Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brave New World Indeed

So, my first foray into the world of betterment through reading was with "1984" followed by "Brave New World." Way to jump into the deep end, eh? Holy Jesus on a stick. My idea was to read a couple of books with a similar idea: a glimpse into a possible future. Two very different, yet equally frightening futures. Starting with "1984."
Written in 1949 by George Orwell, "1984" explores a future where there exsists only three major "countries" of people living in fear and apathy. In Oceania, which basically consists of Western Europe, UK, and parts of North America, the citizens are presided over and watched by "Big Brother," an omnipitent overseer that knows all, sees all, and is all. Every movement must be controlled or risk suspicion of nonconformity; every movement, every expression, even their thoughts. History continually changes in order to fit the authorities version of events, and the vocabulary drops "unnecessary" words constantly, dumbing down the English language word by lost word. This is Orwell's horrifying vision in a nutshell. And it is indeed effing scary to think that really we are not that far from this reality. Obviously the whole "Big Brother" always watching is already prevalent...can we say webcams, surveilance, and the like? A person can hardly sneeze without someone in the next county saying "bless you." In respects to our society "dumbing down," reality shows anyone? In a time where people like the Kardashians and desperate houswives are emulated by our children, its no wonder a person thinks twice about letting their kids watch the crap on tv. Who wants their little girl influenced by these trashy hoes? "Mommy, I want that leather bustier with the chains! Mommy, I want big hair and make-up! I want it NOOOOOW!" Its no different than the two minutes of hate whipping the citizens of 1984 into a frenzy of emotions that is almost beyond their control until they're throwing fits and objects at each other. Everyone should read "1984" as a warning that this could happen to us if we're not mindful. The most shocking and disturbing part of this book? The last four words. Read it and you'll know what I'm talking about. *chills*
In stark contrast to Orwell's version of the future is Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World." Where "1984" is all about control through hate and fear, BNW removes all independent thought by keeping people in a stupor of pleasure and happiness. Because, if you're happy, why worry? Why wonder about the world, think about science, or turn to God if there is no suffering? Is something is troubling, there is 'soma,' basically a pill that makes it all go away. Think endorphins. Babies are made in a lab under specific conditions to create castes of Alphas, Betas, Gammas, etc with the lower castes performing the menial jobs that is so disgraceful to an Alpha, like maintenance work. But everyone is important and needed to keep the world going round. There is no violence, love, or marriage and words like 'mother' are considered so disgusting its taboo to even speak of them. Children are conditioned for their future rolls through brainwashing and desensitizing. This was the most disturbing for me as a mother; the thought that babies are not held and loved, but programmed. Of course there are upsides to no monogamy; everyone belongs to everyone else. No jealousy, no conpetition for affection, no hard feelings. Awesome, right? Of course, if you are never alone, there is no need to do things like 'think.' Or 'read.' Unless its a book by Ford. That's right, FORD. As in, "Oh my Ford!" I'm not so sure our society could go this route. God forbid people are happy all the time! It seems like a whole lot of effort for a country that is inherently lazy. I would hope that the desire to have a family and love would override any tendancies in this direction. Maybe I'm living in a fantasy land because these things are so important to me. But don't we need a little misery so we can remember how good we have it? Otherwise, if everything's all hunky dory all the time, what's the point of living? You'll meet a 'Savage' who wonders the same thing.
I'm not sure which zombie is worse: the scared one or the 'ignorance is bliss' variety. Either way, "1984" and "Brave New World" are on my 'definately read' list for everyone interested. Not only will you wonder about the future, but you  might learn something about yourself, too.
Until my next few books...

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