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Brave New World

Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 05:21:48 AM
Has anyone read Huxley's Brave New World?

Some edgy cultural critics recently passed judgement on its historical 'predicitons', negatively. I attempted to flame them in the comments section.

(Interestingly, apparently Huxley is now too 'conservative', because he gloomily prophesised mass produced 'art' (entertainment) and sexual promiscuity as the expense of meaningful relationships.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/books/review/what-would-aldous-huxley-make-of-the-way-we-consume-media-and-popular-culture.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 05:39:36 AM
I don't appear to have access to the comments.

Haven't read the book, so I'll pass on reading leftist deconstructions. They even put "sexual freedom" seriously in their subtitle.  ::)

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 12:42:46 PM
Brave New World is satire.

It's our fault that it's coming true.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 04:52:28 PM
It does read eerily like prophecy now. Same with 1984 which I'm sure is also giving liberal deconstructionists a hey day.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 05:03:25 PM
BNW was a lame propoganda piece with an ill-conceived female character that borrowed heavily from Wells' "The Time Machine".

I despise suffering more than I hate or love anything, so I would rather live in the fictional BNW society despite the inanity of it than any society in world history. You don't have to fear death, you just get taken off in a coffin without you or anyone knowing it after your 60 years or whatever are up. If there's ever a hint of any trouble soma gets sprayed around and everyone gets laid. It's a kind dictatorship, not like the fascists who rule our planet today.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 05:23:13 PM
Isn't a dictatorship synonymous with fascism?
Whether it is good or bad depends upon the nature of the dictator/fascist.
Benign Dictator ftw.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 06:38:33 PM
No. Stalin, Mao, Tito, Castro and Lukashenko are examples of non-fascist dictators. They're each a type of autocrat.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 07:34:48 PM
If we didn't know suffering, we wouldn't know strength.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 10:53:08 PM
BNW was a lame propoganda piece with an ill-conceived female character that borrowed heavily from Wells' "The Time Machine".

I despise suffering more than I hate or love anything, so I would rather live in the fictional BNW society despite the inanity of it than any society in world history. You don't have to fear death, you just get taken off in a coffin without you or anyone knowing it after your 60 years or whatever are up. If there's ever a hint of any trouble soma gets sprayed around and everyone gets laid. It's a kind dictatorship, not like the fascists who rule our planet today.


I remember the female lead in the story to be secondary to the main male characters. Like foil to aid with the dynamic development of both the upper-class citizen and the young man in the American tribe.

What parallels do you see between BNW and The Time Machine? I understand that the female character is quite secondary in both stories. Time Machine also lacks the sort of social commentary that is BNW, being baisically fantasy and totally contingent on Wells' wild guess about divergent human species. I do see how you can find commentary in there but it was much more like a broad observation, almost to the level of being a fable or parable. BNW was much more specific and represented a vision that follows logically from the situation that Huxley observed in modern society, quite unlike Wells' dystopic/utopic world of extremely divided society.

Wells' Morlock didn't seem to care much at all for anything but their ownunderground world of machinery and who knows what they were really doing down there. Meanwhile Huxley's upper-class leaders were borderline compassionate and put a lot of effort into their entertainment for the masses because they took part in much of the amusements and luxuries themselves. Morlocks treated Weena's people (can't remember the name) like cattle, or some form of life that is lower in their evolutionary heirarchy.

So I do see some parallels but it doesn't seem like a rip-off.

Re: Brave New World
November 12, 2013, 11:07:51 PM
Brave New World is satire.

It's our fault that it's coming true.

The second writer in the article argues that it's not coming true. I think she is full of shit, more or less.

Her argument is, that because Huxley was writing in the early 20th age of centralisation, scientific management of production and ‘top-down’ organisation of society and consumption, he wrongly predicted we would all be come to be conglomerated into a mass homogenised middle class which is 'controlled' by a mass entertainment. Instead (apparently), because the world has moved on and we’ve entered into the post-modern age of ‘bottom-up’ economic decentralisation and technological individualism, “the middle class isn’t commanding the kind of hegemony he (i.e. Huxley) feared; it’s having a hard time hanging on. The mass media aren’t pulling everyone into one middlebrow orbit; the media landscape is splintering into a profusion of niches. Our cultural moment is marked by fragmentation and dissolution.”

Apparently, I completed missed the memo that the big giant wheels that seem so much like a profit driven popular culture, on the radio, on TV, at the cinema and, increasingly, on the internet, is an expression of autonomous and luminous personal reflection.

Bugger all of the ‘new media’ (youtube, itunes, facebook, twitter, instagram, soundclown, etc) we now have would be being used for genuine alternatives to the music, writing and cinema that is relentlessly pumped out by big entertainment business. There is still a mass, organised, relatively centralised, source of entertainment and media... I would think.

Re: Brave New World
November 13, 2013, 01:36:17 AM
Re-link

Quote
He was already aghast while he was still alive, a self-identified “highbrow” with a distaste for mass culture in all its crowd-pleasing forms. “I find the watching of horse races or football matches less agreeable as an occupation than the acquisition and coordination of knowledge,” he wrote in 1935 by way of explanation, in a sentence that demands to be read with a posh Etonian accent, whether you have one or not. (And yes, Huxley attended Eton, and he taught there, too. Eric Blair, later known as George Orwell, was one of his students.) He had little patience for the argument that popular culture, by appealing to more people, was more “human” than the rarefied precincts of high art: “I . . . have never been able to understand why it should be ‘inhuman’ to use the faculties that distinguish us from pigs and geese and ‘human’ to use those which we share with the lower animals.”

Quote
The cultural critic Neil Postman, writing about the social effects of television in his 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” deemed Huxley especially prescient. “As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think,” Postman wrote, distinguishing between the cheerful dominion of “Brave New World” and the more lugubrious tyranny in Orwell’s “1984.” Unlike Huxley, however, Postman wasn’t much bothered by the mindless fun, the “junk entertainment”; more alarming was how television “co-opts serious modes of discourse — news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion — and turns them into entertainment packages.”

Despite its doomsday title, Postman’s surprisingly subtle book has largely held up over the years, whereas “Brave New World” now reads like melodramatic tragedy as well as farce. Like so many intellectuals of his time, Huxley feared the advent of “mass man,” of prosperity and conformity and homogenizing media empires. The characters in “Brave New World” worship Henry Ford, who paid his employees a decent wage and created a middle-class contentment that, in the novel, has destroyed art: “Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness.”

This might have felt true 50 years ago, when Norman Rockwell’s sweet depictions of the affluent society still reigned supreme, but for anyone reading “Brave New World” in 2013, it seems as if Huxley picked the wrong horse to flog. The middle class isn’t commanding the kind of hegemony he feared; it’s having a hard time hanging on. The mass media aren’t pulling everyone into one middlebrow orbit; the media landscape is splintering into a profusion of niches. Our cultural moment is marked by fragmentation and dissolution. My guess is, Huxley would have had as hard a time making sense of it as the rest of us.

Meh. Seems like a weakly crafted, short-form criticism. I have a bit of a hard time taking this sort of thing as anything more than propaganda.

Re: Brave New World
November 13, 2013, 02:15:58 AM
It probably is propaganda, in a way.

The authors are probably Idealogues for the 'new technologies' movement, who think all this new media and decentralistion of life is ushering us into a new age - when in fact it's just being invaded by the old players, more or less.

Actually, there is a bit of a split in sociology between two schools of thought: and interestingly this may underly the disagreement between Huxley and the authors.

On the one hand there is the 'post-industrial/post-modern' school of thought that takes society to have moved on from the 'Fordist', early20th century - 1970s age of centralised production processes (scientific management of production and ‘top-down’ organisation), and to have entered the age of decentralisation (autonomy, bottom-up control). On the other hand, there is the school of thought (usually populated by neo-marxists) which thinks the former school of thought is misguided, and that while there have been developments, the economic base is still more or less centralised and coordinated (by the capitalist/state partnership) like it was in Huxley's time - just that it appears, on the surface, as though society is less centralised.

Any aside from all this, the authors just can't handle that Huxley was a bit of an elitist, and hated innane culture - and they know, if only implictly, that their own YouTube channels and Tumblr pages are the embodiment of mediocre.