Monday, July 26, 2010

Huxley's Society of Infants and modern society

One of the primary components of the society in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is that of the continuation of infant behaviour well into adulthood. People never develop self-control, since they see no reason to delay gratification any longer than is absolutely necessary. Sexually, they conduct themselves with the reckless abandon inherent to any childishly simplistic social system. They are conditioned throughout their youths by endless repetitions of slogans to keep them dependant on soma: a mind-altering drug that allows them to escape the world around them for something perfect. Heresy is anything than runs against the not just predominant but inescapable dogma that has become inseparable from the population at large.

At the time he wrote it, his personal opinion was that this twisted utopia was still hundreds of years away. However, the relentless pace of technological improvement has rendered this date obsolete: by his own admittance, it could well occur within a century of his time. The standard fearful cries would usually be cued at this moment, but I will refrain from doing so. We are not living in Brave New World, but our society had developed some rather parallel behaviours.

Instant gratification has become the mantra of the developed world: to consume is a nearly religious experience, and to be successful is transcendent, since such success is defined and celebrated by the weaker and stupider amongst us. Our children may not be produced in test tubes, or have recordings played while they sleep, but it would be moronic to believe that the constant blast of advertisements doesn't condition them for consumerism – if it didn't then the corporations certainly wouldn't waste the money – they may be many things, but stupid is not among their traits. Sex may not be viewed as a passive form of social bonding yet, but it is well on the way: it's persistent presence in the media is by popular demand: if sex didn't sell, it wouldn't be sold. Capitalism 101. The same white noise that conditions people into consumers prepares them for a life spent as a percentage point to the pharmaceutical companies: Ritalin, Tylenol, Viagra, Levitra... ask any child, and they know exactly what these products are, if not precisely what they do. A life of chemical dependency is the only kind to be had. To be different is to be labelled: “nerd, faggot freak, loser” are just a few of the titles so cleverly bestowed upon anyone feared for their individuality. After all, if those people are one of them, then they aren't one of us.

It's easy to look in the mirror if you get to choose who looks back at you. It's even easier when the drugs and static from the television prevent you from seeing anything.

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