Utopian Failure

A Brave New World By: Aldous Huxley (Hannah Park)

"'Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself. Yes, at Society itself...'" (Huxley 148).

The quote above is said by the Director as he is speaking to Henry Foster about Bernard's strange behavior. The Director declares that the more talents a man has, the more power that person possesses to lead people astray. In the society they live, one person's life matters little but tainting the society as a whole is far more greatly reprehended. He explains this is because the Bokanovsky's Process can produce hundreds of babies with incredible ease. To those who grew up in this new way of life, the most heinous offence is unorthodoxy of behavior. People like Bernard who perceive the flaws of his society and at the same time, have influence for his knowledge and status as an Alpha, are threats to the system. Every society relies on some kind of rigid structure; people within that society, however freely they may move about, can only do so within the boundaries set for them that protect the established norm. In Brave New World, the threat is being able to see the corruption behind the society's lack of feelings, loss of individual importance, and frequent manipulation of nature. Just as in today's society, one person speaking out against the government can eventually lead to extreme situations such as overthrowing of leaders.

Our Own Inescapable Dystopia

The world we live in today is not too far off from the community we read about in Brave New World. Our society in many ways mirrors the one John despises. Humans can effortlessly find a way to satisfy their desires, and people are traveling too quickly without a moment to pause and enjoy the present. Humankind is gradually moving towards the societies that once most frightened us, the types of societies we vowed to never become.

Nowadays there is not a moment without being able to connect with others through social media networks and taking pictures to send anywhere at any second. The tasks we once devoted to contemplation and delicate attention no longer needs so much of our effort. In some ways, this is proof of the extraordinarily efficient society humans have built within their hands. In the novel, Lenina is disgusted by the thought of looking over the ocean and spending time being alone. Our world also, between texts, Twitter, video messages, and Facebook provides us with less time to live at a normal pace. Ironically, the price of saving time on everyday activities and fueling efficiency has taken away time for ourselves. Everything has become so much easier. Students no longer even have to write notes; they can carry laptops, speak into their phones which will type the information for them, and search everything through the Internet. Phones are 58 times faster than IBM's fastest mainframe computer from 1964 and more powerful than computers from the Apollo spaceship when we landed on the moon back in 1969 ("American Dystopia More Reality Than Fiction"). There is no time for stopping and smelling the roses anymore; we look straight ahead and accelerate.

Mustapha Mond also seems to have pride in his society for having defeated obstacles such as dissension and war between the classes of people. In Iraq, by 2012 there were 4,487 in the U.S. armed forces killed and almost 32,200 wounded in action ("American Dystopia More Reality Than Fiction"). Even those who survived to come home had brain damage, missing limbs, mutilations, and horrific memories they could never erase. In our own society today, countries still go against countries, and people continue to bring each other down to their own graves. There is unrest in Syria as thousands of civilians and armed combatants are killed as protesters demand President Bashar al-Assad and his government step down ("Syria Unrest"). There is the growing tension between Russia and Ukraine over the disputed region known as Crimea (Smith-Spark). It seems people are constantly given chances to learn and yet they continue to drench the earth with human blood, and so the violent cycle continues.

In Brave New World, we can assume from Mond's statements that most pests and disagreeable factors of nature have been eliminated. Similarly, we have meddled with our environment's delicate variety of life. By messing with the world's biodiversity to satisfy human greed for expansion and land, we will not be able to make up for the ecosystems lost ("Climate Change Affects Biodiversity"). Rather than preserving species and their habitats, logging, illegal hunting, and other personal interests interfere with our ability to protect our planet. There are other issues such as climate change that lead to major changes in the food chain upon which we depend, water sources recede and disappear, and medicines and other resources we rely on may be harder to obtain ("Climate Change Affects Biodiversity").

As horrified as we are when we read about societies that rob people of their individualism and free will or turn the world into a slave for technological advancements, very slowly our society is morphing in this. I never understood how anyone could think a utopia was possible. In my eyes, we are permanently centered as a dystopia: not even the people within an insignificantly small town's walls can cooperate and always maintain peace so how do we expect an entire country or universe of people to? The truth is and always will be that there is no perfection attainable for us to create anything close to a utopia. Even when we work to establish stability on our own, there is always the human instinct and nature of our planet working against us. Just as Mond says the price of stability is happiness and truth, the price of any life is one positioned in an flawed world.

ruizit0

Daughter - Youth by ruizit0

The Corrupted Youth of a Brave New World

Youth by the band Daughter contains lyrics that can be connected very well to the losses of having attempted a utopian society. The lyrics read, "Our minds are troubled by the emptiness, destroy the middle it's a waste of time, from the perfect start to the finish line," which I thought perfectly manifested the lives of the people within Huxley's novel. Though the people themselves are not troubled, those like John, Helmholtz, and Marx are disturbed for the people who spend all their years stuck within vacant lives. When the song moves into, " And if you're still bleeding, you're the lucky ones. 'Cause most of our feelings, they are dead, and they are gone. We're setting fire to our insides for fun," readers will notice this is exactly what the people within the dystopian society habitually carry on. They ignorantly push away all feelings, because that is all they know. Lenina when in the helicopter with Bernard asks him, " 'I don't understand... why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd feel jolly. So jolly' " (Huxley 92). She like most of the society grows up chanting "a gramme is better than a damn" (Huxley 116). For Linda, the soma took her life earlier and yet she was mentally blinded and only noticed the feelings soma would offer her rather than its harmful long-term effects. She like so many others in the society has set fire to every feeling, concern, and negativity inside, leaving herself internally hollow.

Shakespeare Investigation

At one point John tells himself,"When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage. Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed" (Huxley 133). John repeats over several times that he will kill Pope for bringing his mother the mescal and sleeping with her. In the same way, Hamlet sensed a similar disgusted feeling of knowing that his uncle had done a terrible, unforgivable act for his affair with his mother. This quote is important in interweaving the two stories together, because both protagonists are stirred to anger by these events. The grudge John holds over Pope and his actions is the same as Hamelt's rage for King Claudius's actions. The revulsion causes them to feel antagonistic towards others for those past events. In John's case, he is unrelentingly antagonistic towards Lenina when it is not her fault for being conditioned into a society that allows "free love". Hamlet on the other hand constantly blames Claudius and his mother for caring so little about the death of his father. These characters are fueled by the terrible memories to harm and push away others, eventually leading to their own demise.

GMOs A-Okay??

Genetically modified organisms are made as the genes from one species' DNA are artificially inserted into the genes of another plant or animal ("Genetically Modified Food (GMO) – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."). I immediately think of some strange mutation taking place and the excessive side-effects that may come with GMOs but in reality, the controversial topic has a very good argument for why we should accept genetically modified foods. I can see both why some people feel GMOs are perfectly suitable for our society, and why some people highly disagree. Though the efficiency and benefits that come with GMOs are undeniable, I still believe they pose more risks than benefits.

Those arguing for GMOs believe the statments that no research has been found suggesting GMOs are more or less healthy than organic foods. Agencies that endorse the saftey of genetically modified foods include the World Health Organization, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and American Medical Association. Biotech crops have increased production by more than $98 billion dollars from 1996-2011. Yet, GMOs also cause great herbicide resistance in weeds that has only increased herbicide usage in the last 9 years by 404 million pounds from 1996-2011. Research has found in animals that genetically modified foods causes immune dysregulation, altered liver function, and changes in the pancreas, kidney and spleen. 57% of Americans have said if they knew products were genetically modified, they would not purchase them. In 2011, there were even blood tests that showed 69 Quebec women, 30 of whom were pregnant, found pesticides circulating in their bodies and fetuses ("Genetically Modified Food (GMO) – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."). For most adults, GM foods were introducted in the mid-1990s and without the research that we have now, there was not much of a reason to veer away from them except fear alone. Now, however we know that genetic modification in foods not only harms animals, but may affect us and travel into the bloodstream of our next generation. Those kids, born into a world with no choice over GMOs, will grow up in a society that develops it as the norm. We may have had GMOs for a decade or so, but there will be children from the day they are born, eating GMOs all the time. They will grow up their entire lives taking in GMOs although we already know the destructive effects that may linger from such foods.

I personally really do not like the thought of GMOs. Organic just always sounds better, but doesn't it to us all? Of course if it was always easy we would all probably choose organic. Unfortunately, it is not practical. Not only are GM foods cheaper, but at least 80% of packaged foods contain GMOs (The Dr. Oz Show). When the entire world starts turning along in the direction of societal development, sometimes you follow without even noticing it. In the midst of busy work and lives to carry out, many cannot even afford all organic foods, especially when most of the grocery store is already heaped with GMOs. To keep up with the pace of the world, sometimes we humans are lost in the current and end up unintentionally floating down the stream.

Guy Montag

The entire time I experienced Brave New World through the eyes of the Savage, I constantly thought about Fahrenheit 451. Both novels are similar in that the protagonists realize their societies are not at all utopias. Much of their communities parallel each other as well. The main character in Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag lives in a society that frowns upon reading books and hires firefighters to burn down houses that have illegally hidden books. Montag's wife much like Lenina to the Savage, is constantly tuning herself out from thinking, watching television, listening to the radio, and taking pills in order to avoid facing the difficulties of life. Both novels have characters stuck in places that promote ignorance and indulgence to maintain stability. Montag in today's world would be ecstatic to realize that people everywhere can read and obtain knowledge freely. Though he might not like the growing reliance on technology as he has seen its power over his wife, Montag would be pleased to know everyone is given the free chance to search for knowledge in schools and books. Though perhaps he would still want to alter our increasing usage of electronics and the pace of our technological advancement.

Guy Montag

Saturday, April 12th, 5:30pm

2815 Buford Dr

Buford, GA

Everyone of all ages are invited. Children under the ages of 13 must be with a guardian. Everyone is to bring books they are willing to trade, and there will be a swap off so that everyone leaves with a new set of books.

Work Cited

  • "American Dystopia More Reality than Fiction." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 1 May 2012.Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
  • Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Del Rey Book, 1991. Print.
  • "Climate Change Affects Biodiversity." - Global Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.
  • "Genetically Modified Foods: Get the Facts." The Dr. Oz Show. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014.
  • "Genetically Modified Food (GMO) – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." Carrington. N.p., 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2014.
  • Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998. Print.
  • Smith-Spark, Laura, Matthew Chance, and Journalist Azad Safarov in Kiev. "Putin: Russia Has No Plans to Annex Ukraine's Crimea Region." CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Mar. 2014. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
  • "Syria Unrest." - Global Issues. N.p., 5 June 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.