Brave New World

I recently finished reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which, after only a month at the top, has probably already knocked Nineteen Eighty-Four off the top spot of my favourite novels list.

Brave New World presents a dystopian future in which the idea of family has been completely removed. New humans are not born but are grown in bottles in giant hatcheries, before finally being decanted. Everyone is conditioned through gestation and childhood to be a certain class, and to be happy with that class. And if anyone ever is unhappy there is always soma – the happiness drug.

To be honest, though, I didn’t see what was so bad with the this future 😀 .

Throughout the book, I expressed to a few people this thought and they all responded with “wait until you get to the end – then you will see what a horrific vision of the future it is.” Well, I’m there now, and it still looks pretty good lol.

Ultimately, it probably isn’t a world in which we would choose. The characters in the novel have no freedom – they are born into a predefined class from which there is no escape and there happiness is shallow and superficial.

But then, if you were born into that world, you would actually be perfectly happy with it. It sounds horrible to be preconditioned from before birth to be a certain class, but imagine being truly satisfied with their job. I mean, I love my job, really love it, but I wouldn’t choose to do it if I didn’t have to, nor do I feel like I’m an important part of society – there are many other software developers out there that could do my job just as well. But what if I was conditioned to think I genuinely was an important cog? That might genuinely be nicer.

Furthermore, what exactly is superficial happiness? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves when we see someone who just seems too happy because they have money and fame and it’s all the stuff we want but can’t have so we tell ourselves that they aren’t really happy on the inside even though deep down we know that they actually are probably deeply contented 😉 .

And finally, there is soma. Some of the characters in the novel rebuked its use, but then, what is really wrong with it? Imagine we had a drug which could make us feel fantastic so that whenever we wanted to escape reality, we could just take it and all would be well.

Well, we do, and it’s call alcohol. There really isn’t an argument to be made for claiming that having soma in our society would be undesirable because it’s basically the same as alcohol but better, and side-effect free – and ultimately, most of us choose to go out and get wrecked, despite the very significant side effects.

All this is slightly tongue in cheek of course – no democracy, a class system, a religious cult-like worship of solidarity, none of this is desirable. But soma, sexual freedom and a focus on happiness are three things I’m very much down with.



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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm and is filed under Books, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.