“Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,
Kiss the girls and make them One.
Boys at one with girls at peace;
Orgy-porgy gives release.”
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World presents to its readers an ultimate human utopia: where efficiency has made human breeding easy and controllable, where sterilization has removed all fear of disease, where old age is a thing of the past.
Sure, you get conditioned at an early age about your caste, your role in society, and how to think, feel and act in a “civilized” manner, but you live your life in comfort and endless fun.
You’re brought up to do the work your caste is born to do (quite literally developed through proper procedures while you’re still a test tube baby); you’ve got the feelies, Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy, Escalator Squash, Electro-Magnetic Golf and all sorts of amusements to choose from, not to mention fast-travel to different countries; and if anything unpleasant comes your way, you’ve got handy dandy soma, and can have holidays of pleasure while under its influence.
Overall, you’ve got your life ahead of you, dictated perhaps by the World Controllers, but they made sure you enjoy it every moment until you pass on. Isn’t that a wonderfully civilized life to have?
It’s an interesting look into what society would look like if you took human society and broke it apart. Remove the concepts of family, culture, religion and morality, and replace it with endless pleasures and the adage “Everyone belongs to everyone else.” Quite radical, but in the words of Mustapha Mond, “You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.”
What makes this book so interesting is the way this “civilized” world is contrasted with the savagery in the Reservation Centers, where humans still indulge in the old practices. Here, people are dirty, passionate, selfish about their lovers, engage in old religious rites, and chase and grow their food. They live as they please, and the civilized people come as visitors to examine how unpleasant life used to be.
But what’s truly unpleasant? Your life dictated for you until you die, or having the freedom to live as you will while restrained by the society you live in?
Ah, but ignorance is bliss, and there’s always soma.
If anything, Brave New World gives plenty of food for thought, especially with its discourse into the packets that currently give human society its flavor: intense emotion, cultural diversity, and rich history. Just how much are we giving up by clinging to all these things that define us as individuals? How much will we be giving up if we instead allowed ourselves to be part of the ignorant yet happy multitude?
Overall, a good, if fantastical, read. 4/5 stars due to the occasional soliloquy, but anything is bearable with a few half-gram tablets of soma.
“Was and will make me ill,
I take a gram and only am.”
Review first written May 8, 2019.