Sunday, November 30, 2008

Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley, who lived from 1894 - 1963, was an important British intellectual and author well known for his novels and essays, and particularly for his works in philosophy and the dystopic science fiction genre, including Brave New World. Brave New World was written in 1931 and published the following year. The title refers to Shakespeare's play The Tempest. Huxley wrote the novel as a satirical reaction to a utopian novel entitled Men Like Gods by H. G. Wells, and wrote it unaware of Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopic We which had been written in 1921. At the time of its publication, the novel was almost universally negatively criticized. The novel is set in London, England, which is part of The World State, in the year 2540 AD, or 632 AF. The society of The World State is centered around the technological advancements afforded by Henry Ford's assembly line. Henry Ford is deified the measurement of time has been changed from AD to AF, or "After Ford," with 1908 being the first Year of Our Ford, as it was the year the first Model T was produced using the assembly line method. Members of society are indoctrinated in their sleep through recordings, are controlled by hallucinogenic drugs called soma, natural reproduction has been elimated and casual sex is rampant.

Huxley was also well known for his early intellectual, metaphysical, and philosophical treatment of the subject of hallucinogenic drugs. His influential works The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell reference William Blake in their titles and explore the usage of psychoactive drugs, such as mescaline, as a means of arousing profound or mystical experience. Huxley writes that psychoactives are an immediate and effective method in which to activate areas of the brain, called antipodes, which sustain hallucinations and which otherwise remain dormant in everyday life. Huxley explains that these states can also be reached through more traditionally religious means such as fasting, meditation, other rituals or through deficiencies of certain vitamins.

A few interesting quotes from Huxley:

"Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations."

"And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing ... a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods."

"God deliver us from such criminal imbecility."

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