Eric Aurthur Blair also known as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. The worlds where science in a controlled system thrives. Reading 1984 one would realize that the world of science suffered no ill. It was as much an accomplice in the process of dehumanizing humans.
A student (Orwell) and teacher(Huxley) who created dystopian worlds in their novels, 1984 and Brave New world, compared by Stuart McMillen in his Essay, claims that:
Food is such an integral part of who we are; it shows where we come from, what we love and hate and it says so much about us. It’s cultural, but so, so personal! Food defines humanity and humanity defines its food. And these two worlds would not have been complete without mentioning it. Surely, food is not the central theme, but it does contribute greatly to sketching the entire universe.
Orwell introduces it from the second paragraph of the book. Setting the tone, when Winston enters his building, where the elevator is still not working: “The hall way smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats.“ It immediately transports the reader into the story. You are actually able to feel the cold, the dampness, the dim light, the rancid smell and the boiled cabbage.
The writer’s perspective of food and the role it plays in these two stories, I never took so much notice. Now I realise a lot of the dread and horror I felt while reading 1984 was as a result of the way food was described. Food is that one part of our existence that could bring out the dreariest sides of any human.
Effects on Storytelling
This element of stories makes me think a lot of young writers pay very little attention to humanity. We may need to look at these seemingly inconsequential ideas like food or cooking. Without which our stories would struggle to transcend just mere wordplay.
Imagine if humans in your community had a problem with food. Imagine the water was dank, dirty and you could only get water by struggle. A nation like Nigeria already has elements that fit into this idea, like why Satchet Water evolved into a necessary commodity. Honestly, this element alone strikes the chords of creativity in me. You could create a deeply emotional connection between dehumanization of Nigerians and the struggle of bad water, criminals selling adulterated satchet water, the government controlling access to clean water and failure of public water services in Nigeria. Stuart Mcmillen invites us into Orwell’s London, also noting a BBC Horizon Documentary:
Now, can you imagine a world where gastronomy has disappeared? Where the pleasure of food, of eating, of savoring, of tasting, of yearning and craving is not even known to a large chunk of the population? Yes, there are things more morbid than this going on in Orwell’s London, but this food bit is a big contributor to the dehumanization and decay of the people. it was cooking that made us humans, after all.
And I think wearing clothes too. Every form of art makes us human. As vain as it is for a grown man to sit in a studio and sing songs for money, it points to our humanity.
Imagine if there were no humans singing or creating jokes. Won’t we have something close to the kind of world in George Orwell’s 1984 or like Hitlers’ or present day North Korea? where children are allowed to watch only government approved t.v. shows. The arts define most of Humanity and this is the danger of trivializing arts.