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Dystopia? Utopia?…Brave New World?

May 20, 2010

Brave New World is an interesting novel; it describes a world in which people behave differently from those in today’s society. Despite the long time that has passed since current society, the society as delineated in the novel shares many things in common with the current world. The first similarity is the unescapable fact that appearance plays a crucial role when a society is judging an individual. Although many people tend to deny it, it is a proven fact that the current society takes appearance into their consideration when making judgements on an individual, which resulted in numerous people suffering painful plastic surgeries and become attractive. As more significance of appearance as a criteria for judgement is on the rise, the number of people deciding to do plastic surgery is increasing steeply.

Another similar phenomenon that the two worlds share is excessive spending. As one of the popular slogan is “ending is better than mending,” the controllers and the leaders of the society in the novel constantly encourages the public to exercise excessive spending that is so ridiculously close to conspicuous consumption. Many may have heard of the phrase, “the more stitches, the less riches.” Strangely enough, this phrase is not from the novel, but from the current society. Recently, a writer has expressed his concern towards Obama in humanevents.com, pointing out the similarities between President Obama’s economic vision and that in Brave New World. According to Mac Johnson, “Huxley thought the world he foresaw was a nightmare.  Barack Obama thinks it’s a sensible economic plan (and one that already incorporates most of the social planks of the Democrat Party platform).” This is eerie, because if small things from the novel are already becoming true, then it is not so illogical that other things will also do so in the future.

What about differences, then? Oh, there are still many things to yet to come, many changes yet to be made: caste system is one. In Brave New World, after being “decanted” in a building, the babies are “conditioned” as the society wants it to be. Not in our world. There are no Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon in our world. Besides, there is no ‘conditioning,’ in the current society, which means no caste system at all. That causes another difference. Not everybody is happy in our world as they are in the society found in Brave New World.

Another conspicuous difference is the sexual openness. While sexual behavior is not openly encouraged in our society, even children tends to be expected to get involved in erotic games. In the novel, it is considered abnormal to avoid sexual contact. Furthermore, they think it ridiculous that current society did not expect children to enjoy erotic play.

So that was a little comparing and contrast for Brave New World and present society. So far, I’m enjoying the novel. It introduces a whole new level of dystopia. And yet, the thought that maybe the world presented in Brave New World is better at some point and the current society progressing towards that state comes up to my mind as I read it. With everybody being happy, with the conformity, with the orderness…maybe that’s what’s better for the world…maybe that’s what we should work to achieve.

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