14. Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

This was my first time reading Brave New World. I will save you the unnecessary plot description and just tell you what I think:

It was a very good book but I often found myself reading just to get through it to the end... and move on to something else. This is a great read if one imagines being a 1930s American reader. It's a good read if you don't.

Drugs. Lot's of drugs. I enjoyed reading Huxley's exploration of why humans use drugs. In the Brave New World, drugs are used to ease existential pain, to dicourage the imagination, to escape, to control behavior. In the Brave New World, Soma's got, "All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects." Basically, even ancient mind-expanding "drugs" such as soma (and ancient Indian and Iranian psychotropic substance used for spiritual exploration and mind opening) is reduced to the equivalent of Prozac or Xanex, albeit a far more powerful one. In a liberty-less society such as Huxley's BNW, it would have to be very poweful indeed! For instnace:

"I don't understand anything," she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. "Nothing. Least of all," she continued in another tone "why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be jolly. So jolly."

Of course, BNW is primarily a warning cry about the society's movement toward totalitarianism, or a one world totalitarian state. It's an important one. But for me the most fascinating aspect of the novel is that in 1932, Huxley was engaging in a discussion about society, the mind and psychotropic substances.

One and a half thumbs up.

1 comment:

Lantzvillager said...

I love that British jollyness!