

Although most people view Santa as the embodiment of a spirit of giving, some argue that the modern image of Santa Claus conflicts with the true meaning of Christmas and promotes commercialism and greed. To reconcile the legend with the religious significance of Christmas, some Christians emphasize that the modern figure of Santa Claus is derived from stories about a saint who symbolized caring, love, and generosity.

*Sources:
1. www.northpolesantaclaus.com
2. "Santa Claus", Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.



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