Wordle. Aurelea.In the words of Wordle, Wordle is: "a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends." The source text here is Jordan Harbord's recent review of Brave New World. Wordle your review and compare the results? Similar key words? Or does your review tell a different story?
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Brave New World: A Character Piece
To say about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, “characters migrate” (Eco), is fact. To say about Brave New World, that the characters migrated from Shakespeare would be debatable. Huxley’s dystopian tale is an excellent character piece and though it does contain many parallels of Shakespeare’s characters particularly from the birthplace of its title “O brave new world, that hath such people in it,” (The Tempest), The Tempest it deals with character traits and interactions as ancient as humanity itself and as current as the Ipod; character traits which will be a part of our culture until we are gone from this planet.
More of a social experiment than a prophecy Brave New World was an opportunity for Mr. Huxley to put classic characters into brand new situations and see how they would evolve, to, in some sense, let them write their own stories. The character portrayals in the story are very realistic and the basic foundations for many of the characters are still common in our present day forms of story telling; film, books, television, and so on.
Take Bernard Marx for example. Bernard’s phenomenon is not an uncommon one in the human psyche. Self-conscious and bumbling, he is yet an extraordinary individual and, conditioned to think like the rest of his society, he cannot help but have otherwise challenging thoughts. To revisit the phrase “characters migrate” I cannot help but think of Seinfeld’s George Costanza, the clever yet simultaneously foolish protagonist of many an episode.
As the focal point of Brave New World all conflict begins with Marx. He is the one who resists taking soma, who chooses to visit the reservation, he is the one who chooses to bring the Savage back to Fordian life and in the end it all comes back to bite him in the rear. The reader is conditioned to grow fond of Marx during the first half of the story but when the savage is introduced as another primary protagonist, Bernard’s existence becomes borderline comical. Bernard’s struggle to maintain a balanced and neutral party later on in the story is described perfectly with the line where he “urged by a sudden impulse, ran forward to help them; then thought better of it and halted; then ashamed, stepped forward again; then thought better of it, and was standing in an agony of humiliated indecision— ” (Huxley 195) he decides to yell “help—so as to give himself the illusion of helping.” (195) The same lack of confidence humiliated indecision faced by Marx has been the butt of many a comedic tale long before Shakespeare and does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
The Savage on the other hand is every bit of bravery that Bernard isn’t. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Huxley himself related passionately to this character and his morality wanting his story to mimic Shakespearean tragedy every bit as much as the Savage did.
The spirit of the Savage is embodied in countless other fictional and actual figures and has timeless qualities of heroism which, entwined with his wildness leave possibilities of character migration such as that of Mark Twains “Huckleberry Finn” or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan.” Both the shrewd methods of the Savage and his very moral afflictions make him to be both an interesting and likeable character, one whose self-pitying demise is not unlike that of the late Kurt Kobain.
Then there’s the handsome, articulate, and artistic Helmholtz who could be compared with the likes of Sophocles and John Lennon. His struggle for freedom of expression and the freedom to think and write as an individual is a personal and moral battle that has been fought many a time over history. A product of his environment Helmholtz seems every bit as moral as the Savage until the Savage reads him Romeo and Juliet Helmholtz regards the passion the lovers feel towards one another as “ridiculous, mad situations,” (168) and laughs at the idea.
The minor characters of the story do not have personality traits as distinct as the protagonists for their purpose is to assist the interactions but not to dominate them. Lenina becomes a meaningful addition to the plot long after her character is introduced. The Savage takes a secret liking to her and her to him, the problem being that hers is strictly carnal. Being of strong morals the Savage promises himself he “shall never melt mine honour into lust.” (175)
The dispositions of the cast of characters in a brave new world are relatable and interesting. In a tongue in cheek manner Huxley has been clever in the naming of his characters and in this way helps pronounce the sardonic tone of his story.
Some may say that Huxley’s use of the names of true to life scientists, industrialists, philosophers, and religious figures is evidence of the attempt to make a socially and technologically based prophetic statement about society. It seems to me that Huxley was using the world around him not as inspiration for a warning of what is to come but simply as inspiration for a story fit for queer and interesting character interaction.
Because of the personal battles fought by the characters in his story, Huxley has created a piece that will by all means, be timeless. Brave New World has also succeeded in withstanding the test of time due to Huxley’s very sane and realistic vision of the landscape of the future. Using familiar locations and technologies Huxley sticks closely to the social aspects of a bleak future and shies away from overbearing descriptions of invention. Familiar concepts with new light shed upon them are what challenges and intimidates the characters.
Yet, with all of his efforts to capture elements of humanity and habit Mr. Huxley fails to establish any kind of conclusion or inspiration with his novel. All goes back to how it started and no one learns anything. If all his aspirations were, were to show the humanistic temperament of a selection of characters each possessing different human qualities in a brave new setting; he succeeded. As a reader the premise of the story neither enthralled me nor bored me. I was amused during Huxley’s Brave New World but I closed the book with a feeling of indifference, left only to scratch my head and wonder how much of the story was humourous and whether I had read a tragedy, or a mock tragedy. Maybe that was his goal.
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”.