Brave New World (spoilers likely)

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Jazzy
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Brave New World (spoilers likely)

Post by Jazzy » 01 Sep 2006 05:31 pm

Discuss <i>Brave New World</i> here :)

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Jazzy
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Post by Jazzy » 08 Sep 2006 10:49 pm

Well, I hate to double post...but I finished it today, so I may as well start the thread off.

I thought the amount of technology he predicted was amazing, considering how long ago it was written, although I wouldn't agree that it was exactly coming true as some people have said. We do, after all, still have somewhere between what the Indians have, and what the soma gives- it's not all harsh and awful, nor is it all wonderful yet.

I didn't much like the character of Bernard; he reminded me of the curate in <i>War of the Worlds</i>. John, on the other hand, I actually felt sympathy for (rather than just pity/irritation)...aside from when he attacked Lenina.

Aside from the confusing exchange in one of the early chapters, where my drowsy head found it hard to keep track of who was speaking (since several conversations were going on at once), I thought it was very well-written; I'm surprised it isn't quoted more. I am also flattered now that people thought that the opening I wrote reminded them of this, though I think he's written it far better than I ever could :)

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Post by oogabooga » 09 Sep 2006 04:20 pm

I thought the technology used to sort of pre-program people was interesting, because he ended up with results that would be similar to genetic engineering but without using at all the same techniques.

I guess I don't really remember the part when John attacked Lenina, but I also liked him. He didn't belong in one world or the other - maybe he'd be happier in today's society, because as you said we're somewhere in the middle - or maybe he'd hate it just as much.

I agree that it's very well-written. I especially like the opening, actually, with the different conversations. It's a good way to give an overall picture of the society from several different viewpoints.

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Post by Kralia » 15 Sep 2006 10:24 pm

I loved Bernard as a character. He's so self righteous at the beginning - the world accept him so he won't accept the world, then once the world starts being nice to him he goes back on it completely, going from being angry at Lenina being discussed as a piece of meat to "I had six girls this week. And I could have had more." Very hypocritical and in the end, very weak. But as a character, I loved him.

I didn't like John as much. I couldn't see any real reason why he would decide to fall in love with Lenina for a while. He stuck me more as an "all purpose this-is-what-happens-when-someone-has-this-background" character rather than a real person.

All the hardcold descriptions of the Bokanovsky groups and the Epsilons and the reasons behind a caste society - that was probably the best part of it for me. For some reason the ending annoyed me, but I suppose there was no way to write a properly satisfying ending, because a satisfying ending would probably need the collapse of civilised society, and that wouldn't really happen.

It did make me think about what actual life would be like in that society. Or more, what the point in life was. The whole system was geared towards everything running smoothly, humans being created and dying on a conveyor belt but... what's the point in that? The point in a species is to pass on its genes, and if nobody has children, what's the point in anyone's life? I think the best part of anyone's life is the people that are central to it, and nobody had any friends, so again, what's the point?
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Post by FaerieInGrey » 17 Sep 2006 07:46 pm

I really liked Lenina as a character, though I couldn't tell you why. She was cute.

I think my favourite scene from the book was with Linda, the Director and John. Hee. Embarassing collapses of public figures are always comical.

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Post by Wingsrising » 18 Sep 2006 06:52 pm

One thing that particularly stood out for me was the emphasis on consumer culture: "ending is better than mending."

I think this is definitely a trend that has been increasing in society since Brave New World was written and continues to escalate. More and more things are becoming disposable -- use once, throw it away, buy more.

I mean, now they're selling disposable toilet scrubbers, for goodness' sakes! They're plugged as keeping you from having a germy toilet brush sitting around. (I don't know about you, but I don't eat with my toilet brush. So who care's if it has germs on it?) Presumably the actual purpose is to get you to spend even more money per toilet cleaning.

Don't even get me started on disposable cat boxes.

There are certainly some disposable products that are useful -- I'm very glad for the existance of disposable toilet paper! -- but it seems like the point of many is just to keep people buying.

Then add in the fashion industry, "Everyone should buy all new clothes every year!" "Everyone should get all new hair every year!" Bah. (There are some women on the long hair board I used to be on who speculated that the reason long hair is never in is because it's too cheap -- if everyone woman cut her hair as often as I did (usually once or twice a year) the industry would collapse.)

Sorry, that got turned into a rant, didn't it?
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Post by Riddler » 01 Oct 2006 04:19 am

Whee, am I late?

Okay, firstly, anything I say is not meant to be taken as being said in any form of anger/hatred - I just tend to sound harsh when commenting on things for some absurd reason =P I overall enjoyed the book but find it a lot easier to point out the bits that didn't make it perfect than to praise the obvious parts that contributed to awesomeness.

Firstly, I must say I don't have much of an affinity for Huxley's writing style. He either tends towards a better style towards the ending of the novel or else by that time I'd grown used to it, but the fragmentation of sentences especially at the beginning irked me a bit. Fragmentation can be great when used effectively, but as far as I'm concerned Huxley took it too far and frequently, and began to give the novel an almost-but-not-quite speech pattern of parsing.

I additionally grew an instant dislike of his passages in which differing events were addressed sporadically between one-sentence paragraphs. Tried as I might I couldn't find any apparent connections between the events but for some vague references in the hypnopaedic repetitions, and as those passages progressed I held onto the hope that the patterns would all terminate at some cleverly-written ambiguous final one-liner but was awarded nothing. It's a bit of a random technique that really detracted from the book rather than added to, in my opinion.

As far as storyline's concerned, it was amazingly clever on a lateral scale but was far too shallow for my liking. There were many a chance for Huxley to introduce a new sub-plot or even a minor unrelated complication, but these and even much semblance on simultaneous different-character views were lacking. I realise (or at least infer) Huxley probably wrote Brave New World as more a lesson/warning/whathaveyou than a meticulous and clever story with an intricate and convoluted plot, but I feel just one or two sub-plot additions could've achieved a similar effect with the accompanying much-needed depth.

Another aspect of style/storyline that particularly stuck out (and not in a good way) and almost seemed to talk down to the reader was Huxley's frequent apparent need to force-feed the reader of all information applicable to the subsequent scene. He managed to keep parts of the whole Ford notion and other points such as the 'feelies' concept introduced gradually and subtly, which was expectedly effective, but other important points of the novel such as the embryonic modification, and particularly the strained repetition of pointing out every time a hypnopaedic verse was referred to, were very intent on expressing every important detail with no room for ambiguity/reader's imagination, perhaps defectively so. Sure, things in such a novel have to be explained, and not everything can be treated as subtly when the book is supposed to have the impact it does, but again personal taste dictates the overall piece would've been much more enticing with further subtleties and gradual introductions.

Characterisation was done very well I reckon; Lenina, Bernard, John, and the DHC, Linda, Helmholtz, Mond, etc. all displayed slightly different views of the world they'd been cultured into and powerfully so. Huxley achieved this especially effectively I think in his clever transitions between character's mindsets, though it seemed sometimes he wavered a bit between who should be thinking what, mostly after Marx's discovery of John and Linda. Speaking of, Bernard's transformation could've again been a little more subtle, just by having the scenes taken from the narrator's viewpoint than characters involved with Bernard.

An interesting point of characterisation I was rather confused by was the description of John after his relocation to England - why does Huxley even narrate him as 'the Savage' but have Bernard and Lenina alone call him 'John', with the former reverting to 'Savage' when in other company? It's especially odd given how Huxley paints the two in contrast with John, given their name-calling appears manifest in kindness but their actions, as far as John is concerned, not so - is Huxley maybe pointing out the lives the 'civilised' characters live take caring as an additional facet to how emotions ought run?

Themes again could've been embellished but were clearly there primarily for the purpose as that of the novel's, so I won't harp on that again =P I think Huxley should be most commended on his clever way of showing a world whose behaviour is almost immediately shunned and definitely seen as ridiculous or inhumane by present-day readers, but if one is to look closer and less subjectively (as is done through the eyes of Lenina along with the majority of the population), we really can't see anything wrong with the ideas. The only thing that filters our vision of the book's microcosm as a tainted one is our preconceived notion of social properness and, eventually after the boiling-down, the idea that to be human is to experience a spectrum of emotions. And indeed this idea is something pretty superfluous and ungrounded, again when looked at objectively. Okay, so Huxley still seems to want to point out our way is the Right Way, but either consciously or not I think he's opening readers' eyes to a new view of what defines a 'correct' civilisation. At least that's what I saw xP


Hmm. Two things. Did the sacrifice Lenina and Bernard witnessed in New Mexico have any sort of important symbolism? It seemed so carefully written and explained that I felt it must have had some significance, but couldn't see any =/

Also I'm confused by the etymology of some of the characters and objects in the novel. Was soma supposed to relate to Ancient Greek's word for body, or was it simply a badly-anglicised version of Latin's word for sleep or dream? And Marx especially seemed specifically-named, so is it possible he and the other characters had relative meanings in their surnames? I'm intrigued but am lacking in the general- and historic-knowledge area =P
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Post by dandelions » 01 Oct 2006 10:10 am

Soma is probably named after the Indian plant, and weren't all the names famous leaders or named after Henry Ford? Lenin-a, Primo [de Rivero] Mellon, Bernard [Karl] Marx, Mustafa [Kemal Ataturk] Mond.

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Post by AngharadTy » 01 Oct 2006 10:17 am

A bit more on Soma: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/s/soma.html

Soma is like the Force; it/he's in everything, or at least everything that's alive. And he's a tasty drink, too. Drinking him gives immortality, courage, and knowledge. I've heard that which aspect he gives depends on the phase of the moon (though that page doesn't mention it) because he's a moon god. Random poetic license, possibly.
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Post by FaerieInGrey » 01 Oct 2006 07:44 pm

I am so glad you posted, Riddler :P yay for discussions.

In my version of the book at least, there was a foreword from Huxley talking about how it's better not to look back on things you wrote when you were young and change them - better to just recognize what you didn't do as well as you could now, but be proud of what you did as it is. I liked that, but it really had me expecting his writing to just be *bad*. It's all up from there.

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Post by Riddler » 02 Oct 2006 02:38 pm

Ooh, thanks for the info, Jazzy and Ty. And I'll have to look out for an edition with the foreword now x)

Incidentally, I realised for a 'spoilers likely' thread, this is surprisingly lacking =P It reminded me of something probably worth discussing on the ending - were people satisfied with Bernard's and Helmholtz's endings? I think I would've much preferred the two to either end up as John ultimately did or else be absorbed into the social niceties of the unthinking but perpetually happy masses, perhaps even in having the two finally compared in their chosen paths. The whole islands idea just struck me as very unexpected, both intra- and extra- storyline.
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