Welcome Another Member of The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society



I am honored to welcome Cap Parlier as the newest member of the U.L.S., The Underground Library Society!

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again. Those who join write a post about a book they would become if such a time was happening.

Please enjoy reading Cap Parlier’s entry.

In these tumultuous times, I struggled with what book to choose as my inaugural submittal for membership in the Underground Library Society (ULS)—a spiritual tribute to Ray Douglas Bradbury’s seminal dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953). So many books, known and peripheral, qualify in my mind and reading experience. Yet, there is one book that persistently floods my conscious thought for selection for this purpose.

Eric Arthur Blair wrote his last novel toward the end of his life and in ill health. That book would become his magnum opus, published in 1949. Like the centerpiece basis of ULS, the book is a profoundly dystopian novel offering a very dim view of humanity’s future [if we were (are) not careful]. Blair had survived the Spanish Civil War, witnessed the Great Purge in Stalin’s Soviet Union, and watched the violent oppression of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. He had plenty of real examples for his imagination to consider. Blair’s nom de plume, adopted when he began writing while serving as a member of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma (Myanmar), was George Orwell.

My choice to join the Book People and ULS is Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. The book represents a prescient glimpse of what might be when we embrace authoritarian governance. The central character, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth in Airstrip One, a province of Oceania, one of three super-states, including Eurasia and Eastasia. The three super-states remain in an environment of perpetual war, and the Party and its leader Big Brother must control all information and thought to keep the populace focused on the objectives of the State. Winston joins the resistance under the Party’s threat of execution and obliteration. Yet, the massive billboard on the Ministry of Truth building succinctly consolidates the essence of the Party’s oppression.




The story revolves around the resistance and their clandestine absorption of scraps of knowledge they can collect. They recognize the truth and the oppression of Big Brother. In telling the story of Winston Smith and Oceania, Orwell created highly descriptive terms three-quarters of a century ago that surprisingly apply to contemporary life—Big Brother, Newspeak, Thought Police, Memory Hole, Doublethink, and Thoughtcrime. Censorship in its myriad forms is the cornerstone of the Party’s domination of Oceania. So many elements of the Party, Big Brother, and Oceania display the traits of dictatorship and other authoritarian governmental systems. We do not know how Oceania reached its state of oppression, but we see what it has become.

There is no indication that Orwell knew of Lord Woodhouselee’s 1787 lecture “The Fall of The Athenian Republic,” but Nineteen Eighty-Four portrays the citizens of Oceania on the full circle of the Tytler Cycle back to bondage. Further, the Party’s doublethink dicta sought to interdict the collective thoughts required to break the bondage. Big Brother sought servitude. Winston and his brethren wanted freedom.

Orwell brings the world of Oceania, the Party, and Big Brother into vivid clarity. We see through Winston Smith the nightmarish, terrifying domain of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell’s tome should instruct us today and most definitely should serve as the negative metric we use when we decide who we are going to vote for, i.e., who not to vote for. If we vote diligently for candidates who will do their part to protect our rights and freedom, we can maintain the republic and avoid Oceania or anything even remotely resembling that dismal state.

In the related and relevant category of ‘whoda thunkit,’ today (March 2023), multiple nations, including the United States of America, face the forces of authoritarianism in its Medusan forms. The suppression of books, the restriction on schools of what can be taught to our children, the denial of history, the mantra accusation of ‘Fake News,’ the direct invasion of a woman’s fundamental right to privacy in controlling her biological functions, ad infinitum ad nauseum, these are the phrase an authoritarian regime (or at least wannabe authoritarian people). Yes, indeed! Nineteen Eighty-Four is the most appropriate book for all of us to read and re-read to understand the signs and characteristics of authoritarian governance in any of its myriad forms. We may not be wise enough and sufficiently perceptive to halt our decent back into bondage. Yet, 74 years ago, George Orwell gave us a  clear vision of what can happen if We, the People, do not protect our individual rights and freedoms. They are too precious to lose. Whenever we prepare to vote, we should remember Nineteen Eighty-Four. Most importantly, the Book People must preserve the words of George Orwell and permanently remember them.

Cap Parlier

Again, thank you to Cap Parlier for joining the group!


Quotations On The Evil of Bigotry




“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

Albert Einstein



“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

Maya Angelou

“Bigotry must never be accepted, must always be confronted, and must never become the way of our country. We must always recognize its past and the consequences of its present existence, and we should always strive to eliminate bigotry, in all forms, from the future.”

Charles F. French

Please Honor Martin Luther King Jr Day–2023



Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and I would like to offer a few of this extraordinary American’s quotations as a tribute to him. He was one of the finest, most decent, and empathetic people in the history of the United States of America. We should all remember him and honor his teaching, his legacy, and his call for justice for everyone.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

A Few Quotations on Justice




“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

                                                                      Elie Wiesel



“No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.”

                                                                      Theodore Roosevelt



“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

                                                                       Eleanor Roosevelt


“An injustice to one person is a crime against everyone, and we must always try to achieve true justice in the world.”

                                                                     Charles F. French

Quotations On Democracy For The 4th of July



“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

                                                                                      Isaac Asimov


“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

                                                                    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

                                                                   Abraham Lincoln


“Our democratic country must maintain the separation of Church and State and move towards elimination of bigotry of all kinds.  If we regress towards a far right view of the world, then the result will be the loss of that democracy and of our freedom. In the name of those who fought and died for our freedom, let us maintain American democracy.”

                                                                    Charles F. French

Quotations on Fascism



“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

                                                                Franklin D. Roosevelt


“Are you a communist?”
“No I am an anti-fascist”
“For a long time?”
“Since I have understood fascism.”

                                      Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls


“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.”

                                                                               Henry Wallace


“Fascism is not something simply to be studied in historical terms from the past, something that happened in other places and times. We, in the United States of America, face the rise of fascism in the form of religious fanaticism and bigotry against minorities, women, and the poor. If we do not act and vote against this rising flood of far-right extremism, we risk losing the freedom and democracy for which our ancestors fought and often gave their lives to defend.”

                                                                                Charles F. French

Disaster of Roe V. Wade


I just returned from a small weekend excursion and learned of the news of the overturning of Roe V. Wade. Those who follow this blog know that I try not to comment on politics on this site; I attempt to keep it a place for writing and art. There are times, however, when I cannot be silent here.

In a country in which the overwhelming majority of Americans support the right of women to have control over their bodies, the Supreme Court struck a blow for the religious views of the far right, and they seem to have forgotten the concept of the separation of Church and State. This is an extreme action taken by an extreme component of the American society, and it frightens me because it is a movement that could end with the country being controlled by a religious minority. Perhaps, I am seeing the worst possible conclusion, but the history of the world shows movements towards tyranny if not otherwise opposed.

I am also dismayed to think about the people in this country who voted for a fringe left wing candidate instead of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. Had they voted practically, Roe V Wade would still be the established law of the land, and the Supreme Court would be a different makeup.

If Americans who support Women’s rights and are also in support of true gun control act in the next election, these mistakes can be rectified. But it will take a focused action, and a decision by Americans to support what the MAJORITY of Americans support.

Again, I am disgusted and dismayed by the Supreme Court. Please remember what happened during the next election, and let’s move the country back to a reasonable place away from the far right and potential fascism.

Quotations on Bigotry


“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

                                                                      Albert Einstein


“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

                                                                 Nelson Mandela


“There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.”

                                                                         Malala Yousafzai


“Bigotry of all kinds is intolerable, unjustifiable, and immoral. We, as human beings, must always be willing to stand up against any kind of bigotry.”

                                                                       Charles F. French

A Few Quotations On Courage




“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”

                                                                                  Mark Twain




“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

                                                                                   Nelson Mandela




“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. . . we must do that which we think we cannot.”  

                                                                           Eleanor Roosevelt



“We must always have the courage to oppose tyranny, bigotry, and ignorance. We must speak out, use the power of our voices, and we must vote!”

                                                                          Charles F. French

Favorite Science-Fiction Films: 2: Metropolis




Metropolis is a brilliant science-fiction film (1927) directed by Fritz Lang. This movie, recently restored to its entirety, is a disturbing look at the world of the future through  the eyes of visionaries in the 1920s. It is based on the novel of the same name by Thea von Harbou (1925). The book deals with a city created on the backs of exploited workers and run by the capitalist upper-class. It is also a love story, and it is set in the year 2026.



Metropolis offers a powerful and damning social commentary on the effects of the ruling class, the capitalist industrialists who rule the world by using and crushing the ordinary people who build and fuel their wonderland. While the workers live underground in squalor and destitution, the upper-class live literally in palaces high above the ground. There they explore and indulge in numerous amusements including those sexual and athletic. This film is not a simple polemic but drives its message through a compelling story that shows the love between the Master of Metropolis’ son Freder and Maria, who lives in the underworld and serves as a kind of saint to the oppressed.

Frankenstein, 1931, owes a cinematic debt to the mad scientist in Metropolis, Rotwang, and his equipment. There he creates a robot woman, using the life force of Maria. Clearly the novelist, Mary Shelley and her book, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, first influenced this movie.

Lang’s cinematic vision is exquisite and deeply influential to filmmakers who followed him in exploring the idea of future cites. His soaring towers and buildings, high bridges with fast cars, and aircraft flying near the buildings are based on the designs of the modernists and futurists, and this concept is a clear model for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Certainly an argument can be made that Metropolis is a foundation for many other science-fiction movies.

This film is extraordinary, and the full version is now available on DVD/BlueRay. It is an important piece of cinematic history, and I give it my highest recommendation.