Aubrey's Reviews > Island

Island by Aldous Huxley
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's review
Jul 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, reviewed, r-2012, r-goodreads
Read from February 13 to 17, 2012

I'm on a roll. Or rather I've finally figured out how to find lots of books that I'll love. So many five stars, and it's only February. Anyways.

This book is like a savory meal that is extremely good for you. Or any activity that is rewarding in all the right ways. Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons' comes to mind, or more a massive extension on its logic in a world where there's a country that fully accepts it. Will brings enough cynicism into the utopia to put up a good fight, but his acceptance and appreciation was inevitable. His main issue was jealousy; from this stems his desire to bring the place down to the level that he has been forced into acclimatizing to for his entire life. You can't keep that attitude up for long though under these circumstances. At least, I definitely wouldn't be able to.

And Huxley. He took his amazingly keen analysis of human nature and applied to a future of improvement, not the future of the inevitable as he did in 'Brave New World'. There's little chance of it, but oh how I wish this story would come to pass. In some way, some form, somehow. Long after I'm dead, that's for sure.

The world is too bogged down by those who don't appreciate the logic and genius reasoning behind all this. Of course it’s awfully idealistic and whatnot but still. It's a shame, really. I can't see any reason to dim the brilliance of this book in order to acknowledge its imperfections. It's again like Hardin says. People are so used to rejecting any imperfect reform that comes around in favor of maintaining the status quo, that nothing ever really happens. Perhaps it's a bit much to apply it to book reviews. But hey, I love this book. And I get to apply recent learning. I love being able to do that.
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Quotes Aubrey Liked

Aldous Huxley
“Oh you the creator, you the destroyer, you who sustain and make an end,
Who in sunlight dance among the birds and the children at their play,
Who at midnight dance among corpses in the burning grounds,
You Shiva, you dark and terrible Bhairava,
You Suchness and Illusion, the Void and All Things,
You are the lord of life, and therefore I have brought you flowers;
You are the lord of death, and therefore I have brought you my heart—
This heart that is now your burning ground.
Ignorance there and self shall be consumed with fire.
That you may dance, Bhairava, among the ashes.
That you may dance, Lord Shiva, in a place of flowers,
And I dance with you.”
Aldous Huxley, Island

Aldous Huxley
“That’s what the human brain is there for—to turn the chaos of given experience into a set of manageable symbols. Sometimes the symbols correspond fairly closely to some of the aspects of the external reality behind our experience; then you have science and common sense. Sometimes, on the contrary, the symbols have almost no connection with external reality; then you have paranoia and delirium. More often there’s a mixture, part realistic and part fantastic; that’s religion.”
Aldous Huxley, Island

Aldous Huxley
“Her face brightened with a sudden flash of mischief, and without warning she punched him, surprisingly hard, in the ribs. “There!” she said. “Now I feel much better.”
Aldous Huxley, Island

Reading Progress

08/03/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

tim I love Huxley's swan song too. Moksha makes for good medicine when applied conscientiously. Nice review.

Aubrey Thank you. I know he waves the meaning in front of you on a silver platter, but it's such a nice looking one. You can't resist.

message 3: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy Aubrey wrote: " I can't see any reason to dim the brilliance of this book in order to acknowledge its imperfections."

We wouldn't do it a person, so why do it to a book?

Aubrey I'm finding as time progresses we're knocking many historical figures down to size with talk about their prejudices and their infidelities and whatnot. I don't mind that so much because it's important that people learn example that the ends never justify the means, or in other words great actions don't excuse condemnable behavior on a smaller scale.

message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy Sometimes the reason for this practice is not to humanise the person, but to undermine their views and their applicability to others, to suggest that, no matter how attractive the ideas, the person who "believed" them was hypocritical, they really didn't adhere to them. And therefore, by implication, we shouldn't believe them either.

This humanisation rarely happens in the hands of a sympathiser, more often an opponent or sceptic.

Aubrey This is true, but my opinion of the person rarely influences my viewing of their ideas. Otherwise I get angry at perfectly reasonable ways of thinking, and end up restricting my knowledge of things. It's a habit that I've spent a lot of time training myself out of, and I can only hope that I can continue objectively considering things in the future.

message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy I always use the old-fogey analogy that you don't have to approve of Mick Jagger's morals to enjoy the music of the Rolling Stones.

Cecily The trouble I had with this book was that it was dressed up as a novel. Reading your review, I realise some of the strengths it probably has, and had it been written as a treatise (which I admit would probably have lessened the chance of me reading it in the first place), I might have been able to appreciate them as well.

Aubrey Yes, I've seen that that is a common issue that many had with this book. Personally, I love this kind of thing, which may well be a side effect of having read too many scientific papers as well as my penchant for philosophy. In light of that, I'm not bothered if people don't like the book based on those reasons, as I will admit that it's a philosophical tract poorly disguised as a peace of literature, and if you're not in the mood for indoctrination things aren't going to go well.

message 10: by Lynne (new) - added it

Lynne King Aubrey,
I read "Brave New World" as a teenager and loved it. I then reread it recently and didn't like it that much at all, and so I'm intrigued to see how I would like this "swan song".

Aubrey If you like philosophical digressions on positive ways of living, you'll probably like it, Lynne. Otherwise, I can't really gauge what your reaction will be like.

message 12: by Stephen (new)

Stephen P I like so much your focus in his presenting in this book possibilities-which can easily be confused with idealism-rather than inevitability. I especially like your separation of the writer from their work. Yes, exactly, by mixing and confusing the two we, the reader, deprive ourselves of the message and the chance to learn.

Aubrey Thank you, Stephen. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

message 14: by Rick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rick Kastelein How nicee you loved this book so much! By coincidence, the same goes for me. Any recomandation for others books you also loved?

Aubrey Rick wrote: "How nicee you loved this book so much! By coincidence, the same goes for me. Any recomandation for others books you also loved?"

My favorites can be found here:

blakeR This is one of my oldest favorites, way back from college. He really veers off into "Doors of Perception" territory there at the end (another Huxley great btw).

Glad to see my taste shared by such a great reviewer!

Aubrey Thank you, blake.

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