By RazzaTazz 4 Comments
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.)