On Brave New World (just a few words)

Well I’ve just gotten through my second book of the summer, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  I actually don’t think it is very good.  It fills a need for a dystopian novel involving total government control over births, and a forced culture of drugs and promiscuous sex, helping us feel the discomfort of such a world and filling in some of the harder to imagine but likely details were such a world to exist.  Without it, we wouldn’t have such a well-executed thought-experiment.  But it is little more than that — something to aid one in thinking about the technological and hedonistic sorts of evil governments in the future might at some point try to get mixed up in.

What I find more interesting is reading utopian novels, like Looking Backwards or Herland, in which the reader must almost take on an adversarial role against the author in order to discover whatever might be wrong — practically or ethically — with the dream being sold.

The error I found most objectionable was the theory of natural desire for God that is offered by Mustapha Mond, the “Controller” who offers towards the end a big explanation for the Brave New World.  He argues that people don’t turn to religion in old age from a fear of death, but from a desire for stability, which can be eradicated by a stable political order.  Sorry, but I must disagree.  The fear of death, in my view, is very important for understanding the desire for God that some people have.  Perhaps Huxley thinks that this possibility degrades the desire for God by turning it into a sort of coping mechanism.  Perhaps he needed to postulate this “desire for stability” theory to make the Brave New World immune from spiritual self-assertion, and thus more frightening.  In any case, I think the idea that the fear of death compels some to seek God (and immortality) is one of the great justifications for the human condition, and indeed does suggest that all efforts at Brave New Worlds must inevitably and perpetually face down spiritual self-assertion.

But since I didn’t like the book, I won’t go on about it.  On to selecting the next book!

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