Dystopian Tools - The Cube

I am not exactly sure where this series of related posts might go, but I am sure of one thing – they are not particularly related to comics.  Seeing as it is one of the stipulations of my blogs that I have to incorporate in comics, I will try to do so when I can, but mostly these are my own observations about dystopian literature and specifically so of the things which seem to be included in dystopian fiction.  It has been a while since I read  1984 and Fahrenheit 451 but recently I decided to finish off what is considered to be the third of the three major English language dystopian novels, Brave New World.  With this as the end I decided to read up on the subject a bit more and found that Brave New World was inspired in parts from a book by Yevgeny Zamyatin called We.  The similarities to Brave New World are apparent , and it is easy to see how Orwell assumed that Huxley had read this first.  As in most of the dystopian societies, the state has come to control the people as treat them almost as a single organism (thus where the name We comes from.)  The concept behind this control is one of logic and science, where humans have been freed from the need to do things like be concerned with clothing or their romantic lives as the state takes these matters under its own control.  The main character is a rocket scientist but starts to lose his faith in the system (I can’t spoil the end of the book, because I haven’t finished it yet.)  Yet as he loses his faith in the system, he struggles to come back to it, and one of the things he takes comfort in is the cube, which represents a degree of order and the primacy of science.  It had not occurred to me before but cubes are actually used somewhat throughout fiction, as a device to represent something both very basic but also very ordered. 

To think of it in geometry terms, the most basic shape could said to be a triangle (aside from a line or a point.)  A rectangle is a couple of stipulations above this, namely that all the interior angles have to equal, and that two groups of sides have to equal as well.  Thus a rectangle is still a very basic shape, when it is not the most basic.  A square is the next level of order above this, wherein all the sides must also be equal, but as a geometric rule all squares have to be rectangles, but not all rectangles have to be squares.  Pushing the square into the third dimension creates the next stipulation, but a fairly basic one.  Still to get to the point of a cube requires a fair amount of control, and generally speaking one which does not occur on its own in nature (I realize I am stating the obvious here and running on a little.)  In terms of how this relates to cubes is that their properties are very much conducive to science fiction generally and specifically to dystopia as they represents both simplicity and control.  Whereas something as simplistic as the anti-life equation can be said to control all life for the New Gods, equally something like a cosmic cube can also be something of great power in the Marvel Universe through its simplicity, just as it is for the residents of the world in We.  (I got some comic references in there at the end.)

4 Comments
4 Comments
Posted by Delphic

"Brave New World" is currently my favorite of the Dystopian books (haven't read Fahrenheit 451), and it's very interesting to learn that it was based off of another book.

Like you've said about the cube, it's not just been used in just science fiction, but in other elements of fiction such as horror, for example Hellraiser. The control concept may come from the fact that the cube is essentially a box, and a box is meant to contain things. Of course I could just be grasping at straws here. .

Edited by feebadger

Comic book panels. The whole WORLD of the super hero is contained in cubes (if you're wearing 3D glasses that is!)!

Not sure about your link up to comics at the end there. Seems a bit of a last minute add on to me! ;P

Regarding the anti life equation and considering that it is an alien equation, we can't say that it doesn't necessarily involve cubes anyway. In the New 52 ANYTHING is possible for if an equation is simply the process of equating one thing with another, then those things could, conceivably be cubes. And with the Cosmic Cube, i don't recall its shape ever being anything to do with its power. It was just an arbitrary shape, whereas with the Hellraiser cube which @Delphic: mentioned, that was a basic shape which then evolved into a sort of prism which revealed its true power (in Hellraiser 2).

I still think that the underlying fascination with the cube, especially in science fiction is based on fear. It is purely a psychological response, like in the movie, Cube, where a group of strangers wake up trapped in a series of booby trapped cubes. Science Fiction is generally based on humanities fear of their own lives out of control, even if those lives out of control occur from a world too IN control, like in 1984. As you said, "their properties are very much conducive to science fiction generally and specifically to dystopia as they represents both simplicity and control."

Room 101. The most horrifying manifestation of the simplicity and control of the cube; the rat cage on Winstons head. I believe that is the essence of the cube in science fiction. Repression. Fear. The eradication of nature. Control.

Posted by RazzaTazz
@Delphic
@feebadger:  
 
Very interesting, thanks for the input
Moderator
Posted by ReVamp

You read far too much. My brain overloads.