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Chillingly Prescient Satire On What We Are Becoming!
, July 6, 2000
This review is from: Brave New World (Hardcover)
As critic and best-selling author Neil Postman points out so well in the introduction to his book "Amusing Ourselves To Death", we have congratulated ourselves prematurely by figuring we made it past the totalitarian nightmare state depicted in George Orwell's gripping cautionary tale "1984". Perhaps, Postman suggests, we should remember another visionary totalitarian nightmare scenario and use it to critically examine the contemporary state of social and psychological well-being. Of course he was referring to Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World, written before Orwell's by 15 or so years, and even more frightening in its own way in the world it describes. More and more, that frightening vision looks like our contemporary world.
Picture his ironic portrait of a populace doped into Nirvana on "soma" (read Prozac and Zoloft), isolated and diverted by petty preoccupations in mindless trivial pursuits (read video games and internet surfing to all the porno sites), oblivious to anything not directly pertaining to themselves and totally unaware of the degree to which they are being socially, economically, and politically co-opted. Beginning to sound more familiar? Remember, says Huxley, brute force is not the only method an oligarchy can use to influence, manage, and finally control our hard-won freedoms and liberties; it can be done with over-indulgence and the deliberate fertilization and promulgation of apathy through self-absorption, as well.
Even Huxley says (circa 1960, almost 30 years after the original publication) in the preface of the revised version of the book that he is alarmed as to how quickly the sort of events he figured might take a hundred years such as the appearance of political internationalism and transnational corporate entities are already arising and beginning to control more and more of the substance of our social, economic, and political lives. Just how much do we know other than what we hear and see on television, for example? Yet the electronic media is owned and managed by transnational corporations. Ever wonder why we never heard much muckraking news coverage of the NAFTA or GATT deals even though many recogized the two bills would radically change the nature of international trade? Perhaps the transnationals didn't want too much hype or fuss. Starting to feel uncomfortable yet? Still, people keep insisting this was just a whimsical work of fiction, that it was a parable, that he really wasn't serious.
Want to find out more? Read this book, but do so slowly, taking notes, recognizing how many contemporary parallels there are to each of the "whimsical details" he conjures up, and then figure out in your own mind how very close he was to prognosticating just how far we have come toward the "Brave New World" in which everyone's soul and awareness is for sale. The kids are wowed by the recent movie The Matrix", yet few appreciate just how much of a fabled existence we are already living in. No pain, no sorrow, no trouble of any kind. Instead, we have our individual and collective consciousness "managed" pharmaceutically; our psyches eased into blithering bliss with "soma", our diminishing attention spans sidetracked and occupied by petty diversions and endless entertainments. Pass me the corndogs, honey!
But, hey! Don't touch that dial; Regis is on! They may retry OJ! What did Bill Clinton really do with that cigar? Have you seen the latest news about the stock market? Did you get any of that new beer they're advertising? it's supposed to make me a real ladies man....What's the latest gadget? Can I buy one on-line? By the way, where are the kids? Hell, never mind, just turn up the volume; I think I know the answer to that question Regis just asked... Meanwhile, folks, our awareness of what is going on around us, our rights and our liberties are being power-washed away, obliterated, and we cannot even see it happening in front of us. We are diverted, distracted, content in our own little worlds. So welcome to our nightmare. Better beware; it just looks like Nirvana. It's really another "Brave New World".
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