Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I just finished Brave New World this morning. This story gives us a picture of the future if science ran amok -- where people are not born, but made in test tubes, and are fed subliminal messages throughout their institutionalized upbringing.

At first I thought this was going to be a story about a strictly capitalistic society; one subliminal is, "Ending is better than mending." By the end of the book it's clear that Mustapha Mond (who I pictured as Daniel Day Lewis) just wants to control the population in general so there isn't any upheaval.

I actually grappled with whether or not a world as described in this book would be ideal or not. A caste system is in place, and an individual's position is based on how much alcohol they put in their test tube. Smarter people are then placed at the top, and dumber (more alcohol) at the bottom. Everyone has drugs (Soma) to take to keep them happy. People are preconditioned not to fear death, so no one is sad when someone dies. A world where there isn't any sadness or fighting sounds nice, but of course what is lost? In exchange you become a zombie, who never experiences true joy, art, or an intimate relationship.

PNEUMATIC, BRACHYCEPHALIC, SOLECISM, VIVIPAROUS - These words from the story sent me to the bookshelf to pull out the dictionary. I wound up just keeping it by my bed.

The fun thing about this book is that there are different main characters throughout. One person's story seamlessly becomes another's, all coming together to show us what a Brave New World would be like. I recommend it. The book...not mind control.

This is the first book for the Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge; it's my Book With a Place Name in the Title.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I've never read this book, though my husband loves it. It does sound intriguing; I'll have to give it a try.