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Old but Still Brave

16 Dec
Books may come, and books may go. Most of them are forgotten along with the demise of the short-lived trends that inspired them. (We hope this will be the case for vampire novels.) One book that endures, albeit without the popularity it once enjoyed, is one thought-provoking, science fiction novel –Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. For its time, it was almost shocking. Published in 1932, it describes a strange society that has found resolution to all modern-day problems, and thus, its people live in peace and happiness–but at what price? – Chris

Originally posted by mmcmu787 at Photobucket.com

Not-so-new novel with still-fresh ideas.

“The world’s stable now.  People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.  They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion… or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they… can’t help behaving as they ought to behave… Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage. Liberty!

This excerpt seems like an impossibility, a feat of science fiction, and rightfully so, it is from the groundbreaking, when published, horrifying science-fiction novel Brave New World.  The book was written at a time in which the idea of cloning, brainwashing, and required promiscuity were rejected whole-heartedly by “normal society.”  In this gripping tale, Aldous Huxley presents to us a strange alternate future in which all of the problems that we face today are resolved but at a tremendous loss, the loss of individualized humanity as we know it.

The book is considered less controversial by today’s standards but can still be credited for its revolutionary concepts.  For example, human euthanasia is regarded as assisted suicide in modern America, but in Huxley’s “paradise” it is the only way people die when they are on their deathbeds.  Rather than keep a terminally ill person in a state of less-than-life, the “world controllers” of Brave New World allow them a restful, calm deliverance from their suffering.  Children regard death as a mere fact of life and do not fear it due to their conditioning.  Can that be so bad?  However, there is still conflict surrounding these new norms, even in the novel.

Huxley’s fantasy realizes, logically, that not everyone will so easily accept these drastic changes.  “Savages” still exist in the book, resisting change, living in remote areas with little or no value to “modern civilization.”  These resilient rebels consist mainly of Native Americans who practice a mish-mash of our present religions, mainly Christianity and traditional tribal religion.  The real story only begins when one of these “savages” is suddenly enveloped by the fast-paced modern setting of Huxley’s story,  The resulting chaos of what is held dear stares deeply into the heart of our current society.  Are we only one step away from being a Brave New World?  —  James

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