I’ve been spending lots of time lately over here and I came across 50 books to read before you die and thought to myself it’s time to catch up with the ones I haven’t read yet. So I started with A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The book seemed so intriguing that I also decided to watch the 3 hours long movie made by BBC in 1980. Before I go further into details I have to say that this book is a MUST READ. Being written in 1931 I came to the conclusion that Mr. Huxley was a complete genius, either that or he was under the influence of some peyote cactus which he also mention in the book.
Being fascinated by Utopian/ dystopian societies, you might see why I really loved this book. In Mr. Huxley society everyone belongs to everyone, there’s no family, no parents as children are born artificially. They promote happiness which is induced by drugs, sleep-learning and psychological manipulation, so everyone in there is happy, either they are Alphas (the superior race), Beta (the ones in charge with fertilization program), Epsilon (the semi morons) or Gamma (the heavy workers-some kind of zombies). This drug, called soma is some kind of LSD or ecstasy, but it’s for free and everyone has their daily doses. Basically, it’s a society of junkies where “they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.”
In this future London everyone needs entertainment and to constantly be surrounded by people, a bit like us today with social media and everything related to it. We also love noise and movement and sometimes we forget how it is to just be. There’s no peace of mind in this society, but who cares when you can take a drug that makes you trip for hours. “We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it’s almost impossible for them ever to have it.”-sounds more like something Zuckerberg would say. Arts and literature and poetry are also out dated as “our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel-and you can’t make tragedies without social instability”.
When John Savage comes into this sophisticated society he can’t understand the way people live here, the way everything works, the fact that they take death as a happy thing and women as products of consumerism. It’s like bringing a native Brazilian from the Amazon Jungle who didn’t have contact with civilization in our society. Do you think he’ll like it or find it moral?
There is no divinity that people believe in as “God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons-that’s philosophy. People believe in God because they’ve been conditioned to.”
What strikes me the most is the way they see heavy labor that Gamma people do “Seven and a half hours of mild, unexhausting labour, and then the soma ration and games and unrestricted copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for? True,” he added, “they might ask for shorter hours. And of course we could give them shorter hours. 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.” I saw quite few people who behave like Gamma ones and I start to wonder if this is the direction our society is going to.
I wouldn’t like to live in a society like this, even though in some ways it’s pretty similar to our modern one and neither did John Savage. After finding out all the dirty secrets that this society is built on, decided to leave it as he could never adapt. The end of the novel shows us the impact that the society has on a pure heart and free mind.