An Essay on Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"
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One of the many novels I read this year was "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. Like "1984" by George Orwell, Huxley's novel depicts a "Negative Utopia" and his vision of the possible future of Mankind. The society of "Brave New World" promotes many concepts contributing to the "Negative Utopia," three of which include existentialism, hedonism, and secularism.
Existentialism is the concept that the most important thing in life is the present. One should live for the moment and seek instant gratification when possible. This contributes to the "Negative Utopia" idea in that people do not plan for future generations, nor do they learn from the past and its mistakes. One of the factors playing to the support of this concept is the drug soma. Soma, used in many situations, helps the person taking it to live in the present, forgetting all worries and other unpleasant feelings brought on by thoughts of the past or future. Lenina, the female lead in the novel, once said as she took a dose, "'Was and will make me ill...I take a gramme and only am.'" Yet another supporting factor is the lack of knowledge of history. At another point, Mustapha Mond, the resident Controller, told a group of students, quoting Ford, "'History is bunk.'" People in "Brave New World"'s society do not learn history and don't plan for the future. They live for the 'now' - the 'now' and their own happiness.
When one is hedonistic, it means he or she believes pleasure, happiness, and fun are the primary purpose in life. He or she pursues pleasure while minimizing pain as much as possible. This idea is perhaps the most noticeable in "Brave New World". However, hedonism donates to the "Negative Utopia" for the very fact that no one suffers. Without suffering or difficulties, one cannot expect to grow stronger, either mentally or physically. Therefore, members of the State are constantly kept happy with many different activities. Games such as "Centrifugal Bumble-puppy," "Riemann-surface tennis," and "Obstacle Golf" are an important part of society. They contribute to relaxation and social interaction among members of the same social class. Physical pleasure and happiness are also key contributions. Beginning as children, people are taught to view sex as a game - an infantilism for the elite. Not only this, but they are educated through hypnopoedia that "everybody belongs to everyone else," meaning that no one person should be with only one other. Multiple partners is not only allowed, but also encouraged, for, if someone is only focusing his or her attention on one other, he or she is considered to be mad, odd, or antisocial. Yet another contribution is soma itself. As stated before, soma helps the taker to relax, enjoy life, or even go on a "Soma Holiday," to forget any and all worries. One can spend an hour, a day, or more in his or her own little dream world where everything is good and there are no threats to that happiness. He or she rests in a perfect world - no angry bosses, no pressing crowds, no worries, and no religious obligations to bog one down.
This view of life based on ignoring religion and religious considerations is known as secularism. If there is no God, there are no worries since there are no ultimate morals except those made by the State and induced by hypnopoedia. According to Mustapha Mond:
"...God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness."
What Mr. Mond means by this statement, is that the "Brave New World" society decided to live in peace and happiness rather than rely on the beliefs that there is a God and what one does in life, such as self-sacrifice, will lead to just rewards in an afterlife. However, without God, there is also no hope for something else after death, no faith that everything in life has a reason and no morals to keep one heading in the right direction.
As one can see, the society in "Brave New World" is rightly called a "Negative Utopia." With thoughts of existentialism, hedonism, and secularism, it is a question as to what hope there is in a true future. The intentions behind this society's decisions - World peace, total happiness, etc - are good and just, but what it created was a world population of drones and a lazy, repetitious populace which can spout hypnopoediac couplets without thought. Obviously, this society is heading towards eventual failure.
Sometimes, when you make an omelette, you have to kill a few people...