Friday, May 6, 2011

O Brave New World

This week I've begun re-reading Huxley's Brave New World and I must say, while I loved the book when I first read it back in twelfth grade, all I could remember were vague themes and events of the book. Reading it again (and for pleasure and not school) I'm able to fully grasp the book's dystopian contexts and relation to our current society. The novel is just so wonderfully written and eerily ahead of it's time. The futuristic system of genetics and innovation closely resembles systems in use today, and yet Huxley wrote this in 1932.

The ingenious caste system, the social conditioning, and a society based on the whole and not the individual are ingenious literary inventions. The breakdown and taboo of familial life and monogamy are two trends which seem to be forthcoming in our own world. 

In terms of a caste system, it's evident that in most countries today, social order is relative and movement between classes is allowed. While class movement is mobile, there are still many in America who find themselves on the lower wrungs of society, unable to dig themselves out of poverty. Can a society today ever fully incorporate all citizens into equal positions in said society? Cultural Revolution China seems to have been trying to aim for this, however it turned out disastrous and the country walked out of that period with large gaps between rich and poor. 

The novel uses social conditioning called "hypnopaedia" which uses phrases and sayings repeated out of a small radio near your head as you sleep, placing these thoughts firmly into your head (after years of each phrase). It seems a frighteningly ingenious system, but sadly has been psychologically proven to be impossible. 

I think the book's sexual promiscuity is very relevant to our society today. The World Order in the novel urges that everyone belongs to everyone else, and that citizens should "have" each other often and with as many partners as possible. I believe this is an idea that is perpetuated in our media today! Sleeping around (for men at least) is hailed as making you more of a man, and there are movies and TV shows that highlight and glorify friend with benefits or one-night stands. 

The idea of a "soma holiday" given by taking a capsule-like drug to make you transcend into a dream-like state is very much similar to drug use in our society today; most commonly with the growing use of marijuana over the past decades. The effects of soma strongly mirror the effects of marijuana. 

Overall I love this book. While I don't strongly engage with the characters, they remain well-written nonetheless. And the book falls within one of my favorite genres of novels: dystopian fiction. In the future I want to check out Huxley's "Island" which appears to be similar to Brave New World.

I'll be finishing this book tonight; always sad to finish a good book...

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