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#217882 - Tue Mar 16 2004 12:48 PM Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
skylarb Offline
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Loc: Virginia USA
Opening "Brave New World" thread for March Book Discussion. Here was the suggested timetable:

Chapters 1 to 4: by Monday 8th
Chapters 5 to 9: by Monday 15th
Chapters 10 to 13: by Monday 22nd
Chapters 14 to 18: by Monday 29th


Edited by skylarb (Wed Mar 17 2004 09:29 AM)
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#217883 - Wed Mar 17 2004 09:38 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
skylarb Offline
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I can see that this book can raise a whole host of issues: free will vs. predestination; the question of whether we must experience suffering in order to experience joy; whether human beings are naturally monogamous or naturally polygamous; etc. It seems to me to work simultaenously to criticize concepts of communism as well as of capitalism.

Theoretically, under capitalism, the more people consume the more society prospers, because then people must make the consumables, so jobs and pay increases, and people have more money, so they can consume more...And in this (dis)utopia, people are programmed to be consumers. In one part, it says people who read (who are stuck in ) books don't consume, and so most books are ruled out not only to encourage conformity, but because they presumably discourage consumption. However, it seems to me that a book is as much a product to be consumed as a car or a hot dog or a game. After all, someone must write it, someone must edit it, someone must publish it, someone must print it, someone must distribute it....

These are just random thoughts here.

Question: Ford is an interesting choice for the "diety" in this society. I suppose it is because he perfected the division of labor, which is what the caste system in this society is, to some extent--a division of labor. He also made it possible, by cheaply producing a vehicle, to enable larger numbers of people to consume. What are some other reasons Ford is so admired in this society?


Edited by skylarb (Thu Mar 18 2004 03:24 PM)
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"Why don’t you write books people can read?" - Nora Joyce, to her husband James

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#217884 - Thu Mar 18 2004 11:01 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
skylarb Offline
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My latest thoughts...

Question: What does pneumatic mean? I looked it up, and in context in the book, it seemed to mean buxom, but then it was used as an adjective to describe just about everything, including couches, so I am wondering what the word means, and why he keeps using it...


When they went to the reservation, I had expected it would be a place where the culture would be somewhat like 20th century Americans; living, marrying, having families, but still reading, writing, etc. But instead it was what, if it were not politically incorrect to do so, would even today be called a "primitive" culture--pre-written language. Thus, the author sets up two extremes--a rather improverished culture with no writing, little education, violent rites, and very few technological comforts, but with individuality, free will, and domestic bonds vs. the (dis)utopia of luxury, pseudo-happines brought by drugs, technological comforts, writing (but limited to certain subjects), and lack of domestic bonds and lack of individuality.

Question: Given a choice between those two extremes, which would you choose? Which culture are we closer to today?


Edited by skylarb (Thu Mar 18 2004 03:25 PM)
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"Why don’t you write books people can read?" - Nora Joyce, to her husband James

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#217885 - Tue Mar 23 2004 10:41 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
sebastiancat Offline
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Sorry I haven't written anything. Had a chance to finish the book and will reply later this week as things have been hectic. Interesting choice and has sparked much discussion at home since my husband read this book in high school.
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#217886 - Wed Mar 24 2004 12:56 PM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
sebastiancat Offline
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“Brave New World’ was in many ways the flip side of “1984”. Where as in 1984 society is conditioned by fear and intimidation (big brother is watching you), in “Brave” society is conditioned by technology and immediate gratification. They never truly have to work for anything; everybody appears to stay in an infantile-like gratification process. The introduction of the drug soma illustrates this. When you are starting to think outside your conditioning soma gets everything back under control, that and a few hypnopaedic responses.

It makes sense that a society that has streamlined childbirth, their “lord” should be Henry Ford. People have become interchangeable; an ovary can produce 11,000 like-minded persons. It is an assembly line beyond Henry Ford’s imagination. It’s interesting that they use Ford’s quote “history is bunk”. It indicates the live for now mentality. There is no historical precedence of riots etc because history ceased to exist before Ford’s Model T.

Skylarb---I thought that “pneumatic” had something to do with the bouncy cushiness of not only a chair but of Lenina and her sexual style.

It seems that Bernard, John and Helmholtz are the exception to the rule. In a society so regimented and medicated it would be almost impossible to realize that there ever could be anything different. You are so conditioned one way that to know another way of life would be virtually impossible. Even Bernard himself became a hypocrite of what he once was with the introduction of John into World State society. He capitalized on being accepted even if it was only due to the notoriety of having a savage in his midst.

Enjoying personal freedoms now I would chafe under a society that limited my freedoms and supervised my everyday activities. Even in “World” it appears that big brother may have been making himself known as when Bernard visits Helmholtz he feels that someone is listening in. I value my privacy, my ability to sit idle. There is no “leisure in pleasure” for World State Citizens. You are active all the time. No idle time to reflect because that could lead to discontent. And yet at the same time it almost seems novel to never have to worry about finances, health problems etc that we do now. The tradeoff is of course being a subservient being to a group of others who feel that they have your best interests at heart.

I couldn’t imagine having to choose between the New Mexico reservation society, World State or even that of Oceania in “1984”. In order to benefit from one you have to sacrifice something that you hold dear such as individuality, personal freedoms. In “World” the tradeoffs have been individuality, science, love, family for technological and commercial advances. To a degree our society has parts off all 3 books mentioned above. There are the uneducated, the mentally disabled who would appear to be the epsilons. Emails can be monitored at work. We have GPS devices to target our moves. Chips can surgically placed into pets to monitor their every move. Cameras at corners and on the street monitor what activities take place, not to mention the huge security measures that are taking place.

The religion of choice for many may not be secular but commercial. The worship of self in excessive plastic surgery; does that make anyone truly better off than anyone else? The entertainment industry where models/actresses are worshipped from afar for their physical beauty or nuanced performances. Drugs are still a crutch for the inability to accept the everyday. Doesn’t government want to regulate family affairs even now with limits on who can be married and adopt?

Perhaps this will spark an interesting conversation. I agree with you skylarb this book can produce many discussions. I didn’t even touch polygamy/monogamy or how even now persons can genetically predetermine the sex of their baby
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#217887 - Thu Mar 25 2004 11:27 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
skylarb Offline
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Quote:

“Brave New World’ was in many ways the flip side of “1984”. Where as in 1984 society is conditioned by fear and intimidation (big brother is watching you), in “Brave” society is conditioned by technology and immediate gratification.




Good observation. Although in some respect, big brother is very much a part of "Brave New World," it is just that big brother does the conditioning PRIOR to releasing you into society. And, to a degree, big brother is watching--just not as closely as in "1984." And when you do do something that threatens big brother, you are shipped off to an island.

Quote:

Even Bernard himself became a hypocrite of what he once was with the introduction of John into World State society. He capitalized on being accepted even if it was only due to the notoriety of having a savage in his midst.




I found Bernard's character interesting. He's not your typical rebel-against-society character. He feels out of place not because of greatness of mind (like Helmholtz) or even an urge for freedom, but because of his rejection from society; and what he really wants, in the end, is not to be a real individual, but rather to be accepted and applauded by that society. I wonder how he would fare on that island in the end.


Quote:

I couldn’t imagine having to choose between the New Mexico reservation society, World State or even that of Oceania in “1984”.




I read the Forward in my book after reading the novel, and interestingly, the author addresses this choice between extremes as being one of the flaws of the book. He offered no other "middle", rational choice.

And certainly there are elements of Big brother in our societiies now--it was the move in that direction among democracies that lead so many writers to address the issue. The interesting thing to me is that it is the socialists (like Orwell's 1984, or Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron") who seem to be writing novels about concerns of Big Brother and social engineering, which seems to me to be the inevitable result of socialism if taken to its logical extreme. I guess they are warning about the flaws in their own philosophies.

It looks like we may be the only two who read this one. I hope others join in the conversation. If not, I am still very glad to have participated. I have been meaning to read this one for a very long time!
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#217888 - Thu Mar 25 2004 01:17 PM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
sebastiancat Offline
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We may be the only ones reading this book, and if that is the case you are one busy lady Sky with the new baby and all. How is she doing by the way?

Quote:

I found Bernard's character interesting. He's not your typical rebel-against-society character. He feels out of place not because of greatness of mind (like Helmholtz) or even an urge for freedom, but because of his rejection from society; and what he really wants, in the end, is not to be a real individual, but rather to be accepted and applauded by that society. I wonder how he would fare on that island in the end.




Bernard wanted to be part of society. He fit into a specific niche and wanted it to stay that way. His physical appearance made him appear as if he was not an Alpha. That was his biggest plight, not that he was a modern thinker or wanted to rise above his station, he just wanted to be included in his station and not looked down upon by others. Just my own opinion, should Bernard ever been stranded on the island he would be just like the character in "1984" when faced with the rats. He would cave right then and there. He didn't want to be different, he wanted to be the same as everyone else in that group. Obviously peer pressure and public humiliation are useful tools in this society. It backfired on Thomas when he tried to send Bernard to Iceland, instead it was he who experienced public shame when confronted with his child.

The fact that "Brave New World" owes it's title to "Tempest" is wonderfully appropriate since "Tempest" features Prospero and Miranda who have been forced onto an island containing savage Caliban. All of Prosperos attempts to civilize Caliban only reinforce his savage state, and the introduction of alcohol (soma) to Caliban who comes to revere it almost as a god. All of the World State's attempts to civilize or indoctrinate John into the world state society backfire. After living his whole life outside of that rigidity, he wouldn't be able to readily accept or embrace this new society without forgoing his freedoms. There has to be some down time/adjustment and there isn't. If only Bernard hadn't brought John home with him. John didn't fit in either society, and having Bernard use him to get revenge and regain his status somewhat shows how far gone the World State is. They have lost their humanity. Which unfortunately happens in our day and age. People use each other for revenge, jealousy or to further themselves as in Bernard's case. Maybe we are more like them than we would care to admit.

Quote:

The interesting thing to me is that it is the socialists (like Orwell's 1984, or Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron") who seem to be writing novels about concerns of Big Brother and social engineering, which seems to me to be the inevitable result of socialism if taken to its logical extreme. I guess they are warning about the flaws in their own philosophies.




You can even see this in mainstream/mass market fiction. The last Michael Crichton book is all about man trying to manipulate technology and genetics into one big giant mistake that could wipe out manking ("Prey"). The philosophy in this is don't mess with mother nature, especially when you don't know what you are messing with.
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#217889 - Fri Mar 26 2004 08:00 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
skylarb Offline
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Loc: Virginia USA
Quote:

The fact that "Brave New World" owes it's title to "Tempest" is wonderfully appropriate since "Tempest" features Prospero and Miranda who have been forced onto an island containing savage Caliban.




Good point. I didn't make the connection. But also, the Island is a new world (like the island in The Tempest), because there there is freedom, literature, new discoveries, emotion...

Quote:

John didn't fit in either society,




This is an interesting observation. Again, it points to the problem between two extremes, and hints that there may be a middle ground--a society for the likes of John.

The baby is doing great. Since she is still in the not mobile stage, I can plop her down by the computer to play under her kick n' play station and work from home...also, when I feed her, I read, so since I feed her 5 times during the day, I get in 3 hours of reading that way...I used to watch TV, but she'd turn to watch it, which made feeding her difficult, so now I've figured a way to juggle a book and feed her.
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"Why don’t you write books people can read?" - Nora Joyce, to her husband James

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#217890 - Tue Mar 30 2004 08:03 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
Geek Offline
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Must kill Bernard Marx.... heheh
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#217891 - Tue Mar 30 2004 02:50 PM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
sebastiancat Offline
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Just back from celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary in Las Vegas. After 4 days of the neon bustle we were extremely glad to be at home.

Sky my husband actually had a "cliff notes" left over from when he read this book in high school. The "Tempest" reference was gleaned from that information.

Quote:

This is an interesting observation. Again, it points to the problem between two extremes, and hints that there may be a middle ground--a society for the likes of John


. That seems to be the case in most of the utopia/dystopia books that are out there. The authors take a slice of todays life, whether it be violence (Clockwork Orange), government involvement (1984) or commercialism (Brave New World) and expound upon that one trait and prevent a skewed version. While it is inciteful to see what the author perceives as a potential outcome, it also doesn't show a balance for those who don't necessarily fit into the status quo. I would have loved an epilogue as to what happened to World State and specifically Bernard Marx or Helmholtz.

If I were to extrapolate Marx would be begging for the return to society and Helmholtz would be enjoying his solitude in writing, albeit works that perhaps never see the light of day, but become banned or hidden away. All in all a good selection for this month. Eager for "Dorian Gray".

I have to commend you Sky for the research and forethought that come across in your comments. You really take the time to study the literature and delve into the thoughts and ideas. You've given me many thoughts to ponder as I kept the book handy.
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#217892 - Thu Apr 01 2004 10:49 AM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
skylarb Offline
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Registered: Thu Jan 30 2003
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Loc: Virginia USA
Thanks for the discussion. Is Dorian Gray next? I'm looking forward to it too, then. I'm going to the beach for a couple of days, and I'm taking "Dante Club" for my beach reading, so I'll try to get into Dorian Gray when I get back.
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"Why don’t you write books people can read?" - Nora Joyce, to her husband James

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#217893 - Thu Apr 01 2004 05:21 PM Re: Brave New World (Book of the Month - March)
sebastiancat Offline
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Sounds like Dorian Gray for April and beyond that nothing has been posted. Even if there isn't a huge discussion on certain books, I still make it a point to read the book. Since I started last summer, I've been able to read books that perhaps I would have overlooked, or ones that I had been meaning to read and never have.

Have fun at the beach!

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