A World Without Creativity: The Hundred
By Karen Ballum on October 10, 2012
When I read Ally Condie's Matched there were a lot of things about the Society that kind of blew my mind. When the old world broke down, the Society that rose from its ashes decided that there had simply been too much of everything -- too much technology, too much freedom, too much culture. One of the things that disturbed me the most was the elimination of all culture and art beyond what was approved by the Society.
"The almost-snow reminds me of a line from a poem we studied this year in Language and Literacy: "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening." It is one of my favourites of all the Hundred Poems, the ones our Society chose to keep, back when they decided our culture was too cluttered. They created commissions to choose the hundred best of everything: Hundred Songs, Hundred Paintings, Hundred Stories, Hundred Poems. The rest were eliminated. Gone forever. For the best, the Society said, and everyone believed because it made sense. How can we appreciate anything fully when overwhelmed with too much?" Page 29
In my house I have more poems, stories, and songs than exist in all of Cassia's world. If you include paintings in books, I have more of those, too. If I can interpret the Hundred Stories to mean books -- I have have close to one hundred books in my kitchen and we only keep cookbooks and library books there. We also have our reference book collection in the office. The full library is in our basement media room. It's been awhile since we catalogued them but I'd guess we easily have 500 books down there, most likely more. I don't think it's a stretch to guess that we have 700 books in our house. That would be seven times the number of books available to the citizens of the Society.
I am the book person, but my husband is the music person. He's transferred most of his music to digital storage but he still holds on to his old CDs. I guess we are like the Society -- we don't trust technology not to fail and take all our our music with it. He has several hundred CDs and probably close to two hundred records on vinyl. I believe he even has some old cassettes in a box somewhere. I can't even begin to compute how many individual songs that would be -- thousands.
A world in which art is limited to a curated list of only one hundred stories, poems, paintings and songs is completely unfathomable to me. As much as it disturbs to think of all of that art being destroyed, it perhaps hurts even more to know there is no new art being created. People do not draw after elementary school. Children are taught how to read, but they don't really write. Creativity is not allowed. I can't imagine a world in which I could not write.
Could you handle a world with only one hundred books, stories, poems and songs? Which ones could you not live without? What would you do if you could not create art?
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