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English 279- Science Fiction and Futuristic Literature
English 279- Science Fiction and Futuristic Literature

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Published by: Andrew Kimo Quirino Galloway on May 31, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Andrew GallowayEnglish 279S. Covell1 May 2006Yevgeny Zamyatin’s
The Square Root of Negative One: A Study of the Unknown“Since the number of numbers is infinite, how can there be a final one?”“And how can there be a final revolution? There is no final one. Thenumber of revolutions is infinite” (Zamyatin 168).The term “revolution” implies a circular motion, a circle, or some sort of elliptical path in any given space. On any circular or elliptical path, no ends are evident, for theydo not exist. Revolution is never ending. Revolution is a constant. Where any sort of governing power exists, there will always exist a force bent on that power’s collapse.This is a constant, a truth regarding all existence. In our universe, conflict is absolute. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “For every action, there is an equal andopposite reaction.” This holds true throughout all of what we humans refer to as reality. If the formation of a government of any kind is an action, then the opposite reaction is theformation of a movement opposed to that government’s ways.Revolution is inevitable in any society if that society is permitted to last longenough for revolution to occur. It is the ultimate purpose of life to evolve, to moveforward in progress against all of life’s obstacles. It is the nature of anything with a“soul” to long for better circumstances than it currently finds itself in. Governments, nomatter what their intentions may be, whether good or bad, will always be one of life’sGalloway 1
obstacles. They will always be there to serve as a shield against that seeminglyunattainable goal, “true” freedom.While true freedom is possible, it will never endure. When a society achieves truefreedom, chaos ensues, thus creating the need for order. It is human nature to argue over everything, even the smallest of things. Arguments lead to conflicts. Conflicts requiresettlements. Settlements require one who is a leader, one who is popular with the peopleand who can persuade the conflicting parties to see things his or her way. Thus,leadership is born anew, and, through the gathering of the leader’s followers in the nameof his or her cause, a government is created. For as long as free-thinking creatures roamthe universe, governments will exist. Therefore, freedom will always be suppressed.Freedom in OneState, the government and society of the future as described in
, isknown simply as the chaos of the ancestors. Its suppression is backed by a noble cause, torid the people of the ability to commit wrongdoing. It is a disease, only to be sought after  by those with some sort of “mental sickness.” In Record 7 of D-503’s collective notes,
, he says:I hid behind the newspaper… and soon I read something that upset me somuch I forgot all about… everything. It was one short line:
 Reliable sources report the discovery once again of signs pointing to an elusiveorganization whose goal is liberation from the beneficent yoke of theState
.He goes on to explain that:Freedom and criminality are just as indissolubly linked as… the movementof an aero[, a personal flying transportation vehicle, much like today’sGalloway 2
airplanes, only more suited for personal commuting purposes] and itsvelocity. When the velocity of an aero is reduced to 0, it is not in motion;when a man’s freedom is reduced to zero, he commits no crimes… Theonly means to rid man of crime is to rid him of freedom. (Zamyatin 36)It is clear that this futuristic society invariably associates evil with freedom, which is probably as accurate an assumption as they get. Consequently, freedom is all toowillingly given up by the people so that they may be rigidly controlled by OneState inorder to ensure that as little evil as possible will be committed at any one time by any oneof them.This removal of freedom includes the systematic elimination of such basic humanitems as imagination and love, among others. This provides the basis for life in OneState.Every individual lives as a collective whole with the rest of OneState’s population.Everyday life is carried out with mathematical precision, as mathematics is the oneundeviating truth of the universe that absolutely can not be corrupted by petty humanemotions or any other trifling matter. “[The people] are told what happiness is and thenare bound to it” (Covell). Because mathematics are the center of unwavering logic andare contradictory to the meaningless evils spawned from the archaic abominationOneState calls “imagination”, it is in the sanctity of mathematics that contentedness isfound.Individuals in OneState do not have personal names, but instead are assigned anumber that serves as a means of distinguishing one individual from another. Foinstance, the narrator of 
, is known as D-503, and some of the Numbers he frequentlydeals with throughout his narration include O-90, I-330, R-13, and S-4711. DailyGalloway 3

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