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Aldous Huxley Brave New World Revisited




Aldous Huxley: Brave New World Revisited

 

THE AUTHOR

Aldous Huxley was born in 1894, the third son of Leonard Huxley and the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley (an important disciole of Darwin). His mother, who died when Aldous was fourteen, was the niece of niece of Matthew Arnold (a Victorian poet); the philosopher Sir Julian Huxley was his brother.

In 1916 Aldous Huxley took a first in English  at Balliol College, Oxford, despite a condition of near-blindness  which had developed while he was at Eton. In 1919 he married Maria Nys, a Belgian and joined 'The Athanaeum'. His first book of verse had been published in 1916 and two more followed. Then, in 1920, 'Limbo', a collection of short stories, was published. A year later, his first novel 'Crome Yellow' appeared and his reputation was firmly established.



In the 1930s he moved from Italy to Sanary  (near Toulon) where he wrote 'Brave New World'. Believing that the climate would help his eyesight, he left for California, where he became convinced of the value of mystical experience  and described the effects of his experiments in 'The Doors of Perception' and 'Heaven and Hell'.

One year after his wife's death in 1955, he married Laura Archera, a concert violonist who had become a practising psychotherapist. They continued to live in California, where Huxley died on 22 November 1963.

The Book

Almost thirty years after the release of 'Brave New World', which was a strong antidote  to the restraintless faith  in the benefits of scientific advance  and  mass production, Huxley checked the progress of his prophecies against reality and argued that many of his fictional fantasies has grown uncomfotably close to the truth. By 1958 (when 'Brave New World Revisited' was first published), science was not only changing the basic social and economic structures of society but was also quickly gaining the power to manipulate the genetic code of life itself and government control has affected all levels of the community.

For Aldous Huxley, part of the future 'brave new world' has  already arrived.

The book is divided into 12 chapters. Each of them treats one topic:

I. OVERPOPULATION

Huxley compares 'Brave New World' to George Orwell's '1984'. 1984 was written in 1948, having experienced the totalitarian states of Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin and Lenin. In the context of 1948, it seemed dreadfully convincing, but after the developments in Russia, the fall of Hitler and advances in science and technology it is not any more.

Further on, he deals with the problem how to fight the frightening increase of world population. Birth control is much more difficult than death control because it needs the co-operation of an entire people, whilst death control could  be done by a few technicans, but it isn't ethically practicable.

Solvation in BRAVE NEW WORLD: An optimum figure for world population has been calculated and numbers were maintained at this figure.

 

 

 

 

II. QUANTITY, QUALITY, MORALITY

In BRAVE NEW WORLD, genetics are practised sytematically. In one set of bottles, biologically superior ova, fertilized by superior sperm, are given the best possible pre-natal treatment and were finally decanted as Betas and Alphas.

In another, much more numerous, set of bottles, biologically inferior ova, fertilized by inferior sperm, are parted and treated with protein poisons and alcohol. Out came almost sub-human beings

capable to do the unskilled work.

Now there is nothing systematically done about our 'breeding', but exactly of this reason we are overpopulating our planet and it seems that these greater numbers are also of poorer quality.

III. OVER-ORGANIZATION

Both in 1984 and in BRAVE NEW WORLD, the system of the state is very, very strict and everything is organized into the smallest detail. Everybody who wants to break out, fails miserably.

The dehumanizing effects of over-organization are reinforced by the dehumanizing effects of overpopulation. During the past century the succesive advances in technology have been accompanied by corresponding advances in organization. In order to fit into these organizations, individuals have to deinvidualize themselves, to deny their native diversity and conform to one norm, they must do their best to become automata.

IV. PROPAGANDA IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY

The people of the BRAVE NEW WORLD did not need any propaganda, as their minds were conditioned anyway.

In 1984, everyone was being affected everywhere twenty-four hours a day through the telescreens and the posters of the Big Brother.

In the immmediate future there is reason to believe that those punitive methods will give way to the brave new world's methods.

There are two kinds of propaganda, rational propaganda in favour of action that is consonant with the self-interest of those who make it and with those to whom it is adressed, and non-rational one that is dictated by blind impulses, unconscious cravings and fears. Rational prop is used to influence the actions of indiviudals while irrational better influences the masses.

A society that is only interested in things like sports and soap opera, mythology and metaphysical phantasy will find it hard to resist manipulation.  (see 'Fahrenheit 541")




V. PROPAGANDA UNDER A DICTATORSHIP

Hitler's Nazi Germany was so effective because it was the first dictatorship in the use of modern technology. It was thereby possible to subject eighty million people to the will of one man.

Today the art of mind-control is in process of becoming a science. Thanks to the new insights and and the new techniques made possible by these insights, the nightmare of 1984 might soon be completely realizable. Huxley here gives the example of the effects of marching: Marching diverts man's thought, kills thought and makes an end of individuality.

VI. THE ARTS OF SELLING

The survival of democracy depends of the ability of a large amount of people to make realistic choices in the light of adequate information. On the other hand, a dictatorship maintains itself by  censoring or distorting the facts, and by appealing to passion and prejudice, the 'hidden forces' present in the dephts of every human mind. In the West, democratic principles are proclaimed and publicists do their best to persuade by rational argument, to make realistic choices with this help.

But unfortunately, propaganda in the West has also a bad side. It exploits the irrationality of people to make them buy things they don't even have an use for just to enrich themselves.

VII. BRAINWASHING

In the two preceeding chapters the techniques of wholesale mind-manipulation were described. Those may be effectful, but no human problem can be solved with their use alone. The following chapters will be about the manipulation of isolated individuals. In history, the fact that every individual has its breaking point has been well known and used in a very brutal and sadistic way. Physical torture and other forms of stress were inflicted by lawyers, clergymen and secret police. At the end of a treatment, the prisoner is in a state of neurosis or hysteria, ready to confess whatever he is wanted to confess. But for an intelligent dictator, this is not enough. He does not need a patient to be institutionalized, or a victim to be shot (both needs money), but a convinced man who works for him. Pavlov found out that one is most likely to succumb to propaganda when he is fatigue, ill or despaired.

VIII. CHEMICAL PERSUASION

In BRAVE NEW WORLD, there is no alcohol, no nicotine and none of the other drugs that are so frequently used in our times. Whenever anyone feels depressed, he takes some Soma. It brings a sense of bliss, makes you see visions or sink into sleep, all at no physiological or mental cost.

Now there are physiologically cheap tranquillizers, vision pro-ducers and stimulants.

A dictator can, if he wants to, make use of those. He can ensure himself against political unrest by changing the chemistry of the people and make them content with their servile conditions. He can calm the exited, arouse enthusiasm, distract them of their miser-able conditions of living.

IX. SUBCOUNCIOUS PERSUASION

An austrian neurologist, Dr. Poetzl has invented the tachisto-scope which shows you pictures so short, that you only subconsciously realize it. After his searchings, people actually see and hear much more than they realize. No wonder that the new theory called 'subliminal proection' was associated with mass media, above all, television.

Huxley gives in that he must have overloked this; there is no reference to this in BRAVE NEW WORLD.

X.HYPNOPAEDIA

In the 2nd chapter of BRAVE NEW WORLD, children are being teached while asleep. Hypnopaedia only makes sense in moral training, for the conditioning of behaviour through verbal suggestion at a time of lowered psychological resistance.

At present, sleep-teaching is used ( in a penal institution in Tulare County) only on volunteers and with the best intentoins, but there is no guarantee for this. Anyway, it would ba e tremendously powerful instrument in a position to impose suggestions upon a captive audience because being asleep, nobody can defend oneself against it.

XI. EDUCATION FOR FREEDOM

Education for freedom has to start by stating facts and declaring values, and must continue developping fitting techniques for realizing the values and for fighting those who decide to ignore the facts or deny the values. The value, first of all, of individual freedom, based upon the facts of human diversity and genetic uniqueness; the value o charity and compassion, based upon the old familiar fact that love is as necessary to human beings as food and shelter; and the value of intelligence, without which love is powerless and freedom not reachable.

XII. WHAT CAN BE DONE?

In the last chapter, Huxley tries to give solutions to the many problems of the world, which - at least most of them - do already occur in the chapters before.

PERSONAL OPINION

I first expected to be the book a kind of continuation of BRAVE NEW WORLD, so therefore, I was a bit disappointed to find an almost philosoph-ical work, though, it is rather interesting and not very difficult to follow as Huxley knows to express his thoughts sharply.










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