Skip to comments.Brave New World (is Here!)
Posted on 04/29/2012 9:16:09 AM PDT by DogByte6RER
Brave New World (is Here!)
If Orwells 1984 is a cautionary tale about what we in the capitalist West largely avoided, Aldous Huxleys Brave New World is largely about what we got a consumerist, post-God happyland in which people readily stave off aging, jet away on exotic vacations and procreate via test tubes. They have access to Feelies similar to IMAX 3-D movies, no-strings-attached sex, anti-anxiety pills and abortion on demand. They also venerate a dead high-tech genius, saying Ford help him in honor of Henry Ford just as today we practically murmur In Jobs We Trust.
In many ways the book, which was published 80 years ago this winter, has become sci-non-fi. It is still developing, taking on additional richness according to the times in which we read it.
Brave New World is a satire set in a unified and peaceful 26th-century World State in which a frustrated London loner named Bernard Marx feels unease with the serene functionality of the ingeniously well-ordered society around him. After a chance encounter on vacation, he brings to London a Shakespeare-loving savage named John from outside the tech bubble (he grew up untouched by modernity on an Indian reservation in New Mexico) who becomes even more distraught by what has happened to mankind.
The book isnt nearly as political or as outspokenly dire as 1984, so much so that its easy to picture a young reader saying, What is supposed to be so bad about all this? Unlike in the book by Orwell (Huxleys pupil at Eton), in which independence of mind earns you torture and brainwashing, Huxleys freethinkers are threatened with expulsion to a small island (Iceland)
(Excerpt) Read more at nypost.com ...
Read the rest of Kyle Smith’s NY Post column ...
Saved for later reading.
I don’t really fear death from the tanks and jets of a power-mad dictator invading our nation. I do fear the living-death the Democrats want to foist on us.
That is a splendidly-written comparison of Huxley’s vision with our present-day world. I don’t know Kyle Smith, but I will keep an eye out for him now. Huxley’s book is extraordinarily prescient, and Smith relates these parallels convincingly.
****The book isnt nearly as political or as outspokenly dire as 1984, ****
Oh yeah? “Mother” is a censored word and children are conceived in a test tube. “Savage” John hangs himself at the end as he can not cope in the BRAVE NEW WORLD.
He’s a conservative movie critic for ny post http://kylesmithonline.com/
That's why I chose my screen name. Today we live in a sad blend of Huxley's joyless consumerist dystopia with Orwell's dark vision of Marxist totalitarianism.
It seems to me as a culture we've lost far more than we've gained as a result of all our technical "progress." We've disconnected from some of the most important human values and learning. I fear we're poised on the brink of a new Dark Age. Very few even read or understand the vital message of "King Lear" these days.
This Soma? ...
Hug me till you drug me, honey;
Kiss me till I’m in a coma:
Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny;
Love’s as good as soma.
“I’m so glad I’m not an Alpha. They have to wear gray and work so frightfully hard ... “
“Have you been away with Meghan yet? She’s so pneumatic!”
I’ve figured out the problem we’ve experienced recently with this infernal Romney rodent infestation: They were supposed to be Alphas, like us, but received a few too many drops of alcohol and were decanted too soon, like DUeltas—and even Epsilons and Gammas.
Orgy-porgy, Chevy Volt and fun,
Kiss the girls and make them One.
Boys at one with girls at peace;
Orgy-porgy gives release.
Soma: “A gram is better than a damn.”
My favorite line in BNW was the climax of the Orgy-Porgy ritual:
“It was as though an enormous negro dove was hovering benevolently over the now prone or supine worshippers.”
I had to read both 1984 & BNW in high school. After reading the Orwell horror first, Huxley’s lighter dystopia was a huge relief
No, but I'll take one of those, too!
Unlike in the book by Orwell (Huxleys pupil at Eton), in which independence of mind earns you torture and brainwashing, Huxleys freethinkers are threatened with expulsion to a small island (Iceland) but the joke turns out to be that this isnt really a punishment because all the cool artists and original thinkers wind up together and are much happier in their own hipster enclave. Iceland: the sixth borough.
I had to read it in school and don't remember that. But here it is:
The words galvanized Bernard into violent and unseemly activity. "Send me to an island?" He jumped up, ran across the room, and stood gesticulating in front of the Controller. "You can't send me. I haven't done anything. It was the others. I swear it was the others." He pointed accusingly to Helmholtz and the Savage. "Oh, please don't send me to Iceland. I promise I'll do what I ought to do. Give me another chance. Please give me another chance." The tears began to flow. "I tell you, it's their fault," he sobbed. "And not to Iceland.
Aldous Huxley must have had premonitions of the coming Icelandic financial crisis (and it's strange how he forgets that his own country is itself an island).
There is that contrast between Orwell's future and Huxley's. One controls through shortages and force, the other through superabundance and infantilization.
But thinking about it for a while you realize that the state or the guardians play a major role in Huxley's world. It's not libertarian by any means.
Mustapha Mond, the Controller who serves as the books villain, suppresses old books but perhaps unnecessarily. Think about how publishing works in the age of the Kindle and the Nook: Manufacturers and booksellers no longer have any incentive to try to get you to buy pre-copyright books published before 1922. If a fad suddenly developed for, say, Charles Dickens, thered be no money to be made because readers could simply download his e-books, free, from Project Gutenberg or some other public-interest site. Dickens bicentennial just passed, by the way: remember the big marketing push to take advantage? Neither do I. Amazon wont be reserving promotional space on its homepage for e-books that earn nothing and itll be long before the 26th century when all the classics fade into what the literary critic Clive James called Cultural Amnesia. Soon the only readers of these books will be forced ones (i.e. students) but in the age of Twitter how much longer will that last?
Barnes and Noble put out editions of out-of-copyright classics, but I got the impression that was more for show and a small part of their business.
Smith raises a really interesting possibility here that even that small presence of those classics will fade as e-books replace print.
Dickens centennial? People celebrate those things by watching the videos. Sorry, but that's just the way it is now.
You will find this interesting: the English version of `1984’ uses a line with the words, “his large, Negroid lips ... “.
The American editor was squeamish over this usage (back in 1950 or so), however, and `1984’ became a part of our Book of the Month club with the substitution: “his protuberant lips” along with other changes reflecting our preoccupation with euphemisms and disapprobation at calling a spade a spade.
Uh, revised: our American, lawyer-like sensitivity at appearing insensitive, or at calling something what it is or appears to be, or trepidation at offending anyone, anywhere at any time.
A related FR thread from a few months ago for your reference ...
Read Aldous Huxleys review of 1984 he sent to George Orwell
“I will keep an eye out for [Smith] now.”
He’s pretty good, this was a very interesting article. I don’t really think he’s right about the “classics” and publishing, I’ve heard that publishers love that copyright free material. But it could be changing as ebooks advance.
I read BNW years ago and didn’t like it very much. I thought it very inferior to 1984 which I found absolutely harrowing. When I finished 1984 I thought “well, I’m really glad I read this and neither a million dollars nor a gun to my head will every get me to read it again”.
Maybe I should read BNW again, it does seem to be coming true, I often think of those test-tube babies!
I prefer the metaphor “New Sodom”(america)...
Maybe a little of both is more accurate..
Huxley and Orwell were fleshing out the future from different angles, not in competition. Orwell’s is exterior, so to speak, in that it was from the vantage point of a futuristic totalitarian state. Huxley’s is interior, depicting a world in which our inner corruptions become writ large across society. His was much more an examination of personal morality.
I think, DJ, that your original logo is the single best use of Obama’s I have yet seen. Excellent work!
Thanks for your comment. Sadly, ‘soma’ has taken on so many different meanings in recent years that the original use of the term in Brave New World is lost on a lot of people.
omg what are you kyle's mom pretending not to be?
It was readable, but "splendid?" Chesterton was "splendid." This is 8th grade essay stuff.
When it comes to Soma, I’ll take the bra ad. That gal is so Catherine Zeta-Jones.
By the way, does CZ-J know that she is the pinup girl for FReepers?
Yep. I think there’s either a band or a song called ‘Soma’, too. As I said to another poster, it’s kind of lost its meaning because of all the new, different references.
The Invisible Hand? Bueller? Bueller? Invisible Hand? Anybody? Anybody?
meditate on that.
I pity your wretched state of mind, and will gladly end this fruitless dialogue.
“Community, Identity, Stability”...
In 1931, as Huxley was composing Brave New World, he wrote newspaper articles arguing that we must abandon democracy and allow ourselves to be ruled dictatorially by men who will compel us to do and suffer what a rational foresight demands. It was Huxleys view that dictatorship and scientific propaganda may provide the only means of saving humanity from the misery of anarchy. Many of the elements in the brave new world that contemporary readers find jarring actually appealed to Huxley. The sorting of individuals by type, eugenic breeding, and hierarchic leadership were policies for which he had proselytized. The problem with the world he created is the lack of spiritual insight, spiritual greatness, on the part of its leader.
Most of our teachers probably took Huxley as a good democrat concerned about elitism and the evil effects of technology, but according to this, Huxley was an elitist and an enthusiast for reproductive technology who only wanted the guardians and new technologies to reflect older spiritual values.
I guess you could find a similar ambivalence in Orwell, who was enthusiastic for the "classless society" he saw in wartime Barcelona but repelled by Stalinist dictatorship. Huxley, though, was apparently a far more conflicted character than Orwell. Maybe his book was a success and has lasted because it wasn't simply a tract attacking modernity, but reflected a deep ambivalence about what was going on and what he expected from the future.
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