It is Natural to Believe in God

And other Obscenities from the Shakespearean Savage

"But chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And passion and neurasthenia mean instability. And instability means the end of civilization. You can't have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices." (Huxley 212)

Up until the very last scenes of Brave New World, after Helmholtz and the Savage's climactic fight against Deltas, in the World Controller's office, I had believed that the world Huxley envisioned was morally corrupt and ultimately wrong. But as I read Mustapha Mond's lengthy explanation (15 pages) of the basis for why they regard happiness as a higher priority than science and beauty, my beliefs were all but shattered. Because it just makes sense. Sound logic has always appealed to me more profoundly than anything else. At first, like everyone, I thought the Bokanovsky process was dehumanizing and unnatural. Not only are we told repetitions like "everyone is unique," since childhood until they've gone stale, but as we learn about the benefits of biodiversity in an ecosystem, namely the reduced risk of another Bubonic Plague, we are socially conditioned to accept the concept unconditionally. However, Helmholtz's and Bernard's and Lenina's world has almost annihilated disease, evident many times throughout the book, like when Henry Foster was "afraid that [Lenina] might be suffering from one of the few remaining infectious diseases," (Huxley 170). They have done this through vaccinations from even before people are decanted, and was I the only one who laughed when Lenina goofs up a sleeping sickness injection, which kills a promising administrator twenty-two years later (Huxley 171)? Okay, but back to the point, this is only one example of the list of rules we have today that becomes negligible because of their circumstances. This is a dystopian novel because society is strictly controlled and ignores strong emotions and truth. But who are we to value strong emotions and truth over ignorance and stability? All we have to reinforce that notion is a piece of literature called the Holy Bible that half of the world doesn't believe in anyway. The people in this book are opposed to violence (notice the completely non-violent and effective approach in handling riots) and stability driven, which I'm all for, despite the sacrifices of choice. It doesn't make their world any less healthy in soul and mind, for sex, I gather, is very very healthy for both. Therefore, although my expectations for this outcome are not very high, I am completely unopposed if this dream comes into reality.

Modern Dystopia

Virtually no one from our generation would adhere to the asceticism that the Savage displays (i.e. cleansing the soul via cord whipping, throwing our body into thorns, what have you) simply due to a lack of self-discipline (Solnit). We are not completely without understanding – most of us can admire the ideological romanticism behind his actions, and we regard him highly as a noble character in literature for it. However, if we were placed in the same alien situation, the world which seems too strange for words, we would more likely than not adapt to the environment if the World Controller allows us to. Why? Because we are already getting there. With triumph after triumph over each world problem, we are getting closer to the island of Utopia that Thomas More envisioned in his early sixteenth century book. And just few paddles over is the island of Dystopia, which seems too good to be true because, well, it is. Over even the course of the last century, American culture has become wildly more advanced and liberal, yet also more pleasure-driven and automated.

Everyone in the United States has a basic understanding of nutrition and health from school education, dietary health guidelines, and Weight Watchers. Fresh is best, processed foods have USDA-approved traces of rat poop, and only three to four hours of exercise a week is sufficient. Yet even with this knowledge, the knowledge that good diet and exercise adds years to our most valuable asset, life, we are still succumbing to trans-fat goodness because we are bonded to our bodies’ desires over all else. With the exception of a few health-conscious states, overweight people are everywhere. In fact, over one-third of all Americans are obese, a quality that was “freakishly rare…prior to the 20th century” (Dvorsky). Partly due to the accessibility of food and the other part due to technology that has grown faster than human evolution (our ancestors needed fatty foods to remain alive, thus our preferential palette), this is the time when we must prove our self-control the most. With most aspects of life synthesized for both pleasure and well-being, food is one of the only parts where we must be abstemious. On the other spectrum of extremes, we turn to liposuction and anorexia, which requires extreme vanity to accomplish, and therefore exhibiting looser morals. Oh well. At least this nightmare will be over when science inevitably creates a fatty, nutritional polymer that tastes good and helps keep us fit.

Another “oh man that’s scary” that is too alike to Brave New World for comfort is the almost mechanical utilization of humans in the modern assembly line. Like the haunting image of children on their identical lawns in front of identical houses bouncing red balls in perfect synchronization (A Wrinkle it Time, anyone?), we have a line of people doing the same movement over and over. Ford! Dvorsky states that “factory work as seen through the eyes of someone living before the Industrial Revolution would have seemed indescribably nightmarish” much like the frequency of obese people, in this ongoing pattern of elements in the world that we give no second thought to but is actually quite frightening. Practically, the only difference between our factories and Huxley’s factories is the Bokanovsky process and the level of contentedness in the workers. Gamma and below workers are treated cruelly before memory, and the rest of their lives are mild hours with a sense of belonging. In our world, we have overworked, outsourced workers who are very aware of their circumstances. Their cruelty has just begun. What kind of world do we live in, where people jump off of roof buildings, so that another person thousands of miles away can tap a bird with enormous lip-beaks through openings in green pipes on their iPhone (a game, which frankly, makes no sense). Perfection, the entire concept of a utopia, is not naturally found in human nature, which makes us getting closer to it distressing. (Solnit)

Finally, the threat of living under a nuclear apocalypse is a power too great. “That’s the kind of power, [someone] would surely argue, that should only reside in the hands of God.” (Dvorsky) And it's true. If that last fact was creepy/terrifying, this is horrifying. And if we indeed almost destroy mankind, who knows what would spring from the ashes? The Nine Years War in Brave New World, the Mushroom War from Adventure Time, the rebellion in The Hunger Games. After such devastation, there would surely only be one option – to finally give in to a quiet dystopia. (Solnit)

Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc. (Official music video)

"Feel Good Inc." by the Gorillaz

Feel Good Inc. is the ideal song to pair with Brave New World. It begins with maniacal laughter, which is always a good start to a song. Then 2D comes in singing "shake it, shake it," Helicopters dot the sky, much like in Brave New World, as we travel up a high tower - higher than even the clouds, and people take part in what feels good to them around the clock. That is where the upper-class live, the Alphas, and they are literally raised above everyone else. Money, partying, and sex are repeated in an endless cycle of cheap thrills and good feeling. In the Feel Good Incorporated Tower, everyone's heads are in the clouds. But as we travel within the recesses of the tower, there is something evidently wrong. Through the sex, dead bodies lie about, presumably from those that partied their whole lives in that tower. As 2D comes to an epiphany, he begins to question his willingness to serve the "city breaking down", no matter how pleasant his role in society is. And thus, 2D is a Bernard and Helmholtz hybrid. Not exceptional, yet not exactly a misfit degenerate, 2D comes to the realization on his own terms anyway. He scorns what the "melancholy town where we never smile" represents and finds it amusing when they "all fill the streets," upon command. He, like everyone else, is tainted, as shown by his bloodshot eyes. However, he dreams of a pure existence, which startlingly juxtaposes the place where he is currently sitting, and the music transforms into something glorious. The chorus is the romantic notions of John Savage, of a world that Linda made out to be so wonderful. Ironically, the wonderful and freeing world that 2D is thinking of is a windmill. In his windmill world, 2D will "love forever" because "love is free", opposite of the dispensable hookers that he pays for who lasts only for a short time. The lighthouse, similar in structure and essence to a windmill, is where John chooses to dwell in, the place that overlooks the beauty of the forest and ocean, much to John's intense shame (Huxley 218). The irony is that John's lighthouse was the haven that turned into another nightmare, indicating that if 2D were to ever travel to his coveted windmill, it would, too, become hellish.
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Worldview of The Bard

"There be some sports are painful -- you know. But their labour delight in them sets off. That's what I feel. I mean I'd sweep the floor if you wanted," (Huxley 173).

"There be some sports are painful, and their labour

Delight in them sets off: some kinds of baseness

Are nobly undergone and most poor matters

Point to rich ends." The Tempest (III, ii)

There are five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. John and Lenina tragically speak different love languages, much like the miscommunications in Romeo and Juliet. The quote, however, is actually from The Tempest where Ferdinand professes his love towards Miranda (even though it's only the doing of Prospero) and wants to show it to her through physical labor and chores, like cutting thick logs for firewood. Doing tasks for redemption is no orignal idea -- Hercules had to do impossible tasks to gain personal and heavenly forgiveness. The act of doing something is much more sincere than telling someone in words. As soon as the tasks are done, the hero goes from the "unworthy" commonly known today as the "friend zone" to the "worthy" also known as "awwwww, yeah". In Brave New World, John is trying to explain that he would do almost anything for her because he feels the best way to demonstrate his love is through acts of valor. In his mind, there is no other way she can perceive the depth to his emotion until he does something so outrageous that only a lunatic or someone in love could accomplish. What he is failing to understand is that in Lenina's world, there is no love, so deeply has conditioning affected humanity. Lenina is as incapable of love as this laptop I'm hurriedly typing on, and her infatuation towards him is the farthest her feelings will extend. If anything, John depriving her of what she wants is the most appealing of his characteristics because in a biological paradox, we all want what we can't have. The resulting scene is heartbreaking -- Lenina talks about vacuum cleaners and then lions, while becoming exasperated at what under different circumstances would be the sweetest moment. Ever. To define a human being is difficult, but being capable of love is definitely somewhere on the list, which leads to the consensus that Lenina, poor thing, is not really a person. This quote is so perfect for paralleling John with the New World because the two people can't even understand what the other is saying, despite speaking perfectly comprehensible (for the most part) English sentences. The division is large and awkward, and compelling to read in dialogue.

John believes so strongly in Shakespeare's words because he confuses fiction with reality. Many times he has mixed Christianity, Shakespeare, Zuni, and Pookong in a hodgepodge of different belief systems (Huxley 218). And why wouldn't he? He saw the fiction told by Linda come true with his very eyes at his arrival to the Brave New World. Innocent as he is, anything that makes an impression on him instantly becomes a new doctrine by which to live by.

Stay Classy, GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, while "unnatural" in some sense, is still natural in its components. For example, when rice was genetically enhanced with beta-carotene, which contains vitamin A, the people of Southeastern and Eastern Asia automatically gains more nutrition from a food that is already a staple in their diet (Harmful or Helpful). Beta-carotene is naturally found in orange colored fruits and vegetables, and has tremendous health benefits, helping cell reparation and the immune system (Harmful or Helpful). Especially for people living on or below the poverty line, these antioxidants will reduce any sicknesses which will cause even more poverty. And when the number one concern in economics is scarcity, having a wide reach and accessibility to reliable food sources could be the best thing to ever happen for a developing nation.

One of the most common thoughts regarding GMOs is the additives and hormones that are fed to cows, which ends up in one of their four stomachs and eventually into clear plastic milk gallons at grocery markets. Although I agree that there is something inherently wrong about the milk there, with the right mindset and intent, we can make that milk less gross. Scientists can genetically modify cows without giving you the scary, puberty-inducing-at-age-nine milk. In Beijing, China, researchers have discovered that by modifying embryos to increase bacteria that create healthy fats, cows' milk can improve people's cholesterol by producing more necessary omega-three fatty acids, up to four times as much (Didymus). Additionally, the milk contained less unhealthy omega-sixes, around half as much (Didymus). Other types of genetic modifications were calves that produced less lactose in milk, something as a diagnosed lactose-intolerant girl who still consumes dairy because hallelujah for Gas-X, I can greatly appreciate (Didymus).

Besides making foods more nutritional and easier to ingest, genetically modifying organisms can protect crops from disease, pests, and frosts (Harmful or Helpful). The plants are on their way to naturally develop these defenses over time through evolution, so this may as well be a sped-up process. Widespread famine have occurred enough times in history for us not to be wary if such another one should happen. This, like any protective services (tariffs, embargoes, etc. I'm in an economics mindset because of my current classes), are eliminating that risk of death. Now that we have reached over the seven billion mark, any precautions against a small Ice Age, or the impending global warming crisis, is good, I'd say. Additionally, pests, like the wriggly white worms in my rice, are my arch nemesis, and I want the entire populace to just die.

The risk is that introducing the food or animal species into the wild will dramatically alter, even collapse, the delicate balance of an ecosystem. Invasive species have occurred in the past, and though the affects were negative, I have faith that the ecosystem will self-adjust over time to incorporate the new species into the food web. Additionally, since most of these GMOs will be cultivated and regulated by farmers, I doubt that any major outbreak of "purple angry turnips" will arise. As long as the GMOs are for the benefit of humanity, I am a proponent of them.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling, although more of a fantasy novel, is indeed considered dystopian, which works out perfectly. Katsa is a palace killer, not because she was trained, but because she is naturally "graced" with an ability to defeat hordes of men twice her size. She and others are called Gracelings, or people with superhuman skills that can be detected through mismatched colored eyes. If they are valuable, they are taken away to serve the King. If their skill is determined useless, they are sent back to their families who don't want them back because people avoid freaky Gracelings. If Katsa was suddenly placed in our world without her Grace, Katsa would be a vagabond. A bum. But a bum that does charitable acts for others and is happy. She identifies so strongly with her Grace, that she would lose all of her sense of self, and therefore would be completely lost in our world. She tries to counteract her killing by doing hidden acts of kindness. She has a fiery personality because one must develop that sort of thing if they are constantly forced to kill human beings. This is a spoiler, Mrs. Lowe, but she figures out that her Grace is not killing, but survival, which means her Grace is life as opposed to death. After reaching this conclusion, she finally lets go of her self-hatred to become the epitome of a lively, adventurous girl. She even cuts her hair. Those are some strong affects that, without her Grace, she would have never gained.

If she were to create some sort of event and invites people, she would organize a fundraiser because despite having no personality besides her Grace, she is truly a good person. She would invite Po, of course because she loves him, and his six brothers. She would invite childhood friend Prince Raffin, with all of his lovable antics, and his assistant Bann. And she'd invite Lord Giddon, for despite their misgivings, Giddon still cares for Katsa and vice-versa. And princess Bitterblue, the protagonist of the sequel. It would be held in Monsea, home of the Lienids, on the smallest, yet most beautiful seaside castle, and in Spring, when the peninsular country is the most beautiful. Light-heartedness and teasing, eating roasted pheasants and grassy playtime would be the majority of the day.

Works Cited (Cannot Properly Format, Unfortunately)

Cashore, Kristin, Jeffery C. Mathison, and Cathy Riggs. Graceling. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008. Print.

Didymus, John T. "Genetically Modified Cows Produce Omega-3 Rich, Low-lactose Milk." Genetically Modified Cows Produce Omega-3 Rich, Low-lactose Milk. N.p., 18 June 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.

Dvorsky, George. "Why Modern Society Would Appear Completely Dystopian to a Visitor from the past." Io9. N.p., 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.

"Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?" Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? N.p., 1 Apr. 2000. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

Huxley, Aldous, and Aldous Huxley. Brave New World: And Brave New World Revisited. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005. Print.

Solnit, Rebecca. "American Dystopia More Reality than Fiction." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 1 May 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.