Ensiform's Reviews > Brave New World

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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Jun 22, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction
Read in October, 2007

In the 26th century, after a destructive war, the world lives in peace, managed by World Controllers who use the principles of assembly-line manufacture and psychology to enforce a ubiquitous, passivist, pansexual, consumerist culture. Raised from cells in a lab (the idea of mothers and fathers characterized as obscene) into castes (Alpha to Epsilon) through hypnopedia and Skinner-like conditioning through pain, people’s mental and physical growth is chosen and accordingly expanded or stunted. To this end, independent art is abolished and pure science is discouraged; all innovations serve only to increase consumerism and the instantaneous gratification of simple desires. Books are not banned per se; people are simply trained not to care for books, instead being satisfied with video “feelies,” somatic drugs, and sexual release. Unlike Orwell’s 1984, there is no evil hypocrisy behind these principles, but a real desire for peace, stability and order. As the World Controller Mustapha Mond remarks, "What's the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when anthrax bombs are popping all around you?” To this world comes the Savage, a man born on an Indian reservation where there is still alcohol, hunting, religious ritual, and live birth. Fluent in Shakespeare and drawn to natural beauty, he is repelled and baffled by this clinical world in which everything comes easily. His keeper, Bernard Marx, an unusually neurotic Alpha, enjoys the uproar the Savage causes, but does not understand the implications of the upheaval his presence causes.

This is, quite simply, a brilliant book. Quite prescient (the instantaneous nature of YouTube and how quickly a video can become “viral” is just one thing that is foreshadowed here) and based on real principles, this is a world perhaps less frightening, because less violent, than Orwell’s, but a good sight creepier, because everyone is complicit in constructing the culture that limits them. The denigration of individualism, the natural inclination to associate physical size with value and to associate the difficult to process with the uninteresting, the worship of instant gratification and consumerism – these are all human impulses, and it’s easy to see how these can be manipulated in the name of larger principles.

[Read twice: 10/20/07, 5/10/11]
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Quotes Ensiform Liked

Aldous Huxley
“Indeed, a faint hypnopædic prejudice in favour of size was universal. Hence the laughter of the women to whom he made proposals, the practical joking of his equals among the men. The mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defects. Which in turn increased his sense of being alien and alone. A chronic fear of being slighted made him avoid his equals, made him stand, where his inferiors were concerned, self-consciously on his dignity.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Ordinarily, I wouldn't pick up this genre of book and was surprised that I liked it as much as I did - I liked it mostly because it made me feel a host of emotions - all disturbing but thought provoking. @Ensiform - that's why I asked you how the book made you feel - Brave New World certainly sent a chill up my spine. It made me think a lot about the graphic language, explicit images, and degrading behavior in many pop music videos and how those messages are being repeated over and over again to our youngest generations - what impact will that have on our society? I fear they will or are already setting us back in so many ways. You made a good point, Ensiform, it does seem that society will eventually contribute to its own undoing. However, I am essentially an optimist and think that ultimately society will rally.

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