“We dance round in a ring and suppose
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.”
Dave Eggers’ best seller ‘The Circle’, reached my home because of a Fall assignment. Having finished reading the 491 paged tome, my daughter casually mentioned that I might find it interesting too.
The cover page with its grid like structure, showing an interlocking of what seemed like fingers, reminiscent of many symbols of power and totalitarianism, with its distinctive C, and the silver circle in the red background, seemed tempting enough.However, it took a month before I actually ended up reading it. And once I started, I did not put it down.
“Amma, are you going to do a book review ?” She asked, laughing, when I mentioned that I was going to blog about it.
No, I told her. I am going to do something else- think about the idea of individuality in the context of the book.
The Circle is about a futuristic technology company that considers that every human thought ought to be shared with every one else in the world. That they mint money out of it, is a collateral advantage. When they create an atmosphere where individuality and privacy are actively discouraged, a slow monstrous basilisk is unleashed, which can kill with its unblinking stare of technological intrusion into every human moment. And the terror of that future, where government, democracy and human aspirations are subsumed by a capitalistic, hungry, monolith that takes over the humanity with an evangelism that brainwashes the best of the world into believing in its propaganda- that makes you stand and pause, and may be even look under your bed.
I felt the same keenness to find out the ending that I had felt to discover the murderer in Agatha Christie’s thriller- And then there were none.
When a human being cannot exist without being validated constantly, when every thought has to be shared, when every action has to be publicly displayed, when a single vision crushes every thing else around, it is indeed like a Justice gone raving mad. It will end up murdering all who runs off- quoting faults and failings from its scriptures.
Whether it was George Orwell’s Animal Farm or 1984, whether it was Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi, Eduardo Galeano’s Mirrors- you may add on humanity’s treasures of thoughts, individuality, rebellion, alternate narratives, mocking of the system/ the one story/ the only truth/ the grand truth…in different tongues, in different media, in different guises- our common story has become beautiful-because every strand is differently coloured and not uniform.Any regime based on a single vision, single way, single thought, single religion, single technology…unfurls horror subtly into this divergent world.
Calling a resemblance to the cow following the herd faithfully, raconteurs of yore, including the witty Kunjan Nambiar, had laughed at the unthinking mimicry of the majority and cautioned about the dangers of blind obedience to the Powers That Be.
Here, it happens to be 24*7 technologically exposed life. For every Kardashian who mints millions by satisfying humanity’s voyeuristic urges, there is a horror stricken Mercer of Dave Eggers’ Circle, who makes the reader question, pause and ponder.Ironically, the heroine in The Circle wants something of her life to be left behind, to be remembered, and she finds that craving being satisfied in her way of life and living; under the constant watch of multiple million pair of eyes.
“All we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.”
In the Circle, Trolls have been driven back into darkness, because anonymity is not technically allowed. With the trolls, madness and hatred apparently have been driven off the cliffs too- to be replaced by another singeing darkness- the obliteration of the human individuality.
The Rule of the Behemoth. The Name Changes. Nothing else actually does.