Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

I recently became a member of a book club. It’s super geeky and I love every minute of it. The first book we’ve read together is Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley. It’s an incredibly thought provoking novel set in a dystopian future where human beings are bred rather than born, and are conditioned to their environment so that society can function without any socially undesirable elements. 

Two central themes made me think about modern society. Firstly, the conditioning and embryonic modification of human beings made me think of the way we condition animals for human consumption. We already condition several species of animals to better suit our tastes, we store veal in cages so that they can’t move for their entire lives until they are slaughtered and prepared for human consumption. What kind of a life is that? We breed chickens fed on growth hormones so that they grow to a succulent size before we electrocute them and vacuum seal them for consumption. This is, I believe, one of the central points Huxley wants us to step back and consider.

I also want to briefly comment on the end of the book, so if you haven’t completed it yet, please consider this a spoiler warning. Towards the end, there is a discussion between the controller and John the savage. In this conversation, John is revealed to be a hypocryte for considering that a socially conditioned society is somehow bad. This is a perfectly circular and thought provoking way to finish this book. I oppose the kind of human conditioning that the dystopia of Brave New World envisages, but, at the same time, I cannot help but feel that the reason I think this way is because I myself have been conditioned to think that freedom of expression and marriage are good, and that totalitarian control and substance abuse is bad.

It’s worth taking a minute to reconsider this.

If you’ve never read Brave New World before, the whole thing is available to read online here. It should definitely be on your bucket list.

4 Responses to “Brave New World – Aldous Huxley”

  1. also I couldn’t help but feel how the aspects of consumption resonated so much with the current reality. We are all taught to consume, to generate more wealt, to spend up large at Christmas, to desire better and bigger than what we have. This ensures we have to keep working and occupying ourselves with wealth creation and limits our ability to question the ‘conditioning’ that occurs via most pop culture. I mean this was published in the 1930s when the “golden” era of excess was upon the world. but that is nothing compared to the mindless drivel and consummerism we occupy ourselves with everyday now!

    • ThreeDice Says:

      Thank you for your comment Meg. I highly value reader input. I especially liked the part where you put single inverted commas around ‘conditioning’ and then for added emphasis around the word ‘golden’ by using “double quote marks”

  2. Margaret Says:

    lessons learnt: (1) question authority and the social norm; (2) an epic fail for hedonistic doctrine; (3) orgy-porgy and soma will be the pillars of our mid-life crises.

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