Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Aldous Huxley - Brave New World (1 Viewer)

I've just started reading this, and I cannot make my mind up on whether I like it or not.

Has anybody else read it? What did they think?
 
L

Larsen

I basically just took it as a Luddite polemic....wouldn't say there's much in the way of artistic license here -- just Huxley getting across his ideas of society and dystopia, and so on...

Some would say it's a fair representation of our own world but I find it dubious.

Anyway, it made #5 on the top 100 books of the 20th century so it must be worth reading....
 

hirshmon

Senior Member
It's a great book - I really enjoyed it.
We had to read it for school last year and the teacher had us write essays arguing why this Brave New World was a dystopia. Call me a terrible human being, but I believe that it is in fact a utopia. I defended it on the basis of utilitarianism and relativism and showed how it would garner favor among absolutists and epicureans... I got a good grade, but I think my english teacher though I was evil from that day forward.

Honestly though, forget free will and creativity... I want 24-hour poontang and non-health-hazardous drug comas.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
hirshmon said:
the teacher had us write essays arguing why this Brave New World was a dystopia. Call me a terrible human being, but I believe that it is in fact a utopia.
If it were a perfect world where we accepted our caste then you could argue that it was a utopia because everything goes to plan and life isn't hard as we are conditioned especially for it. But, whatever way you look at it, there are people who are getting ideas outwith their station so you come to realise that it is a new society that is developing, one that, wherever it is going, is not quite there yet. If it's to be a utopia where no one knows no different then it needs to iron out certain people because unless they are conforming then it will be a dystopia as they are aware of others' plight.
 

hirshmon

Senior Member
I'm not quite sure what you're saying there.....it's not the idea I understand, it's that most of what you said was blobbed together with no commas and didn't make any sense, grammatically. I mean no offense, but in all honesty, I cannot get any meaning out of what you just said.
 

PaPa

Senior Member
Connor Wolf said:
If it were a perfect world where we accepted our caste then you could argue that it was a utopia because everything goes to plan and life isn't hard as we are conditioned especially for it. But, whatever way you look at it, there are people who are getting ideas outwith their station so you come to realise that it is a new society that is developing, one that, wherever it is going, is not quite there yet. If it's to be a utopia where no one knows no different then it needs to iron out certain people because unless they are conforming then it will be a dystopia as they are aware of others' plight.

That's the real thing that makes the Brave New World seem even more like a utopia - people who aren't happy with the system aren't "ironed out", they're just sent off to an island of their choice with other dissenters or they're elevated to high office. As for John...would his fate really have been very different if you transplanted a man with an antiquated moral code and serious mental issues into our own society?
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
Huxley's brave new world is only a utopia for the ruling classes, and even then only if you conform. Hirschmon, would you consider it to be so great if you were of the lower castes, bred only to clean toilets, for example?

I think it's perfectly OK to question the basis of BNW, particularly if doing so gets you a good grade, but to ignore the central tenet of the novel - that to achieve 'utopia' you have to abandon civil liberty and personal freedom in favour of conformism and slavery - is pretty mulish.

Start today - if the great godlet Bush decreed that writers were the cause of too much dissent and world peace depended on the writing of fiction being outlawed, where would you stand? In the soma queue?
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
hirshmon said:
I mean no offense, but in all honesty, I cannot get any meaning out of what you just said.

I mean no offence, hirschmon, but try reading a little slower. Or better still read Connor's excellent review of the novel.
 

hirshmon

Senior Member
Mike C said:
Huxley's brave new world is only a utopia for the ruling classes, and even then only if you conform. Hirschmon, would you consider it to be so great if you were of the lower castes, bred only to clean toilets, for example?

That's the beauty of the BNW! I would consider it great cleaning toilets, because in the BNW, I would have been conditioned since infancy to love every aspect of my life! Only from our own, current viewpoints do we see cleaning toilets as bad, because society has conditioned US to think it's an odious task. This is why it's hypocritical to criticize their conditioning, because we've been conditioned as well, just less overtly and more gradually. Everyone is happy in the BNW, and when they're not, they're sent somewhere where they can live how they want to. The only immensely unhappy person in the society was the person who represented our own contemporary moral guidelines (John)...if he'd been conditioned like the rest of the people in the BNW, then he would love it all the same, even if he was cleaning toilets. Unless he was one of the tiny, infinitessimal fractions of dissenters.

Secondly, there is no "c" in my username. I noticed it wasn't a typo when you spelled it like that, twice. Just for future reference.

Thirdly, I did read Connor's post...three times. Carefully. I got nothing from it.
Though his review was nicely done. I had read that before.
 
Last edited:

Mike C

WF Veterans
hirshmon said:
Only from our own, current viewpoints do we see cleaning toilets as bad, because society has conditioned US to think it's an odious task. This is why it's hypocritical to criticize their conditioning, because we've been conditioned as well, just less overtly and more gradually.

Then do you not see that maybe Huxley's analysis was correct? Just because we're being conditioned, doesn't make it right. And I don't see that the conditioning made them any happier about their crap jobs - they were just deprived of the intelligence to question them.

What Huxley sought to demonstrate is that a hive mentality deprives us of our humanity.

Everyone is happy in the BNW, and when they're not, they're sent somewhere where they can live how they want to. The only immensely unhappy person in the society was the person who represented our own contemporary moral guidelines (John)...if he'd been conditioned like the rest of the people in the BNW, then he would love it all the same, even if he was cleaning toilets. Unless he was one of the tiny, infinitessimal fractions of dissenters.

Soviet Russia, anyone? Toe the line, do your job, and you fit in. If you dissent, exile if you're lucky.

Secondly, there is no "c" in my username. I noticed it wasn't a typo when you spelled it like that, twice. Just for future reference.

Apologies. :))
 

hirshmon

Senior Member
The difference with Soviet Russia is that they controlled people through fear and violence, not through happiness and blissful ignorance. Honestly, I would prefer to live in a world with constant peace and happiness and no free will (given that I'd never experienced free will to begin with - again, the importance of this is conditioned within people nowadays) than one with warring and crime and hardships.

As for the toilets, the conditioning made them believe they were fulfilling their society and helping and doing meaningful work that no others good - they were filling a niche and the conditioning made them happy to do it. I think at one point Huxley mentioned that Gammas and Deltas were just as happy as Alphas and Betas, but maybe he didn't... I read it last year. But I do remember that everyone was high and happy and sexed up to an appealing level.
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
It doesn't matter what tools you use to control people - if you take away free will you take away humanity.

Personally I find the idea of enforced stupidity (by depriving the fetus of oxygen) as a means of social control far more terrifying than a totalitarian regime.
 

hirshmon

Senior Member
Well, I guess that's where we differ.
I believe there is a difference between blissful lack of free will and violent lack of free will... I guess you don't.
 

PaPa

Senior Member
Mike C said:
It doesn't matter what tools you use to control people - if you take away free will you take away humanity.

Personally I find the idea of enforced stupidity (by depriving the fetus of oxygen) as a means of social control far more terrifying than a totalitarian regime.


That's kind of the point. *You* find it terrifying. I find it terrifying. Everyone probably finds it terrifying. The point is, no one in the BNW finds it so, and thus everyone is happy. The central premise of hirshmon's argument is that, as our mindset would not exist, our opinions about what is right and wrong are irrelevant to the happiness of the inhabitants of the BNW.

I still wouldn't like to live in the BNW, nor see it come about, but what I feel doesn't matter when considering the viability of the social model.
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
PaPa said:
That's kind of the point. *You* find it terrifying. I find it terrifying. Everyone probably finds it terrifying. The point is, no one in the BNW finds it so, and thus everyone is happy. The central premise of hirshmon's argument is that, as our mindset would not exist, our opinions about what is right and wrong are irrelevant to the happiness of the inhabitants of the BNW.

But that so obviously denies the purpose of the book - it's not written for or by inhabitants of the BNW, but is a commentary on our world and by extension the human condition. Hirshmon argues that, if properly conditioned, he would be happy to clean toilets. I argue that that very conditioning would render Hirshmon less than human.

I still wouldn't like to live in the BNW, nor see it come about, but what I feel doesn't matter when considering the viability of the social model.

But the book is not about the social model as much as how humans fit within it (or not) and what it does to them. The fact that we agree that the prospect would be terrifying has to suggest that on a visceral level this model is terribly, terribly wrong. As wrong, in fact, as the Hindu caste system or the English class sytem, on which the book was modelled.
 

hirshmon

Senior Member
But my argument doesn't pertain to humanity...it pertains to enjoyment. I realize that people in the BNW are robbed of their humanity and free will and creativity...but that doesn't make them any less happy.
 

A Glass Thought

Senior Member
The problem with the whole thing is our own view pertaining humanity and our rights as individuals. In BNW, the populace has no choice as to what caste they are born into, just like we no choice whether we are born in London or the Congo. So whether they like cleaning toilets or not is besides the point.
The problem lies in what the overall view of humanity is. Is it freedom of thought and choice? Or are we just one of the numerous species that live on this planet. The caste system in BNW only favors who ever sits at the very top, since that is where the whole process originates, and it is from that person or persons, that this utopian/dystopian society was created.
Like Hirshman said, we are conditioned just like the people in BNW are, just we don't notice it either. Now, while that doesn't make it right, it does make it a fact of life. The difference being whether conditioning happens at random, or along a precise schedule to benefit the society as a whole. Simply put: Would you give up certain abilities that you consider rights in order to move towards a stronger, more perfect humanity? The truth is, you already do. Brave New World just takes it to the next level.
The people in the story still contain humanity and at least a basic moral code, which is why they rely so heavily of drugs to help wipe away time and freedom from thought.
I'm talking in circles.
I guess the best question you could ask is what future would you prefer: 1984 or Brave New World? Because we're headed somewhere between the two.
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
A Glass Thought said:
I guess the best question you could ask is what future would you prefer: 1984 or Brave New World? Because we're headed somewhere between the two.

A question that occurred to me also. I'd actually see 1984 as the starting point and BNW as the conclusion. In 1984 you already have the caste system with the proles at the bottom - anaesthatised by cheap beer and gin, automated machine-generated pop music and novels (hey, we already have that part!) - and a controlling class, with Winston Smith somewhere in the middle. Newspeak is the social conditioning device in 1984 that is achieved chemically in BNW.

And I'd agree that we're heading down that road. England has always had a class sytem, except now the lower working class have been largely replaced by immigrants. The US is possibly more polarised than ever between the haves and have-nots, with hispanics taking the place of the proles.

Yes, we are subject to conditioning, and yes, we are daily trading (or having traded for us by Governments) personal liberties in exchange for a percieved brave new world of personal safety, and no, I don't like it. The biggest damage Al-Qaida did to western society on 9/11, and again in London last year, was not the destruction of life and property, but the opening of doors for government to implement draconian social controls that would have been unthinkable before in the name of freedom and security.

hirshmon said:
But my argument doesn't pertain to humanity...it pertains to enjoyment. I realize that people in the BNW are robbed of their humanity and free will and creativity...but that doesn't make them any less happy.

I don't remember the lower castes in BNW being happy, or enjoying their lives. Just unable to cogitate sufficiently to question their existance. How about you, H? If every time you're unhappy we crank down your IQ a few notches until you're in a state of perpetual bliss - would you find that desirable?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top