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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Brave New World

I just finished reading this awesome book called ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley. One of the most amazing social satires I have read, the book was written nearly 7 decades ago, but the situations it describes are still the same.

 

Without giving away too many plot details, let me try explaining what it talks about.

 

It talks about a society in the future, which has evolved from the way our ‘primitive’ society is today. There are various social classes – Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Mankind has devised ways to generate upto 96 humans from one embryo itself. Hence, the lower classes are ‘batch produced’ to ensure that mechanical jobs are performed by absolutely similar people.

 

Also, to ensure that they have the same mental make-up, the children are subjected to Pavlovian conditioning, and hypnotic treatments. Consequently, after a speeded up aging process, voila! Humans are ready. Since the model of operation is like that of an assembly line, the society doesn’t believe in GOD. However, they do believe in the father of assembly line production – FORD! Therefore, they worship ‘Our Ford’.

 

There are no ‘parents’ because the mode of reproduction is asexual. Humans have heterosexual sex, but purely for entertainment. Society encourages promiscuity, and having just one partner is frowned upon. It is taboo to talk about marriage or pregnancy.

 

Obviously, since people are trained/conditioned for only one kind of job, there is no wish to switch. So, it’s a stable society. People are not supposed to spend time with themselves. They have to be part of a social group. They can either be in bed with a partner of their choice, or participate in ‘religious’ ceremonies, that involve consumption of an intoxicating drink called ‘soma’ followed by an orgy.

 

Seems like a utopian society, right? It probably would’ve been, except for the presence of one man, who is a non-conformist. Because of his shorter stature, which is equated with lower classes, his high-class compatriots consider him an outcast. He takes the woman he ‘loves’, on a trip to a ‘savage’ colony, and brings back two of the savages.

 

Because of this feat, he now basks in glory, and ends up being a changed man.

 

I think I should stop here, and let you experience the story for yourself. The ‘social conditioning’ part made me wonder – are we not being conditioned to be clones? Any kind of classroom education that we have, typically refuses to consider individual differences, and believes that since the input being provided is uniform, the output should be uniform too. Aren’t we being trained to become conformists?

 

And don’t we create artificial social classes, based on our own whims and fancies? Don’t we try to condition people around us? Hence, I found the book pretty relevant.

 

Irrespective of whether you’ve read the book or not, I’d surely like you to express your views about these questions.

13 comments:

Tangerine said...

The book sounds interesting, I think I will read it.
BUT going by ur gist I dont think I want to live in a world like that, ever.

Sauron said...

The book is interesting, but yeah, a world like that would be pretty scary...

Deepti Thomas said...

reminded me of "abduction" on similar lines by R.Cook

Sauron said...

Dee, I've not read that one, but will try getting my paws on it, soon.

Strangely, despite being a Robin Cook fan, I've never even heard of this one!

janus said...

sumit....i thought u would have liked it...one of the most thought provoking books...the same author wrote one of the bitterest and yet most laughable and thought provoking satires ever...animal farm...besides....try and read animal farm :D

deepti...i have read r. cook. too...some how,i guess because i am a doctor too, i am biased against cook...he rights engaging books...but his dont deserve to be called science fiction,exceot 'chromosome 6' but then,they are my beliefs :)

--
Sandeip

janus said...

he writes*


engaging*


those were the two i caught...if any more spelling mistakes exist...blame them on the handover

thats correct..NOT hangover :)

Sauron said...

Sandeip... I guess for a layman like me, Robin Cook is pretty engaging. But, I'm sure a doctor's perspective is different. :D

I've read Animal Farm, and I found it awesome, so completely agree with you. But, it was written by George Orwell, nahin?

janus said...

totally..and the parallel to brave new world was 1984...

Sauron said...

Agreed! 1984 was fantastic!

BrownPhantom said...

I read that book eight years ago. To be honest, I think I should read it again :). I found it heavy at that time.
You must be knowing that "The Doors" coined their name inspired by his book "The Doors of perception".

Well, about the educational institutes, what else can be done. The resources don't allow for separate education for different individuals. Yes, if the expectation is that the output would be uniform, then it is wrong. However, that doesn't happen always; otherwise recruiting firms won't be interviewing individuals. And in a way,the probability of two students having similiar views is more if they studied in the same school; even if such thing is unintentional.

And very correct observation that we have an inherent tendency to create classes. That is probably how our brains are built up to simplyfy the views of the world. It can and does have ramifications though and that is what might have inspired the author too.

Sauron said...

Oh, I didn't know that fact about 'The Doors'. Pretty interesting, and yeah, I'll read the book again... soon...

Scriber's Web said...

I've always wanted to read the book but haven't done it yet. I think they made a movie based on this one. I'll have to ask my kids which one it was. Good luck with your homework assignments:)

Ankit said...

Listen to Iron Maiden's Brave New World \m/