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Brave New World: Happiness is All the Rage Feraco Myth to Science Fiction 10 April 2013.

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1 Brave New World: Happiness is All the Rage Feraco Myth to Science Fiction 10 April 2013

2 The past vs. the presentThe past vs. the present The willful rejection of knowledgeThe willful rejection of knowledge The pros/cons of social conditioningThe pros/cons of social conditioning The costs of progressThe costs of progress Writing styles and techniquesWriting styles and techniques The need for heritage, cultural relativism, and the value of a legacyThe need for heritage, cultural relativism, and the value of a legacy The virtues of individuality: class distinctions and self-segregationThe virtues of individuality: class distinctions and self-segregation The argument for experience: the search for control vs. “living dangerously”The argument for experience: the search for control vs. “living dangerously” The desire for instant gratification vs. the value of sufferingThe desire for instant gratification vs. the value of suffering

3 The death of innocence vs. permanent childhoodThe death of innocence vs. permanent childhood Happiness, substance abuse, and realityHappiness, substance abuse, and reality Lust, love, and lies: human cruelty and the usefulness of relationshipsLust, love, and lies: human cruelty and the usefulness of relationships The interplay between suggestion and decisionsThe interplay between suggestion and decisions Tragedy and meaning: the consequences of our actionsTragedy and meaning: the consequences of our actions The process of belief: the fears and events that define usThe process of belief: the fears and events that define us The desire for a place to belong and the formation of philosophy and societyThe desire for a place to belong and the formation of philosophy and society The attempt to build a better world, the motivation behind the attempt, and the ways in which such attempts can backfireThe attempt to build a better world, the motivation behind the attempt, and the ways in which such attempts can backfire

4 Before really getting into Brave New World, there are a couple of things you should probably know about it, its author, and the way I deal with the book. Before really getting into Brave New World, there are a couple of things you should probably know about it, its author, and the way I deal with the book. If you don’t share my opinions about the text, it really is OK; I love literary criticism for its flexibility, and I’m fascinated by essays that reach dfiferent conclusions from my own. If you don’t share my opinions about the text, it really is OK; I love literary criticism for its flexibility, and I’m fascinated by essays that reach dfiferent conclusions from my own. As long as you have your reasons, I have mine, and both are grounded in our reaction to the text’s evidence, our contrasting opinions can both be useful! As long as you have your reasons, I have mine, and both are grounded in our reaction to the text’s evidence, our contrasting opinions can both be useful!

5 Firstly, Huxley’s tone is satirical, not serious…although many would argue that the satire only exists as a way to grapple with his subject’s gravity. Firstly, Huxley’s tone is satirical, not serious…although many would argue that the satire only exists as a way to grapple with his subject’s gravity. When I’m reading a book, I tend to imagine the voice of the text’s narrator as I go. When I’m reading a book, I tend to imagine the voice of the text’s narrator as I go. I’ve always found it useful to imagine Brave New World’s narrator as a sort of a pompous, dry-witted British man, winking whenever he presents something ridiculous or horrifying to you. I’ve always found it useful to imagine Brave New World’s narrator as a sort of a pompous, dry-witted British man, winking whenever he presents something ridiculous or horrifying to you. –This is admittedly easier to do once you’ve read Huxley’s other writings, in which he really does come off as a pompous and droll Brit.

6 The Alfred-esque narrator wants to let you know that the World State’s spectacle is a giant farce – that this is paradise perverted – and he’s making sure you understand he’s in on this fantastic joke. The Alfred-esque narrator wants to let you know that the World State’s spectacle is a giant farce – that this is paradise perverted – and he’s making sure you understand he’s in on this fantastic joke. –If you try reading the book as though it’s being narrated with a straight face, you’re bound to get some pretty weird readings, especially during the unsettling first chapter. Also, Huxley was always something of an odd person, and he followed a somewhat idiosyncratic ideological path over the course of his life. Also, Huxley was always something of an odd person, and he followed a somewhat idiosyncratic ideological path over the course of his life. –Some of the very things he asserts imprison us here – soma as a substitute for genuine human feeling and experience, for example – become the things he promotes as the way for humans to free themselves by his last novel.

7 I think of Brave New World as the lesser of our two dystopian novels (although it was written first) because I find Orwell’s perspective more interesting than his mentor’s (even if it doesn’t match my own). I think of Brave New World as the lesser of our two dystopian novels (although it was written first) because I find Orwell’s perspective more interesting than his mentor’s (even if it doesn’t match my own). As a result, I treat Brave New World more as an idea-delivery system – it sets up some fantastic philosophical and metaphysical battles by the time the final confrontation unfolds – than an enjoyably readable story. As a result, I treat Brave New World more as an idea-delivery system – it sets up some fantastic philosophical and metaphysical battles by the time the final confrontation unfolds – than an enjoyably readable story. I may not always agree with the conclusions Huxley reaches, but I do like the questions he asks. I may not always agree with the conclusions Huxley reaches, but I do like the questions he asks.

8 As for those questions, some of them aren’t all that different from the ones Orwell asked almost two decades later in 1984: As for those questions, some of them aren’t all that different from the ones Orwell asked almost two decades later in 1984: –What’s the proper role of the state and government in human existence? –Are we regressing as we progress? –Is technology the source of our salvation or damnation? –Can our lives be boiled down into simple cycles of consumption and production? –Which aspects of humanity are we willing to give up in exchange for progress…and are they the right ones to sacrifice?

9 Both Huxley and Orwell based their dystopian visions on what they saw as the natural result of allowing certain shifting contemporary values to continue shifting unchecked. Both Huxley and Orwell based their dystopian visions on what they saw as the natural result of allowing certain shifting contemporary values to continue shifting unchecked. For Orwell, who focused on our readiness to exchange four star points in exchange for the false promise of the fifth, the change could happen fairly swiftly – within less than half a century’s time. For Orwell, who focused on our readiness to exchange four star points in exchange for the false promise of the fifth, the change could happen fairly swiftly – within less than half a century’s time. Huxley takes the long view instead, choosing to project how society would look six centuries later if its heedless rush towards consumption and empty pleasure continued unabated. Huxley takes the long view instead, choosing to project how society would look six centuries later if its heedless rush towards consumption and empty pleasure continued unabated.

10 While Orwell’s prose is dark, spare for some blackly comic moments here and there, Huxley’s is Mercutio-esque, presented in the voice of a jester laughing at everything he sees because he’d start weeping if he ever stopped. While Orwell’s prose is dark, spare for some blackly comic moments here and there, Huxley’s is Mercutio-esque, presented in the voice of a jester laughing at everything he sees because he’d start weeping if he ever stopped. It makes for a somewhat jarring tonal contrast between the two, and some people never warm up to Brave New World’s disgustedly satirical bent. It makes for a somewhat jarring tonal contrast between the two, and some people never warm up to Brave New World’s disgustedly satirical bent. Huxley, however, has good reason to be disgusted…just look at the first chapter! Huxley, however, has good reason to be disgusted…just look at the first chapter!

11 We’ve replaced A.D. (anno domini) with A.F. (After Ford), but this isn’t just about moving from spirituality to secularity; we’re basically swapping one form of worship for another. We’ve replaced A.D. (anno domini) with A.F. (After Ford), but this isn’t just about moving from spirituality to secularity; we’re basically swapping one form of worship for another. We’ve also taken Ford’s principles of mass production to a whole new level. We’ve also taken Ford’s principles of mass production to a whole new level. The logic of the assembly line helped ram the Western world into the modern age – not just from a technological perspective (everyone can have a car!), but from a humanist one as well. The logic of the assembly line helped ram the Western world into the modern age – not just from a technological perspective (everyone can have a car!), but from a humanist one as well. Our first pushes toward mass industrialization involved humans willfully replacing themselves with machines – guaranteeing their own disposability during tight economic times and, ultimately, their own obsolescence. Our first pushes toward mass industrialization involved humans willfully replacing themselves with machines – guaranteeing their own disposability during tight economic times and, ultimately, their own obsolescence.

12 That is the price we’ll pay – the price we’ve always been willing to pay – for affordability, ease, and progress, whether it’s in matters of production or war. That is the price we’ll pay – the price we’ve always been willing to pay – for affordability, ease, and progress, whether it’s in matters of production or war. Thus we move six hundred years into a future where the assembly line rules all, and where society hums along on the strength of its identical parts. Thus we move six hundred years into a future where the assembly line rules all, and where society hums along on the strength of its identical parts. As a result, natural reproduction (in all its pain, messiness, and unpredictability) has become an external, decentralized, predictable, controllable, and inhuman event. As a result, natural reproduction (in all its pain, messiness, and unpredictability) has become an external, decentralized, predictable, controllable, and inhuman event. Individuals’ destinies are determined prior to full development by electrical shocks, radiation exposure, oxygen deprivation, and alcohol poisoning – leaving beings that develop exactly as their creators intend. Individuals’ destinies are determined prior to full development by electrical shocks, radiation exposure, oxygen deprivation, and alcohol poisoning – leaving beings that develop exactly as their creators intend. They’re still alive…but will they ever actually live? They’re still alive…but will they ever actually live?

13 You’ll discover that Brave New World takes its title from Shakespeare in a brutally ironic maneuver: when Shakespeare’s Miranda says it, it meant something. You’ll discover that Brave New World takes its title from Shakespeare in a brutally ironic maneuver: when Shakespeare’s Miranda says it, it meant something. Shakespeare, and everything that animated his work, is what we’ve lost, and what we’re losing, in the modern fast-paced SparkNotes era. Shakespeare, and everything that animated his work, is what we’ve lost, and what we’re losing, in the modern fast-paced SparkNotes era. The No Fear Shakespeare editions of the old plays can be plenty useful…but isn’t that “fear,” that struggle, worth something? The No Fear Shakespeare editions of the old plays can be plenty useful…but isn’t that “fear,” that struggle, worth something? Should we always choose the most efficient means of doing something? Should we always choose the most efficient means of doing something? Huxley argues that we shouldn’t, but whether you end up agreeing with him doesn’t necessarily depend on what you get out of the text. Huxley argues that we shouldn’t, but whether you end up agreeing with him doesn’t necessarily depend on what you get out of the text. I’ll say that it’s the same thing Frank Stockton talked about at the end of The Lady, or the Tiger?: whatever you ultimately decide says something powerful about you. I’ll say that it’s the same thing Frank Stockton talked about at the end of The Lady, or the Tiger?: whatever you ultimately decide says something powerful about you.

14 Let’s look at that first chapter, beginning, as the Director says, at the beginning. Let’s look at that first chapter, beginning, as the Director says, at the beginning. Huxley immediately associates color and heat with both life and instability / unpredictability. Huxley immediately associates color and heat with both life and instability / unpredictability. He links heat to growth and development (which the World State stunts) and real passion (which is discouraged in favor of soma holidays). He links heat to growth and development (which the World State stunts) and real passion (which is discouraged in favor of soma holidays). Generally, authors use white to indicate peace, virtue, innocence, and so on; Huxley uses the color (or lack thereof) to signify death, the hue of a frozen lifelessness that no longer resembles human existence. Generally, authors use white to indicate peace, virtue, innocence, and so on; Huxley uses the color (or lack thereof) to signify death, the hue of a frozen lifelessness that no longer resembles human existence.

15 The first figures we see in Brave New World reflect these associations; their hands are sheathed in “corpse- coloured rubber” as they bring life into the world, and the light that fills their tropical room is “frozen, dead, a ghost.” The first figures we see in Brave New World reflect these associations; their hands are sheathed in “corpse- coloured rubber” as they bring life into the world, and the light that fills their tropical room is “frozen, dead, a ghost.” And that cold, dead place, that towering structure, is a testament to man’s technical genius – a factory for mechanically producing something that was meant to emerge organically. And that cold, dead place, that towering structure, is a testament to man’s technical genius – a factory for mechanically producing something that was meant to emerge organically. We aren’t raised, and we no longer learn; instead, we’re hatched and conditioned, shaped by makers who are decidedly less than divine. We aren’t raised, and we no longer learn; instead, we’re hatched and conditioned, shaped by makers who are decidedly less than divine.

16 Why? Why? Why remove something as fundamentally human as reproduction from our domain? Why remove something as fundamentally human as reproduction from our domain? Why pay women to have their insides removed rather than allow them to give birth? Why pay women to have their insides removed rather than allow them to give birth? Because reproduction, as mentioned earlier, is inefficient, unpredictable, dangerous, painful, and messy – valueless traits in a society whose central motto reads COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY in capital letters. Because reproduction, as mentioned earlier, is inefficient, unpredictable, dangerous, painful, and messy – valueless traits in a society whose central motto reads COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY in capital letters. The irony, of course, is that the World State has destroyed all of these things in the name of achieving them. The irony, of course, is that the World State has destroyed all of these things in the name of achieving them.

17 Stability (or STABILITY) is a relative term, its meaning derived from its contrast with instability (chaos!); without something to contrast it with, stability becomes static or stagnation instead. Stability (or STABILITY) is a relative term, its meaning derived from its contrast with instability (chaos!); without something to contrast it with, stability becomes static or stagnation instead. The community (or COMMUNITY) here exists only in the sense that people give up individual identities – that each being instead defines itself by its class and place in society, not by its values or goals.

18 It’s undeniable that we grow by testing ourselves against one another – that our ideas are stronger when we’re forced to convince a skeptical audience of their validity, that our identities are richer when we’re able to incorporate aspects of people that we admire and reject those we don’t. It’s undeniable that we grow by testing ourselves against one another – that our ideas are stronger when we’re forced to convince a skeptical audience of their validity, that our identities are richer when we’re able to incorporate aspects of people that we admire and reject those we don’t. It’s not particularly useful to bring a hundred people together to discuss something when they aren’t capable of disagreeing with one another, right? It’s not particularly useful to bring a hundred people together to discuss something when they aren’t capable of disagreeing with one another, right? The World State may have formed a COMMUNITY, but it’s not a community in the sense of the word we use – just as their versions of IDENTITY and STABILITY don’t mean the same things our words do. The World State may have formed a COMMUNITY, but it’s not a community in the sense of the word we use – just as their versions of IDENTITY and STABILITY don’t mean the same things our words do. They may have identified useful things, but they’ve given up an awful lot to pursue them…including the very things they pursued. They may have identified useful things, but they’ve given up an awful lot to pursue them…including the very things they pursued.

19 We get another hint about the price we paid with this passage: We get another hint about the price we paid with this passage: “Just to give you a general idea,” [the Director] would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently – though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society. “Just to give you a general idea,” [the Director] would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently – though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.

20 Now, from a practical standpoint, it’s hard to argue with Huxley’s sardonic narrator. Now, from a practical standpoint, it’s hard to argue with Huxley’s sardonic narrator. Philosophers certainly aren’t the backbone of our society; if they ever were, they belonged to our romanticized past, the world of fountain pens and wrinkled yellow parchment. Philosophers certainly aren’t the backbone of our society; if they ever were, they belonged to our romanticized past, the world of fountain pens and wrinkled yellow parchment. We tend to shallowly grasp most issues, even those “important” to us, rather than take the time to understand them in depth – especially because it’s easy to be frustrated by what you find when you try. We tend to shallowly grasp most issues, even those “important” to us, rather than take the time to understand them in depth – especially because it’s easy to be frustrated by what you find when you try. We have also placed a high premium on efficiency; our lives are lived faster with every improvement, to the point where we believe faster = better. We have also placed a high premium on efficiency; our lives are lived faster with every improvement, to the point where we believe faster = better. It’s almost inconceivable to us that something better could be something slower, particularly where technology is concerned; I may be able to convince you that a slow-cooked hamburger is better than one from Carl’s Jr., but will I ever convince you that a less-powerful computer, television, or car is superior to a newer, faster model? It’s almost inconceivable to us that something better could be something slower, particularly where technology is concerned; I may be able to convince you that a slow-cooked hamburger is better than one from Carl’s Jr., but will I ever convince you that a less-powerful computer, television, or car is superior to a newer, faster model?

21 While the World State “sped everything up” by applying the efficient “factory approach” to the non-work-related aspects of human existence, it also sacrificed the organic essence of life for the invented. While the World State “sped everything up” by applying the efficient “factory approach” to the non-work-related aspects of human existence, it also sacrificed the organic essence of life for the invented. As far as the Controllers are concerned, they’ve built a better world – one where too much knowledge represents a problem, not a luxury. As far as the Controllers are concerned, they’ve built a better world – one where too much knowledge represents a problem, not a luxury. Why acquire knowledge you wouldn’t use? Why acquire knowledge you wouldn’t use? And what would you use knowledge for in a world where every problem is considered solved? In order to be “good and happy members of society,” it’s imperative that people only understand the bare minimum that they need in order to carry out their function reliably and efficiently. In order to be “good and happy members of society,” it’s imperative that people only understand the bare minimum that they need in order to carry out their function reliably and efficiently. SparkNotes reduce books down to the “important stuff,” and for many students, that suffices; for many, there’s little to no value in reading the extra words. SparkNotes reduce books down to the “important stuff,” and for many students, that suffices; for many, there’s little to no value in reading the extra words. The time spent reading those words – let alone crafting and drafting them – could be spent on…well, something else. The time spent reading those words – let alone crafting and drafting them – could be spent on…well, something else.

22 There’s so much to do that there’s real pressure to do everything in the shortest time possible – not just in English, but in life in general. There’s so much to do that there’s real pressure to do everything in the shortest time possible – not just in English, but in life in general. And while doing everything in the shortest time possible can have its virtues in certain circumstances, it’s not a great approach in many others. And while doing everything in the shortest time possible can have its virtues in certain circumstances, it’s not a great approach in many others. The reason the philosophical approach has gone out of vogue in the World State mirrors the reason viviparous reproduction has been shunned: it’s an inefficient, unpredictable, dangerous, and messy process of doing things. The reason the philosophical approach has gone out of vogue in the World State mirrors the reason viviparous reproduction has been shunned: it’s an inefficient, unpredictable, dangerous, and messy process of doing things. Similarly, original thought is difficult, so it’s done away with and replaced with easy, reliable conditioning. Similarly, original thought is difficult, so it’s done away with and replaced with easy, reliable conditioning.

23 But we use our thoughts, experiences, and relationships to define ourselves; in this brave new world, you can’t really think, you can’t really experience life, and you don’t have relationships. But we use our thoughts, experiences, and relationships to define ourselves; in this brave new world, you can’t really think, you can’t really experience life, and you don’t have relationships. How could you even try to define yourself in the World State, assuming you wanted to defy your conditioning? How could you even try to define yourself in the World State, assuming you wanted to defy your conditioning? When the World State says that “every one belongs to every one else” (note the artificial space in “everyone”), is “every one” getting anything worth having? When the World State says that “every one belongs to every one else” (note the artificial space in “everyone”), is “every one” getting anything worth having? Personally, I like giving back to as many people as I can, but I also value getting to choose my own relationships and to define them as I see fit. Personally, I like giving back to as many people as I can, but I also value getting to choose my own relationships and to define them as I see fit. I think getting to decide how one relates to the world is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human, and the World State wouldn’t want me to do that. I think getting to decide how one relates to the world is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human, and the World State wouldn’t want me to do that. So you’re left with a simulation of life…and nothing more. So you’re left with a simulation of life…and nothing more.

24 There’s a reason the majority of the World State’s humans are now essentially mutated into existence; its society stands for the mutation of the human condition into something else, something so separate that we don’t seem justified in using the same word to describe it. There’s a reason the majority of the World State’s humans are now essentially mutated into existence; its society stands for the mutation of the human condition into something else, something so separate that we don’t seem justified in using the same word to describe it. The mutations themselves are inventive (you stunt growth in order to get growth), and the conditioning tricks that Huxley comes up with are disturbingly believable. The mutations themselves are inventive (you stunt growth in order to get growth), and the conditioning tricks that Huxley comes up with are disturbingly believable. It’s easy to see how we’d think the approach is somewhat more humane. It’s easy to see how we’d think the approach is somewhat more humane. After all, the first thing adults tend to ask strangers they’ve just met is “What do you do?” After all, the first thing adults tend to ask strangers they’ve just met is “What do you do?” We define others, and ourselves, by their jobs; we connect work with purpose. We define others, and ourselves, by their jobs; we connect work with purpose. And if a man needs to spend his life operating an elevator, why would we want him to be capable of more when that excess capability would just make him miserable? And if a man needs to spend his life operating an elevator, why would we want him to be capable of more when that excess capability would just make him miserable? Why would we want him to be constantly aware that he isn’t fulfilling his purpose? Why would we want him to be constantly aware that he isn’t fulfilling his purpose?

25 Myron Rolle, our subject from Waiting to Panic, Vexed and Glorious as Ever, was an incredible human being, but he wasn’t drafted in the first round. Myron Rolle, our subject from Waiting to Panic, Vexed and Glorious as Ever, was an incredible human being, but he wasn’t drafted in the first round. He was drafted in the sixth round, pick #207, and he’s going to have trouble making the roster of a marginally above-average team (sorry, Steeler fans). He was drafted in the sixth round, pick #207, and he’s going to have trouble making the roster of a marginally above-average team (sorry, Steeler fans). If he does make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening roster, he certainly won’t start; according to tradition, he’ll need to make his mark as a “gunner” (someone who runs downfield on kickoffs and punts as swiftly as possible in order to disrupt the beginning of the opponent’s drive) if he’s even allowed to suit up for games. If he does make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening roster, he certainly won’t start; according to tradition, he’ll need to make his mark as a “gunner” (someone who runs downfield on kickoffs and punts as swiftly as possible in order to disrupt the beginning of the opponent’s drive) if he’s even allowed to suit up for games. The gunner is possibly the most dangerous position in all of football because it’s designed around recklessness (and we’ve learned that Rolle is anything but reckless). The gunner is possibly the most dangerous position in all of football because it’s designed around recklessness (and we’ve learned that Rolle is anything but reckless). It’s why high picks don’t start out as gunners: the team has too much invested in them to risk losing them to injury, and gunners get hurt very frequently. It’s why high picks don’t start out as gunners: the team has too much invested in them to risk losing them to injury, and gunners get hurt very frequently.

26 More likely than not, Rolle will just sit on the bench if he ever makes it at all; sixth-round picks don’t have long careers because they’re not highly paid and they’re easily replaced (the average NFL career lasts four seasons, and it’s the late-round picks with one- to two-year careers that drag that average down). More likely than not, Rolle will just sit on the bench if he ever makes it at all; sixth-round picks don’t have long careers because they’re not highly paid and they’re easily replaced (the average NFL career lasts four seasons, and it’s the late-round picks with one- to two-year careers that drag that average down). If he keeps at it – even if he never makes it off the practice field – it’s entirely possible that he’ll exit the NFL at twenty-seven with a battered body (anyone who’s ever been through a full-contact football practice will tell you it’s a brutal exercise), without reaching anything close to his potential. If he keeps at it – even if he never makes it off the practice field – it’s entirely possible that he’ll exit the NFL at twenty-seven with a battered body (anyone who’s ever been through a full-contact football practice will tell you it’s a brutal exercise), without reaching anything close to his potential. He’s just excess capability in a replaceable player’s body, an Alpha trapped within a Gamma. He’s just excess capability in a replaceable player’s body, an Alpha trapped within a Gamma.

27 The leaders of the World State would look at Myron Rolle and think, “What a waste.” The leaders of the World State would look at Myron Rolle and think, “What a waste.” They would have conditioned him at birth to be the Alpha-Plus he should be; they would condition him to disdain participation in athletics and prepared him instead for leadership (remember, his family’s nation wants him to be president someday) because he’s about to spend years of his life (if he’s lucky) inefficiently wasting his talents. They would have conditioned him at birth to be the Alpha-Plus he should be; they would condition him to disdain participation in athletics and prepared him instead for leadership (remember, his family’s nation wants him to be president someday) because he’s about to spend years of his life (if he’s lucky) inefficiently wasting his talents. They would never fail to exhaust his potential to the fullest. They would never fail to exhaust his potential to the fullest. In the World State, everyone fulfills their potential; no one falls short, and no one exceeds theirs. In the World State, everyone fulfills their potential; no one falls short, and no one exceeds theirs. And, paradoxically, therein lies that society’s greatest flaw, and its greatest tragedy. And, paradoxically, therein lies that society’s greatest flaw, and its greatest tragedy.

28 For we can look at Rolle and see the argument for efficiency; we can look at our factories and think about how easily they would run if they were staffed by Bokanovsky groups. For we can look at Rolle and see the argument for efficiency; we can look at our factories and think about how easily they would run if they were staffed by Bokanovsky groups. The Director wishes to move “out of the realm of mere slavish imitation of nature into the much more interesting world of human invention.” The Director wishes to move “out of the realm of mere slavish imitation of nature into the much more interesting world of human invention.” Human invention, in this case, lies not in Jonathan Chen’s paintings, in Amy Lin’s architectural models; here, it lies people pursuing “the secret of happiness and virtue.” Human invention, in this case, lies not in Jonathan Chen’s paintings, in Amy Lin’s architectural models; here, it lies people pursuing “the secret of happiness and virtue.”

29 The secret, the Director asserts, is to like “what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.” The secret, the Director asserts, is to like “what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.” As he puts it while looking over the embryos of rocket-plane engineers, “they’re only happy when they’re standing on their heads.” As he puts it while looking over the embryos of rocket-plane engineers, “they’re only happy when they’re standing on their heads.” In other words, they’re only happy because they’re not fully human anymore. In other words, they’re only happy because they’re not fully human anymore. Is that the price we’re willing to pay for happiness? Is that the price we’re willing to pay for happiness? It’s the same question Orwell asked.

30 The central arguments in the book lie in Chapters 16 and 17, and I’m going to try to avoid skipping to them, especially since doing so would contradict what I asserted about Shakespeare and SparkNotes. The central arguments in the book lie in Chapters 16 and 17, and I’m going to try to avoid skipping to them, especially since doing so would contradict what I asserted about Shakespeare and SparkNotes. We have to read the first fifteen chapters for those two to really resonate. We have to read the first fifteen chapters for those two to really resonate. I will say, however, that one character argues that “tears are necessary.” I will say, however, that one character argues that “tears are necessary.” Throughout the book, we’ll be forced to ask ourselves repeatedly not whether he is right, but how he could be – why tears would be necessary. Throughout the book, we’ll be forced to ask ourselves repeatedly not whether he is right, but how he could be – why tears would be necessary. For if the tears are necessary…why are we so afraid of crying? For if the tears are necessary…why are we so afraid of crying?


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