And it looks like we're doing the same thing, over and over, but we've
got one damn thing the phoenix never had. We know the damn silly
thing we just did. We know all the damn silly things we've done for
a thousand years and as long as we know that and always have it
around where we can see it, someday we'll stop making the goddamn
funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them. We pick up a few
more people that remember every generation. (177)
Granger's conclusion is ultimately a hopeful one, but like much of Bradbury's book it appears rather questionable. Learning from the
past, especially the distant past, requires more than individual
memory, and Bradbury's individualist approach fails to account for
the ability of those in power to distort official history, even though his
own book-like many dystopian fictions-describes this ability quite
Dystopian fictions like Burgess A Clockwork Orange and
Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven were written at least partially to illustrate
the dark aspects of Skinner's behaviorist vision.
Skinner's attitude here strikingly recalls that attributed by Marx
and Engels to nineteenth-century utopian socialists like Fourier, St.
Simon, and Owen in The Communist Manifesto: "They reject all
political, and especially all revolutionary, action; they wish to attain
their ends by peaceful means, and endeavor, by small experiments
necessarily doomed to failure, and by the force of example, to pave
the way for the new social gospel" (111).
Roemer argues that Skinner includes the parallels between
Walden Two and Christianity as "blatant attempts to make his
arguments seem acceptable," though Roemer acknowledges that this
comparison with God goes too far and may alienate Christian readers
Marcuse's book deals with many of the same aspects of modern
society as many dystopian fictions. It was published in 1964, more
than ten years after Player Piano. However, many of the ideas
expressed in One Dimensional Man have their roots in work of Marcuse and other Frankfurt School thinkers that goes back to the
The naming of this computer is indicative of Vonnegut's
sometimes wistfully comic satire, deriving from a combination of
ENIAC (the first large-scale computer) and Ipecac (a common emetic).