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587 of 661 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 8, 2006 5:51:29 AM PST
monroe says:
I read this book as a teenager in the fifties. All my life it stayed with me. I feel exactly like you that we are moving rapidly into a mental state very similar to the one he describes. And lately also physically. With plastic surgery and botox not only the aging problem is getting solved but also more and more people look alike.
Advertisement has taken the role of sleep-schooling us and we are being entertained from morning to night by tv shows, who basically are all infomercials selling us something from political spin to movies to food and everything else, somebody wants to make a dollar off.
Family life starts to disappear more and more and children are brought up by corporations, who produce video games, tv shows and other form of entertainment. I could go on and on. It is my favorite book of all time. What a visionary..

Posted on Dec 10, 2006 1:51:49 PM PST
I just finished reading the book for the first time, and I really wanted to write an extensive review of the novel and my opinions of the subject matter. That was when I came across your review, every single word that you have written has pretty much summed up my thoughts and emotions while reading and upon completion of this literary classic. Thank you.....everyone should take the time to read this book because the life portrayed in it....is what we have become.

Posted on Dec 31, 2006 2:09:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2007 5:08:06 AM PST
You have a point. I read both "1984" and "Brave New World" as a teenager, in what I guess you would call senior high school, in English-language class, actually. Just like you said, back then (this was around 1984) people were afraid of Orwell´s vision, while "Brave New World" just looked weird. Drugs? Sex? Genetic engineering? And if it´s a dictatorship, how come people don´t notice?!

It struck me about a year ago that, yeah, we ARE becoming more like "Brave New World". Even genetic engineering is no longer seen as completely far-fetched. We are high on drugs and sex, not realizing that our society is going down the drain... But, in contrast to the characters of this novel, many at least know they are NOT happy.

Perhaps we can still change?

Posted on Jun 13, 2007 4:44:43 PM PDT
LaLaLie says:
I very much love your review, especially the inclusion of the final paragraph with detailed examples of contemporary, media-influenced concerns that hauntingly envelope the masses. I truly admire your insight, or at least the insight you demonstrated in this review.

I just finished this book, and 1984 just before it, and while both books embody different societies, both focus on humanity's oblivious eyes on the atrocity being unfolded around them.

Posted on Aug 26, 2007 9:22:58 AM PDT
Viet Nguyen says:
Soma compared to prozac and zoloft? That's stupid. These are anti-depressants. They don't give you the marijuana high that soma does. That's exactly what soma is: legal marijuana.

Posted on Sep 4, 2007 12:00:48 PM PDT
T.M. Reader says:
Briefly . . . thank you for your excellent review. Keen insight all around.

Posted on Sep 27, 2007 6:36:05 PM PDT
The Preacher says:
You've brought up the problem, as many before you have and many more will. Now the hardest part is figuring out what to do about it. I'm still unsure of the answer, it seems like all you can do is turn it all off and hope others follow that same path. Notice I'm still writing this review, maybe I'll turn it off tomorrow.

Posted on Oct 10, 2007 8:03:05 PM PDT
Rob says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Dec 11, 2007 6:59:22 PM PST
anonymous says:
you are misusing the term Nirvana, it should have being Heaven. Nirvana is awareness...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2008 1:47:46 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 9, 2008 6:57:05 PM PDT]
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