THOUGHTS ON BRAVE NEW WORLD
Brave New World is one of those dystopian novels that will always be relevant, and will make any generation think about the world they live in. It sparks infinite debates and conversations about hedonism, conspiracy theories about a World Government, post-colonialism, freedom, destiny vs free will, individual vs society, happiness, truth vs comfort, and a lot more. Here are some random thoughts that keep floating in my mind about the novel.
Huxley’s future society excels, compared to other real or fictional totalitarian states, is in the fact that it doesn’t prevent the people from doing what they want in a forced way. It has them thinking that they don’t want to have any freedoms and rights. In fact, its success lies in the fact that people don’t feel like there is information denied to them, but rather they believe that all possible information that may lie outside their reach is unimportant and not worth it.
Every aspect of humanity is drawn to its extreme, making it obsolete. So far, the best example is sex. Promiscuity is the moral standard, monogamy is wrong and unnatural (further facilitating the prevention of pregnancies and natural births). Thus, by completely freeing sex, they render it mundane to an extent that it loses the element of human connection.
John is jealous of the men who sleep with Linda, and tries to kill one of them. This might suggest Huxley’s Freudian influences and maybe he is implying John has incestuous desires. After all, in the new world, their God is Ford (after Henry Ford, who popularized the assembly line), but a variation of that is Freud (people think Ford and Freud were the same person).
When they the old man in the village, Bernard says that they alter humans’ bodies so that they don’t age after 30 but die at once at 60′ (Page 95). This could be seen as altering the human body to the extreme, bending and violation natural laws. The old man has grown old like everything in nature. But it raises the question of modern medicine and technology altering the human body, and we don’t see it as extreme. So is there a line to be drawn, or change occurs so gradually that we can’t notice (pacemakers, stomach rings, artificial limbs etc)?
When he comes back from the reservation, Bernard, who had always felt inadequate in society, suddenly feels like the way things are is not that bad now that he is in a more favourable position. This, in turn, promotes a selfish idea, since what he sees as flaws in the system lose all significance the moment they stop affecting him personally, which goes against all rules of community in this world that condemns the idea of self, removed from the social whole.
What we conceive as happiness is dismissed by Mond as “over-compensations for misery”. True happiness is something else, which will seems to John (and us, readers from the old world) as pretty squalid compared to the happiness we think of.
What is really scary about Brave New World today is the fact that we can relate to so much. We have an abundance of mind-dulling narcotics, disguised as entertainment, from gossip TV programmes to self help books. We know where we belong, we have routine jobs in building whose architecture’s purpose is to crush the soul and imagination to make for better workers, and everything is kept in check by devices that give just the necessary amount of hope to give the illusion of happiness. And the way people consume everything, and have sex, which is not really different from the consumerism we see all around us, strips objects and people of all their value and emotion and reduces everything to discardable, one-use garbage that leaves buying and throwing away things as the ultimate, and only, value.