NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

I don't know what we did in high school English class. Apparently we didn't read books, because all of the things everyone seems to have read in high school, I missed out on. I say this, because whenever I mentioned to anyone I know that I was reading Brave New World, the response was always, "Didn't you have to read that in high school?" Same for Animal Farm, Catcher In The Rye, Huckleberry Finn, the list goes on. OK, missing Huck Finn was my own fault. I just plain didn't read it when it was assigned. But I remember that *because* we didn't have that many assigned. I must have thought, "We never read anything else. Why should I read this?"

Anyway, I digress. The lack of required reading in my high school English education was not the point of this post.

Brave New World is every bit as disturbing as it was meant to be. I loved the last 50+ pages, when the Controller explains to John, the Savage, the philosophy behind "civilization", where all needs are met with the press of a button or the pop of a pill and desires are carefully controlled via early "conditioning". It's hard to believe this book was written over 70 years ago. (It was published in 1932.) Much of it made me think of today's society and how we think we should have everything we want "right now" with a minimum of effort, how our lives should be geared simply toward overabundance of comfort and convenience in one form or another. Yet even though it appears many people's actions strive only to achieve personal success, comfort, and that elusive state of "happiness", misery and unrest seems more prevalent than ever.

This is one of my favorite quotes from Brave New World. The Controller is explaining to John why the lives of the "civilized" are so devoid of, well, life:

"Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand."

Perhaps "too much" is its own brand of poverty and "enough" is that for which we should seek. Or even a little bit of personal sacrifice.

Here's to enough~


Shelley said...

I also never read this one in high school, but I think I'm glad I didn't--I don't know if it would have the same meaning if I had read it too young. Even The Scarlet Letter, which I read in high school, was a totally different experience reading as an adult. I completely agree with your statement
about too much being it's own brand of poverty.

Lezlie said...

A visitor! I'm sooooo excited! Welcome to my blog! :-)

When I think about it, I also am glad I'm reading the books later in life. While I was always an avid reader, I was definitely not a "mature" reader. I totally agree with you.