Saturday, July 4, 2015

Brave New World

 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a satire about a society in which people are labeled and classified into groups or castes. They are conditioned to behave a certain way since they are born. Anybody who dares to think original thoughts or to crave solitude is considered dangerous and weird. These people are treated like misfits and are deported to a distant island.
  In Brave New World everybody is supposed to be happy, but this happiness is not true happiness. It is loveless and synthetic. It is based on the consumption of goods. Human beings are deprived of love and compassion, and those who dare to do something differently are treated with contempt and sent away.
  People are  encouraged to consume a drug called “Soma” to feel good and “happy” all the time.  In this male dominated society sexual promiscuity is the norm. Yet the sexual act is meaningless.
   Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Word is the description of a conformist society in which art and science are considered threats to their stability and their so-called “freedom”. They have to be muzzled to satisfy the interests of the status quo. Literature, for example, is of no interest to people because they fear that it will make them feel sad, so they shy away from it just as they reject anything that is thought-provoking. Literature carries the risk of awakening the possibility of dealing with original thoughts.
 Even though the individuals in Brave New World believe they are free they are all expected to behave in predictable ways.  Anything that is considered unconventional or that strays from standard patterns of behavior is treated with distrust, and so the root of the irony is that this world is neither brave nor new.
 Interestingly, George Orwell expressed his concerns about banned books in his popular novel 1984.  Aldous Huxley, on the other hand, portrayed a society in which there was no need to censor books anymore because people did not care about literature altogether: since a very early age they were conditioned to believe that literature  was boring, depressing or a threat to their stability.
 Soon after the publication of 1984, Huxley wrote a letter to George Orwell. I will share a fragment of this letter:
“My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and those ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.
“The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude or by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World.  The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.”