“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”
― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
Today’s Big Idea: Finding Your Element (big think)
In a troubled economy, schools and job seekers become extremely pragmatic, focusing more on teaching and acquiring the skills that are professionally in demand than on workers’ well-being. Yet people’s increasing dissatisfaction with their professional lives is creating a profoundly dangerous situation – a disconnected society in which spending the majority of their time slogging through activities that have little meaning for them.This is dangerous because at a moment in history in which we need energy and collective will to solve our increasingly complex problems, we can afford apathy and cynicism less than ever before. Finding your element is a matter of taking personal responsibility and investing ongoing effort in finding the people, the tools and the answers that will result in a meaningful life. In the end, it’s far less exhausting than toiling away for years at something you don’t care about.
Sir Ken Robinson’s speech on how schools are killing creativity is the most popular TED talk of all time. A creativity expert and globally recognized leader in arts education, Robinson is troubled by a growing trend in developed countries toward career dissatisfaction and disconnectedness. Especially in a depressed economy where jobs are scarce, Robinson argues, we need to resist the tendency to “punch the clock”, and instead must take any measures necessary to “find our element.”
In How to Find Your Element, his 7-session workshop for Big Think Mentor, creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson tackles the epidemic of dissatisfaction with work and life. He offers practical exercises and tips for discovering your “element” – the environment and set of activities that will activate your unique abilities, sustain your happiness, and enable you to live your best possible life.
In this workshop, you’ll learn to:
Understand the concept and the value of “finding your element”
Recognize the perils and promise of the two-fold (internal and external) path to finding your element.
Discover your specific talents
Identify your passions (which may differ from your talents)
Take steps to ensure that your attitude and beliefs are steering you toward (rather than away from) your element.
What IS Big Think Mentor? Big Think Mentor, our paid subscription channel on YouTube, connects world-class mentors like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Julia Galef, and Tim Ferriss with a global community of smart, driven users to teach the habits of mind and people skills we need to live happier, healthier, more productive lives.
Priced at only $2.99 a month/$19.99 a year, and updated on the 1st of each month with 2 brand-new workshops, Mentor teaches 21st century life skills, from starting a business, to achieving focus through meditation, to raising children with a thirst for knowledge, and beyond.
The Mentor blog will bring you news and free video content from Mentor’s experts and upcoming workshops.
Introduction to Big Think Mentor via Founder Victoria Brown (Watch)
Who IS Sir Ken Robinson?
Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business. He is also one of the world’s leading speakers on these topics, with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The videos of his famous 2006 and 2010 talks to the prestigious TED Conference have been viewed more than 25 million times and seen by an estimated 250 million people in over 150 countries. His 2006 talk is the most viewed in TED’s history. In 2011 he was listed as “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” by Fast Company magazine, and was ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders.
Sir Ken works with governments and educations systems in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education(The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. He was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the Province. He was one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government for its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia.
For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama; Birmingham City University, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and Oklahoma State University. He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States, the Arthur C. Clarke Imagination Award, the Gordon Parks Award for achievements in education and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘Principal Voices’. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts.
His 2009 book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into twenty-one languages. A 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation,Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative was published in 2011. His latest book, Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, was published by Viking in May 2013. Sir Ken was born in Liverpool, UK. He is married to Therese (Lady) Robinson. They have two children, James and Kate, and now live in Los Angeles, California.
via big think