Proponents of the theory of that a hidden cult of elite black magicians are steering the world toward some sort of neo-fascist technocracy often cite two novels as the architectural foundations for what our terrible near-future holds.
But there is a third dystopia about which very little comment is made. It certainly did not achieve the status of its predecessors, if only because it was not the first, nor the last, nor the loudest of the great socio-political critiques.
Perhaps it is simply not a good enough book, and too boring a story, to have been worth much either to publishing houses or Hollywood.
Perhaps the apparent misogyny – or what would be perceived as such in our tender, sensitive age – of a particular scene and its aftermath renders the novel unfit for the modern mind.
There may be a thousand reasons why a novel doesn’t come to prominence in it’s time, and a million critics who can cite those reasons ad nauseum from decade to decade. But in a world where a global elite are responsible for sociocultural and economic manipulations for their own bleak ends, it is also reasonable to conclude that certain materials, media, and works are deliberately suppressed when they touch upon agendas too central to the planned fate of all humankind. In a society that relies upon manufactured consent, censorship is not the best choice. To silence something, it is necessary only to insure that it becomes marginalized.
When an author pens seven novels, and only one of them does not become an enduring work worthy of Hollywood’s attentions, perhaps something is up…
This Perfect Day was written by Ira Levin, who brought us the much more famous Rosemary’s Baby and that Sharon Stone & one-of-the-Baldwin-brothers sizzler, Sliver. He also is responsible for The Boys from Brazil and The Stepford Wives. Levin was himself an experienced playwright and songwriter who knew the necessary tricks to transform a mere novel into a mighty movie. Indeed, his foray into the realm of dystopian science fiction was timely. The surface story is simple enough, the plot is quite direct, and yet the novel contains the kinds of twists and turns that we might associate with Hollywood’s very best efforts at good suspense and adventure writing. Nearly all of Levin’s seven (7) novels became films. From the New York Times piece on his life and work, we have this:
In “Rosemary’s Baby” (Random House, 1967), a young New York bride may have been impregnated by the Devil. In “The Stepford Wives” (Random House, 1972), the women in an idyllic suburb appear to have been replaced by complacent, preternaturally well-endowed androids. In “The Boys From Brazil” (Random House, 1976), Josef Mengele, alive and well in South America, plots to clone a new Hitler from the old.
I’ll not spoil This Perfect Day completely here if I can manage it, but I am required to bring it to the attention of a particular audience known to frequent this blog. So certain themes will be discussed because they are what makes the book worth reading, and the simple fact is that we have to get it back into the public consciousness again. For the past several decades, a small group of us have been locating and rebinding copies of this novel, not because it is a great classic of Western literature. Instead, this book has to be preserved because it frequently goes out of print, and mysteriously never gets dug up by some daring young filmmaker for translation to the big screen.
The reason for this is simple. This Perfect Day tells us all the form and general structure of the future New World Order that everyone has been buzzing about. It describes the ultimate outcome of the society that is currently mapped out – and has been mapped out, since the late 1950s – in horrifying detail. In the process, the novel reveals the truth behind the system under which we currently live, by describing it in metaphor. Take Levin’s more famed works and their salient themes in conjunction with the secrets contained in This Perfect Day, and it becomes clear that these all relate to the times in which we are living. A secret Luciferian cult of Manhattaners? A genetic engineering project to create the ultimate ruler? Android sex-slaves/domestic servants? An apartment complex where everyone is under surveillance? Levin gave us a glimpse at the codex. Each of his works examines this codex from a different angle.
So what does his “perfect day” entail?
Several centuries in the future, a global state has emerged into which every single person fits with little or no difficulty. A massive supercomputer (laughably unrealistic to a modern audience in its description and design) controls all aspects of global interaction and exchange. This computer is called, “Unicomp” and it is part Government, part Father/Mother, and part God. It is the natural result of human experimentation with computer-regulated governance and artificial intelligence, and the successor to a series of smaller computers responsible for various geographic locations. The earth is in fact divided into computerized designations, rather than the regions, nations, and climates with which we are familiar. Technology has permitted near-perfect control of the weather, and even of earthquakes. Space exploration and colonization are underway. Interstellar ships have been launched.
The economics of this worldstate are nonexistent. We have no comparable model. Supply and demand are functions of what a computer intelligence has been programmed to identify as functionally relevant. Subjective, human conceptions of want and need are not operant factors guiding or motivating exchange. There is no exchange. Surplus means growth, and with few wants and needs per person, there is a considerable surplus being put continually to good use.
Poverty, disease, extremes of emotion, violence, and disenfranchisement have all been eliminated. Human beings have unified and they call this unity “the Family,” described poetically as, “One mighty family, a single perfect breed, free from all selfishness, aggressiveness, and greed…” (a quote the Vicar has committed to memory, because a modern Wizard must know this novel inside and out).
Citizens are called “members,” because they are members of this Family. There are no variances in clothing style, and wealth does not exist. Everyone wears pastel colored “coveralls” and slippers, and no one wears jewelry. The style and behavior and language concerns that we spend so much time and effort on in our current age are completely nonexistent. Production and distribution are largely automated. Housing and food are provided automatically, and with total uniformity. Food takes one form – the “totalcake” – and drink takes one form – the “coke”. Surplus goods are available upon request from dispensaries in every city. Members ask Unicomp for things, by scanning them and then scanning their identities. When Unicomp says “No,” members put back the item denied.
Cities are perfectly designed and organized, and land use is maximized by the eradication of human artifice and desire. There are no selfish drives, and no one is trying to justify themselves or become exalted or famous. People watch television, but the actors and presenters are not considered more important or interesting than anyone else. Architecture is still a field, but designs focus on equity and functionality, not vanity and yearning. Personal property as we know it is simply nonexistent. If someone gives somebody something or does them a favor, “thank you” is still the proper usage. But the response is no longer, “you’re welcome”. Instead, it has transformed into, “Thank Uni.” Unicomp, like God, is the ultimate giver of all things.
Sex is optimized and automated in this society, too. Reproduction and pair-bonding are regulated by the computer. Sex occurs every Saturday night, and it begins at age 12. Members are told in early adulthood if they will reproduce or not, and if not, a member will usually not marry. There is little incentive to do so, anyway, as there is no indication that a married couple or a family gain any advantages. In fact, advantage and incentive are alien concepts to the Family. Strife and competition are dead.
Everyone has a counselor. Counselors make house calls and they have offices where members regularly visit with them. Variations from routine or odd behaviors are to be reported, so that additional treatments can be ordered. Every member is being carefully tracked so that their work can be optimized and their complacent happiness assured. Any desires to the contrary are identified by counselors as indications of illness. Disagreement or dissatisfaction equal a need for more medication.
Genetic engineering operates in the backdrop; the main character, “Chip” (a nickname) is a laboratory technician working in genetics research. The primary goals are to eliminate superficial and perhaps even core differences between individuals. Women do not grow breasts, people are generally alike in height, weight, and overall build. Where there were once many races, there is now just one, mingling the traits of the many. People are usually described as dark-haired with dark, almond-shaped eyes, and skin a golden brown. There are periodic outliers, random characters who emerge in the telling of the tale to demonstrate that variations still happen – a woman with breasts, a tall man, an albino. Levin wants us to never forget that no matter what technical advancements we make, Nature will always assert herself when we least expect it.
Behavior is regulated presumably through genetics, but the gene engineering is not sufficiently advanced to leave it at that. To control emotional and cognitive disturbances, the entire population regularly receives “treatments”. These are medical injections containing a great many chemicals. References in the novel to these chemicals – at one point discussed by Chip and a physician – indicate that they are combinations of a number of things: antibiotics, contraceptives, tranquilizers, vitamins, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications, something that tightly regulates sexual response to a once-weekly function. Each treatment has a significant strength and is long-acting, with half-lives we have yet to achieve in the current pharmaceutical industry. Treatments are provided monthly. No one objects because no one can object – no one knows to object.
The treatments prevent “sickness” – a catchall term for physical and mental illness. Members are terrified of “sickness” and they do not realize that their concept of illness encompasses counterculture, resistance, and revolutionary or rebellious activity. All of these things have been marginalized to such a degree that they are no longer of any relevance from a cultural or political standpoint. Any revolutionary who would resist the Family has absolutely no clout, credit, or value. No one will listen to any impassioned speeches about individuality or justice. Dissatisfaction or disenchantment are indications that a person is sick. Violent people are not even worthy of criminalization. There is no crime, and no prison system. The drugs are remarkably effective, so a member who wakes up and tries to escape will, once re-treated, relax again into docility. They simply go back to work and weekly sex and group exercising in the nude without anyone really mentioning their previous “sickness”.
The revolutionary has no foundation on which to stand in such a world. The perception of a need for change is interpreted as a reflection of the need to change only that individual who has expressed the perception. Finding fault externally is a reflection of the fault within. Other members just want to “help” those who resist, and will go to great lengths to hug, love, and gently caress sick members back into the fold. This is the most important paragraph in this article.
The Boys from Brazil is about selective breeding – the selective breeding of a supreme leader. The Stepford Wives is an inverted paean to transhumanism and explores the nature of misogyny and how it can ultimately lead to atrocities in a sufficiently technically advanced civilization. Rosemary’s Baby is about a secret cult of wealthy Satanists determined to bring about the birth of the Antichrist in Manhattan. And Levin’s dystopian novel brings together a thousand themes from the deeper recesses of sociopolitical, pharmaceutical, and technocratic thought to weave a future that is even now evolving around us. His is a world run by a computer that is tied to every single person by a bracelet – nowadays, it would be an RFID chip – and that computer has drugged everyone into a harmless, calm, and comfortable state.
This Perfect Day comes from an earlier time, with earlier attitudes and perceptions of human behavior and male-female relations etched into it. Men and women have equal economic roles and have a carefully regulated experience of romance and family. But the book also describes a rape, perpetrated by the protagonist against the object of his affection, and the aftermath of the rape is that the couple develops a strong and enduring relationship. By modern standards and indeed by the standards of decency in even primitive societies, this particular element in the novel is just too crazy and too offensive to be aired. It makes the female lead sound like she has some serious co-dependency stuff going on, while simultaneously suggesting that the best way to get a girl to like you is to kidnap her, drag her to the remote woods, and rape her.
That could be one reason why it has not been brought to the screen, but this is not an unassailable argument. Novels get adapted for film all of the time, and very often key elements of their stories are changed, cut out, or completely reworked.
Levin was arguing from the standpoint of Freudian psychology, and from the beliefs of early and middle 20th Century sociologists and psychologists that the male sexual drive was inextricably wedded to violence. He was also asserting a “State of Nature” and “Noble Savage” set of arguments, carefully intertwined. The hero of the novel does not rape his Dulcinea out of criminal intent or even from a desire to do harm or evil. He has exited the society, and he has no context for morality or behavior of any kind. This is the most important undercurrent in the novel: that the Family are very much children. The political theory that created the Family intended the majority to be reduced to the level of children. Unicomp is their God, and He keeps them in cities. Eden is the city. In Levin’s novel, the woodlands between the cities – carefully regulated by Unicomp in order to balance environmental integrity against industrial pollution – represent the real world outside the Edenic state. Unicomp did not pair the hero and his lady love, so their sexual act is an act of revolution. It is not at an assigned time and it does not happen in an assigned way. The rape in the book is not anything other than an expression of the belief that people who have never had to regulate themselves before will be almost completely unable to do so in the absence of any unnatural constraints. And in striving for rebellion, they will go to extremes.
This is a metaphorical revisitation of the Edenic myth, with the sexual act serving in place of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Rape is a crime, and as such, it is generally held to be malum in se – that is, wrong because we all innately know it to be wrong. Neither I – nor Levin, from the evidence – endorse rape. His argument is that two human beings, ripped from an unnatural environment in which every single drive, desire, thought, and emotion has been carefully chemically controlled, will behave from the Id and the brain stem alone when returned to the “natural order”. The hero’s behavior is as abominable as is his victim’s: he rapes her, but she in turn submits to him and loves him. We are in part horrified by both acts because they speak to something deeply animal in us; that it is possible that among our ancestors, the female wanted to be forcibly taken, and that the brutality of the experience was mitigated greatly by her desire for it. In layman’s terms, the act may start out as rape, but ends with consensual passion.
I would remind the court here and now that a great many people are into very weird sexual shit in their private time.
The purpose of the rape in This Perfect Day is to demonstrate distinctions and show that the extremes of behavior that the “Family” was created to limit and control are too dangerous to be completely contained. Some drives must be channeled, some social structure is required, or else we devolve to the level of self-centered animals.
In essence, the novel balances the wild and natural state – which is undesirable – against the hyper-controlled state – which is equally undesirable – for obvious reasons. Why such a powerful narrative, so rich with metaphorical symbolism and exciting action (the hero has to escape, undertake a journey, and return to overthrow the system), did not end up as a film is baffling.
The conventional answers for these things are always so wonderfully simple and pat and reasonable, since any assertion to the contrary must then be unreasonable by its very nature. This is a useful tactic to remember, and to keep one’s eyes upon. Anytime the alternative is taken automatically to be unreasonable, the possibility exists that the accepted version of events is deliberately crafted to mislead, because the concealed truth is a horror beyond human ken.
Consider your modern condition, and perhaps a different reason for this novel’s suppression is revealed. Pharmaceutical intervention is at astonishing levels. A recent Mayo clinic study revealed that 70% of Americans are on prescription drugs, and that more than half of those surveyed were on psychiatric medications. Mood altering stabilizers are the drug du jour in the industry. The underlying diagnostic perceptions mirror those of This Perfect Day: if a client is having difficulty at work, at school, or at home, the root of the problem is in the client. It is for the individual to adapt to the environment, the one to adapt to the herd.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.
The elite want you to know that your natural drives and your natural state are in disequilibrium. You need medication to feel okay about your life – not because you are a slave and a prisoner. That’s just the mental illness talking. The real problem is neurochemistry. If we can get the neurotransmitters working properly, then you will be able to truly understand how happy and grateful you are to be working at McDonalds.
This is not how we learn to phrase the assertion in the mental health industry, of course. We recognize and sympathize and empathize with our clients. We understand that a client’s boss sounds very stern and unfair, or that a student’s teacher maybe made the assignment too confusing. But we are reminded all through our training that our role is not to solve large problems. We are supposed to focus on getting the squeaky wheel greased and back into function. We are taught that this is the way that truly kind people who really care should act and how we should solve problems. The emphasis is always unwavering: The problem is not the system. The problem is the individual who has a problem with the system.
This attitude is the core foundation of Levin’s argument, and the most prescient element of his dystopia. The right of the individual to resist and to disagree is subsumed by the need of the great balance of unthinking, obedient, cooperative persons to simply live. Civilization as we know it is evolving rapidly toward the common decision that the right of any person to self-define is a threat to the security and harmony of a greater whole.
The novel identifies four great leaders whose philosophies comprise the soul of the Family. Three of these are historical; the fourth, Bob Wood, is the author’s own creation, about whom we learn almost nothing. Silentium est areum. Poetic lines – children’s song rhymes – give us insight into them: “Wei, Christ, Marx and Wood, made us humble, made us good.” Since all that we have as a species has greatly depended upon the innovators, creators, leaders, and thinkers that stood out from the herd, this new attitude is certain to create complacency and stagnation. But this is precisely what those at the pinnacle of power, hidden in the shadows, really want. And there is only one way to stop them, ultimately.
A growing and sprawling system like this can only be countered by disruptive forces that operate without apparent plan or structure and that serve only to destroy and ruin the organs of the system. What organs do not matter – the goal is chaos. If gas stations blow up all the time, there will be a corresponding economic effect. If every time you go to Wal-Mart, they have to lock the place down because somebody lit housewares on fire, there will be a corresponding economic effect. If schools and movie theaters become targets of random violence, there will be a corresponding economic effect. The creation of chaos is the fundamental first step to asserting the right of the individual to remain free from the domination of the society. It is the essential purpose of revolution: The State is Order, the Revolt is Chaos. Ordo ab chaos.
The only art that the ancients were able to refine into a mystical science was that of understanding and controlling human beings. We have no modern techniques of rule that substantially differ from those of the past – all that gets adjusted from era to era are factors of emphasis and intensity. The structural design of the society remains a pyramid, as it has been since the beginning. The only naturally occurring model human beings have for an authority structure is the family. The family in nature is a hierarchy, and under absolutely natural conditions that hierarchy will nearly always descend from the father. The wild human animal is potentially violent, and that means that it evolved in response to an environment that periodically demanded violence. Raw physical force tends to be greatest in the human male most of the time under typical natural conditions on this planet. Outliers and variables from the primary thread exist, and they are dispositive of the remarkable ability of humans of every variation to achieve, but they do not have anything to say with respect to the general, naturally conditioned experience. And the greatest of the mystical truths is that even the Universe is not “right.” Just because that is the naturally ordered pattern much of the time does not mean that it is the only, nor even the maximal, pattern.
Transhumanism and human alchemy are the tools and techniques that the elite use to rule. Some groups have ancient traditions upon which they depend, others have academic disciplines that are embraced at a more traditional level. Still others utilize the most advanced technologies to give them precisely the same answers that the other two possess. The truth is that we are a trainable animal. You are trained. It’s why you are able to read this and to access the tools that give you the opportunity to read it. It’s why you are not shitting your pants right now, and indeed it is also why you are wearing pants in the first place.
Levin’s vision is terrifying because it is something the majority of people might ultimately choose. Here’s the deal – you always feel great, you don’t care that you have to work, you are never out of shape or disliked or lonely. You get laid once a week, every week, until the day you die. And sure, you only get to live to 62, but that’s the mathematically optimal life expectancy with regard to the current population density. You live in a climate controlled paradise where everyone is nice to each other and there are sports, and T.V. shows, plays, museums and concerts… You’re never bored, and everything smells nice.
You never get sick – any kind of sick.
People might really go for this. How many people have lives so great or prospects so amazing that the deal the Family is offering wouldn’t sound almost perfect? The simple requirement is that each individual humble themselves, and recognize their relative value to the system.
The only hitch is that Unicomp isn’t really running the world. The real truth requires you to dig deeper, of course.
But this deal is being offered to all of us in the developed world right here, right now. It won’t look like 1984, and it won’t look like Brave New World. It won’t look like This Perfect Day, either. The dystopia is rising around you. It will look like you. It asks that you believe that the needs of the many always and only outweigh the needs of the one. It asks that you take a drug rather than feel discontent, play a game or watch a show rather than think about injustice. It asks that you accept that criminals are just sick people who don’t understand what life is all about. That the cynics are just bitter failures that never achieved their own goals because of a narcissistically disproportionate sense of personal value. It asks you to believe that in the absence of official endorsement there is neither truth, nor freedom, nor a cause.
Don’t you think it would be better to be just like children? To just be part of a Family?
Or are you sick?