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Tag Archives: Aldous Huxley
A Brave New World was written by Aldous Huxley in 1932. It is a speculative science fiction novel that portrays an engineered population dwelling in a hyper-organized, caste system based society, where each person is born to their assigned duties, procreation takes place on the assembly line of the Hatcheries and Conditioning Centre, and sex and soma, an opiate-like drug, are the recreational activities of (sleep taught) choice. Natural birth is taboo, as well as the ideas of family and monogamy. Everyone is attractive. Death is a planned event to aid in controlling the planet’s population and to keep resources plentiful. All people are happy. Well, unburdened at least.
A wrench is thrown into the Utopian machine when the character of odd, antisocial Bernard Marx returns from a trip to an Indian reservation with a man, John the Savage, the son of his boss (who had recently condemned Bernard to a job he doesn’t want) and an abandoned, wrecked woman, Linda. John has lived as an ostracized member of the Indian community, humiliated by his drunken, promiscuous mother and desperate to belong. Back home, Bernard pimps John out as a celebrity talking monkey, only to lose control of the situation. Spoiler alert: the story does not end well.
When I first read this book in high school I enjoyed it far more for the humourous, satirical bent to the novel, as Huxley elbows the promises of utopian idealists in the ribs, from communists to capitalists, scientists to religious leaders. This time around, the piece feels far more contemptuous, a reactionary piece of fiction; it seems darker, more cruel. Still reeling from the First World War, in the midst of rapidly advancing technological endeavors and appalled by the culture of American-style capitalism, Huxley’s disgust and fears haunt each paragraph. My adolescent self had only seen the novel as a simple mockery of the society that we lived in, but now I see it as the an illustration of the cold need to control human behaviour and feed the consumer-based idea of “happiness”, a purchased feeling that is not an emotion at all but rather a lack of contradictory or critical thought.
There are no hero’s in Huxley’s book. The author teases the reader into thinking that this fictional dystopia can be cracked by the actions of a few men and women, but then shows us how these actions only reinforce the society as a whole. Huxley’s world is too far gone to be saved, as illustrated by the brutal, unforgiving ending of the story. Hopefully the world of the reader can still has a chance.
The innovative, futuristic world conjured by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World proposes that even the most ideally modelled and mediated society is capable of exhibiting flaws. Huxley’s provocative work provides the modern day reader with food for thought as the advancements in bioengineering, he seems to suggest, created in his dystopian society are already becoming a reality within our own lifetime. It may be that Huxley wrote this novel to warn us of the dangers that such things as cloning, stem cell research and the like could hold for our society. Through his novel, he fabricates a biologically controlled, sterile society where aging is never ugly and death has no profound emotional effects.
Huxley’s novel opens with a vivid tour of Central London’s cold and surgical “Hatchery and Conditioning Center”, where social values and communal roles are fed to an assembly-line of bottled “individuals” that will shape them into a social hierarchy, or caste system. Whether “Alpha-Plus” social elite, or “Epsilon Semi-Moron”, each mass produced class is programmed to carry out their intrinsic social duties in ignorant bliss, knowing not of the world they are missing beyond their caste. Within this new pseudo society that Huxley calls the “World State”, the emphasis is on control, and this is symbolized in the motto of “community, identity, stability” which helps to maintain social order. From bottled foetus to mature adult, the tried and tested processes of socialization engrain conforming values that fabricate a society in which discomfort needn’t ever be experienced.
When a young “savage” from Malpais is introduced to Huxley’s “Brave New World” by Bernard Marx, a disgruntled “Alpha-Plus” member of society, an unsettling sense of fabrication and falsehood emerges. Raised in a primitive community, John (the young savage) developed a romanticized idea of society through the eyes of a Shakespearian volume. In a community where pleasure is found in obtaining the material and superficial, John finds himself alienated amongst this sterile, consumerist society with which he shares virtually no common values with. In this society internalized conceptions of morality are warped as open sexual relations are encouraged, and guilt and emotion have absolutely no relevance. “Ending is better than mending”; mantras engrained into everyday life promote newness as a source for happiness. And yet, if the material and superficial still cannot satisfy, “a gramme is always better than a damn” to take you on a mind-numbing soma holiday when life gets too hairy. This “perverse” way of living couldn’t be farther away from John’s Shakespearian ideas about happiness, love, and emotion.
Huxley’s totalitarian society allows for the mediation of happiness and stability from the conveyer belt to the crematorium, but in contrast with the romanticized ideas of a savage, it is hard to imagine how true happiness can be felt in a society that is void of a full spectrum of emotion (both good and bad). The grim conclusion to this novel suggests that our pursuit of a technologically mediated society may be leading us towards a bleak future as well. As Controller Mustapha Mond states, “one can’t have something for nothing”, and Huxley’s Brave New World begs the question of how far we are willing to go in the pursuit of technology if community, individuality, and stability are at stake.
More, newer, faster, better… these are the words that we have come to strive in achieving, science leading the way to a promising, more comfortable world. But how progressive is progress? What, in its rapid pace forward, does it leave behind? In the dystopian science-fiction novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley challenges the increasing prevalence and influence of the evolving scientific and capitalist ideal, thrusting us into a world shaped and governed by scientific control and development, eliminating the need of emotional satisfaction.
“A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories.” In his opening words, Huxley transports us to the city of London AF 632 (After Ford, or AD 2540), in front of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Here we are presented a sterile, artificial world where science decides the future caste, purpose, and thoughts of the people, through genetic manipulation of categorized embryos, and the decanted and growing children’s subjection to hypnopaedic conditioning; values and thoughts specific to caste repeatedly played to them in their sleep. Following the World State’s permanently engrained motto, “community, identity, stability”, the notion of stability is reflected in the practice of ultimate conformity to societal values of frivolous sexuality, mass consumption, and homogeneity. When John the Savage, a man from the uncivilized land of Malpais, finds himself in the “…Brave New World! That hath such people in’t!” he is quickly horrified by a place where technical and scientific evolution had devolved humans to identical puppets, devoid of emotion, morality and a true concept of happiness and satisfaction.
Through Huxley’s portrayal of a hollow, mindless society, run by scientific control and engrossed with material satisfaction, we are bequeathed a prophetic view of where the results of industrialisation and mass consumerist culture will take us. By contrasting this futuristic society to the romantically archaeic Savage, we are revealed the repellent reality of how the growing reliance on material possession, and the use of narcotics to divert ourselves strips us of our capability to feel true emotions, and distance us from our moral values. As the acquisition of pleasure inducers, or discomfort reducers, as was represented by soma become more abundant and accessible (a gram beats a damn!), our need for moral reasoning and leverage to attach significant virtue to elation becomes reduced to insignificance, our need for quantified contentment surpassing the qualitative nature of taking the good with the bad, with time to kill. Through the growing mass commercialization of commodities, and improvement in medical and technical inventions, we risk becoming clones, by way of the amalgamation of capitalist culture and the rapid development of genetic engineering. We risk becoming devoid of individual personality, thought, and ultimately, devoid of freedom.
Brave New World provides the reader with an unsettling view on what we are putting at risk in our push for progress. While his portrayal of this World State may be melodramatic in its completely hopeless prediction of a future society, the relevance and urgency of his concerns to the changes of today’s society, compel the reader to both immerse himself in the surreality of the future, and praise that the future has not yet come.
In Brave New World, Ardous Huxley enthralls us with his cleverly written and futuristic dystopian story of our main character, Bernard Marx, and his struggle to fight against the folkways of the Fordian society he lives in to define his individuality. The Brave New World he lives in is a world with one totalitarian government that controls every aspect of human existence from the embryo to the crematorium, in which the concept of the individual and independent thought are foreign. The people of the Brave New World, with the exception of those born in the savage land, are conditioned from childhood to accept their bio-engineered caste, and to fulfill their every desire in an infantile fashion, consuming as much as possible, to “drive industry”.
If we are to look a little bit closer at the political and cultural events taking place, we are sure to see that Brave New World is not really about 632 AF, rather, it is an allegorical novel about Huxley’s impressions of cultural change in the US and the world during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. We see this by the way Huxley satirically names his characters after revolutionaries and political figures, people who were either themselves at the forefront of economic restructuring, or whose ideas were being put into practice. The most obvious of these is Ford, whose factory model was viewed as the most efficient system in the industrialized world at a time when the most efficient system was necessary. During this period in history, the Hoover administration began organizing unemployed volunteers to perform labour, and enacting Keynesian policies that saw large infrastructure construction projects begin, as well as media campaigns informing the public to “work together” during these tough economic times. This period had the largest push for radical political and economic reform and the ideas of communism, individuality, and consumption in the 20th century. I believe that by writing a cleverly satirical novel with characters named after those whose ideas were most prevalent, Huxley intended to express his discontent with the panic over “uncertain economic times”.
Through the arch of the story in Brave New World, Huxley seems to be asking if the human spirit can overcome mechanized societal systems, or if order and harmony should take importance. Through the use of the character John the Savage, he shows us the clash between romanticism and technological determinism, with the imminent defeat of the former. As Huxley suggests by ending the book in tragedy, the outlook for the human spirit is not hopeful if we continue to embrace technology as the means for our existence.
Brave New World
Brave New World, by English writer Aldous Huxley, was published in 1931. For the themes/satire contained in the book it’s hard to believe it came from the 30’s. Without wasting any time, the book starts off in the hatchery where they grow humans. The World State uses advanced technology to Control Society. Fetuses are condition before and after birth for the task that they are going to do in life. They are placed into one of the classes and are conditioned to accept it. ” Everyone works for everyone else. We can’t do without any one. Even Epsilons are useful. We couldn’t do without Epsilons. Every one works for everyone else.” In a sense this is a parody of the British caste system. It shows how ridiculous the class system is. Even thought everyone works for everyone there are still people that have to do more work than others.
No matter what class, all citizens in the World State are conditioned to be consumers and to “consume manufactured goods”. Huxley is taking capitalism to the extreme because of the consumerism behavior in his time. He puts Henry Ford in the book maybe because Ford created a mass produced car for every American.
There is a lot of sex in this book for being published in the 30’s. For the people of the World State sex is a natural part of life. There is no bad feelings out it. From a early age children are conditioned to think that “Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun, Kiss the girls and make them One. Boys at one with girls at peace; Orgy-porgy gives release.”
In the World State happiness and truth cannot exist together. People are constantly taking the drug soma to replace reality with the illusion of happiness. The World denies its’ citizens the ability of love and true friendships. “Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness.”
Some people don’t fit into the World State. “All the people who, for one reason or another, have got too self-consciously individual to fit into community-life.” Are shipped to Island where people are free and even allowed to practice “pure science”.
Review of Brave New World
Huxley’s novel, “Brave New World” offers readers a glimpse at a futuristic dystopian society, where social stability is fervently guarded behind the guise of individual happiness. Huxley’s use of dark humour provides for a satirical look at a potential path the changes of the early 20th century could take. The inter-war period in which the book was written, was ripe with numerous new and revised philosophies, which Huxley takes to extremes. Socialism, consumerism, eugenics and new technologies; all major issues of the day, have been teased to the utmost to create a perverse futuristic global utopian society. The story can easily be seen as a social critique and also a forewarning of the potential dangers the future could hold. Huxley’s “Brave New World” may not be considered an entertaining read by many, but without question it is a thought provoking one.
People are manufactured en masse to fit prescribed roles and then contribute to social stability and maintenance, up to and even after their death. The [Brave New] World State’s motto “Community, Identity, Stability” goes beyond cradle to grave; it lasts from preconception to “phosphorus reclamation” during cremation. Huxley has created a society which has in many ways combined key qualities of the two primary economic ideologies of his day: socialism and capitalism. Marx’s famous saying “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” has been modified in “Brave New World” to something closer to: from each according to their design, to each according to their desire. With the preservation of social stability being paramount, people are conditioned to fulfill every social need and to be ecstatic in doing so. If ever anyone has a momentary lapse in happiness there is a perfect miracle drug to bring them right back. As Mustapha Mond a “World Controller” put it “… if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts.” People have been indefinitely spared the burden of anything unpleasant, feelings included.
Until we are introduced to John the savage, we see only the faintest examples of discontent in society. On paper their world seems near perfect, everyone has a place and a purpose and no one is ever neglected or unhappy. John’s experience with the “civilized world,” quickly leads him to be dissatisfied with it. Upon his eventual meeting with the world controller we learn the consequences of social stability, the death of high art and the end of passion most notably. By the last chapter readers are able to see the world for what it truly is; a humanized bee hive. Life in this “Brave New World” is a doped up, mind-numbing, emotionless crawl from birth to death, to the extent that humanity is in all but the most basic sense dehumanized. Although people have been spared the possibility of anything unpleasant in their lives, they too have been spared any of the intrinsic joy in life.