Uncategorized | February 29, 2004

I just finished reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It is a story about a post-apocalyptic future that gives rise to an industrial, efficiency worshipping dystopia. The society is a strange mixture of capitalism and communism in that individuality has been abolished, but the people are strongly urged to constantly spend money, because it is the patriotic thing to do. Although the book may sound like boring science fiction, it is actually about several people, one having grown up outside of the society, dealing with their troubles.

I liked this story quite a bit because it embodied several qualities I like in literature. First off, it was fairly original, and didn’t get bogged down in sci-fi jargon. Also, it seemed that great care was taken to ensure that the reader knew exactly what was going on, and it dealt with several unique characters and their personal difficulties. However, what I liked most about Brave New World is that it makes you question the world, which, for me, is one of the main purposes of literature.

The irony in this story is that, although written in 1932, there are many strange parallels between this society and our own. One example that is a prevalent theme, in both Huxley’s fictional society and our own, is the saying, “history is bunk.”

Beyond the popular opinion that history class is a horrible atrocity, it seems as though the past is something we’d rather forget about. There are many of my peers who know little about recent major historical events, such as the Cold War, Vietnam, and even the Great Depression. Without a historical perspective, I don’t see how it’s possible to understand what’s going on in our world today or have an informed opinion on it.

The worst part is that it has never been easier to get information, namely because of the widespread access to the internet. In doing research for a presentation about Huxley, I was surprised to find that he was a prominent figure in 60’s and 70’s counter-culture. His picture is in the inside cover of the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album and the band The Doors named themselves after one of his books. In the same search, I also learned that only forty years ago LSD, the hallucinogen, was being used to successfully treat alcoholism, various mental diseases, and sexual deviants. If you’re wondering what this has to do with Huxley and Brave New World, like I said, it’s never been easier to find out.