Ben Elton, Blind Faith
Blind Faith presents a futuristic society in which faith is compulsory. People have the obligation to believe, in themselves, in God, and in the Love. In this extremely politically-correct world, privacy is a sin. People must be proud of themselves, and show their pride. They must broadcast on the web every significant (and intimate) moment or their lives: birth, first sexual encounter, surgery, you name it. The main character, Trafford, is a keeper of secrets. He would like to keep things for himself, but doesn’t quite know how to evade the obligation to share. Gradually, he realizes “the boredom of living in a world where the only idea is faith and the only diversions are sex and gossip.” In this post-apocalyptic society (global warming has caused flood, but officially God’s wrath is behind it), babies die from diseases because vaccination is illegal, since science is now considered as evil when it contradicts God’s will by anticipation. The religious government, the Temple, has also rejected evolutionism, as well as most books, mainly works of fiction, because only God has the right to create. In this context, Trafford, father of a baby girl, Caitlin Happymeal, meets Cassius, a vaccinator, who offers to vaccinate the girl, and also opens Trafford’s mind to whole new perspectives on life…
In Blind Faith, Ben Elton, with a perspicacious eye and a very caustic sense of humor, denounces many aspects of today’s society. Religious intolerance and compulsion to share one’s life on the web or on TV are only two of them. He also reestablish the difference between desire and pornography (in a society where body parts are permanently on display), he rehabilitates the joys of anonymity against the widespread wish to be famous:
We are nobodies. Isn’t that good? Doesn’t that make you feel just a little bit more free? More liberated?
He also gives his opinion on the proliferation of self-help books:
Trafford has seen many such books; people read them all the time. There was clearly an enormous desire to be strong, rich, powerful and successful. The interesting thing was that despite all these books and their vast following of readers, Trafford had never seen anyone outside the temple hierarchy who actually was strong, rich, powerful and successful.
Reminding of 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 ( as well as the more recent Uglies trilogy, to a certain extent), Blind Faith left me even more uneasy than these novels, maybe because it was written recently, and some of the aspects of this extremely shallow society are too close to reality for comfort. Elton denounces very convincingly the excesses of our society, religious fundamentalism, the downside of the democratization of technology, or again the obsession with beauty and sex. A thought-provoking, satirical novel, by an author I have just discovered, and that I am looking forward to read again…