Brave New World

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Click for availability and more information Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
 
Huxley's dystopian novel portrays a world where individuality and independent thought have been all but entirely bred out of society and replaced with an unrelenting need for social conformity. "Everybody belongs to everybody else". Human reproduction (outside of a cloning factory) is disallowed, and the concept of "family" is considered pornographic and pejorative. All forms of self-expression (including love) are deemed irrelevant and counter-productive to the aim of total social stability, and despite some amazing technological and medical advancements, even scientific progress has been subsumed to the cause of merely maintaining the status quo. People's lives consist of menial labor (for which they have been genetically engineered and brainwashed to find at least mildly challenging and interesting insofar as they are made content to keep doing it), sleeping around (everybody is expected to be the village bicycle), watching intellectually low-brow "feelies" (basically movies that appeal to all five physical senses) and playing lots of sports (tennis, anyone?). And for those occasions when such social opiates just aren't enough, there's always the hallucinogenic, hangover-free and state-sanctioned drug soma for taking a holiday from reality. Even death has been denigrated to the point where not even a whiff of fear or curiosity are involved; you die, your basic elements get recycled, and that's it. How can anyone truly care about death (or life, for that matter) when the sum of their lives amounts to so much meaningless action and no sense of self?

I see Huxley's Brave New World as relevant today as ever. It speaks to the dangers of over-reaction, of suppressing everything that makes us individuals just so we can all reach some common equilibrium of contentedness. It also speaks to the fallacy of consuming for the sake of consumption, something to think about the next time you hear some media talking-head nattering on about the health of our nation as relating to how much crap people are buying. And let's not forget propaganda and manipulation of the media, especially in this era of certain media outlets getting away with passing off opinions and outright lies as facts just to serve their own political agendas. Let Huxley's classic and cautionary tale serve as a fresh warning knell for our own day and age.
-Will

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This page contains a single entry published on January 21, 2011 12:26 AM.

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