Thursday, January 04, 2007

John Brunner Nails It

I love reading John Brunner (Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, complete list of novels here) and his view of the future as one fucked up distopia. The Arcosanti library has a couple of his shorter novels from the late 1970's and early 1980's. I just finished Manshape and it had the best prediction/description of the current state of child psychiatry I have ever seen. The following conversation is taking place between a 17-year-old girl (Nefret) and a middle-aged man (Thorkild) institutionalized after a mental breakdown.
"You can't cure someone who isn't sick," Thorkild offered.

"It's sick to be different," Nefret said....

"I'm soft," she said eventually, "I can feel the cure going on inside me now. Like hands shaping wet clay. One day soon I'll be made over entirely. I won't be me any more. This is the third time, so I remember, you see. I'm too soft to fight the changes. All it needs is for me not to notice when they puff my medicine into the air, and there it is, right inside me, like my own breath, and it turns into a new me and I start to behave the way they want, the way they think is right....

"How come you're here for the third time, Nefret?" Thorkild said....

"For being different."

"How are you different?"

Because I don't want to be the same as everybody. I don't want to be made to think I'm happy. If I'm going to be happy I want to be happy. Otherwise I'd rather stay the way I am."
But my dear Nefret, you don't have a say. Just shut up and take your Prozac/Zoloft/Elavil because our omniscient medical industry knows that you don't want to be you; knows that you would rather spend the rest of your life high on drugs and feeling false happiness, rather than actually feeling genuine emotions and dealing with life.



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