03 August 2008

Thoughts on Brave New World

I'm glad that Wendy talked me into reading Brave New World or rather, just handed me a copy and went "borrow this". In any case, that worked out nicely and I'm glad I've finally read it.

While I was reading Nineteen Eighty-Four, Anthem, Never Let Me Go, and A Handmaid's Tale I was left with a feeling throughout the whole novel that everything seemed inherently wrong. They made for fun reads because everything seemed so outlandish. What was truly striking about Brave New World was that things weren't so black and white so I was forced to connect what I was reading directly to the world I live in. As a reader I couldn't conveniently condemn everything as immoral because I think:

  • hedonism is perfectly okay as long as it's not at someone else's expense

  • monogamy is overrated

  • we musn't make such a fuss about death because what can you do about it, really?

These are all values that would be perfectly acceptable to have in BNW society. I'm not saying that there weren't parts of BNW that were disturbing. Much of it was.

Throughout the entire novel, I found myself questioning whether or not the people raised in BNW's society could truly be happy. I've been conditioned to believe that I need to experience pain and suffering to truly live but if I hadn't grown up with this belief, could I be happy as an oblivious Gamma if I'd been conditioned differently? What seemed to be lacking was passion, but I don't think you can have passion in an obnoxiously carefree, healthy, happy (?) society. I guess from this I can take the idea that we musn't devalue art. Art captures passion and feeling. It drives people. It can be breathtaking. I can't imagine a world without it. Surrounded by science elitists, I find that I can forget this too easily. But then science in the pure, beautiful way I know it doesn't really exist in BNW either.

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