Want to read with me? Follow this link to view the list and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alexis's point of view on 'Brave New World'

Lexie (for those of you who don't know, my older sister) sent me her blog posting from when she read Brave New World last April. Again, for those who don't know Lexie, she was a little over a year into her Peace Corps service in Sénégal at the time. I thought it was intriguing to see the difference in perspective, as well as the similar thread at the end. We're quite the family of bookreaders, eh?

from Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Sunday I spent the whole afternoon doing nothing but reading Aldous
Huxley’s “Brave New World,” which I picked up from the regional house
library. After finishing the book, I was struck by how unsettled it
made me, as reminiscent as it was of certain aspects of my Peace Corps
experience. The “civilized world” versus the “savage reservation,” the
triumph of the mechanical over the emotional, the power of
conditioning trumping instinct… all of it echoed with a strange
parallel to the reality I am now living. Huxley’s description of the
“savage reservation” in comparison to his futuristic “civilized
England” made me think about the typical, fresh-out-of-college
American PCV when he first sets foot in a remote African village, how
like the Alpha Bernard Marx when he first sees the pueblo on the
reservation, how like Beta Lenina Crowne when she witnesses their rain

And how strange it is that I should still feel this way in 2009, that
we should have such disparity between the “developed” and “developing”
worlds. Huxley wrote in the 1930’s that he had projected this dystopia
for 600 years in the future. It’s more than scary then that not even a
century has passed since his vision, and the world is already in such
a divided state of advancement.

But progress is a relative term. Huxley’s words narrated by the Savage
resonated with me, as he spoke of “really living” and of claiming the
right to experience joy and sorrow, passion and pain, even though in
the “civilized” world those emotions would be a recipe for disastrous
“instability.” In this fictional far future, everyone is conditioned
(from the earliest stages of fetal life) not to have strong feelings
about anything or anyone, keeping everything in a “perfect” state of
balance and stability. But I agree with what Huxley was saying - that
you can only feel true joy if you’ve been to the depths of sorrow, can
only experience real passion after temptation and self-denial.
So as tragic as it was, I understood how the Savage could not continue
to live in the “civilized world” - because being a feeling person in
an unfeeling world is living torture.

If progress means losing all sense of what it is to be alive, then I
too would rather be “savage” than “civilized.” "


Back to Ulysses! 10 pages in - can't go back!

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