Pride

Simak’s “Immigrant” is by far by favorite reading to date.  I could not bring myself to stop reading, the whole time speculating as to what the deep connections could be and discovering relevant nuggets.  Throughout the reading, I couldn’t help but think of a book I read in high school, a well-known classic by George Orwell, “1984.”  With a futuristic tone about it, one of this novel’s underlying themes is the suppression of individuality and reason, which are referred to as “thought-crimes.”  Something along the lines of Orwell’s “memory hole” seems to exist in “Immigration” when Bishop discovers the inaccuracies of history books as he explores the “live-it” chair.  Some vanity-driven copyist had added in their own twist to make the facts more appealing and interesting.  Another connection between “Immigration” and “1984” is what Orwell coins as “doublethink” which is described as:

“…know[ing] and not know[ing], be[ing] conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies.”

I believe this happens a lot within our education system for teachers and students alike.  We are all stuck in a system that we know is flawed but it seems so difficult to transform it that we continue to tell ourselves great things will come out of extensive education but in reality the system places value on inherently empty and meaningless benchmarks, letters, and/or numbers.  “Doublethink” happens to Bishop when he is feeling used by his Kimonian peers while simultaneously decrying the prideful, vanity-stricken, stubborn culture from which he comes because he recognizes the Kimons are much more intellectually and philosophically advanced than the human race. Bishop’s doublethink is more adequately deciphered by Jake in “Both and” (A and B).  He contemplates writing to his fellow humans on Earth and telling the truth about what people experience on Kimon but pride won’t let him do it.  He wonders why no one has gone back to Earth, once again pride does not allow for this type of failure.  Are these aliens condescending or enlightening?  He cannot decide and neither can I.  I think the closing line holds the answer though:

“You’ll want to get up early,” said the cabinet “so you aren’t late for school.”

Now at first glance this sentence definitely sounds belittling but prior to this, Bishop establishes that he, as a human lacking the cultural advancement of the Kimons, truly is a child in comparison; he must listen to his elders and stop reinforcing his “shield” of pride that is a huge obstacle to learning.  Just as we have discussed in other readings, children have the humility and humbleness to ask questions, to seek guidance from their elders, while also letting their own minds do the work (if permitted).  After all, being truthful to ourselves is a defining theme of so many of our assigned readings…I think this idea indirectly contributes to a better application and therefore appreciation of human talent and values.  Being truthful to ourselves fosters what I call natural development which involves the process that “start[s] out by saying, I don’t know. Then say[s], I want to know. Then say[s], I’ll work hard to learn” which is touched on in “Out of This World.”  The key component of this process is the first part; in today’s educational culture, one must swallow their pride to admit to not knowing.  Is that the difference between Kimons and Earthlings?  Pride?

 

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Pride

  1. mkmigliarese

    I completely agree on your argument about pride. I think Bishop even astounds himself when he can’t write to Morley what really goes on in Kimon, and when I was reading that part, I thought it was because he was afraid to be caught by the Kimons, “thoughtpolice” in Orwell’s world, and he didn’t know, or want to know, what the punishment would be. This essay was so similar with “1984”, I book I loved in high school, so it was also a very easy read because it was so intriguing. To sort of answer your question about pride and the difference between Kimon and Earth, that is the main difference between those cultures in the essay but also the difference between cultures in society today. Sadly, Americans do come off to be a little too prideful in their ventures, and refuse to accept the help of anyone, because they’ve been raised to be independent, but sometimes you have to accept the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing and let someone take the role of elder and show you how things are done. I really enjoyed your post about this essay because it brought up things that I didn’t think of while I was reading and you opened me up to a different perspective in a way.

  2. halliedominick

    I found the use of your quote “start out by saying, I don’t know. Then say, I want to know. Then say, I’ll work hard to learn” extremely close to home. I agree that we have lost sight of the goal of our education. The once natural thought process has become not so natural. Our curriculum doesn’t acknowledge what we don’t know, what we want to know, or even what we’ll work hard to learn. It is simply set in stone for us with little to no flexibility. If our education system was to take into account this quote, I believe it would be more beneficial to students. Students would be more enthusiastic about learning. In addition, they would feel a sense of purpose.

  3. lisskane

    The idea of Pride in immigrant really struck me as well. A humans, we are such prideful beings and I feel it often gets in the way of our full potential. Like Hallie is saying, it relates to school in that we are scared of being wrong and of asking the wrong questions. But there should never be a wrong question. If you are missing a piece of knowledge and wish to acquire it, that should be looked upon as a virtue, not a trait of incompetence. It reminded me of our discussion on “deschooling society” and how students are afraid to raise their hand in class. It is cool to start and see all of our readings from this semester start to tie into each other.

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