A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Not much depicted on this generic cover of a book. I’ve found that the less decoration, the better the book. I’ve also found that the less expensive the book, the better the book. With exceptions of course. But when you can buy paperback versions of classics for under five dollars, why would you spend twenty plus on obscurity? Preference perhaps…
This book is wonderful. I don’t even fully understand then ending. Again I will mention that someday I’ll return to school, or join a book club. Either will suffice. Discussion is a necessity for books. Trouble is finding a friend who will read one with you. Maybe someone can interpret the ending for me- I always read a book quite different than others and draw ‘unorthodox’ conclusions of my own.
If you’d like to read this book online, please take a look here. I stumbled upon the full text on a site which appears to be dedicated to the author. Many books are available online nowadays. It’s wonderful. I really can’t wait to get a PSP for several reasons, one of which would be an e-book reader. When books are near impossible to find, I’ll settle for the electrons whizzing around the universe in resemblance of letters on a page (which are really just more electrons… well they could be strings… String Theory anyone? More on that later.)
Back to the book. I’ve thought about it many times. I’ve read it many times. I may have even written down some thoughts that sparked from this book. Needless to say that the timing of my recent re-reading was quite serendipitous…
Briefly, the book is about a society in a time and place where people are engineered from birth and society is orderly. Mundanely so. There are no aberrants. Should something or someone arise, there are drugs and activities to distract or forgo the disorder. Only heathen pleasure exists. Negative is not possible. Society at its peak…
There are two main characters in the novel. One, a young man, though engineered in his society, who did not develop into a happy carefree individual. The other, a Savage, from the outskirts of society. Their meeting, interactions and ideas form the story.
Life is amazing because given a long enough time line, it begins to converge upon fiction. While recently reading this book, some previously ‘uncontacted tribes‘ were spotted in Brazil. My heart goes out to ‘us’ in ‘civilization’ and also to ‘them’ in the ‘jungle’. Can anyone say disaster waiting to happen?
I’ve taken to highlighting books as I read them. Anything that sticks out or warrants another look. Oh- not library or borrowed books… 🙂 Here are somethings, not all, that for some reason or another, made the cut:
Chapter 1 – “And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue–liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.”
Chapter 3 – Feeling lurks in that interval of time between desire and its consummation.
Chapter 3 – “Back to culture. Yes, actually to culture. You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books.”
Chapter 8 – The boys still sang their horrible song about Linda. Sometimes, too, they laughed at him for being so ragged. When he tore his clothes, Linda did not know how to mend them. In the Other Place, she told him, people threw away clothes with holes in them and got new ones. “Rags, rags!” the boys used to shout at him. “But I can read,” he said to himself, “and they can’t. They don’t even know what reading is.” It was fairly easy, if he thought hard enough about the reading, to pretend that he didn’t mind when they made fun of him. He asked Linda to give him the book again.
Chapter 8 – A man can smile and smile and be a villain.
Chapter 16 – “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery.”
Chapter 16 – “I was wondering,” said the Savage, “why you had them at all–seeing that you can get whatever you want out of those bottles. Why don’t you make everybody an Alpha Double Plus while you’re about it?”
Mustapha Mond laughed. “Because we have no wish to have our throats cut,” he answered. “We believe in happiness and stability. A society of Alphas couldn’t fail to be unstable and miserable. Imagine a factory staffed by Alphas–that is to say by separate and unrelated individuals of good heredity and conditioned so as to be capable (within limits) of making a free choice and assuming responsibilities. Imagine it!” he repeated.
The Savage tried to imagine it, not very successfully.
“It’s an absurdity. An Alpha-decanted, Alpha-conditioned man would go mad if he had to do Epsilon Semi-Moron work–go mad, or start smashing things up. Alphas can be completely socialized–but only on condition that you make them do Alpha work. Only an Epsilon can be expected to make Epsilon sacrifices, for the good reason that for him they aren’t sacrifices; they’re the line of least resistance. His conditioning has laid down rails along which he’s got to run. He can’t help himself; he’s foredoomed. Even after decanting, he’s still inside a bottle–an invisible bottle of infantile and embryonic fixations. Each one of us, of course,” the Controller meditatively continued, “goes through life inside a bottle. But if we happen to be Alphas, our bottles are, relatively speaking, enormous. We should suffer acutely if we were confined in a narrower space. You cannot pour upper-caste champagne-surrogate into lower-caste bottles. It’s obvious theoretically. But it has also been proved in actual practice. The result of the Cyprus experiment was convincing.”
Chapter 16 – “Technically, it would be perfectly simple to reduce all lower-caste working hours to three or four a day. But would they be any the happier for that? No, they wouldn’t. The experiment was tried, more than a century and a half ago. The whole of Ireland was put on to the four-hour day. What was the result? Unrest and a large increase in the consumption of soma; that was all. Those three and a half hours of extra leisure were so far from being a source of happiness, that people felt constrained to take a holiday from them. The Inventions Office is stuffed with plans for labour-saving processes. Thousands of them.” Mustapha Mond made a lavish gesture. “And why don’t we put them into execution? For the sake of the labourers; it would be sheer cruelty to afflict them with excessive leisure. It’s the same with agriculture. We could synthesize every morsel of food, if we wanted to. But we don’t. We prefer to keep a third of the population on the land. For their own sakes–because it takes longer to get food out of the land than out of a factory. Besides, we have our stability to think of. We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.”
Chapter 17 – “But industrial civilization is only possible when there’s no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning.”
I would comment on all these, but I’m not up for a one-sided spiel. I prefer discussion. If you read the passages and feel so inspired to make a comment on them or something else, feel free and let the discussion begin!
Oh, the rest of the book is marvelous too…