Long-time readers of this site and those who have met my family know, I was raised by a communist father. My sister and I were raised, from a young age, to believe that America was far behind in the cold war, that Soviet technology, while perhaps less polished, was obviously superior, and that American propaganda was what made the USSR look so very very evil. One of the most important things we were taught was a healthy distrust of the press. Eventually, as my father had hoped, both my sister and I developed independent opinions on social systems such as capitalism and communism.
It should therefore come as no surprise that I had never, until recently, read either 1984 or Animal Farm. And yet, for anyone who knows me, it undoubtedly does come as a surprise.
I am well read. I have been so since I was quite young. I rarely form an opinion without researching it to some level, and because I hate being at a disadvantage in a debate, I have a breadth of knowledge that occasionally humbles people twice my age. This isn’t arrogance, just an observation.
Nonetheless, these two books somehow slipped beneath my radar, and remained unread. I knew the gist of 1984 – who hasn’t heard of Big Brother? – and had heard one or two references to Animal Farm (two legs bad?) but had never actually read either. Until last week.
Both were given to me as Christmas presents.
Despite its diminutive thickness, Animal Farm took me the better part of a day to read. That’s slow, for me. I think it was because I was absorbing so very much of the nuance and comparison to the way I was raised, crushing condemnation of the lessons my father tried to teach me as a child.
1984 was similarly eerie, though not so much a condemnation of Stalinism (though interestingly not Leninism) as it was railing against totalitarianism. Obvious and shallow comparisons can be made to virtually any government in the world. It is, after all, the governments job to exercise control over its people.
Interesting reading nonetheless. I wish I had read them earlier, but it was wonderful to finally have both under my literary belt, so to speak. Both gave me ample break from another excellent Christmas present, a 61-key Midi Keyboard Controller.
I was given this keyboard by people who strongly support my musical interests. I won’t go into much technical detail about the keyboard, since that’s not relevant to this writing, but I am happy to answer any technical questions about it via email.
The keyboard connects to my Powerbook vis USB, and also comes with standard Midi inputs and outputs. Coupled with software like GarageBand, I can turn the keyboard into any instrument you can imagine, from the sublime (a grand piano on stage) to the ridiculous (take a listen to Circuit Dialogue in Garageband sometime).
For those who aren’t aware, I am a classically trained pianist, though I stopped playing a long time ago to pursue other interests (electric bass). It was interesting to plug in and set up this keyboard and see what sounds I could create. There was trepidation – the reasons for leaving piano came rushing back to me and made my heart race – but there was also exhilaration. I was excited.
Over the last week or so, I’ve relearned a great deal about music that I had forgotten, and found once again the joy that is John Lennon. Imagine, Jealous Guy… playing these songs on a keyboard is touching me in ways it never could on any other instrument.
It’s nice to be back. Four strings good, 61 keys different.