INTUNE: Dystopia

When you mention the word ‘dystopia’ most people will envisage an image from the book, or the film, 1984, Brave New World Aldous Huxley or more recently The Hunger Games, or my personal favourite Brazil directed by Terry Gilliam. Each of these portray, in their own way, a future that is bleak, where food is scare, and thought is controlled, a life of misery. Sometimes in order to portray the bleakness and help the audience feel empathy and sympathy for the characters the direct will shoot the film in black and white or at least tone the use of colour down. The weather is almost always overcast as if the sun can’t even be bothered to shine properly or the dictator at the top can even control the weather.

My dystopia lives in my head.

My thought is controlled by a powerful dictator who does not allow thoughts of optimism and confidence. I think only of negative things, of things going wrong. The sun could well be shining but my mind trains me to see this as a bad thing, a thing of annoyance, an excuse; if only it wasn’t so hot I could do so much.

My dictator flattens and destroys. Negativity is the battalion of tanks to crush opposition and hope, pessimism is the truncheon to make resistance futile.

Sometimes my dictator keeps me in bed all day when he has removed all hope and tells me there is no point in me contributing to the world. Other times he makes me climb from my bed with a strong sense of guilt that I must try to work to support my family even through there is little chance of my contribution actually making a difference.

But now I have allies; my meds, those little white capsules that offer me far more than food and drink ever can, as important to me as water, without water I would die, without my meds I would not live. My meds help me climb from my bed even if the day before seemed pointless, my meds are what keep me bouncing back from every mental punch and blow and every knock, bump and scrap that my dictator throws at me. Then there is my computer keyboard, it gives me strength and hope and optimism. It is what I get out of bed for. My computer is my Julia, to my Winston Smith, although not in sexual way despite what others claim I use the computer for.

She gives me hope, although sometimes the power of the dictator minimises the benefit. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, more oppression from the dictator, she is a mere distraction but other days she can be my salvation.

I hate my dystopia, I hate where I live but sometimes, just sometimes I feel I can escape. Sometimes I feel I should just toe-the-party-line and get a job stacking shelves at Sainsbury’s but just occasionally, when the dictators grip on my brain is weakened by what I consider to be a fantastic idea, I have the strength to search a little more for the dream and battle to smash my dystopia.

Peter Conlin