Re: ........reality is arbitrary," - *LINK*
Posted By: seshatasefekht In Response To: ........reality is arbitrary," - (seshatasefekht)
Date: Tuesday, 30 August 2011, at 10:10 a.m.
In Response To: ........reality is arbitrary," - (seshatasefekht)
The Village: more on Orwell, The Noble Lie
January 6, 2009 — popularsymbolism
Table of contents
The outside threat
The Noble Lie(s)
The Orwell connection
The outside threat*
The villagers are haunted by an outside threat known as 'Those We Do Not Speak Of'. While later revealed to be merely a phantom enemy concocted by the tiny elite of the village, a mentally disabled person with affections for the blind village girl eventually takes on the persona of the hooded monsters and critically wounds her boyfriend. Are the elders at fault here for giving rise to a real threat? Are they not holding their own youth back by keeping them from breaking through the village's facade?
The Village starts out inauspiciously enough – a typical Shyamalan fantasy tale where the people of a small rural society have been taught never to go into the woods surrounding the village because there are unnamed monsters lurking there. The village elders have told their children this is part of a truce between the inhabitants of the village and ‘Those We Do Not Speak Of’ (the nickname for the unnamed monsters) – they do not enter their forest and in turn they will not attack the village.
It later transpires that these monsters are make-believe – not real. Their sharp claws, hedgehog-like spiky fur and red hoods are all part of a costume donned by several village elders at times to strike fear into the hearts of the children if they break the rules that were laid down to them (namely, not to enter the forest).
The deception on the part of the elders troubles Edward Walker’s conscience, and he eventually lets his blind daughter in on the dirty secret of the elders. But the deception doesn’t stop there – the children inside the rural community have been taught to believe that they are living in the year 1896 – the late 19th century.
However, when the girl is instructed by her father to wander into the woods and enter outside the village to fetch a medicine for a dying friend, the viewer finds out that the film actually takes place in the present, and it’s 2004 instead of 1896 as she has been falsely informed.
But seeing as she is blind, she is not made aware of this – once outside, she encounters a park ranger patrolling the road. She asks him for the prescribed medicine she was asked to get by her father.
The Noble Lie(s)*
It turns out that the village is in fact a sequestered community in the middle of a wildlife preserve purchased with one of the elder’s family fortune. The village’s elite – the elders – met each other during a grief counseling clinic and eventually made the conscious decision to shelter themselves (and their children) from the outside world.
In order to maintain the perfect utopia they had created, they had to tell their children ‘lies’, ‘noble lies’, if you may, that would shield them from outside influences.
•Tell them there is a massive threat outside – nameless, grotesque monsters that will only attack them if they wander too far outside the village.
•Tell their children they were living in the late 19th century – this would seem plausible as the village elders paid off the government to make their wildlife preserve a ‘no-fly zone‘. Hence, with no planes flying over the village and the village children only acquainted with basic rural tools and technology, it would not dawn on them that they were living in an industrialized world.
•The village elders would keep the children ignorant to the reality of the situation and instead uphold the myth they had perpetuated instead – for their own good, or so they would tell themselves.
The Orwell connection*
The concept of a collective consciousness is promulgated in 1984 - whatever the ruling party inside Oceania decides - whether it be the censoring of a previous factoid or the elimination of the vocabulary, everyone else in the society must conform. Those who don't, like Winston, are labelled 'mentally deranged' and re-educated to the point where they no longer have any individualistic thought patterns.
O’Brien to Winston: The law of gravity is nonsense. No such law exists. If I think I float, and you think I float, then it happens.
This is a classic line from George Orwell‘s Nineteen-Eighty Four. Inner Party member O’Brien tells the torture subject Winston that reality is only what is inside the mind. Further, through electroshock therapy he disrupts his neural pathways and ‘re-educates’ him into obediently believing whatever Big Brother tells him. Therefore, if BB tells him that Newton’s Law is a Goldsteinism and therefore false, then Winston will cognitively follow suit – it’s what the collective party wants to believe that is important, not so much whether there is any truth to it.
While not as oppressive as the iron-clad Thought Police in Nineteen-Eighty Four, the village elders do deem it necessary for everyone inside the village to collectively buy into the perpetual terror threat myth that the nameless monsters represent. The firebrand elder, Edward, at one point tries to persuade his fellow statesmen to tell their children the truth about the village and its concocted reality. Regrettably, at the end they all decide against it – even himself. The girl, even though she has been allowed to leave the village and enter the outside world, is none the wiser for it – since she is blind and was not instructed by the park ranger that she is living inside a cocoon. This ending seems to mirror Nineteen-Eighty Four’s – in the end, nothing is changed, the deception continues, and what’s more, the rebel comes to love Big Brother.
1. [^]In several other dystopic stories, the hero/heroine is not entirely sure what the current date or time is.
In small clumsy letters he [Winston] wrote:
April 4th, 1984
He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him. To begin with he did not know with any certainty that this was 1984. It must be round about that date, since he was fairly sure that his age was thirty-nine, and he believed that he had been born in 1944 or 1945; but it was never possible nowadays to pin down any date within a year or two.
George Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty Four
In The Matrix, the collective computer system in control of The Matrix has rewinded the clock back to 1999 – the peak of human civilization. The real date is estimated to be closer to 2199, but as Morpheus, the Winston-esque character in the movie points out, nobody can be sure of that.
2. [^]The Orwellian overtones of The Village were not lost on many bloggers. This writer sees parallels between Animal Farm and Shyamalan’s movie, while another points out the story’s indebtedness to Plato’s Republic:
I’ve heard that this idea is close to what’s called Plato’s “noble lie” – that a society can be based on an untruth if that untruth sustains a “greater good”.
The Village: more on Orwell, The Noble Lie
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