Fig. 10.09.03
Photographer unknown. A view of the “Exposition Internationale,” Paris, 1937. On the left is the German pavilion by Albert Speer and on the right is the Soviet pavilion by Boris Iofan (sculpture by Vera Mukhina). Hitler's Germany facing off against Stalin's Soviet Union: the two ultimate ends of the left vs. right political spectrum, right before the war that would tear them both to pieces.

Whenever I see myself thinking, speaking, acting in a way that pits “Accepted Idea #1” vs. “the Opposite, Accepted Idea #2,” where both of those ideas are unchanging, oversimplified, locked in steel, and poised to destroy each other, I meditate on the photograph above. The way we think, the structure of how we frame, represent, and articulate ideas, has severe and disastrous consequences in the really real world.
In the end, the differences between the two sides are arbitrary, because their effect in the world is the same. From George Orwell’s 1984:
[…] Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain. […] always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever. […]

No comments: