Reading is a favourite pastime of mine. Unfortunately, during my university years I developed an awful habit of not being able to read for more than 45 minutes continuously (because everything I had to read within those 5 years was a) part of my coursework, b) forced upon me, and c) in a foreign language, so basically, my brain just got too tired after a certain amount of time.
This has, unluckily for me, become a habit that is proving hard to break, and my reading speed is slower than it’s ever been, meaning I can’t finish a book and move on as quick as I’d like, and there are about 14 books on my Kindle that require my attention that probably will be forgotten about by the time I get through Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. (It’s very funny by the way, I would definitely recommend you give it a read.)
Anyway, before I start droning on and on about my first world problems and not being able to stay awake long enough to finish a book (why am I even complaining, get a life, C) I want to talk about Aldous Huxley‘s classic, Brave New World.
If you’ve read it, let me know what you think of it; if you haven’t, go to a charity shop or a second hand bookshop and you’ll probably be able to find one for a couple of quid.
Like George Orwell’s 1984, Brave New World is way ahead of its time, and, not surprisingly, follows a narrative that, if you really try to put your head round it, you can imagine it being possible in the not-too-distant future.
Basically, set 600 years into the future, society is totally controlled to the point where humans are grown inside test tubes and bottles; the concept of having parents is non-existent, before birth, humans are divided into the ‘caste division’ that is decided for them and will ultimately become their destiny, with these groups being: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons; Alphas are intelligent and athletic, Epsilons are ugly and stupid, and are also grown in large ‘batches, so that groups of around 100 Epsilons look exactly alike.
Due to previous human behaviour (i.e right now), the world got more and more sh***y, until one day, society begged for individuality and the removal of their liberties, because they realised they couldn’t function on their own, and so, in the civilisation that is portrayed int he book, humans exist only to serve their society- to be consumers and workers, and not much else.
They don’t control their emotions (they get given drugs called soma to give them ‘relief’ from any negative feeling they have, and they have no emotional ties with anyone- everyone belongs to everyone else, and bi-weekly orgies are a thing that they are obligated to take part in.
Weird? Yes. Confusing? Yes. But absolutely possible with the way our own society is headed and the advances in technology that are happening every single day? Absolutely.
Obviously, to form a proper opinion and stance on this book and to decide whether or not you agree with it is up to yourself, and you’ll need to read it. You may love the narrative but not the theory, or vice versa, or the whole thing may not be your cup of tea at all. I just wanted to talk about it because I’m totally, 100% fascinated by this sort of stuff.
Give me a disaster movie that comes about because humans have f***ed up, or a book that explores the possibilities of new types of civilisation in our future and I’ll be entertained for hours. I love thinking about world that could be completely and utterly different from the one we live in now.
What would happen if we lived in a society like that depicted in Brave New World? Hunger and poverty would no longer be an issue. There would be no depression, no sadness because of broken hearts and cracked emotional bonds, and on top of that, everyone would be preconditioned to like their lives, and there would be no complaining because humans of specific castes wouldn’t know life to be any different than the one they must live. Does that make sense?
However, no arts? No individuality? No falling in love? Aren’t those the basic things that make us human? Our creativity and ability to think and be philosophical about the world is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, so what would we be if those were stripped of us?
Trust me, I’ve spent hours talking this through with my dad, and I cannot wait for my other half to read the book so I can badger on at him about it as well.
Go read the book. It might change your life, or the way you look at things. Or it might not.
Either way you’ll have read a classic.