Monday, February 23, 2004

Just finished reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Somehow I managed to get through high school and college without reading Huxley's dystopian novel. I'm glad I finally did.
I think I find the novel scarier than George Orwell's 1984. In the novel, people brought this nightmare world on themselves. They accepted the premise of a happy society being the highest goal. People traded off freedom and thought for security and happiness, even if that happiness had to come in a pill.
I think people these days are all too ready to accept those kinds of solutions.
Along those lines, here's a bizarre argument for social engineering and soma creation: Aldous Huxley : Brave New World. Your Brave New World is right around the corner.
Here's a Web site that focuses on Huxley and his works. And here's an
online searchable version of the book.
In this review from the Guardian, an important question is asked: Huxley points out the problems of this scientific future and, through the Savage, points out the problems of romantic ways of thinking. But does he offer us any alternative? Any solution? Any better way of life?
In the version of the book I have, there is a special foreword by Huxley. He has this to say about the book:
"In the meantime, however, it seems worth while to mention the most serious defect in the story, which is this. The Savage is offered only two alternatives, an insane life in Utopia, or the life of a primitive in an Indian village, a life more human in some respects, but in others hardly less queer and abnormal. ... If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity -- a possibility alreaady actualized, to some extent, in a community of exiles and refugees from the Brave New World, living within the borders of the Reservation. In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque and co-operative. Science, and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them. Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle -- the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: 'How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?' ... Thus altered, Brave New World would possess an artistic and (if it is permissible to use so large a word in connection with a work of fiction) a philosophical completeness, which in its present form it evidently lacks."

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