Monday, June 15, 2009

My thoughts on Brave New World

I found Brave New World to be a very difficult book to read, not in terms of complexity of the vocabulary or sentence structure, but rather in the way it affected me. I was so disturbed in places that I had to put the book down and pick it up the next day.

It wasn't only the overt sexual behavior among children that was described in detail that bothered me, though that was certainly a major factor. It was also disturbing to read about a society that is based on consumption, pleasure, and entertainment and realize that our own society is headed in that direction already - and fast!

I kept having to stop and remember that this book was written in the 1930s! How on earth did Huxley think of these things? Like the babies in the jars... and the different castes were constructed by the addition or withholding of different substances at different phases of the development of the fetus. Was this information well-known back then? And the conditioning through subliminal messages in their sleep? Just creepy!!

If this book was to serve as a warning, we have not heeded it. Our society is based in consumption. Our leaders are taking more and more control over the private parts of our lives (and we are handing it over without a fight!). I could go on and on, but that might take this blog into the realm of politics!! LOL

I found this book on various reading lists for high school literature classes, some as young as 9th grade. I would not feel comfortable with a 14 year old reading this book. Perhaps a 17-18 year old senior, but certainly not much younger than that.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brave New World - a summary

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley
first published 1932

This story takes place more than 500 years after Henry Ford invented the Model T. People are not born, but rather are "decanted" into distinct groups: Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Epsilon. Each group has its own "place" within the order of the world, and are decanted and conditioned during childhood to fulfill that "place". Everyone is happy and carefree. Except Bernard Marx, and his friend Helmholtz Watson, who feel inexplicably discontent and frustrated with their lives. After a trip to a Reservation in North America, Bernard returns to London with a "savage", a man who was not raised in civilization. The three men eventually meet their different fates when they cannot submit their will to the good of the community.