The World Known to Me

In a few hours it will be another new year, 2019. I can remember when 1984 seemed far in the future, both as a calendar date and George Orwell’s predicted dystopia, to which 9/11 and the digital revolution gave birth in the 21st century. Now I find myself 35 years past 1984 and a stranger in a strange land.

Over these holidays two occurrences brought the strangeness of the present time home to me.

One was the arrival of the memoir, From the Cast-Iron Shore (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019) by my friend and onetime colleague, Francis Oakley, an historian of the medieval era and past president of Williams College. The other was the report that a Japanese man had married a hologram.



From the Cast-Iron Sho…
Francis Oakley
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Little doubt that feminism has made women troublesome, but preference for a hologram indicates a shifting preference for the virtual over the real. Many in the younger generations have friends they have never met face to face. They join together in teams to play Internet games, or they open themselves to the world of strangers on Facebook. It seems that digital interaction with people thousands of miles away is replacing the human interaction of a sports team or a date consisting of male-female face-to-face interaction.

I have read reports that young women pay for their university educations, if education it is, by engaging in digital sex work. They display themselves naked and provocatively in various sexual positions accessible on the Internet while engaging in sexual conversation, and the young men find this form of sexual engagement preferable to face to face contact with a woman. The saying is: “It is cheaper than a date and without…

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