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Loss of Sovereignty in the Contemporary World
The Loss of the Creature debunks Walker Percy’s vision of the world in a new way. He argues that conditioned ideas about things make a person lose the real essence behind things. He uses different examples to illustrate how people lose experiences through symbolic complexes. However, Percy believes it is possible for one to regain experiences by getting rid of all the social bias, and ignoring all the things learnt through social conditioning. Loss of sovereignty is depicted in how people in the world force situations to measure up to their symbolic complex. He argues, “The highest point, the term of the sightseer’s satisfaction, is not the sovereign discovery of the thing before him; it is rather the measuring up of the thing to the criterion of the performed symbolic complex” (Percy 27).
Loss of sovereignty in The Loss of the Creature is propagated by educational systems and classifications in society. According to Percy, “The Loss of the Creature is an exploration of the way the more or less objective reality of the individual is obscured in and ultimately lost to systems of education and classification” (Percy 7). In addition, interactions among characters portray loss of sovereignty. The American couple lost their sovereignty due to their ethnologist friend when they want him to agree that their experience in the Indian village was authentic. By asking him to approve the fulfillment of their experience, this couple gave their power of decision-making to the ethnologist, their friend. This couple unconsciously loses their sovereignty to the ethnologist, since he is now responsible for approving their actions. This show how even today, people depend on the approval of others, to the extent that they seem not to know how to choose between good and bad.
Loss of sovereignty in Loss of the Creature is also depicted by the sightseer’s surrender to the expert. For instance, “The expert and the planner know and plan, but the consumer needs and experiences” (Percy, 44). A reader may surrender their sovereignty to the experiences read. The American young man who visits France and experiences a riot in a restaurant surrenders his sovereignty to the experiences of French book he read. He delights in of this event since he relates to it. The pleasure he derives from this experience therefore means he has surrendered his sovereignty to the experiences he read in the book. He becomes a consumer of experience In another case, a nonprofessional finds a strange object and returns it to the owner, and is rewarded. He does not care to find out what the object is due to his ignorance, claiming that he lacks expertise to unravel it. In this case, sovereignty of the nonprofessional is lost to the experts. Experts take away “sovereignty” of people because they do not give an opportunity for any surprise or challenge of a learning experience.
In the Loss of the Creature, a Falkland Islander can easily spy a dead dogfish and work on it, than a Scarsdale pupil can. In these cases, the Harvard Sophomore and the Scarsdale pupil lose their sovereignty of experience, as their educational system has turned them into consumers of prepared experiences. Percy refers to these as “consumer[s] of experience” (Percy 63). Even today, students go to school not to pursue knowledge, but to pursue the college experience. Sovereignty is also lost through theories, which devalue the experiences of different societies when they are published. The people therefore lose the sovereignty of their experiences.
Brave New World explores a society’s quest for peace and social stability. The society is hinged on emotions, beauty, true relationship, and love. Huxley’s Brave New world is a sinister, unsetting, and loveless community, with many features aimed at estranging the audience. The novel illustrates the feeling that disturbs readers mind with a description of a vanquished society. (Huxley 2). Loss of sovereignty also emerges when science and technology is used in society to lead to totalitarianism. For instance, the state uses powerful technology to control people’s reproduction, by reinforcing different birth control methods, and using computers to monitor people, thus exploiting their privacy. People lose their sovereignty, as they cannot make independent decisions on their reproduction. Consumerism is another loss of sovereignty of people to the state and corporations. Due to people’s quest for happiness, there is manufacture of High-Tech entertainment mediums and increased consumption of these. Therefore, manufacturers, states, and corporations decide what products they will produce for the people. This way, the people lack power to decide what they want, as the government is responsible for all decision-making, hence loss of their sovereignty. Huxley also warns against an overly powerful state. This state runs on high technology, surveillance, torture, and secret police. The leaders are tyrannical, but wear the ‘goodness masks’ by ensuring citizens’ happiness, when in real sense, they limit their freedom. This is loss of sovereignty by citizens since the government makes most decisions and the citizens are under constant surveillance.
In Huxley’s New Brave World, a citizen of same origin as Shakespeare easily reads Shakespearean tales than a Harvard Sophomore. The loss of sovereignty is a common theme presented in both Brave New World and The Loss of Creature. Various events and experiences of the characters in these books point to their loss of sovereignty. Characters such as the American couple in loss of the creature, and the high school student in the brave new world are stripped of the rights to make their own independent decisions. Different forces, especially social conditioning, including educational system and science and technology in society have robbed the characters their freedom of choosing how to lead, plan, and live their lives. The people however, are not aware that some of the things they cling to, which are dear to them, are the same things, which rob them of their sovereignty. Therefore, the loss of sovereignty in these books is mostly experienced unconsciously, even though it has negative influence on the characters. Being a representation of the real world, the authors try to show us the different ways in which we have lost our sovereignty in society. It can therefore be posited that, loss of sovereignty results in the structure of society. The nonprofessional becomes a consumer, who finds a place in the classification and theories of consumers in society. He also loses his ownership rights when his culture is researched, documented and sold. However, Percy argues that this can only be solved by struggling to repossess our rightful places in society. Certainly, regaining experience is achievable, so is sovereignty.
Bartholomae, David, and Anthony, Petrosky. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. Print.
Huxley, Aldous (ed). Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. New York, NY: Facts on File, Incorporated, 2009. Print.
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