A novel painting a dark picture of the future, in which all people are grown in jars, manipulated physically and chemically in vitrio (i can't exactly say "in vivo" here) to adjust intelligence and tolerance to extreme environments, and through classical conditioning and hypnopaedia after decantation to implant the government-designed morality. Everyone is made to be happy with their lot in life and consumer culture, and all are given the drug soma to be self-administered whenever unpleasant reality intrudes. But without the freedom to be unhappy or have any choice in life, do they really live?

The protagonists attempt to challenge this order, which brings out the whole point of the book. Read it, it's good

Although 1984 is more popular, Brave New World seems to be closer to our actual future...

Created by Alderac Entertainment, Brave New World is a superhero game set in an alternative Earth, one in which superheroic ("delta") powers appeared during World War I, exhibited by Peter Payne, an African-American soldier soon to become the Silver Ghost. Deltas began to appear throughout the rest of the world, too, affecting politics and history. During World War II, a delta named Sparky was killed in a Nazi concentration camp uprising. The soldiers threw his body into the fire, but Sparky was transformed-he turned into an even more powerful being who quickly and single-handedly put an end to World War II by tearing apart the concentration camp, the Nazi's most powerful delta, and Hitler himself. This new delta became known as Superior, and his "type" as an "alpha."

Superior dominated the world scene, even though other, less-powerful alphas began to arise. He kept America in power through the Cold War. Then, on November 22, 1963, a group of deltas-Devastator's Dreadnauts-attacked President Kennedy, the First Lady, and the governor of Texas in a motorcade. Superior flew to their rescue, arriving in time to save President Kennedy, but not in time to save the First Lady and the governor of Texas. He flew Kennedy to a hospital, where the president was in a coma for three days before awakening. When Kennedy awoke, he pushed the Delta Registration Act through Congress, requiring all deltas to register with the government or be imprisoned. Kennedy also established a new police force, Delta Prime, made of patriotic deltas who would enforce the DRA.

Now, at the end of the century, Kennedy is still in office, president for life. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights have been trampled into the ground by the oppressive legislation of deltas. The devastation caused by deltas-the loss of Chicago, the strange disappearance of all alphas, the torn girders and broken sidewalks that mark cities where deltas have fought-has led most of the U.S. population to support the Delta Registration Act. But your character isn't registered. Your character is on the run. If you're lucky, you might join up with the Defiance, a loose-knit group of renegade deltas that hope to return freedom to America. If you're unlucky, Delta Prime will hunt you down and either kill or imprison you.

Background provided by Dru Pagliassott and Johnn Four
One reason why Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is so much more insightful than Orwell's 1984 is that Huxley gives his totalitarian regime a voice, in the person of World Controller Mustapha Mond.

Towards the end of the story, after the incident at the death clinic, Mustapha Mond sits our heroes down (along with us, the readers) and explains, patiently, why the regime is the way it is. He freely acknowledges the casualties (art, science, religion) of the new order, but he asserts that the gains outweigh the losses. To me, Mustapha Mond is far more terrifying than Big Brother ever was because Mustapha Mond is a reasonable man who created his dystopian nightmare with the best motives and intentions; whereas Big Brother apparently oppresses people just out of sheer cussedness. Big Brother is a caricature; Mustapha Mond is a portrait.

There is a powerful lesson here. The slide into dystopia will not be precipitated by some cackling, moustache-twirling villain. It will be precipitated by the do-gooders of the world who will systematically extirpate all that is noble about civilization, all the while thinking they are doing us a favor by doing so.

Some other random Brave New World tidbits:

  • The similarity between the title and Miranda's quote from The Tempest is, of course, no accident. John Savage quotes this line ironically when he sees the modern civilization for what it really is.
  • The drug soma comes from Thomas Moore's Utopia
  • There's a coffeehouse in Bloomington, Indiana called Soma, which used to carry t-shirts bearing a quotation of the passage in which Huxley first describes the drug Soma. When I was living in Bloomington, it was my favorite place to go for a "half-holiday".
  • Brave New World was published in 1932; in 1958 Huxley published Brave New World Revisited, a collection of essays (or one long essay broken into chapters, if you prefer) in which he examines the extent to which his predictions in BNW have come true in the real world and their prospects for coming about in the future.

Iron Maiden (Columbia Records, 2000-05-30)

Line-up: Steve Harris (bass, keyboards); Dave Murray (guitars); Adrian Smith (guitars); Bruce Dickinson (vocals); Nicko McBrain (drums); Janick Gers (guitars)

  1. The Wicker Man (Smith/Harris/Dickinson)
  2. Ghost Of The Navigator (Gers/Dickinson/Harris)
  3. Brave New World (Murray/Harris/Dickinson)
  4. Blood Brothers (Harris)
  5. The Mercenary (Gers/Harris)
  6. Dream Of Mirrors (Gers/Harris)
  7. The Fallen Angel (Smith/Harris)
  8. The Nomad (Murray/Harris)
  9. Out Of The Silent Planet (Gers/Dickinson/Harris)
  10. The Thin Line Between Love And Hate (Murray/Harris)

"My name is alex and I'm an old-school headbanger. I'm so ancient I remember Savatage and life before Sepultura. Shit, I remember when people slow danced to Scorpions music. Help me!"

The critique

The year was 1991. After the success of Seventh Son and the departure of Adrian Smith, Iron Maiden released Fear of the Dark. It was the dregs. In fact, it sucked so badly that I and many others wrote the band off. They did little to prove me wrong in the next couple of albums. And then, nine years later, they returned with their twelfth studio album, Brave New World. And, while musically there's little truly new about it, it was a shocking revelation.

Frankly, I didn't even listen to it until over a year after its release. As Dickinson put it, "sad, old fuckers getting back together to go and make a few bucks" was what I thought. Looking for sad old fuckers to buy it, I say. Then a copy of this work fell into my hands and lo and behold! Twelve years after their last masterpiece, Maiden were at it again. The "classic" line-up of their glory days plus Janick Gers present what may well be the swan song of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (honestly, I'll be amazed if they can repeat it). I don't think there's been such a musical comeback since Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers in 1984, another album that closed an era the same band had opened.

Am I raving? Mm, I think I am. Let's disregard the accusations of rehashing their heyday's best work. If this is what recycled riffs can do, I say bring 'em on. This is what the public wanted, this is what the band gave them. This is vintage Maiden and those who spent a dozen years listening to their old stuff can rejoice. Sound-wise and in terms of compositions I'd place it closest to Somewhere In Time which I didn't really like but this one has much more history to fall back on.

On a musical level the shadows of the past are deep and the band combine elements from all their previous albums, not only the classics. It's as though they had to do it to prove again that they can stand among the very few great bands that made up a brilliant whole out of units quite remarkable in their own right. It's not totally lacking in originality. They explore and make the best of the rich potential of three first-class guitars in the line-up and neither Dickinson nor Harris are afraid of innovation. The reappearance of Smith and Dickinson as songwriters definitely boosts the album's quality too.

Eddie Lives! (and of course Derek Riggs is there to make sure he does)

The band

Bruce Dickinson makes a surprising comeback from written-off rocker hell. His vocals don't dominate like they used to but are still powerful, moreso than in his solo work, and blend in with the music better than they used to. His technique has improved noticeably.

Steve Harris is God. End of story. He led this band from dank little clubs in England to stadia all over the world, filled them and followed them into decline, only to lead them back in style. His compositions are richer and more classical, he has reached maturity as a lyricist and his playing is, needless to say, the performance of a virtuoso of the rarest kind.

Gers, Smith and Murray are a guitar trio to be feared. It's been over ten years since the world last saw such a guitar... umm, onslaught, as we'd put it "back when." Those three have brought old school guitar metal back from the grave and made it look larger than life. They shine together and individually as befits masters of their chosen art. The guitar arrangements on this album are undeniably some of the best ever put together in a genre that prides itself on guitarwork and, in my opinion, the highlight of the album as a whole.

Nicko McBrain, as always, is a pillar of drumming strength. He once again justifies his name as one of the best rock drummers alive (or dead, as a matter of fact), right next to the likes of Ian Paice and Nick Mason. For the first time a producer has taken proper notice of his demonic single bass pedal and worked to showcase it, making this the best McBrain Experience since Piece of Mind, and probably even better.

Track by track

The Wicker Man starts with an intro that immediately throws you back to Killers and songs like Charlotte the Harlot. This impression soon fades as a much more modern sound takes over and the guitars start showing who's boss on this album with a quality and coherency comparable to the Phantom of the Opera performance on Live After Death. Smith delivers a solo unlike any I've heard before in a Maiden song. This song bears all the marks of another Maiden anthem and live staple. Its chorus is eminently sing-along-able--you can practically hear a throng of 20,000 headbangers in a stadium shouting "your time will come."

Nothing you can contemplate will ever be the same
Every second is a new spark, sets the universe aflame

While the theme of Ghost of the Navigator is very much reminiscent of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and its lyrics, I find it closer to Powerslave. Some prog elements sneak in but the riffs and changes are true Maiden and the intro is a very nicely done acoustic bit. Dickinson's vocals stand out on this track and display a versatility we're not accustomed to.

Where I go I do not know, I only know the place I've been
Dreams they come and go, ever shall be so
Nothing's real until you feel

Who'da thunk it that dying swans and mother love would make it into an Iron Maiden album? The lyrics to Brave New World are so totally gothic it's hard to believe. This is more comparable to their recent albums though Bayley could not have delivered it like Dickinson who steals the show here too before Gers' almost plaintive guitar and Murray's epic style steal it back for the strings.

"Dying swans, twisted wings, you know, the agony, the death. Brave New World doesn't want to see that. It has no use for either the life or the death. All it has use for is the image..." --B.D.

Blood Brothers is the obligatory "long story" that has to be on every album. I think its style is much like that of Infinite Dreams, one of my favourites. This song belongs to Harris all the way and his crunching bass lines add to what's a clearly classical-influenced composition. It's one of those works that reminds you how closely heavy metal is related to classical music. Sad but uplifting music in 3/4 time. Originally dedicated to Harris's recently passed father, in later years the song would become a song of remembrance, brought out in concert to mark events such as the death of Ronnie James Dio or the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

The Mercenary is simply good old blood and guts metal like The Trooper or Sun and Steel. Indeed it would not have been out of place on Piece of Mind. For some reason I keep expecting to hear Rory Gallagher's voice when it begins...

Dream of Mirrors is thematologically closer to Infinite Dreams and resembles it quite a bit. The chorus in this song is one of the best they've ever written and highly catchy. It slowly develops from atmospheric piece into the full-blown epic speed metal that lesser bands have been trying to copy for the last twenty years and fades out again like it started. Particularly impressive is McBrain's footwork in the last third of the track where he matches Harris note for note after accompanying the rest of the song with a light, subtle touch.

I only dream in black and white, I only dream cause I'm alive.
I only dream in black and white, to save me from myself

The Fallen Angel is another old-style, speedy Maiden track in which you recognize the band that created The Number of the Beast. Eschatology, the unclean and the fate of the divine are some of their favourite themes and this Powerslave-like piece shows it best. Genuine Maiden all the way with the rhythm section leading the way and the guitars and vocals fighting back.

The Nomad starts out by painting a desert picture with an Arabic rhythm, led by McBrain and followed by Murray with a recurring theme. I find it most comparable to To Tame a Land (apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so) with touches of Rime of the Ancient Mariner if you need another reference, though its unusual motives do set it apart. I don't think it's all about Bedouins... more likely Harris had a historical figure in mind but who that was gets lost. I think this is the only song in which Dickinson isn't quite up to the job but then I can't think of anyone who would be. I'd like to hear Ronnie James Dio try it though. All said, it's a superb piece of symphonic metal.

Out of the Silent Planet is described by Dickinson as being in the vein of Run to the Hills. It paints the same bleak picture that 2 Minutes to Midnight does. Once again the end of the world is nigh with this eschatological gem of alien invasion, death and destruction.

Withered hands, withered bodies begging for salvation
Deserted by the hand of gods of their own creation
Nations cry underneath decaying skies above
You are guilty, the punishment is death for all who live

The Thin Line Between Love And Hate is, again, about life and death, karma and retribution, another one of Harris's pet subjects. Think The Evil That Men Do theme-wise, though the music is more akin to T-Rex or Judas Priest's flavour of hard rock (or UFO, as Dickinson rightly claims). The props for this song must be evenly divided between Murray's softly distorted guitar and McBrain's masterful, trance-like inverted beat. Never mind the voices at the end of the track, they're only in your head.

I will hope, my soul will fly, so I will live forever
Heart will die, my soul will fly, and I will live forever

Should I buy it?

Beyond doubt, the answer is yes. It only charted at #7 (UK) but that, as we all know, is no criterion by which to judge a work these days. I was long of the opinion that Maiden had four "classic" albums, now I say they have five (and on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of this article, I will state that the album has aged well and my views are unchanged). I didn't think I'd be saying this again, but well... 'kin hell! Up the Irons.



On an other note, unrelated to the album and after reading significance x's writeup below, and seeing that much thought and effort is devoted to comparisons and declarations of one's superiority over the other, I have one thing to point out as regards the comparison between George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's work, and disregarding the fact that both are severely flawed as regards literary technique but nonetheless acknowledging that they were both revolutionary in the concepts they present:

1984 is "more scary" because it's dystopian and paints pictures of oppression, even though some of its key elements are contrived to the extent of exaggeration. The Brave New World of Huxley is more palatable. The net effect may be the same--an ordered society with an official dislike of individuality and a stricter set of behavioural standards than we're used to--but Big Brother (key: impersonal instrument of the System) is perceived as being much more unpleasant by the standards we've been brought up with than the benevolent Mustapha Mond (key: willing servant of the System). All other scenaria excluded and assuming one considers both to be equally undesirable, your choice is between being stabbed and being stabbed in the back with a smile. Which one is scarier depends on one's very personal perception.

While the reality of 1984 may have been a more tangible possibility before the end of the cold war and in the light of numerous regimes that employed (or would like to have employed) its methodology, Brave New World approaches contemporary reality more closely in a "western" republic where ideas and perceptions are imposed by means of manipulation and technology (being fundamental to both) is presented as purely benign when it can just as easily be used for the same purposes as Orwell's.

What you might want to think of as "scary" is that reality in an information-driven technological society is closer to a combination of the fundamental ideas behind the two works. The ideas that Huxley presents can be used to promote Orwellian scenaria and vice versa. The dichotomy between Brave New World and 1984 is false.

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley presents us with a future in which humans are engineered to fulfill a given role in society, conditioned to be satisfied and happy in this role, and provided with euphorics to ensure their happiness is reinforced. The society is run by World Controllers and has the motto "Community, Identity, Stability"

Children are created in vitro, and endowed with characteristics to fit them to a caste: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta or Epsilon. The Alphas are the leaders and thinkers, the Epsilons the work-drones. At the top, Alphas and Betas are raised from single eggs and are unique individuals, at the bottom the eggs are divided to create multiples -- the lower the caste, the greater numbers of infants produced from each egg.

They are raised in nurseries where they are taught to celebrate their position in the society, listing its advantages, and the disadvantages of the other strata, in a mantra. There is no movement between social groups and no unrest. A daily ration of the drug soma provides a feeling of ecstasy to emphasise the desirability of people’s lives.

It is clear that the planners and implementers of this future have worked with the best of intentions to create a Utopia -- but it is presented in such a way that we, the readers, are clearly expected to view it instead as a dystopia. The characters are, superficially, happy, satisfied and serene, but we are encouraged to see the shallowness, artificiality and sensationalism of their lives.

Sex is encouraged, open and without jealousy, but it is also without any depth of emotion. Love-making is no more than a transaction between a couple or group for mutual pleasure, and monogamy is positively frowned on. Individuals recommend sexual partners to each other on the basis of their performance -- how "pneumatic" they are.

Families no longer exist, and hence there are no family enmities or feuds, but the society is also without any real care or nurturing -- people don't grow, they are simply moulded.

Religion based on the idea of a higher power has been replaced by a worship of consumerism and consumption, with society itself being the higher power. This power is represented in the person of Mustapha Mond, an iconic, and initially mysterious figure.

The story primarily takes place in London, and the first lead character we meet is Bernard Marx, an undersized Alpha who is believed to have accidentally received a dose of alcohol as a foetus -- something that is done to lower caste foetuses to limit their growth. He is "different", alienated and not well liked. He also has a crush on Lenina Crowne, and has invited her to go with him to visit the Savage Reservations (an area where current societal conditions are still maintained, although with fewer facilities than in the current developed world). Lenina has been seeing another man, Henry Foster, for several months, but since monogamous relationships are strongly discouraged, she has agreed to go along with Bernard, who she quite likes.

Bernard needs permission to enter the Reservations. As he is getting this from his Director, Tomakin, the Director reminisces about a trip he made to the reservation 25 years earlier with a woman. She got lost in a storm and had to be left behind. Perhaps realizing that this story reveals too much about him, Tomakin becomes defensive, and yells at Bernard, chasing him away.

Bernard goes from here to visit his closest friend Helmholz Watson, an intellectually superior Alpha who is as disaffected as Bernard with society -- he is unchallenged by his job as a writer of inspiring slogans, and yearns to turn his talent to something worthwhile, but can't find what. These two men are opposite sides of the same coin, one excluded by perceived inferiority, and one by actual superiority from full participation in their society, and joined together by their exclusion.

In a call to Helmholz, as he leaves for the reservation, Bernard learns that Tomakin plans to transfer him to Iceland, for antisocial behaviour.

Then he gets lucky -- or so it seems. In the reservation, he meets John Savage, the son of the woman Tomakin left behind and Tomakin himself. This is bound to cause a huge scandal in a society that considers live birth disgusting and corrupt. John is good-looking, intelligent and consumed with curiosity about the Utopia he has heard so much about from his mother, and, potentially, he is Bernard's escape from Iceland.

Bernard brings both John and his mother Linda back to London with him. When Tomakin berates Bernard in public, and tells him that he is to be transferred, Bernard presents the pair to the Director, who is therefore forced to resign as a result of the humiliation. Bernard remains in London.

John, initially, is overcome with wonder at the cleanliness and apparent happiness of the city, and exclaims, in Miranda's words from The Tempest: "Oh Brave New World, that has such people in it!", the source of the book’s title. He is captivated, but soon things begin to go sour as cultures begin, inevitably, to clash.

Connection with John makes Bernard a celebrity, and for the first time he is fully accepted into society. The popularity goes to his head, and he becomes arrogant, and treats John as a showpiece. He throws a party for several prominent people to meet John, but unhappy with the way Bernard has treated him, John refuses to attend.

Bernard is embarrassed, and slides again into his position as outsider, which causes him to grow closer to John again. Helmholz too, becomes close to the man from outside and when John introduces him to Shakespeare, he realises that this is the kind of thing he has been yearning to write.

While this is going on, Lenina has developed an interest in John, and he has fallen in love with her. When she goes to visit him, he tells her of his feelings, and she reacts as her socialisation demands -- by stripping naked and preparing for sex. The romantic John, whose morals are those of Shakespeare and the savages, is shocked. He calls her a "strumpet", and hits her.

A telephone interrupts him before he can do Lenina any real damage, and calls him to the hospital, where Linda is dying from overuse of the drug, soma, that she has missed so much on the reservation. As John sits at her bedside, a large group of children arrive for conditioning, and notice Linda, commenting on how ugly she appears to them. Furious and hurt, he chases them off. Linda is delirious and spaced out, and fails to recognise her son, and as he shakes her to try to bring her back to herself, she chokes and dies.

John blames himself for Linda's death, and is now thoroughly disturbed and traumatised. While leaving the hospital, he comes upon a Delta group waiting in line for their daily soma ration. Seized with the urge to change what he now sees as a corrupt society to something better, John first tries to dissuade them from taking the drug that is poisoning their minds, and when he fails to sway them he starts to throw the drug away. A riot follows and Bernard and Helmholz come along and are caught up in it.

The three men are arrested, and taken to the religious leader Mustapha Mond, where Bernard and Helmholz are judged too individualistic to remain as part of society, and exiled to an island for social outcasts.

John now passionately wants to return to his home, being completely disgusted and disillusioned with the regulated Utopia which suppresses individuality and emotion through artificially engendered contentment. He tells Mond that he wants to go somewhere that he can experience the full range of human emotion, but Mond is determined to keep him close by, so that the experiment of transplanting a member of the savage community in the Utopia can continue.

John runs away, and sets himself up in an abandoned lighthouse on the outskirts of London. He plants a garden, and builds bows and arrows to protect himself. Overcome with guilt for Linda's death, he makes a whip and starts to flagellate himself. A group of passing Deltas see this and soon reporters arrive to film and interview him. While he manages to scare most of them away, one manages to record him, and crowds start to gather to watch him punish himself.

Amongst the crowd is Lenina, and when John sees her, he attacks her with the whip. To calm him, the crowd chants ‘orgy-porgy’ a sensual hymn used to generate a feeling of oneness. He gets caught up in this, and awakes the next day having been seduced into taking soma and indulging in the sexual rites that go along with the hymn.

He is overwhelmed with guilt and self-hatred at this betrayal of his principals and commits suicide, by hanging himself from an archway.

The Utopia continues, unchanged, but John, Bernard, Helmholz, Linda and Tomakin have all been destroyed by it, one way or another -- it crushes anything that doesn't conform. The message is clear: this is totalitarianism, however benign it might seem on the surface, and universal happiness can only be bought through slavery -- freedom requires unhappiness, as well as joy.

As an aside, in Demolition Man, Sandra Bullock's character is named Lenina Huxley, and Sylvester Stallone's is John Spartan-- a clear reference to Brave New World and its author, in a movie where the society portrayed has more than a nodding aquaintance with the dystopia of the book.

Brave New World is not, or not just, a dystopian horror story. It asks a fundamental question about our society, one without easy answers: "What is our goal, and will we like it if we get it?"

Frequently we identify the goal of society by the Utilitarian "greatest happiness for the greatest number" principle. And in practice, the kind of happiness this usually results in is calm, content, and comfortable. Our ideal society would cause the minimum amount of discomfort to the maximum number of people.

As Mustapha Mond points out, the World State is based on exactly this comfort principle. Everything that causes pain has been removed. Nearly everyone is calm, content, and comfortable nearly all the time. Anything that had to be sacrificed to achieve this goal was sacrificed.

It is these sacrifices which cause the horror we feel on contemplating the World State. The State, as Mond recounts, is a result of the World Controllers realizing that if they were to achieve comfort and stability, all other ideals must be sacrificed.

Art is done away with, because the passion needed to create it is linked to suffering and discontent. Science and the pursuit of Truth must cease, because they constantly upset our view of the world. Religion is gone, because the New Man may have no god but pleasure. Love is dead, and with it family, because the bonds of affection for any particular person lead to passion, which leads to instability.

This is what we would need to give up, if we were ever to achieve the ideal for which we have always been striving. This is the world we would make, if the dream of contentment were realized. Huxley shows it to be a nightmarish, intolerable place. The contentment finally achieved is a faint pretense at true happiness. With contentment as our goal, we will be forced to give up all of the other things in life for it, and the contentment we seek will be poisoned. In short, Huxley is telling us that we need a better goal.

Brave New World is a phrase taken from Shakespeare's Tempest:

Brave New World O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!

It depicts a dystopia (the was word coined in 1950s, two decades after the book was pulished -- meaning a place directly opposite of Utopia). Huxley paints a bleak, dark place, situated in remote future, where humanity has chosen the wrong course.

Brave New World surprised me by both by its brilliance and -- in some areas -- its shortcomings. For example, in this book, published in 1932, reproduction is carried out through in vitro fertilization. This process also employs another technique, called a rather tongue-twisting bokanovskification, whereby one zygote is treated to churn out up to 96 clones (How eerily prescient, taking into account that the first mammalian clone, the famous sheep Dolly, was created not before 1997. Current record of producing most clones from a single cell is still a paltry 9 mice). Some scenes in the book even remind one of the rows upon rows of test-tube humans in the recent movie The Matrix. This process of reproduction was so fantastic that one of the greatest science fiction writers of the twentieth century, Isac Asimov, could not visualize it even in 1957 (!) while writing his classic "The Naked Sun". In this sci-fi thriller, he describes a colonized planet Solaria, where humans had become so reclusive that the presence of any other person in their close vicinity was absolutely abhorrent -- they meet each other through a 3D holographic device. But however nauseating the presence of any other human being near them, even those hermits produce babies in the good old fashion of us earthlings! This makes it absolutely sure that Asimov didn't read Brave New World.

But on the other hand, the characterization of Huxley leaves much to be desired. All characters are one-dimensional and stiff. Lenina (the heroine), Bernard, Linda, the director and others are as life-like as street-shop mannequins. And I found the character of the Savage - champion of the cause of freewill and old-fashioned humanity -- the most unbelievable. I fail to comprehend how a person who lived all his life in an almost pre-historic environment and who never read any book in his life except the works of Shakespeare (how did he manage to understand him is another matter!) can be so erudite and so thoughtful as to engage in philosophical discussions on history, psychology and human behaviour? I think this is a big flaw that holds back an otherwise brilliant book.

It would be worthwhile here take into account another great 20th century dystopia 1984 by George Orwell. Although it's hard to compare these two novels but in my opinion 1984 is much more terrifying and Orwell's future world is much grimmer than Huxley's. And his characters, too, are more believable.

I have to disagree with significance x's appraisal that 1984 is more terrifying than Brave New World. While Orwell's universe may be "darker" simply by virtue of describing more torture scenes, there are several other failings in the book. He provides no reasonable way for EngSoc to have come to power -- they offer nothing to the people. In addition, Orwell's people are incredibly gullible -- not even the USSR attempted to convince its "citizens" that its enemies never changed. Similarly, while the Ministry of Truth's constant revisions of previous estimates parallels similar practices in various totalitarian regimes, the subjects of those regimes rarely if ever believed the revisions. Almost any book written by someone inside the Soviet Union will convey the wide extent to which the population saw through the CPSU's lies. In contrast, Huxley's vision does not require deception or mass coercion on the part of the government. Instead, it relies on satisfying the wants of most of the population, and relying on their not noticing that there's more out there. A critical scene in this regard is the one in which the Savage attempts to preach to a group of deltas about the evils of Soma, and they don't understand him -- not because his vocabulary or concepts are particularly above theirs, but because the concept of living less happily doesn't make sense to them.

The characterization of John is one of the weaker points of Brave New World, but I think the rest of the novel compensates for it. It's certainly not as bad as the political treatise Orwell introduces in the middle of 1984, while contending that it's part of a novel.

BRAVE NEW WORLD (the film)

The book/film is set in an imaginary world, where free love, independent thinking and emotions are unwanted. People are conditioned to be happy and whenever they feel any real emotions, they take some antidepressant, called Soma. Society is split up into four classes of people, chosen by their mental capabilities, ranging from alpha to delta. Alpha are supposed to be the most intelligent and are trained to lead and support others, but they all don't really realize that everything is lead by the Controller. He was the one who founded this new world and created it's ideologies and rules and his main goal is to ensure false happiness for everyone. Of course he thinks that he does the right thing, but as the story evolves, we will see that he is wrong. The other classes are betas, gammas and deltas where deltas are on the lowest level and have to do the physical work.

From birth on, all people are constantly conditioned in enormous conditioning centers to be happy and to love their work. The most important slogan that turn up is "Everyone is equally important".

Sounds like a good idea to make everyone feel important, but it has it's downsides. In this brave new world, love is unwanted and not needed anymore so it is just reduced to physical contact.

But there are places called "Reservations" where live is practically as it is now. Definitely not perfect, but far more desireable than the brave new world. The people in the bnw are totally seperated from the "real world" and when one day John, who is living in a Reservation, comes to the city, it draws a lot of media attention on him. He simply can not understand how those people can stand to live in this new world, without love and feelings. He finds some friends who he influences a lot, and one of them is Lenina (I hope I got the name right). There is a small group of people that are advising and helping the controller and one of them is Lenina's friend.

As the story goes on, John practically becomes the reality show of the bnw and when the media attention and the whole situation becomes unbearable for him, he commits suicide. He had really tried to change this new world, to lead them back on the right way, but he couldn't succeed. What probably nobody will never find out, is the fact that one of the people out of the group that is surrounding the controller, was John's father and in the bnw, the words "father" and "mother" are bad language, because all children are rather produced then born.

Heavily impressed by John's death, Lenina and her friend start thinking about their current live and when she finds out that she is pregnant, she decides not to abort the baby (what is totally common in this world) but to keep it and to leave the city and to live in the country with her friend.

Themes:

There is a wide range of themes in this book/film, lead, once again, by love. For me love was the most important theme because it's missing made all the people unhappy. Other themes are for instance independent thinking, discrimination, a person's identity and place in the society as well as emotions and feelings. Another major theme is the theme of power, personalized by the controller.

Personal comment:

I like the story and the themes of the film a lot, but I think I would have enjoyed more to read the book than to watch the film. Anyways, the film was overally pretty good and I enjoyed watching it.

As I already mentioned, I particularely liked the story, but I fear that our world is slowly shifting in that direction too. Some items of the plot are near reality already, like the human cloning that is done by Severino Antinory, the italian doctor that is claming that he already has done experiments on cloning humans. Out of the story I conclude that it should be one of our main goals to ensure a life with free will and emotions for everyone. John stated this opinion like this:

"I don't want comfort, I want God, I want poetry, I want danger, I want freedom"

Just some notes I wrote for my English class:


Characters

The first character introduced in the novel is the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning (DHC) of Central London (later referred to by his real name -Tomakin). The director is first introduced on pages 19-20, his physical appearance is vividly described as “Tall and rather thin but upright, He had a long chin and big, rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? It was hard to say.” (Huxley 20). The director’s unknown age is quite significant for him as an introductory character as the reader later finds that the scientists in Brave New World managed to slow down aging, making people young until the day they die. The director introduces a group of students as well as the reader to some of the most important concepts on which the fictional society is built.

Henry Foster is a minor character who is introduced as a technician at the Central London hatchery and Conditioning Centre. He is Described as “a ruddy young man” (Huxley 24)Mr. Foster is an expert on many procedures that take place in the centre and explains some of them to the students (and, once again, to the reader). His only major significance is to introduce the reader to the setting and his short role as one of Lenina’s lovers.

Mustapha Mond is introduced in Chapter 3; he is the Resident Controller for Western Europe, one of the ten controllers in the world. As a controller, Mond receives a great amount of respect from the general public, and is referred to as “His Fordship” (for more information see Setting and Symbolism). At the beginning of the novel Mond acts in a the same manner as all the other conditioned characters – he strongly opposes to the ideas of the old world and concepts such as motherhood, creative literature and culture in the old sense of the word. Later on through the novel Mond shows his true personality and belief system as he boldly states that “I make the laws here, I can also break them.” (Huxley 217). Through his conversation with the savage, Mond agrees with many of John’s views on Shakespeare and other issues. Mond states that he loves poetic literature and science, but cannot let others practice them because they are dangerous concepts that threaten happiness.

Bernard Marx, one of the major characters in the novel, is introduced on the same chapter as Mustapha Mond and is an Alpha-Plus psychologist and specialist in hypnopaedia. Bernard, unlike other conditioned individuals, does not like modern society and the way relationships are supposed to work. Fanny says “They say he doesn’t like Obstacle Golf And then he spends most of his time alone.” (Huxley 57)These words may not seem like serious accusations but for the society described in the novel all people are supposed to enjoy the same activities - obstacle golf is used here as an example of such an activity – and dislike solitude. That, taken along with his unusual height, makes Bernard an extremely abnormal character and is the reason he is not very popular in society. Bernard’s views include opposition to conditioning and the lack of serious relationships in society.

Lenina Crowne (the name's similarity to Vladimir Lenin is with no doubt intentional) is the major female character in the novel and the only major character who fully agrees with the current system and is correctly conditioned. Lenina is first introduced as a lab worker in the London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. She is described as the ideal character for the society of the novel – perfect in appearance and behaviour. Lenina’s trust in the system can be somewhat explained by fact that she is of the Beta caste (less intelligent than the Alpha). Lenina has romantic relationships with both Bernard and the Savage, and both are similar in several ways: Lenina sees them as the ideal person in her society – brief relationships that are mainly based on sexual relations and meaningless talk while Bernard and the Savage want deeper and longer relationships that have real meaning. Once Bernard and the Savage realize this they seem far less interested in the relationship.

Helmholtz Watson is Bernard’s friend and a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering (working primarily on propaganda). Introduced late in the novel, Helmholtz’s character does not really have enough time to fully develop but he has a great impact on the savage. Helmholtz, like many of the other major characters in the novel, has special views on the society he is in and is seen as an abnormal character who is not accepted by society. Helmholtz, when teaching poetry, introduces his own poem about solitude which later gets him deported to an island.

John, later known as ‘the Savage’, is one of the major characters in the novel – quite possibly the main character – and is the one with the biggest problem about society. John is the son of Linda and the Director. This fact by itself makes John unique because besides the savages in the reserve no people are allowed to have children and be parents. Although John is born in a reserve and is a savage, his parents are not. John is first introduced when Bernard and Lenina visit the savage reservation, and is brought back to London with the two. The Savage falls in love with Lenina, but violently rejects her when she expresses her love as he starts seeing her as a symbol of civilization. From the very beginning, John despites civilization but his feelings reach their maximum strength when his mother dies. At that point John runs away and starts a new life by himself in an abandoned lighthouse. This proves impossible as the civilized people spy on him and see him as entertainment. Struggling to find solitude and purity, John hangs himself.  


Symbolism

Henry Ford’s ideas and beliefs are what the dystopian society is based on. Ford is the only god that world knows and his name is used in the same way as God. Ford’s crowning as god does not only have a literal meaning but also a symbolic one: Ford symbolizes industrialization and the production line – something that the whole world becomes in the novel.

Besides Ford, Sigmund Freud is also a symbol of the ideals of the Brave New World society but in a more psychological sense. “Our Ford – or Our Freud, as, for some inscrutable reason, he chose to call himself whenever he spoke of psychological matters” (Huxley 52). The people in the novel believe that Ford and Freud are one, Freud being the name Ford uses when he speaks of psychology. It is not fully clear why this happens but it does seem that both Ford and Freud are symbols of two halves of the same thing – a society based on community, mass production and lack of family life. Huxley clearly dislikes the ideas of Ford and Freud and builds a whole society based on them to demonstrate how terrible they truly are when put to practice.

Huxley uses the drug, soma, as a symbol of escapism taken to its extremes – a way of completely removing one’s mind from earth and forgetting all the earthly problems. Soma can also be seen as a symbol of the effects of science on society. Huxley predicts a way, which allows the government to manipulate society using a drug that is wanted by society, eliminating all problems in the world. “All of the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects. Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology.” (Huxley 66). This indicates that the world sees soma as a substitute to religion and alcohol, meaning that it can be used to achieve much needed spiritual balance as well as escape from this world.

Shakespeare is a clearly visible symbol of old culture (at the time in which the novel takes place), representing all the things that come to mind when thinking of the word including: Literature and poetry, Religion, Love, Spirituality and the spiritual way of looking at life. Shakespeare in the novel is the opposite of civilization and technology. The Savage is fascinated with Shakespeare, which foreshadows the fact that he respects old culture and all of the things it includes.

The Charing T-Tower, an obvious reference to Ford’s T-model, is a minor symbol of technology and how it controls society. It also relates to the symbol of Ford (see above).

 


Theme

The use of technology to control society, used as a grim warning to modern society as it becomes dependant on technology. “One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanoskified egg will bud, will proliferate, and will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo “(Huxley 3-4) This illustrates how the Brave New World society uses biotechnology to control births, eliminating the need for family life. From the very beginning of the novel such facts are presented and alarm the reader even though they seem like salvation for society.

The “Feelies” - the equivalent of television and mass media in general - are a great example of how governments have the power to control the media and control society through it. Other methods of controlling society are soma, conditioning, elimination of dangerous individuals (such as Bernard and Helmholtz who are sent to an island), synthetic music, scent organs (used in a similar way to soma) and anti-riot speeches. The society in the novel also uses technology to keep people young until the day they die, so that they can keep working for their whole lives. “Now – such is progress – the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think ” (Huxley 49)

Solitude and community is another theme in Brave New World. Huxley shows that even though community is a powerful tool, it cannot be used as a government system because of the loss of individualism (a bold statement against communism which is obviously intentional). Huxley promotes ideas of solitude and it is supported by all the major positive characters (Helmholtz, Bernard, the Savage). When Helmholtz tells about his recital of a poem about solitude, and how he is reported to the principal, Bernard explains, “It’s Flatly against all their sleep teaching. Remember, they’ve had at least a quarter of a million warnings against solitude.” (Huxley 182)

The consumer society is a theme that appears frequently in Huxley’s writings, as it does not only apply to the time in which the novel takes place but also to the time in which it was written. Huxley warns the reader that even though the path our world is on will bring it to prosperity, it will not lead it to happiness. “I love new clothes, I love new clothes Ending is better than mending.” (Huxley 64)These phrases, repeated many times throughout the novel, show how the people have been sleep-taught to love purchasing new items to improve economy. This can be seen as a very serious warning because many people in today’s world have similar views, also given to them by the government but in far more indirect ways.  


Literary Devices

Huxley frequently uses definitions to quickly introduce the reader to complicated concepts in his fictional world which are not important enough to be introduced through actual plot and through dialogs, but are nevertheless necessary for the reader to visualize Huxley’s world. “Bokanovskification consists of a series of arrests of development. We check the normal growth and paradoxically enough, the egg responds by budding” (Huxley 22). Such definitions are used in two ways: one is to introduce the reader to scientific concepts and the other – possibly far more important – is to add the scientific mood to the plot, using complex and long terms such as “Bokanovskification” to confuse the reader and introduce him to the futuristic world in which the novel takes place.

Symbolism is used frequently throughout the novel, more detail on that can be found in the Symbolism section. “Brave New World” is not only the title of Huxley’s novel but also the term the Savage uses to describe the civilized world he is introduced to. Like many other words that come out of John’s mouth, “Brave New World” is a Shakespearean phrase from The Tempest where Miranda says, "Oh brave new world/That has such people in't" (Act V; lines 182-3). When said by the Savage, this phrase has in it a metaphor, sarcasm and personification. The metaphor is the of the new world being advanced and powerful where everybody is happy and all problems are solved. The personification is of the world as being ‘brave’, a human quality that is assigned to the world to indicate, among other things, how society becomes unified and can be seen as one person. The sarcasm is evident, as the Savage uses the phrase to indicate that the new world is not what he thought it to be.

When the savage sees Lenina on a soma holiday he uses several metaphors to describe her, the most significant one being the extended metaphor of the woman as a bird: “ with the hesitating gesture of the one who reaches forward to stroke a shy and possibly rather dangerous bird The bird was too dangerous.” (Huxley 149)  


Conflicts

At the beginning of the novel, very few conflicts are introduced and those that are – Bernard’s dislike of everything in society (person vs. society) and his dislike of his own physical shape (person vs. self) – are not very significant in contrast to those deep conflicts that are later introduced in relation to the Savage.

The savage is in love with Lenina, and she is in love with him but one’s love for the other is not the same as Lenina only wants the Savage sexually while the Savage wants a deep relationship like the ones he read about in Shakespeare’s plays. “The savage pushed her away with such force that she staggered and fell. ‘Go,’ he shouted, standing over her menacingly, ‘get out of my sight or I’ll kill you.” (Huxley 177). This shows that even though John loves Lenina, he cannot accept her love for him and hates Lenina for her conditioning caused stupidity.

When the Savage talks to Helmholtz, Bernard and finally Mustapha Mond, he finds himself in deep person vs. person conflicts that are caused by the people of the new world not understanding Shakespeare and other elements of old culture. “Why don’t you let them see Othello instead?” ‘I’ve told you; it’s old. Besides, they couldn’t understand it.’ Yes, that was true. He remembered how Helmholtz laughed at Romeo and Juliet.” (Huxley 200)Although Mustapha Mond admits Shakespeare’s genius, he explains that it is not healthy for society to see such plays.

A person vs. society conflict arises as the Savage sees society treat his mother’s death with an inhuman attitude and mock her and his pain. The Savage is astonished by Society’s views on death.

A final person vs. society conflict arises when the Savage is disturbed in his hideout by reporters, cameras, helicopters and spectators who finally make him kill himself.  


Setting

Setting plays a most important role in Brave New World as the whole purpose of the novel is to show the reader what the world would look like if it stays on the same track of development as well as what it is like now (in an exaggerated way)

The novel takes place in what is our world in the future (632 A.F, or After Ford). This means that the date by our terms should be around 2600. The history of the world is not discussed in detail in the novel but one event is constantly referred to – the Nine Years’ War. After this long war the world was nearly destroyed and people accepted the new government as it solved all of their problems.

The new world is governed by ten all-powerful individuals known as the World Controllers (Mustapha Mond being one of them).

Religion in the new world is prohibited with the exception of the new religion in which the god is Ford.

Instead of the regular family and birth system all people are born in hatcheries where they are grown and conditioned.

People are divided into the caste system, alphabetized by the first letters of the Greek alphabet: Alphas are the tallest, strongest and most intelligent individuals who work as scientists and other occupations where thinking is necessary. All of the main characters in the novel are Alphas with the exclusion of the Savage and Lenina. The Alpha citizens wear gray colours. Betas have sufficient intelligence to live lives similar to those of the Alphas but their positions require less thinking. The Betas wear mulberry coloured clothes. Gammas can only perform jobs where thinking is not necessary at all but some intelligence is needed to perform their job. The Gamma intelligence level is approximately as much as a very unintelligent individual but is still realistic for a healthy person. They wear green. Deltas are huge twin groups wearing khaki and performing such assembly line jobs. Epsilons wear black and are absolute morons, only capable of pure manual labour. It is surprising that Huxley chose to include these moronic individuals in his industrial setting since in the world he describes machines and not humans would do the manual labour.

Besides the civilized world described in the novel, there are also savage reservations where the old ways are preserved and ancient gods are worshipped. The reservations are fenced from the outside world and do not have any of the advantages and disadvantages of the caste system, hatcheries and conditioning.

Those who do not prove to be capable of living harmlessly in the civilized world are sentenced to be deported to islands in which they are free to live by their ways of solitude and thinking, exploring ancient culture and science without having an effect on the outside world. Bernard and Helmholtz are sent to these islands at the end, but their fate there is not described. It is also said that Mustapha Mond himself was about to be sent to an island.  


Narrative

The Narrator is a third-person omniscient. The thoughts of various characters are shown in detail. The novel is in the past tense.

The protagonists are Bernard, Helmholtz and John.

The antagonist is Mustapha Mond.

The novel is primarily told from the point of view of Bernard Marx or the Savage. Some events are described through Lenina, Helmholtz Watson, and Mustapha Mond.

The tones of the novel are at times Satirical, ironic, and at others serious and grim. The author creates a perfect image of the world through a dark parody of our own world.

Elements of Brave New World briefly identified and explained for significance:

feelies: Modern equivilant to films, however involing the use of other senses other than sight and sound, namely touch and smell. They are often the destination for dates of couples, including John and Lenina.

The Savage Reserveration: The home of many so-called "savages" including John and Linda. Bernard and Lenina vist and watch a ritual which inolved the sacrafice of a young man by way of whipping. This unfamiliar scene is seen as especially terrorizing by Lenina.

soma: The "perfect drug" of the current times. It is used as a relief from any situation involving even the slightest stress or agony to the user. It is often compared to religion or God, and is definitely a key part of the World State.

freemartins: Seventy perfect of women who, at point of "creation", are sterilized.

Alphas: The highest social caste (exception: Alpha Plus) among their society of social hierarchy: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. They have been conditioned to have jobs that involve thinking, unlike the hard labour conditioning of Epsilons, for example.

hypnopedia: The conditioning treatment discovered long before their era. It is used in their times to reinforce social order and morals by repeating various phrases over and over while the patient is sleeping.

Solidarity, Community, Identity: The main motto of their society that expresses much that "everyone belongs to everyone else" to create a better, more orderly and fair society for all residents.

Malthusian belt: A belt which holds contraceptives and encourages more "social interaction." Linda is given one by Henry.

Solidarity Meeting: A gathering of Alphas. They sit around a large table, switching positions by sex at every seat (female, male, female, etc). They sing hymns and indulge in doses of soma. They often end in an orgy that involves everyone that is present at the meeting.

Mustapha Mond: Resident Controller of Western Europe, who keeps forbidden texts (bibles, Shakespeare, etc.) locked up in his room. In the end he relates to John by discussing relgions and the whole circumstances behind the "perfect" World State.

Ford: Seen as their "god" (for lack of a better term) for having introduced the production line and releasing the Ford Model T ('T' symbol used as equivilant to Christian cross). They era begins with the release of the Model T (A.F. - 'After Ford').

Linda: Mother of John, banished from society to the Savage Reservation when her contraceptives failed and she was impregnanted by who we later found out was Thomas (The Director). She is large and not particularly attractive and eventually dies in the hospital with her son at her side.

John Savage: Son of Linda, grows up on the Reservation but eventually goes to society and is deeply disturbed by the conditions. He makes an attempt at rebellion by throwing away the soma rations of a group of workers. He later becomes "friends" with Mond through similar interests in Shakespeare and discusses the current state of the society (hierarchy, religion (or lack thereof), etc.)

The Director: Used in the beginning of the novel to lay out the background information of how their societ works, especially in the creation plants. He explains to a group of students how certain conditioning is achieved through electric shock, hypnopedia, et al.

Fanny Crowne: Friend of Lenina, she encourages her to be more sexually open and should not limit herself to just one man, just as is proper in their society.


Freedom in Brave New World

One of the most common reoccurring themes in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (BNW) is freedom vs. happiness. It’s obvious that the people in Huxley’s “World State” really don’t know any better about their freedom (or lack thereof). They are happy with their “day in, day out” lives of working, sex, and drugs. However, the character of John quickly challenges these innate morals by the end of the novel. In chapter seventeen of the novel, John admits, “I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." With this one single line we are instantly struck with a great deal of consideration for the comparison of their liberty and ours.

We see the characters of the novel happy with their ignorance, as it were. From their conception they are given a job that they will have to perform for the rest of their lives, no questions asked. Quite obviously, this doesn’t leave much freedom for anything. To be conditioned from conception to do a particular job certainly provides a lot less worry that we face today in society: finding what interests you, going to a good school, getting good grades, finding a good job. Although giving up the worry for a complete lack of free will, especially in something as routine as your job, is hardly a fair trade. I couldn’t imagine being pre-chosen for a specific job, even from conditioning, knowing that there is potential for being some more had I been made as a Gamma.

When not working away like drones in their predestined jobs, they put forth very few sexual morals compared to what we have; pretty much anything goes. This may sound good for those who would be so inclined, that’s a given. To everyone else, this is really destroying a beautiful thing. Sex, in the World State, is no more of a thoughtless activity (maybe even chore) than doing the labor they had been unearthly assigned. Sex, as far as I’m concerned, is exactly the opposite of what this is. People may see the sexual “freedom” from BNW as a godsend, but to get such freedom also means a complete downgrade of what sex should be.

Drugs seemed to be the most prominent theme of the novel. Whether it was the intention of Huxley or not, reading the use of soma on just about every page of the book really made me think of drugs in our own society. With this in mind, it quickly became clear that I am so thankful we do not have such freedom. Besides the fact that we do not any such “perfect drug” equivalent to BNW’s soma, I’d hate to imagine that drugs are what everyone goes to with every little not-so-ideal situation. Just because there are no side effects does not mean that there should be excuse to enter some other, hallucinogenic-induced world every time you face hardship even in the slightest.

I suppose most – if not all – of what I’ve said is simply stating the obvious. But sometimes saying what everyone already knows really puts things better into perspective. I know I’ve said that million times before, and I have no problem saying it again. And now that I’ve written this journal, I really see there is a great mix of freedom. They do indeed have freedom – sex and drugs, as mentioned – but these lack of restrictions only seem to restrict them more, as it were. What we consider to be “sin” in terms of drugs and sex in our society only seem to be the norm in theirs. John said it best, in what I feel is the most significant quote in the entire novel, when he didn’t want comfort, he wanted freedom, and he wanted sin.


What is our goal, and will we like it if we get it?

Brave New World’s “World State” is the perfect example of a horrific dystopia. Whether intended to be completely serious or not, Aldous Huxley has offered us some form of commentary on the future of society in his novel. While we may laugh at some (or even a lot of) the reoccurring principles and morals of their perfect society, we still have to consider that some of these may not be too far from the truth of our future. We may laugh at the overwhelming sexual promiscuity or the blatant reliance on gateway drugs, but we also have to cringe at the, although exaggerated, bleak look at consumerism and governmental obstruction.

With this view of their world against ours, we can come to ask ourselves one important question about our future: what is our goal, and will we like it if we get it?

One thing I certainly asked myself was, what was the goal of the World State? This is certainly arguable, but assuming they had actually achieved their goals, they might’ve been: less social restraint, secure job placement, definite social structure and hierarchy, stable health of the population, complete globalization, et al.

On paper these all sound like wonderful goals, but we can look at BNW’s extreme examples to quickly change our minds. Do we really want a sexually licentious society where such a thing as “love” hardly even exists? Would we trade all of our personal freedom or potential for a job we which we are absolutely conditioned to perform? Do we really want a strong social structure (where “everyone belongs to everyone else”) if it means each social class is practically opposed to the other? Would we really prefer to live without fear of disease or sickness only to die at the age of 60 in the same day-in, day-out lives? Do we really want to have a completely globalized planet run only by a select number of like-minded leaders? For me, these questions are all about as rhetorical as it could get.

We have to know that whatever goals we make almost always turn out to turn against us in the end. Obviously we see this in Brave New World, but it’s been more than common in our own history. Look at communism, socialism, capitalism, absolutism, and the bunch. They all had fairly, I hate to say, reasonable goals for what they wished to accomplish, but obviously these all failed in their own right.

I think the key for the World State is simply the fact that the people don’t know any better. They have been conditioned to only do their job and live their lives, any outside texts (namely Shakespeare and the bible) have been banned to avoid any sort of rebellion, and anyone who does rebel finds themselves banished to Iceland. Maybe our goal is really ignorance of the population?

(Though probably not.)

 

The three of of these were written for my Grade 12 Writer's Craft class. The first part was actually a test a wrote, and the second was one of three journals written in response to the novel (another can be found in the soma node), and the third was a final journal entry written based on Absolute Zero's write-up in this same node.

Node your homework.

Just a quick note: I have created this node (indeed, this account) because I'm annoyed. Sifting through the other various nodes on this same topic, I have found none that actually provide a range of possibilities when trying to answer the question: what is this novel actually about? The following is an assignment that I wrote for my Grade 10 English class a few months ago.

Paradoxically, it is the anxieties and uncertainties which beset Britain and Huxley in 1931, and which resulted in the rich ambivalence of his novel, which have guaranteed Brave New World’s status as a twentieth-century classic.

The Summary -
Set in “this year of stability,” A.F. 632 (632 years after the famous industrialist Henry Ford began producing automobiles via the means of mass-production), Huxley’s Brave New World is ruled by ten World Controllers who ensure the stability of society, with the world controller for the area that encompasses London being “His fordship” Mustapha Mond. Every aspect of life in the World State’s ten zones is reduced to the point that it can be utilized successfully to suit the city’s need. The citizens of this new world are set out in a five-tiered caste system in which the members at the top (Alpha double-plus’) run businesses and wear elaborate clothing, while the members at the bottom (the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons) are required to work jobs that require no freedom to think and are issued dull grey uniforms. Even so, nobody is discontented with the job or caste system that they are born into, because in laboratories worldwide, embryos are “conditioned” before birth to easily and ignorantly adapt into the environment they are to work in, and as children are “sleep taught” so that they will not envy those above them and abide by the World State’s Motto – “Community, Identity, Stability”. For those few citizens that do become tired of their life, (which is short, ensuring that no-one dies looking old) rations of a drug called soma are freely available to whisk away the minds of the depressed to a paradise created inside their own imagination, without feeling any side effects afterwards. As an added bonus, promiscuity is highly encouraged as the norm among all castes of people.

Amidst the ignorant blissfulness of Brave New World’s society is Bernard Marx, a citizen who represents everything the World State has tried to abolish. Bernard harbors thoughts of jealously, longs solitude, yearns after one woman only (Lenina Crowne) and has an urge to break free of the mould. After visiting the “Savage Reservation” on the outskirts of London (a place not too different from third-world countries today) and meeting John the Savage, Bernard feels he has his chance in life. Initially, Bernard is genuinely interested in the values of John (an outcast himself in the Savage Reservation), but as the book develops Bernard is increasingly disappointing to the reader as he seeks fame and fortune in London by showing off his “new discovery”. While John the Savage provides a refreshing spark of humanity from the rest of London, eventually he too is dragged to his exile and death as he finds out the truth about the “totalitarian horror” of Huxley’s ironically named Brave New World.

The Anxieties and Uncertainties -
Written in 1931 and first published in 1932, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is, to quote the assignment statement, a novel with “rich ambivalence.” This ambivalence comes from the tragic anxieties and uncertainties that beset Huxley and Britain in the early 20th century – of which there were many. Brave New World can be interpreted as a satirical novel that criticizes the American dominance of post-First World War society, as an exaggerated 'solution' to many of the problems facing Britain after the world-wide economic crash of 1929 or as a dystopian novel that creates an alienating world as a warning of what human society may become.

Initially, the easiest road to take in interpreting Brave New World is that it’s just another sci-fi novel – maybe even one that’s attempting to predict the future. Looking over Huxley’s life, situation and views on society at the time of writing this novel, it becomes increasingly difficult not to realize that, through the de-humanized citizens and culture in Brave New World, Huxley is in fact criticizing the dominance of American culture in the 1920’s – the 'American boom'. Writing to his brother Julian in August 1918, Huxley observed that one of the biggest consequences of the First World War would be “the inevitable acceleration of American world domination.” While this was a common view among most academics at the time, it was evident that Huxley felt bitter about the new-found world leaders, and a trip to Los Angeles (a place Huxley describes as “the city of dreadful joy” ) had an obvious effect on him. This “dreadful joy” is satirically conveyed through many of the very things in Brave New World that are used to dehumanize the society for the reader: the “feelies” – a descendant of Hollywood’s “talkies”, the “sexophones” – Huxley’s critical interpretation on the “wailing” saxophones of America at that time, Henry Ford as a deity – inspired by a biased biography of the industrialist that Huxley found and read on the trip to America, and of course the unwavering obsession with looking youthful – Huxley’s outlook on the Beauty Industry. In an essay on the Beauty Industry, Huxley argues that the definition of the word ‘beauty’ is changing, and sadly states:

I have seen women who, by the standards of a connoisseur of porcelain, were ravishingly lovely. Their shape, their colour, their surface texture were perfect. And yet they were not beautiful.

In Brave New World, this is clearly shown through Lenina Crowne, who John the Savage falls desperately in love with, but is furious to find out that she is only after sex and the material things in life – the perfect example of an upholding citizen of the new world. Huxley was also to write that “'Old ladies' are already becoming rare. In a few years, we may well believe, they will be extinct.” A common and seemingly happy thing in Brave New World is death – people don’t die looking old, but instead pass away happily retaining their youth.

As Huxley was planning another trip to America in 1931, he told one person that he was writing “a novel about the future – on the horror of the Wellsian Utopia and the revolt against it,” (referring to H.G. WellsMen Like Gods of 1932, with its portrayal of a utopia peopled by “active, sanguine, inventive, receptive and good tempered” citizens) and told another that the trip to America was “just to know the worst” . Indeed, Huxley’s original purpose in writing Brave New World may well have been to not only satirize the spreading Americanization, but the utopian state in which it was depicted in Men Like Gods. As he began to write, however, Huxley started to become more and more engrossed in the non-fiction events of his time.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 triggered a global depression that severely affected those areas of Britain that relied on staple industries. With the crisis hitting a high point in 1931 as unemployment continued to rise rapidly, Huxley attended many functions and debates, and more often than not was unimpressed with the “twaddling” that he heard. He argued that democracy be renounced, and instead replaced by a system ruled “by men who will compel us to do and suffer what a rational foresight demands” . It was continually discussed that the use of a national plan similar to that of the recent Soviet Union’s needed to be put in place, and the main reason for economic collapse was under-consumption. He envisaged that propaganda and the use of eugenics (the study of improving the human race) could be used as a means of state control, and in 1931 he was recorded to write that stability was the “primal and the ultimate need” if Britain were to survive their crisis. These suggestions and more multiplied as the country was lead further and further into decline, although none were listened to.

In the same year as all of the great debates and functions, Huxley wrote a book that today is seen to be providing a solution to all of the economic and social problems of the time. This book would later become Brave New World, in which all of the suggestions offered by Huxley to improve and stabilize society are integrated. For example, Huxley’s suggestion about democracy being renounced and replacing it with some kind of totalitarian figure that would make all of the decisions is represented through the World State and Mustapha Mond. The problem of under-consumption is solved through the consumerism of his Brave New World (even corpses are used as a source of phosphorous). The use of propaganda and eugenics as a means of state control – soma and embryo conditioning. The suggestion that the primal need in a civilization is stability – Huxley’s Brave New World revolves around it (all one needs to do is to look at the World State’s motto of “Community, Identity, Stability”). But Huxley did not simply create a utopian world in which everything was perfect; he intended to uphold his reputation as “a novelist, thinker and pundit” . The reason Brave New World is widely regarded as a dystopian novel is because Huxley’s 'solution' to the problems facing Britain at the time was highly exaggerated. Huxley’s quote of “any form of order is better than chaos” seems to be attacked as individuality, character, happiness – arguably everything that makes up humanity – is sacrificed for stability in Brave New World as a question arises in the reader’s mind: is this a desirable solution?

The means of finding an answer to this question – the final conflict of values and ideas as compared to science and technology, happiness and civilization – comes in chapters 16 and 17. Huxley creates a situation where the two extremes meet face to face in a clash of ideals, with Mustapha Mond arguing for his "brave new world", and John the Savage opposing it. Mustapha Mond is an omniscient-type figure, with knowledge of both worlds. He argues that his people are happy because all needs and desires are met, and he has sacrificed love, art, religion and parenthood for what he regards as happiness: “You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We’ve sacrificed the high art.” Religion is “censored” in Huxley’s Brave New World, and Mond says that his people have youth and prosperity up until the very end; therefore they can be “independent of God”. He then highlights the true reason behind soma: “Christianity without tears.” Because of the loss of individuality and high level of ignorance in his society, the people are happy when they get what they want and never want what they can’t get.

John the Savage argues that sacrificing Art, Science and Religion is too high a price to pay for what Mond falsely claims is happiness. In a later essay, even Huxley himself says that “an art collection can represent money more effectively than a whole fleet of motor cars.” God is needed in human society because God manages the punishing and rewarding, keeps the behavior in check and he is needed so people can have faith to get through the bad times. After Mond says that in his brave new world people are never unhappy, John claims the right to be unhappy, to suffer, to grow old; to be able to experience the full range of a human’s “natural” emotional potential: “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” He declares that happiness is achieved only by knowing trauma first

Huxley’s novel describes a world without pain, but a world without soul. It provides the reader with a prediction of what the world might turn into.

The Twentieth-Century Classic -
Although Brave New World was written in 1931, a renewed relevance has lately been justified. In his 1946 forward to the New Harper edition of the novel, Huxley states the novel’s theme as “the advancement of science as it affects human individuals.” The reliance on technology for the people in Brave New World seems daunting at first glance, but if thought about, the situation arises where the people of London in A.F. 632 rely less on technology than people in the year 2004AD (when it comes to fun, anyway). It seems the people of today get bored too easily, and require more and more advancements in their technology to keep them happy, whereas in Huxley’s Brave New World, the technology is based around the life sciences. This is because, while advanced when compared with society today, the society in Huxley’s novel is at a standstill – they "exist to continue their existence" (to quote Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium). The World State have banned science, and if anyone had an interesting breakthrough (besides setting the record for cloning the most people from one zygote), they would be sent off to an island. Huxley states this through his foreword, saying that, for the people living in his rave New World, it’s “as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them {Science and technology},” and later he states that, as time goes on, sciences like physics and chemistry are taken for granted: “it is only by means of the sciences of life that the quality of life can be radically changed”. In the last ten years the world has seen huge advances in technology, and most of the predicted technologies in Brave New World have, in part, become realities. Examples of this are that doctors are able to produce children with specific traits based on the gene pool of the chosen donors and prescribe mood-changing drugs, while scientists are able to clone animals. In our society today, people are strongly opposed to such advancements, but in Brave New World, the technology and propaganda is so powerful that it successfully encourages all citizens to think along the same lines.

Unlike other dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (where force is used as a means to persuade, but instead of gaining power, it only builds up resentment in the minds of the oppressed), the primary tool for state control for the World Controllers in Brave New World is soma. Soma is the perfect drug – one ration can take your mind on a holiday for 18 hours, and when you wake up the next day you feel absolutely fine. Soma isn’t illegal and protected like most drugs today – free soma rations are given out weekly for most castes and Alphas enjoy soma whenever they like; while police pump out large quantities of soma from hoses as a means of riot control (not that there are many riots). While our society doesn’t have wonder drugs, the governments do use high levels of propaganda as a means of advertising, recruitment, power, making the population happy, and even eradicating memories of the past. Unnerving events and people in certain nations’ histories have been erased from the minds of the new population: the censored Japanese textbooks, re-touched Russian photographs and the Australian ignorance of Aboriginal history. These memories are not erased by drugs, but by another weapon: the media. For example, the Australian media rejoices in things such as the ANZAC legend, Don Bradman and Mary Donaldson, but when it comes to Aboriginal history and their mis-treatment, there’s nothing. The bigger media coverage you have as a nation, the more power you gain over your citizens. Consider America: whilst people were marveling over the fact that Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed at the Superbowl, innocent Iraqi families were being slaughtered by vengeful American soldiers. As soon as one American soldier is killed whilst fighting, the newspaper articles suddenly revert back to how horrible all of the Iraqis are, and how much the American Army needs recruitment.

The promiscuous behavior in Brave New World is still being frowned upon by the people who read the novel today, even in an all-boys year 10 class. Yet if you told the average adolescent that they were promiscuous, they’d probably laugh in your face. If you then went on to explain what the word meant, they would probably come back by calling you ‘frigid’. The respect with which people hold for a relationship is definitely declining, and soon we will have caught up to the level of which is described in Brave New World (in his foreword, Huxley writes that “there are already certain American cities in which the number of divorces is equal to the number of marriages” ). The idea of sex is getting less and less taboo, and movie directors are going further than ever with their movies, yet not receiving that high a rating. Long gone are they days of courting when people would be in 'relationships' their whole lives without sleeping together. It’s hard to expect people to be writing love poetry and singing all day, but even so, one can’t help but feeling that lately, the word 'love' is being abused.

Conclusion -
The early 20th century was a chaotic time fraught with both major economic and social highs and lows, and Brave New World not only offers an insight into what Huxley thought about the society he was living in, but how he thought it could be solved and where he thought it could be heading. The rich ambivalence that springs from this novel is surely much richer than just three interpretations, and even Huxley had trouble in determining out the intended point of view. When asked on radio in 1935 whether his ultimate sympathies were with the savages aspirations or with the ideal of conditioned stability, Huxley is reported to have replied: “With neither, but I believe some mean between the two is both desirable and our objective.”

Bibliograhpy:
Bradshaw, D. (1994) Brave New World {Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)}. Great Britain: Clays Ltd. {Page 5}.
Bradshaw, D. (1994) Brave New World {Introduction}. Great Britain: Clays Ltd. {Page 6}.
Huxley, A. (1932) Brave New World. Great Britain: Clays Ltd.
Huxley, A. (1946) Brave New World {Foreword}. Great Britain: Clays Ltd. {Page 3}.
Gardiner, H. (1964) Nine Twentieth-Century Essayists. Sydney: Australia. {Page 108}.

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
The Tempest V.i.

The title of the eleventh Strangers in Paradise trade paperback does not refer to Aldous Huxley; author and artist Terry Moore returns to the Shakespearian source of the phrase. Miranda's wonderment at seeing humanity in our diversity suits this story, but readers may wonder about the wisdom of giving this comic the same title as a famous dystopic novel. For the most part, the characters are happy at this point, and able to make choices. Dangers, of course, lurk around every corner, as Moore slowly weaves together many narrative threads. Before these can develop, however, he must resolve a mystery from the previous issue-- one which drove some readers to near-apoplexy.

Title:Brave New World
(Issues #44-45 and 47-48 of the third series)1
Author: Terry Moore.
ISBN: 1-892597-16-0

Some spoilers follow.

After exploring possible future lives and the pasts that might lead/have led to them, Francine Peters, leaves her fiancé to rekindle her relationship with Katchoo. Some may consider the resolution to the previous issue’s mystery a cheat, but it serves the story well by dramatizing Francine’s take on her life’s possibilities. David Qin, who also sought Katchoo’s love, leaves for Japan, claiming he will not return. He may be correct; when he’s there, Tambi puts a gun to his head. Meanwhile, Freddie seeks Francine, a mysterious woman discusses a past sexual assault, another character discovers a human skull, and someone, somewhere, compiles a dossier on Katchoo.

The handling of Casey and, to a lesser degree, Freddie, balances their more recent, sympathetic characterizations with their traditional roles as comic relief. Their development over the years demonstrates Moore’s strength at making even the cartooniest of his characters seem believable. At the same time, Casey's development reveals the dangers of writing serially a story which occasionally shifts its temporal setting. Casey’s actions in #48, where she encourages Francine and Katchoo to finally consummate their relationship, are consistent with the person we’ve come to know. They flatly contradict, however, her attitude in the first issue of the third series, written years earlier but set a decade after the events in Brave New World.

This estranged couple continue to provide some of the funnier moments. Freddie and his latest fling experience an awkward sexual moment. The lights are out, so we only see the dialogue, and have to imagine what might be happening. A phone call interrupts them, and Freddie receives some good news. His response suggests an orgasm, more so than any of the earlier sound effects. At another point, Casey contemplates cooking for Katina and Francine. "How hard can it be?" she asks herself. "You just buy a chicken and read the instructions. Anyone can boil a pancake. Or we can order takeout. Whatever." We’re left to decide the degree to which she is kidding. Dippy though she may be, she's not an idiot. It's clear that she understands the feelings between Katina and Francine better than they do.

Strangers in Paradise has always featured suspense alongside the romance and comedy. Moore raises questions about a number of developments, and solves only some of these mysteries in this volume. Whose skull has the hiker found? What will happen to Casey’s co-worker, Monica, who gives a lift to a man we know to be a rapist? What happens when Francine and Katchoo finally bed down together? What will come of David’s offer to Tambi? Why are the authorities collecting information on Katina? The technique here-- raise a question and delay giving the answer-- may be elementary, but it should keep readers turning pages.

Brave New World certainly has its flaws. The final interaction between Katina and David feels too forced, and too much like what we've seen before. The characters fly into overwrought rages over relationship issues, and one of them, blinded by emotion, does something which will move the plot along. I can accept the series' exaggerations, but the repetition grows tiresome. Moore has written a few too many scenes like this one.

Some people also will be concerned by the stereotypical nature of David’s Japanese girlfriend. She is, however, only one character. When we finally see David’s life story, Moore depicts a diverse Asian cast.

Brave New World isn't the strongest Strangers in Paradise has to offer, but it features impressive artwork, interesting characterization, and an ongoing comic-book reflection of life and relationships.


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1. This trade paperback skips issue #46, which features the second instalment of the Molly & Poo saga, introduced back in #14 of the second series. This strange spin-off only tenuously connects to Strangers in Paradise, although the brief appearance of the series regulars helps solve an enigma of the story's continuity.

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