Brave New World
Experiencing Brave New World in 1998:
A Barometer for the Burden-Lifting Self
Writing Workshop II
Dr. Julia Keefer
Since good literature transports the reader to immersion, absorption and sensation of plot, the successful literary experience often unveils a segment of the self's concealed character. Aldous Huxley's Brave New World immerses the reader in a State scientifically constructed to produce perpetual happiness without hardship. Six centuries into the future, a world leader has designed a civilization flabbily devoid of balancing challenges by eliminating illness, geriatrics, fear of death, passion and love, parenting, poverty, and pursuit of anything. Its inhabitants exist in a bureaucratically controlled state of stability sans emotion. Brave New World is the citizen's polar experience to the prehistoric caveman's solitary existence of self. Today we struggle individually to establish satisfactory symmetry between these two states of bureaucracy and independence while bench-pressing multi-weighted challenges. A journey to Brave New World's civilization of the ridiculous elicits an excellent measure of the 1998 reader's centeredness between the self's grip of autonomy and its interdependence with State.
Franz Boas, primo cultural anthropologist, subscribed that studying the varied threads of cultural tapestry (what's different) facilitates the understanding of culture. Published in 1932, Brave New World presented greater bureaucratic exaggeration to a general readership unengaged in the battle of the balance. Government was barely a gadfly on the barbell, while the 1932 self indeed included the entire village of extended families and neighbors bolstering each other. Sixty-six years hence, government has infiltrated human life stealthily, while the individual has gradually isolated itself with a transient society and fast-track economy bearing down upon the burden-lifter like additional weights. Although hardship labels remain the same, the 1998 challenge of dealing with these afflictions is more complex. Health and psychiatric practitioners caution us that balance is next to godliness. Therefore, we strive in solitude to balance corporate positions with family disasters, our yin with our yang, our left brains with our right brains, and most importantly, our debits with our credits.
Our state of autonomy depends upon our frame of reference, for it is easy to remain autonomous without adversity. Consider the reaction of the Brave New World reader who has experienced a loved one's serious illness and painful death as a solitary struggle to provide emotional, financial and HMO medical support. Through the assistance of Brave New World, the reader subsequently tours "The Park Lane Hospital for the Dying, a sixty-story tower of primrose tiles. The air is continuously alive with gay synthetic melodies. At the foot of every bed is a television box. 'We try to create a thoroughly pleasant atmosphere here, something between a first-class hotel and a feely-palace.' A warm draft of verbena comes blowing through the ventilator and she dreams of things, transformed and embellished by the soma in her blood." Depending upon the enormity of the 1998 self's grapple with death, the reaction to Brave New World's scenario could be one of wistful appreciation.
Similarly, the reader raised in a Newark project welfare family journeys to a society bereft of poverty, brutality, unemployment and homelessness, and longingly peruses the Brave New World brochures soliciting citizenry. "The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe." Conversely, a corporate visitor earning $350,000 annually in a backstabbing environment struggles to sustain a certain level of existence for self and family with an roving eye on the dancing DOW. Boas would declare that these two societal examples have more in common than they would care to admit. Both weary weight-lifters, these individuals may opt for early retirement in neighboring Brave New World condominiums.
Coping with a parent's senility, fragile health, nursing homes and elder-care trusts, another Brave New World guest encounters a civilization free of geriatric woes: no guilt, no anger, no flooding memories of a child, now the parent. At the least, the reaction to the new society could be quiet contemplation of the parent's freedom from senility's bondage and the dependent's freedom from obligation's yoke.
The 1998 reader's psychological reaction to Brave New World's civilization may be vastly different from that of a 1932 visitor. Scientifically, sociologically and technologically our current civilization and Brave New World's society has blended: test-tube babies and clones, Prozac and Viagra, vanishing family units, multi-partnered sex with non-committed partners, and technological governmental invasion. One difference sets us apart from Brave New World and our 1932 comrades who bench-pressed before us: the bureaucratic isolated struggle which we wage to manage these complex challenges. Revisiting this novel in 1998 may be an eye-opening experience for those who have journeyed there previously. Sojourners may discover softened reactions and startling reflections as they gauge the price for balancing life's freight. A cavalier attitude toward certain societal segments could indicate a slip in the score for self; while an adverse reaction could point to a healthy edge toward autonomy. As our yoga instructors subscribe, "It's good to check in once in a while."
Huxley, A. (1932, 1946). Brave New World. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.
Huxley, A. Website. http://www.primenet.com/~matthew/huxley/ .
Hyatt, M. (1990). Franz Boas, Social Activist, The Dynamics of Ethnicity. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
Prof. David Valentine. Cultural Anthropology Class. September 14, 1998.
Writing Workshop II
19 September 1998
Savage New World
John's eyes fluttered open and he cautiously surveyed his surroundings. Where was he taken? Who knocked him unconscious and carried him from his solitude at the lighthouse? He did not have to wait long for his answer, when he saw his friend standing over him, shaking him to awareness.
"It's about time you came to," said Bernard Marx, "we've been worrying about you."
Helmholtz laughed as he came around to the bed John was laying on. "Don't look at us like that, Savage. We have good news for you."
Bernard wore a smug look on his face as he told John of their accomplishments. "We have met some of the most intelligent men of the world here at this island, and we found a way to overthrow this so called civilized society which has tried to subdue us one too many times. We destroyed all the soma in London, and right about now, all England is in an uproar. We were able to get you out in time; before anyone tried to come for you, youíre to blame for all this, you know."
"Youíre a mighty unpopular fellow back in London at this moment, Savage," came Mustapha Mondís voice from the corner. "But anyway, enough of this dallying, we have work to do."
As John rose from the bed, all that he was hearing started to sink in. Loss of control in England? Thatís not what he had intended. The damage was done, though, and Mustapha was right, they had a lot of work to do. There was no time to waste.
The group consisted of one hundred fifty seven men and women who had been sent to the island because of their inability to follow the rules of civilized society, as well as Mustapha, Marx, Helmholtz, and John. Mustapha was the leader, of course, because he knew all the laws, and was a natural commander. Together, they planned to destroy the worldís soma supplies, and all the manufacturing plants.
Once the citizens were cut off from the drugs, theyíd be more apt to become deconditioned. The next step would be to teach the world of meditation and natural herbs such as St. Johnís Wort for wellbeing, and to detoxify and preserve their bodies using deep tissue cleansing techniques and fasting. Schools had to be set up; treatment and rehabilitation centers had to be opened. The people had to come back to nature. The human body has been chemically and hormonally abused and altered for so long, that people were no longer people, they were like machines. Their brains could not handle the daily traumas, so everyone was taking drugs to mask their psychosis and depression.
The world then divided into two societies. The Mond Party and the Bokanovsky Party went to war two years later. It took that long for the schism to occur, and for the Mond Party to convert the population. Johnís popularity and Mustaphaís authority caused a lot of the people to turn against the Bokanovsky civilization. Also, they were no longer being enticed with drugs.
The war raged on for three long years, after which time all the modern structures had been destroyed, and there was nothing left but land and ocean. The few survivors lived off the land like their ancestors did five thousand years ago. There were no drugs, no violence, and no corruption. The biggest worries were finding food, shelter, and clothing. Their conditioning had completely been forgotten long before the war had ended.
A Brave New World: A Comparison of the 90s and the New World
by Kayee (Michelle) Lee
Writing Workshop II Dr. Julia Evergreen Keefer, September 17, 1998
To ascertain social stability in the New World, there is much sacrifice. We will compare certain aspects of the 90s society to those of the New World. I. The New World II. Mother, Parenting, Families III. Sex IV. Prejudice and Discrimination V. Power VI. Drug Abuse VII. Sacrifices VIII. Conclusion - My thoughts IX. Work Cited The New World, a man-made Utopia, governed by its motto, Community, Identity, Stability (Huxley 3). A man-made world in every way. Human beings fertilized in bottles. Identity, gender, intelligence, position in society, all predestined. Human beings classified in the order of precedence: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon. Every one conditioned to be a certain way. Every one works for every one else (Huxley, 74). All man-made to ensure social stability. Is society in the New World truly better than in the 90s? Are people in the New World truly happier than we are in the 90s? Do we in the 90s have any thing in common with the New World? Are there significant sociological differences between the 90s and the New World? These are questions I found myself pondering as I lay down Aldous Huxley's brilliant A Brave New World.
We have tremendous expectations of our Mothers. In the 90s, our ideal Mother give life to her child, provides unconditional love to her child, and nurtures her child. There is a special bond between a Mother and her child. We have learned to recognize, respect, and appreciate the self-sacrifices and hardships that a Mother endures for her child. Those of us less fortunate, craves the love, care, and attention of a good Mother and good parents. To provide good parenting to our children are the goals and concerns of every good parents. Parental affection and guidance, or lack thereof, plays a vital role in our lives. We promote childbirth as a natural, fulfilling experience for women (Lamaze International, Online). In the New World, Mother is a smutty word (Huxley 36). Mothers, parents, and families were taught and understood as viviparous. Our 90s society would appear savage-like and unstable to the New World's civilized people. "The world was full of fathers was therefore full of misery; full of mothers therefore of every kind of perversion from sadism to chastity; full of brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts full of madness and suicide." (Huxley 39). " What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable? (Huxley 41)."
Feeling strongly toward any thing creates individual instability. Individual instability equals social instability. Civilized people of the New World are fertilized in bottles; thus, they have no parents. No parents, no mothers, no families to create emotions and boundaries. Hence, individual stability. Individual stability equals social stability. Civilized people, from childhood on, learned from hypnopaedia . Every one, as embryos were conditioned for their predestined station in life. Everyone will be happy with their predestined inescapable destiny because they are conditioned to be. Happiness is part of social stability. The majority of adults in the 90s hope that our children will practice abstinence. We hope our children will not have sexual relations at an early age. We hope our children will wait until they are mature of the mind to understand the responsibilities of sex. We hope our children will respect their bodies. In our society, promiscuity is frowned upon. To many of us, monogamy is good. Monogamous relations are ideal. In the New World, every one belongs to every one else (Huxley, 40). Every one is for every one else to enjoy. Sex is an act to entertain. Sex is an act of sharing. Promiscuity is encouraged. Young children are encouraged to play erotic games. Chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And passion and neurasthenia mean instability. There must be plenty of pleasant vices to have a stable, lasting civilization (Huxley 237).
Yes, prejudice and discrimination exist in our 90s society. We are prejudiced toward those who are different from us. Be it nationality, appearance, mannerism, sexual preference, or any thing about an individual that does not resemble the general public. We fear and judge what is different. So too does prejudice and discrimination exist in the New World. Character Bernard Marx, an Alpha-Plus, was alienated by the civilized people because of his Delta-like physique and his lack of promiscuity. In the New World, each group believes they are superior than the group below them. "Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gamma are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able..." (Huxley 27). Discriminatory comments and attitudes exists. "What a hideous colour khaki is," remarked Lenina, voicing the hypnopaedic prejudices of her caste (Huxley, 62)."
Men desire power. Throughout history that has never changed. In the 90s, men strive for success status because success equals power. Why do people run for government offices? Why do people struggle to become CEOs? They do so for the recognition of success and the sense of personal power. Some things never change, for even in the New World, where every one works for every one else (Huxley 74), men still acknowledge power. "We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Alphas or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or future" He was going to say "future World controllers," but correcting himself, said "future Directors of Hatcheries," instead." (Huxley 13). Drug abuse is a continuous fight in our 90s society. According to the preliminary results of the 1996 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), the number of illicit drug users for 1996 were 13 million (National Institute of Drug Abuse, Online). Certain reasons for drug abuse are curiosity, peer pressure, pleasure, and escapism (Europe Against Drugs, Online). In the New World, everyone takes Soma. Soma is the New Worldıs escapism and relaxation drug. The civilized people consume Soma daily even go on Soma holidays. "A gramme in time saves nine," said Lenina (Huxley 89)." Soma in many things they consume. Soma in their strawberry ice-cream (Huxley 81).
Arts, science, religion, history, and individual love are all things we appreciate and have the freedom to explore in the 90s. They are the essence of life. They are what make us individuals. They are what make us individually special. In the New World, all these things which we hold dear are smut words because they are subversive. It may decondition the civilized people. These are the cost of stability (Huxley 225). There is much sacrifice in achieving stability. Happiness is a hard master (Huxley 227). In the New World, happiness is the people's, the state's, and not the individual's. I found the following quotations sum it up best - Said Mustapha Mond, "... The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving any one too much. There's no such thing as a divided allegiance; you're so conditioned that you can't help doing what you ought to do. And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren't any temptations to resist (Huxley 237)." ... (John, the Savage) "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." "In fact," said Mustapha Mond, "you're claiming the right to be unhappy."
"All right then," said the Savage defiantly, "I'm claiming the right to be unhappy." I see the good of the 90s - the individualism, the arts, the right to choose my own path in life, the mystery and the right to love. I see the bad of the 90s - the evil, the illnesses and diseases, the politics, the social instability. Should we sacrifice the good of the 90s for the social stability of the New World? I want to say that I can not be certain, for I do believe in different systems, different values. But I can not say that. I live in the 90s society and I grew up with my own set of belief. My own ideology. Therefore I have my bias opinion. Isn't social instability the path to finding true happiness? Without the bad, how will you recognize the good? If every thing is predestined, what is the purpose of life? If there is no individual love, what is there to live for? Self-happiness verses state-happiness. If self-happiness is selfish - then I am.
Huxley, Aldous. A Brave New World.