soma free love and the feelies
April 10, 2009, 9:20 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

I subscribe to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time newsletter.  In Our Time is a culture radio program on the BBC.  He tapes his show with scholars talking about a given topic in literature or the arts and then walks through central London back to his office where he puts down the newletter.  Here is an excerpt from this weeks on Aldous Huxley’s distopian novel Brave New World.  What I find interesting, and disturbing, is Bragg’s thought that many people today would actually want the distopian life described by Huxley.  I think he is absolutely right.

From the newsletter –

A central argument of our programme was how this hugely acclaimed dystopia would in fact, in some respects, be a utopia for many people today. The notion of a life without physical pain, the notion of death made painless, the notion of being employed in an area where you were secure even though you were confined to that area, the notion that pleasure of certain sorts was always readily available. For many I think that would not be considered an entirely bad deal. There is a large dollop of snobbery in Huxley’s dismissal of the masses – vide John Carey’s magnificent book The Intellectuals and the Masses – and yet, in the final argument between John Savage and Mustapha Mond, the claims that Savage makes for art and religion are powerful and in my view, and I suspect in the view of many of you, conclusive. Yet it’s not an entirely one-sided thing. It presupposes a hierarchy of tastes which is perfectly acceptable. But it also presupposes that that hierarchy ought to be imposed which is not at all acceptable.

— Melvyn Bragg, In Our Time