Is This Really the Montecito Dream?
The lodgings pictured on the Aug.5-12 Montecito Journal cover convey the “Dream Market” with gigantic accuracy. It was a good issue — the pieces on “pigmobiles” and failing wells helping to sober the frothing real estate euphoria. Having come to Montecito in 1952, I was moved by nostalgia, vexation, and a healthy sense of embarrassment.
Despite claims in the glossy house ads that stuff my recycling bin, these palaces are not homes. They are but investment vehicles — a formulaic opulence package that works, their owners poised to profitably vacate. Homes in contrast require roots and settling in.
It is painful to recall the open space long gone, the dark and starry night sky with little or no light pollution. It is sad to remember the modest and worthy houses, elegant with age, that have been so often sacrificed to a marketing strategy insisting that size matters. Some of the current accoutrements of prestige like estate landscape lighting are an affront to the shrinking natural world; others like the newly installed sod lawns I see going in are blindly sinful.
Our Dickensian pathway seems assured — Oliver Twist will continue to beg a crust of bread from our aristocracy for the foreseeable future. Yet if this peacock display of faux grandeur is all that the upper crust can manage in terms of imagination, I’d say that we have trouble in paradise and agree with Hamlet that yes, the times are out of joint.
Suddenly there are a host of strangers and a tidal surge of big money in town. With luck they will still treat Montecito with the consideration that it deserves.
Orwell was Ahead of his Time
Your memories are delusions, they are hallucinations. Repeat, who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past? The past exists in records and memories but, The Party controls all records and all memories and therefore controls the past. You ask, “But how do they control the memories?” You will see. The Party says you failed in humility and self-discipline. The act of submission is the price of sanity only the disciplined mind can see reality. Reality is not external and exists not in the individual mind but the mind of the Party which is collective and immortal. What the Party holds to be truth is truth. Reality is seen only through the eyes of the Party. You must humble yourself to become sane.
The Party does not use pain in order to get a confession or to punish you. No, it is to cure you. To make you sane. The party is not interested in your crimes, the thought is all it cares about. We do not destroy enemies, we change them. You surrender to us. We convert you by capturing your inner mind. We re-shape it; heart and soul. It is intolerable to the party that an erroneous thought should exist anywhere in the world. No matter how secret or powerless it may be, everyone is washed clean before he or she is eliminated. Remember, the choice is between freedom and happiness… and we know, for the bulk of mankind, happiness is better.
These are excerpts from George Orwell’s 1984, written in 1949.
May 2020: The Chinese Communist Party violates the Sino-British Joint Declaration about citizens of Hong Kong and new legislation gives authorities the power to prevent Hong Kong residents and foreigners from boarding any plane or vessel docked in the city.
November 2020: The Chinese Party authorities took a successful 66-year-old businessman, Sun Dawu, into custody along with his family and business personnel and took control of the agricultural business he founded. The reason they are now in custody is because they caused “public disorder” but the exact charges are unclear. Mr. Sun apparently had criticized local officials over unfair treatment of his company. Neither he nor his family could be reached.
April 2021: Jimmy Lai, a respected rags-to-riches billionaire, was sentenced to 14 months in jail for taking part in a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong. He will soon face further charges under a new “national security law” that could see him jailed for life as Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong autonomy steadily increases. The Secretary of Security of Hong Kong has accused Lai of “conspiracy to do acts… tending to pervert the course of public justice” explaining that endangering national security is a very serious crime and measures will be taken to crack down on any individual regardless of background.”
Orwell was prescient.