“O the brave new world!”
That was John the Savage’s exclamation when he was about to be brought to London from the Savage Land in Aldous Huxley’s brilliant novel “Brave New World“. A lot of people think Huxley was mocking the industrialization process, especially the introduction of assembly line at the time in his book. Maybe he was. But I could also feel that his obsession with the bizarre biological future-land he created in his novel. I was particularly fascinated with the conversation between the world controller and John the Savage in the end. There’s no absolute right-or-wrong judgement as far as I could see, but more of different options and consequences. To me he was rather struggling in between those human civilization’s classic paradoxes all through his book. This is reflected in his novel at three levels.
The first level is mostly reflected on the description of those personal figures in the book such as Bernard, Professor, Lenina, and John. The clashes among those different personalities with different world views and backgrounds reveal the most obvious, and the most affectionally, contradiction presented in the book. The conflict of rationalism and emotionalism in terms of individual cognition and values is reflected in almost every sentence they said and every word they used in the conversation with each other. What should we use to guide our life, the logic but robotic rationality or the impulsive but flaring emotion?
The second level of contradictory clash takes place on the higher society level, as it is expressed in the the roles of Barnard and Professor in the centrally-planned, well-organized and smoothly-functional collective society that is intolerant of any individualistic emancipation from slogan reciting. But at the same time the novel also admits that personal enlightenment from things other than those hypnosis, though beautiful, is extremely dangerous and damaging to the functionality of the society as a whole. The riot of epsilons and gammas in the hospital, the rampage near the old lighthouse… Is the stability of the social order bigger than the consciousness of the individual being, or is an individual mind deserving or capable of the freedom of will?
The third level sublimates the discussion all the way up to human civilization. The whole idea of the Brave New World, from the beginning to the end, presents a highly developed and static utopia that focuses on the stability and routine over any changes. Social values are extremely steered at the pursuit of happiness, with the deprivation of old moral bondage on human sexuality and the institutionalization of intoxication as a solution to any potential individual discontent. Moreover, the basic traditional social unit, family, and the biological process that naturally create the bond of a family, is overrun by the human decanting process. It is an extreme civilization that goes beyond absolute stasis and successfully attains it while fully satisfying almost everyone in the society with hypnosis, from the highest alphas to the worker bees-alike epsilons (except for a few smart alphas who are too smart to be satisfied, but they are sent to the islands anyway). The ultimate question here is: should we ever pursue such static civilization that prosper for eternity or long for an unpredictable risky expedition that constantly involves imperfection and the pain caused from those imperfections?
John the Savage chose the pain and disdain the Brave New World, for he thought suffering is a inevitable process of life. The world controller bows to the prosperity and stability of the civilization, and chose to govern the Brave New World not with passion but rationality which he deems ruthless but necessary. Imagine a world with absolute social order, everyone is programmed to do his/her position to the fullest and at the same time enjoy with their life to the fullest, with full exploration of sexuality, boundless soma meditation, and the extermination of pain, hatred, and dissatisfaction. Sure there won’t be any Shakespeare to read, but they reach full satisfaction in those hypnotized slogans.
In the beginning of the novel Huxley described how people eventually chose to build the new world: years of global warfare, instability of hypocritical social order, constant dismay of the people from unfulfilled desire… What a great resemblance to the current old world! Except for another global warfare, we pretty much fulfill every other criterion for initiating the Brave New World as described in the book. Modern civilization in the over half a century has been nibbled by the leftism’s dominion and crumbling in front of the ill polity and dysfunctional social dynamic (from Norway shooting spree to London raiding and looting, with more disheartening news to come), not to mention that the global economic system at the verge of debacle… I see too many unfulfillable souls everywhere, too many sadism and masochism, and too many vulnerable lies and despicable excuses. This is a world that embraces emotion over rationality, individualism over collectivism, and constant changes over tradition and stability, marching towards another extreme point. Human culture is indeed in a nutshell. The abuse of slogan “freedom, equity, and rights” has brought mankind nothing but self-destruction in this world. Think of the Brave New World, you wouldn’t feel much different about freedom, equality, and rights. Under the similar hypnosis procedure, people are just programmed to repeat different slogans that sustain their life and strengthen their faith, the only difference being those slogans bringing static stability and eternal happiness and putting the word pain out of the new dictionary instead…
Perhaps in my bone I am an incurable hedonist, but who doesn’t want to be happy? I was destined neither in some isolated jungles that people could be stupid enough to remain their inner peace, nor in the tiny group of fortune who are able to live above the mediocre trap like those big bankers or family with their own coat of arms, not even in a mindset of the average Joe that could have some slavish faith in some miraculous bubbles. This is not my world, nor yours. If I want to choose something to blindly believe in, I’d rather go for the Brave New World.
O the Brace New World! where there is the soma treatment or the solidarity service, where everyone belongs to everyone else. Take this savage also to the brave new world please!
Read the book, and enjoy a slice of mental masturbation.