Somaphoria

Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel Brave New World has been hailed by many as his greatest work. After procuring a second hand (well who knows how many hands it has passed!) copy of the book over 5 years ago, I finally finished reading it last week. From what I understand, this novel along with Orwell’s 1984 is part of high school suggested reading curriculum. In fact, only a few days back I read this interesting story on nytimes about outsourcing homework, the topic being comparing/contrasting the two novels. But I digress, coming back to Somaphoria*, I have tried to present some salient ideas here…

In the new civilised world, eugenics have been mastered and a specific social order exists, alphas > betas > gammas > deltas > epsilons, controlled by the amount of alcohol added while conception in a test-tube etc. Hypnopedia is used to condition people to like (not love since thats contagious and overly destabilising) the present circumstances of community life, and any free time that the people have is spent on “soma” holidays and the “feelies”. They have mastered fear of death, so basically life is just one big passionless overly pleasant experience. “Happiness is never grand” like. The highlight of the novel for me was when Mustapha Mond, the Western World Controller, rejects a heretical article titled ‘A New Theory of Biology’ about the conception of purpose stating ‘What fun it would be if one didn’t have to think about happiness!’ Indeed a very valid point! By systematically rooting out any form of free-thinking, innovation, high art, science and ofcourse dissent, a stabilised social order or the persistence of civilisation can be achieved. 

The logic of Mustapha Monds is undoubtedly impregnable. To prevent you from getting hurt while playing football, the game is abolished, not just abolished, negative propaganda is repeated ‘3 times a week between 13 and 17’ and so forth. But why have a civilisation? Stop decanting babies and end it already Mustapha! 🙂

*Somaphoria: portmanteau (soma + euphoria)

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6 Comments on “Somaphoria”

  1. Shoulung says:

    Find “Anthem” by Ayn Rand. Better. More shocking. You won’t be disappointed.

  2. TZA says:

    Is this the extreme version of the ‘elimination of all desires’ theme that we talked about in religion? I think that I had tried to portray the situation of the above as the antithesis of my pro-hedonist viewpoint…Is the religious version the same thing, but without drugs?

  3. Thanks for the recommendation Shoulung. I have infact imbibed my share of Ayn Rands (including Anthem) but I find the dystopian 1984 and Brave New World a class apart! 🙂

  4. TZA – The book actually echoes your pro-hedonist viewpoint with a healthy(?!) dose of “government” supervision. The concept of religion is completely eliminated as it were, main reasons being conditioning, social order and ofcourse drugs. I highly recommend this book, you can borrow from me next time you guys dropby! 🙂

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