Add the timely title, ‘Brave New World’ to your summer reading list
July 12, 2018
“Brave New World”
by Aldous Huxley
Summer reading has always been the bane of many high school students' existence. However, my summer reading lists always had one book that I fell in love with or resonated very strongly with me. Each novel presented me with several themes and motifs for me to reflect on. Some of my favorites are satirical in nature, and cautionary tales as well. In the novel “Brave New World,” Aldous Huxley illustrates the destruction society creates by indulging in the pleasure of instant gratification. The most prominent theme is a dangerously powerful state using technology to appeal to society's consumerism. Not too surprisingly, there are many parallels to our current state even 87 years later.
The story begins in London with humans being hatched and placed into castes. Each human is molded from birth, conditioned to be a certain way. Nobody is meant to be a free-thinker with their own thoughts and feelings. Trouble begins to arise when some yearn to be individuals and no longer want to be what they were conditioned to be. Troublemakers are exiled, after all, the stability of their social structure is far more important than anything.
Huxley's vision is no longer one of the future, but of the present day problems society faces. He depicts a frightening view of society spiraling downward in hopes of shocking us into awareness — to prevent the world from evolving into the World State. Huxley exaggerates society's current problems to catch everyone's attention, abstractly stating that pleasure is man's most powerful motivator.
The constant search for instant gratification causes members of society to lose their individuality and their ability to think for themselves; instant gratification also ruins the human connection because there is no work done in human relationships. With the advancement of technology, more instant-remedy drugs like soma are produced for quick consumption. The loss of individuality is emphasized when Huxley exemplifies the pleasures of the soma and feelies of the World State.
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As each individual member of society pursues external happiness, it becomes difficult for the individual to increase their awareness of himself. The shocking thing about soma is not how often the members of the World State use it nor how much they use, but their dependency on it. Huxley expresses his concern about a society composed of individuals who are unable to see anything beyond their own egos. Perception is reality.
Society shows itself to be egocentric through the advancement of technology, and allows us to see how easy it would be to become just like the World State. Huxley does not believe that technology is evil, but the misuse or abuse of it is evil. Society may take advantage of the scientific discoveries, but should not allow it to dominate the world under the guise of progress. Huxley even implies that the destruction of civilization is, in part, caused by the obviousness of society.
Huxley's vision of the futuristic, utopian World State is not just of the future, but of current problems society faces. Society's indulgence of pleasure is satirized in a terrifying manner to show the world what it will become if we are not careful. The blame lies on the constant search for instant gratification, and the consequences are the loss of individuality and the dependence on technological advancements. Huxley proves that man is motivated by whatever indulges his pleasure, and that society will be at a loss of individuality when man abuses technological advances to obtain it.
This book is available at Off the Beaten Path and Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Kim Trang is a barista and bookseller at Off the Beaten Path bookstore.