Soma and LSD: Drugs in Brave New World and Ours
“…there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon…” – Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
…How about a positive LSD story? That would be newsworthy, don't you think? … Just once, to hear a positive LSD story: 'Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration; that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... here's Tom with the weather.'” – Bill Hicks, comedian (1961-1994)
Soma, the futuristic wonder drug, unquestionably plays as a significant, reoccurring symbol in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (BNW). It may not be Huxley’s intention to make it a commentary on drug use directly, but it certainly is one of religion. It had even been described as having all of the advantages of Christianity, but with none of the defects. Quite a bleak and straightforward view of religion, I would say. But I digress; reading about soma in the world created by Huxley immediately made, for myself, connections with LSD in our society. This should be no surprise as it is known that Huxley was introduced to LSD in 1955 by Al Hubbard (fairly well known LSD user and supporter). This was just two years after being introduced to mescaline by psychologist Humphry Osmond.
The history of LSD is somewhat well known to anyone who has ever touched upon anywhere near the subject. With much controversy, psychologists experimented with the drug in hopes to find a cure for schizophrenia in the early 1950’s. Since then, like other drugs, it has gone through its phases of culture and crime. Still today the drug exists with relatively easy access in a number of developed areas, and still bears its use with specific cultures. As it would also be obvious, LSD carries both tales of the amazingly indescribable “psychedelic” experiences and the more common possibly over dramatized horror stories that come with use.
I’m not sure what there is to say about the use of LSD versus or in comparison to that of soma in the novel. I more found it to be an interesting connection than anything else. I did consider this, however: I’d much rather see people doing LSD illegally under their own free will, knowing there is a number of side effects, rather than a world where people induce themselves to a “holiday”, with no possible physical consequences, whenever the “need” arose.
Quick journal written for my Grade 12 Writer's Craft course for a response to, obviously, Brave New World.
Node your homework.