Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Brave New World

Sure, it's an oldie, and almost everyone who might be interested in it has probably already read it. But, if you haven't, go do it right now!

I first decided to re-read Brave New World a couple of years ago after something in an old New York Times article reminded me of it. It was "Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?" And there was a line that struck me, reminding me of BNW:

"Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge... but they also don’t think it matters."

That's pure BNW, folks.

I am ever more convinced that this book is truly representative of our times, more so than Orwell's 1984. After all, why go to the expense and trouble of policing and spying on your citizens with Big Brother when you can simply anesthetize them with TV, Prozac, infotainment, alcohol, and Jersey Shore? Get them so focused on non-issues like birth control, the fat “epidemic”, gay marriage, and celebrity death that they don't have any interest in the business as usual corruption of politics or some country they've never heard of murdering and raping its citizens. It's boring, after all, and takes too much effort to actually think about something rather than letting CNN or FOX tell you what to think. We don't really need to be policed and spied on because we simply do not care about government, politics, or the idea that history repeats endlessly when the people allow themselves to become numb and dumb. Let me have my SOMA and Bravo TV, please, I'm not interested in how a dictatorship is born.

So, yes, some of Brave New World will seem a bit dated to modern eyes. The people seem quaint and stuck in a sort of 1940's innocence that we no longer possess. It was written in 1932, after all. It projects the plastic fantastic and hovercar world that the 1940's thought we'd have by the 21st century. The speech seems antiquated, but that isn't insurmountable. But Huxley's view of "the future" still feels on target, even if it did arrive about 500 years sooner than he expected - well, okay, we probably won't have the hovercars until then, but boy do we have the sex and the SOMA and the mindless entertainment and the lack of interest in intellectualism and hedonistic consumerism and the idea that we are supposed to Always Be Happy, Dammit.

Read it if you haven't. Read it again if you have. Welcome to your future.

No comments:

Post a Comment