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Blind Faith by Ben Elton

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Blind Faith by Ben EltonI’ve read a couple of Ben Elton’s books before and rather enjoyed them. Not only is he a clever satirist and comedy writer (having written programmes like Blackadder and The Young Ones) but he can make you think about and question fundamental constructs of our society such as violence in films (Popcorn), or reality TV (Dead Famous).

Blind Faith is set a century in the future where privacy is considered perverted and everybody knows everything about everybody else. All aspects of life are expected to be live-streamed on the internet, group hugs are mandatory along with self-obsession and frequent emotional outbursts. Science is heresy and religion is considered the only truth and anybody failing to uphold these values or stand out against the crowd is either dealt with by mob rule or the dreaded Inquisition.

The comparisons to George Orwell’s classic 1984 are obvious but I think there’s more to the book than that. For one thing the world of 1984 has largely come to pass (note to self – I should probably write a post about that some time). However Blind Faith takes a different tack and looks at what happens if you take our propensity towards sharing information and the trend of ‘user generated content‘ on social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and blogs (which I guess is what I’m doing here – gulp) and make it the law to do so.

What I found interesting was the Elton’s contention that in a world where people spend all their time watching everybody else going about their daily lives and obsessing over being popular and looking good, people were effectively brain dead automatons doing what they were told to and not thinking for themselves. If you look at the sort of superficial one-line comments you find on most YouTube videos or popular blogs you can see where Elton’s coming from.

While it’s not as ground-breaking as 1984 I rather enjoyed it and it certainly made me loathe the future Ben Elton paints. He does a very good job of showing how a series of events could easily lead from our “enlightened” society to a technologically advanced version of 16th century complete with biggotry, witch burning and, above all, blind faith backed up by a total lack of reason. Well worth a read.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

9 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Hey John, don’t you find it ironic that we both loved this book, yet both spend so much time exposing our lives on the interweb?

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  2. I do find it ironic yes and all the way through the book I kept wondering what my motivation actually is to blog, use Facebook and such like and whether I’m in danger of turning into one of those terrible ’emoting’ types like Tinkerbell. Hopefully not!

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  3. Kippers! (just wanted to post a superficial one-line comment on this popular blog.)

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  4. Sounds interesting, but at our societies current pace – wouldnt it be the reverse – science is considered the only truth and if you speak out against it you face being ridculed, attacked, tar/feathered etc?

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  5. John,
    Indeed that sounds so very 2007 almost… I have not read that book, but I am hoping that this upcoming election makes such a change in the US that nothing like what this book discusses will happen…. well, I can always HOPE.

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  6. To be honest I only just started getting into this reading thing, but my mate just handed me this book one day and said it was worth a read, so I gave it a go. I was straight away hooked. I looked forward to my 1.5 hour train trip too and from work every day just so that I could get stuck into it.

    Maybe its just because of my small amount of reading experience and not knowing what else it down there, but I found this book to be very enjoyable!
    If anyone knows of any other books that may be fairly similar to this one, let me know because I think I’m hooked!

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  7. I loved ‘Blind Faith!’ As with all the ‘Ben Elton’ novels, the backround and characters were wonderfully delineated and realistic. The story fitted the situation perfectly and was masterfully told!
    As Almost Famous was a satire of Big Brother, and Chart Throb, a satire of Pop Idol, I expected a mere satire of Facebook – I was wrong! The book was not just about Facebook, but rather ‘society in general!’ There is now a simplified version of everything! Think about it: McDonald’s burger, that you ate for lunch, is a, gradual, evolution of ‘Mr. No-name Caveman’ taking a bite out of a cow’s arse!
    However – on having given it much thought, subsequently, I do find it rather contradictory! The principal point of the book is: Evolution. And I do agree with that! I find it contradictory, because ‘email’ is an evolution of ‘snail mail!(post office)’ Most things, currently, in use, are evolutions of previous incarnations.

    ‘Everything’ needs to continually evolve, in order to remain ‘fresh!’

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