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?