Apr 7, 2009

Kallocain by Karin Boye


First of all, I want to thank Peter from Dystopiate for sending me a copy of this one. Coming home to a package from Sweden on my porch was very cool. Also, I don't like to read books online, but if you do, you can find the complete text right here. It's well worth reading in any format, honestly.

Kallocain pretty well sums up my biggest dystopian nightmare: not only are you being watched and listened to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from bed to bath to work and back again (yeah, no wonder the population is dropping with everyone knowing they're being watched and judged in the sack), but now the government can even access your secret thoughts!

It's amazing to me, sometimes (the rest of the time it's just depressing) how easy it is to convince so many people to assist in their own degradation or enslavement. Plenty of stick, a little carrot, a healthy dose of "it's for your own good," a double helping of "everyone does it, don't rock the boat" and you wind up with poor Leo Kall. Working his ass off, between mandatory service nights and pep rallies, to give the government new and exciting ways to control him and his loved ones.

Even in our society, if they (that nebulous they) could hear your hidden thoughts, of course none of us would be found innocent. As Leo's coworker and eventual breaking point says, "no one over 40 years old has a clean conscience." What do you think you'd confess? Weird sex fantasies, violent urges, racist leanings? Falling in love with the wrong person or people? Hating your parents? Kicking puppies, watching American Idol, voting for Bush? God save us.

final thought: This novel should be better known, right alongside Brave New World and 1984.

If you'd like a few words about Kallocain from a Swedish philosopher, check here.


leilalatex said...

Hey, can I borrow this one?

downtown guy said...

Of course. It's a good one.

OwlTraveller said...

I had a similar response to the "no one over 40 years old has a clean conscience" piece. No one is completely innocent in their thoughts. You can only imagine what the society was like after Leo's truth serum saw widespread use.

And thanks for the dystopiate link. More book suggestions...

downtown guy said...

go one of two ways: either the fact that everyone is "guilty will cut the teeth out of the issue, or else the government would simply and carefully target those they want and never let anyone who is not being "judged" take kallocain.