Thursday, March 17, 2011

Being Misunderstood in the Best Possible Way

I recently had the opportunity to read through the entirety of "Brave New World" in a single sitting. I would call it more of a privilege, but I don't want to alienate any of my readership more than I already do with my various rants and introspectives...

Not that I had much else to do on a 14-hour plane ride, but still, it was far from a chore or a bore to read the novel cover to cover. It was also the first time I had ever read it and, though I don't recommend doing so on a regular basis, I felt it was a great way to do it. Attention span deficits aside, there are so many novel-reading experiences that feel vast and epic, but I think this is in large part due to the fact that they are read over long periods of time, during which our minds attempt to fill in those blank spaces (in terms of novel-reading) with relevant or speculative information. It adds to the fiction, so to speak. But the original work itself actually remains unaltered. So, in other words what I'm saying is that most novels actually have a very narrow scope, but tend to engender a larger vision, not because of its content, but because of the nature of the way it is consumed. Having read through "Brave New World" in one sitting, I felt that I was able to better understand the narrowness of it all without getting caught up in the possible inconsistencies of its fiction or the fabrications my mind may have created while away from it.

You may disagree with me, but luckily this is MY blog, and not yours (though you may leave comments if you like!). Still, back to the point, the novel's main point is that technology, science, and logic's eventual end is the dehumanization of people for the sake of a perfect society. The most interesting sensation I found myself feeling during my reading of the book was not disgust, enlightenment, or other such emotions others have felt, but in fact inevitability. This was in fact one of Huxley's goals in writing the book. In the 1989 edition, Huxley writes in the foreword,

But Brave New World is a book about the future and, whatever its artistic or philosophical qualities,a book about the future can interest us only if its prophecies look as though they might conceivably come true.

From what I have read in other analyses and essays about the book, this feeling of inevitability, so subtly woven into the narrative and dialogue of the book, often goes unidentified. However, I submit that the feelings of disgust, shock, satisfaction, sadness, and even disappointment experienced by many readers of this book can be directly linked to this very sensation. The sensation of inevitability. Perhaps another word to describe it is verisimilitude.

Though, as he also mentions in the foreword, the verisimilitude of his story is questionable at best, because it leaves out elements he felt were reasonable and important to include in any prophetic vision of the future. Still, Huxley managed to create a believable, conceivable future in which his characters and his story unfolds.

If you ever get a chance, read through it, and tell me what you think.