I’m sure Brave New World is supposed to be the chilling tale of a future without any free will, but here’s the thing: I don’t think it sounds too bad!
So you give up some free will. In return, you live in a sterile environment, you never want what you can’t have, and you’re happy with your lot in life because you’ve been conditioned to be that way. There is no jealousy, no anger, and essentially no crime. There is also no sickness and no pain until the end, which admittedly, does come a little quick. Everyone basically works relatively happily (or, contentedly) at his or her jobs, takes a little “soma” so they can have a restful weekend, and comes back ready to continue.
There are plenty of diversions after work, such as taking in one of the “feelies” or enjoying some companionship. While you wouldn’t ever have the feeling of deep, fulfilling love since you wouldn’t have parents, siblings, spouses, or children, you would never have the pain of loss, either.
While I was explaining the concept to my 12-year-old, he said, “It sounds kind of creepy to me”. So I guess he gets it. But, I still think a shot of soma once in awhile would hit the spot.
I find it amazing that Mr. Huxley could foresee a future like this, which now really seems fairly plausible. We already have 4D movies and virtual reality, so really, how far away are we from “feelies”? Probably not that far. Scents are already used by many theme parks and shopping areas, so really, how far away are we from using it for crowd control? Probably not that far. We already have a plethora of mood-altering drugs available, so really, how far away are we from combining those into one controlled substance to keep everyone on an even keel? Probably not that far. We already have in-vitro fertilization, cloning and genetic engineering, so really, how far away are we from eliminating mothers altogether? Probably not that far.
I absolutely loved this book and again, the fact that the author could envision the world heading in this direction before there was even an inkling of cell phones, microwaves or the internet is incredible. I am looking forward now to reading “Brave New World Revisited”, which Mr. Huxley wrote 25 years after the original.
The only part of the book that really didn’t ring true for me was John’s reaction to the new world. I found it hard to believe that as a 16-year-old he would hold onto his chastity and monogamous beliefs amidst all that was there to entice him. I wanted him to get out of Othello, start reading some of Shakespeare’s racier stuff and lighten up already!