Dec 08, 2023
Dec 08, 2023
by T. A. Ramesh
Aldous Huxley had published his novel Brave New World in the 1930s. In this novel Huxley has dealt with the future activities of the world in a humorously witty manner. In the future world, he predicts that science will take charge of the total activities of the people. In the past literature or religion or art was reigning supreme over mankind. But in the future science will fully conquer the place of art or religion. In that circumstance who will be the savage and who will be the civilized in the society is the matter he analyses and explores in this novel. To effect such changes in the society, people will naturally have to be quite brave with the aid of science! In short this novel is a direct contrast to the play of Shakespeare, The Tempest by title.
Shakespeare versus Huxley
Shakespeare was concerned with human beings, their nature, imagination, dreams, emotion and hopes. He did not bother about religion or God. But Huxley was concerned with his own philosophical ideas regarding beauty, truth and God. Both of them had employed wit and humor in their writings. They had dealt with Utopia in their respective fields of art. Shakespeare used the idea of fantasy or magic in his plays. Huxley used the ideas of science in his novels. Shakespeare was immersed in romantic mysteries whereas Huxley was engrossed in the philosophy of mysticism. Shakespeare, in short, was exploring and creating a world of his own imagination whereas Huxley was criticizing and discovering the reality of life.
Test Tube Babies
In this world citizens are hatched and conditioned in the laboratory. There will be directors to look after this job. These directors are doing their jobs under the direction of the World Controllers of the brave new world. Why are they doing like this? The answer is to bring about social stability and happiness to the people. By scientific process they are able to eliminate fear, old age, loss of youth, worries and loneliness. Everything goes on under a scientifically conditioned routine. There is no time and place for the people to THINK, because that is the starting point for all the troubles of the past world (i.e. our world). Hence they never bother about reading, talk about beauty, truth and God. During the process of manufacturing itself people are classified as α, β, γ, epsilon, + or – etc. and are provided with the job they are suited for under this codification. How fantastic this world is! Only the top level group α is able to do the intellectual and journalistic works. They prepare new slogans for the propaganda purpose. Under these circumstances history is no doubt a great waste! To the last people will be beautiful, youthful. They die also joyfully. Therefore individuals won’t be there, revolutions won’t be there, chaos won’t be there and the society will be happy and stable!
Old type love is also not a reliable one and so they have introduced erotic love play in the childhood itself as a sort of education. In this way they have solved sexual problem also. Any person can sleep with any other girl or girls in the same night. They are so social that nobody misses to love the one or ones he or she prefers. If any unbearable thing happens to anyone, he or she has to consume just a gram of SOMA, immediately all his or her troubles will be forgotten as he or she will be taking rest on a bed – sort of temporary holiday to the world. One cannot question whether they have any feeling or not, because they also go and see “Feelies” sitting on pneumatic chairs – “Feelies” like Othello in New Version. Their life goes on under the hypnopaedic rhymes such as the following:
Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,
Kiss the girls and make them one.
Boys at one with girls at peace;
Orgy-porgy gives release.
‘Hug me till you drug me, honey;
Kiss me till I’m in a Coma;
Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny;
Love’s as good as Soma.’
Come, Greater Being, Social Friend,
We long to die, for when we end,
Our larger life has but begun.
Feel how the Greater Being comes!
Rejoice and, in rejoicings, die!
Melt in the music of the drums!
For I am you and you are I.
So “work while you work, play while you play and that is the way to be happy and gay.” Hence everyone will be playing a game rather than living a life with a noble purpose. That is all. It is so easy to love and live in this Brave New World!
Old and New Utopias
This new society functioning under a system as discussed above is the Modern Utopia which will be achieved by the scientific advancement, I think. Utopia was first written by Thomas More. But even in The Tempest, the nature of a Utopia is discussed. In Act II, scene (i), Gonzalo, a noble Councilor of the King Alonso of Naples, after they are driven to the shore of an island when their ship gets wrecked in a storm, utters the following passages. The difference between this Utopia and the modern one is well distinguished.
Gonzalo: I’ the Commonwealth I would by contraries
Execute all things; for no kind of traffic
Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
and use of service, none; contract, succession,
Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
No occupation, all men idle, all;
And women too, but innocent and pure;
No sovereignty- All things in Common Nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour; treason, felony,
Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine
Would I not have; but Nature should bring forth
Of its own kind all foison, all abundance,
To feed my innocent people.
This Utopia is a great dream of men which could be achieved one day or other. A fine hope!
Thinkers have No Place
The original thinkers or the individuals have no place to live in this stereo-typed or the orthodoxical society, because their thoughts jeopardize the stability of the society and put an end to the happiness they enjoy. Ironically two individuals are spotted out in London controlled by Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller for Western Europe. What the two individuals Helmholtz Watson and Bernard Marx shared was the knowledge that they were individuals.
Helmholtz is mostly engaged in pursuit of beauty whereas Bernard is for love. Both of them are sent to different islands at the end as a sort of punishment given to them for their individual thought and ideas. The punishment is in fact as indirect reward to these individuals who if they are ingenious can make use of this opportunity and can become World Controllers later on. Even Mustapha Mond was once like them. He gives reasons as follows: “I was given the choice: to be sent to an island, where I could have got on with my pure science, or to be taken on to the Controllers’ Council with the prospect of succeeding in due course to an actual Controllership. I chose this and let the science go”
Truth versus Comfort
“I’m interested in truth, I like science. But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it’s been beneficent, it has given us the stablest equilibrium in history….. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change… Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness….. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when anthrax bombs are popping all around you?”
“People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since…. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for… That’s how I paid. By choosing to serve happiness. Other people’s – not mine.”
God and Science
In chapter XVI and XVII, there are a lot of questions and answers served among the World Controllers, Bernard, Helmholtz and The Savage brought by Bernard to the civilized spot from an uncivilized spot. This Savage has read all the plays of Shakespeare and he knows what is what. After the two individuals are dealt with, Mond has a detailed talk on religion with The Savage. Religion, Literature, God and other items are not at all bothered in this scientifically civilized world and for which Mustapha Mond says to The Savage, “Call it the fault of civilization. God is n’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. (But he manifests himself indifferent ways to different men. In pre-modern times he manifested himself as the being that’s described in these books.) You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That’s why I have to keep these books – locked up in the safe.
Religion and God
The books he was talking about were The Holy Bible, The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James and a book written by Cardinal Newman. He reads the last book to The Savage. “We are not our own anymore than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves; we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God’s property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness, or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous…. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find unnatural state – will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end… They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years…. Where upon God emerges as from behind a cloud; … Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiments is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other loses.” “The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.”
Finally he says that as they are maintaining youth and prosperity they don’t bother about God, nobility and heroism; they swallow 2 or 3 half-gram tablets and there they are; anybody can be virtuous there; they can carry at least half their morality about in a bottle and that Christianity without tears – that is what Soma is! Therefore the savage of the present will be considered to be the civilized in the future, if the world changes to the stage as depicted in this Brave New World. What a world this New World is! A Soma World!
More by : T. A. Ramesh
|Thanks for your additional information, Ragas Das Gupta! Aldous Huxley is my most favourite authour. I highly esteem his criticism as he is an erudite person! Intellectually enquiring world religious and philosophical ideas he has finally accepted Indian philosophy and his estimation is highly appreciated by any intellectual!|
| 16 June 2012|
TO: Mr T. A Ramesh
I would further inform, Huxley was heavily inclined towards Vivekananda and Ramakrishna at the later part of his life and even participated in writing the introduction to the 1942 edition of "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna", a firsthand account (originally published in India in 1898) described by Huxley as "the most profound and subtle utterances about the nature of the Ultimate Reality":.
Rajat Das Gupta
|Thanks for your informative comment!|
| 16 June 2012|
TO: Mr.T. A. Ramesh
It was a chance encounter with your marvelous article (written on 30 Dec. 2006) on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which "shook the world" in 1930s as I was browsing through Boloji.com. While I'll soon step into the octogenarian club I read the book about 6 decades back to be overwhelmed by it. But, I believe, Huxley was later inclined to Indian philosophy from his crass materialism which we may observe in his book "The Perennial Philosophy". And, he was amazingly prophetic in his "Ape and Essence" (if I recall it right) - "The history of human civilization is going to be one of victory of Belial over God". This Devil character in Bible is pacing up fast to expel God from our life, which is round the corner.
All said and done, I find answer to Man's eternal queries about our life, ethics, religion etc. more satisfactorily in Tagore than in any Western luminaries. Boloji.com have blogged a number of my pages on Tagore which you may find interesting.
Rajat Das Gupta