ENG 2420: Science Fiction

City Tech, Fall 2016

Category: Featured Posts

The Influence of Mercerism in Humanity

A here we come to the final chapters of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. After reading the final chapters of the book, I can only say these final chapters were mind blowing as several events that take place change the perception of the entire novel. Sure enough Philip Dick produced a tremendous work in his novel by creating suspense and contradicting the minds of his readers. The final chapters are really interesting as they uncover major trues such as that the truly antagonists of this entire novel are not the androids, but the Rosen Association; that the character of Buster Friendly is an android; that Wilbur Mercer and the idea of Mercerism is a total sabotage, and some other major events. However, what I truly get away from this ending chapters is the spiritual encounter of the two characters, John and Rick, with the leader of the Mercerism religion, Wilbur Mercer. Through this encounter, Dick wants to show us how the apparition of Mercer to this characters transform their perception towards androids and the meaning of reality.

John Isidore is one of the first characters who enters into contact with Mercer and makes him change his perception of reality. After being discovered by Buster Friendly that Mercerism is a false religion, John enters into shock as everything that he believes about Mercer and his ideal of collective empathy, is crumbled down into pieces by the press. However, he remains convince of his own beliefs and refuses to believe that Mercerism is a sabotage as he states “Mercerism isn’t finished”(211). His strong convictions and ideals make him enter a stage where he can truly feel and see the presence of Mercer. In this encounter, Mercer reveals the actual true about his identity, but also, and what I found really interesting is the way he refers towards androids. Though the androids discovered the real true about him, Mercer’s empathy towards androids still remains as he say: “They’re sincere; their research is genuine”(214). Through this quote we observe that Mercer does not feel resentment or any sort of negative feelings towards them, but on the contrary, he wants to express that androids are not that different from humans as they can also can feel connections and emotions between them just like human beings. Another major example of Mercer’s influence on Isidore’s character is when he says to Isidore: “I lifted you from the tomb world just now and I will continue to lift you until you lose interest and want to quit”(215). I feel that this quote has a powerful effect in Isidore’s character since it tells that, although Mercer and his religion is a total fraud, Mercer will always stay within Isidore’s soul as long as he does not lose his faith on him. Mercer guarantees Isidore to be present inside him as long as he keeps looking life in an empathic way whether it is human or inhuman, real or unreal. As a consequence, Isidore’s emotions change for good as his belief and sympathy for androids is once again restored.

Rick is also another character in the novel who after entering in a profound contact with Mercer, starts depicting empathic emotions and questioning the meaning of reality. While reading the chapters, we observe that Mercer appears several times to Rick to guide him in his search towards the androids. However, after he accomplishes his mission of “retiring” the androids, Rick feels grief and remorse as if that everything he has done is immoral and cruel. He starts considering that the killing of the androids was something unnecessary as they could have lived among human in peace just as Mercer beliefs. This is revealed when he states that “for Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I have done, he thought, that’s become alien to me. In fact everything about me has become unnatural; I’ve become an unnatural self”(230). Thought this quote we can see that Rick begins to shows empathy towards the androids as he starts thinking that humans and androids are not that much different from each other. However the major turning point for Rick is when he fuses with Wilbur Mercer without the “empathy box”. He is able to feel the close connection and suffering of the other individuals. Once for all, Rick is capable of feeling empathy towards the real and unreal, the human and non-human. The emersion with Wilbur Mercer makes him truly accept his religion of Mercerism as he tells his secretary “Mercer isn’t fake. Unless reality is a fake”(234). Rick realizes that what Mercer represents is not only a simple religion, but a way towards the survival of humankind as they share the suffering with the collective. The fusion with Mercer allows Rick to regain the empathic feeling he had lost before by killing all androids.

Empathy for Androids

As we continue reading through chapters 6-15 of, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, we are presented with many instances as to whether or not humans can actually empathize with androids.  As we are presented with scenes demonstrating interactions between humans and androids, there are specific mentality focuses presented with several characters.  Relative to empathy, characters such as Phil Resch , Rick Deckard, and John Isidore, lay down a scale for us in terms of empathy for androids.

Evidently the most cold-hearted out of the three, Phil Resch presented no empathy towards androids whatsoever.  An instance, where we see the true colors of Resch are presented when both he and Deckard go to retire Luba Luft.  Right before retiring Luft, Deckard bought Luft a book which contained a picture that she liked.  When Resch saw what was occurring in front him, he mentions, “My departmental budget could never in a million years be stretched-” (133).  Based on this quote, we can draw the conclusion that Resch would never grant the final wishes of any android that he retires.  In addition, Resch would also never agree to understand these androids.  Another instance, would be when Luft provokes Resch, comparing her idea of imitating with Resch and his position as a bounty hunter, Phil mentions, “I can’t take this” (134).  Meaning, that he exemplifies the stereotypical image of a real bounty hunter.  Which is someone who seeks out a target for the sake of a reward and evidently feelings from the target will never derail him from doing his job.  He also views these androids as machines, machines that will never be declared as humans.

Rick on the other hand, started off as a regular bounty hunter similar to Resch, but as he gets to know some of his targets, he begins to empathize with androids.  The first encounters with these Nexus-6 type androids was not pleasant with Deckard.  Polokov attempted to kill him by confrontation and Garland tried to do the same thing, both of which ended up failing to do.  With Luba Luft it was a bit different.  After Luft was retired by Resch, Rick was furious with him.  He was literally baffled that Resch was able to retire her so easily without any remorse.  He also contemplated about testing others for feelings towards androids.  The text mentions, “He had never thought of it before, had never felt any empathy on his own part toward the androids he killed.  Always he had assumed that throughout his psyche he experienced the android as a clever machine – as in his conscious view … Empathy toward an artificial construct? he asked himself.  Something that only pretends to be alive?  But Luba luft had seemed genuinely alive; it had not worn the aspect of a simulation” (141).  Obviously to Rick, Luft was thought of as a normal person trying to live a normal life.  Or, he was only able to empathize with her because of his admiration of operas.  But most importantly, he viewed her as a person not as a machine.  Through imitation, Luft was able to portray herself as a normal person and not act intellectually cold, as most androids seem to do.  Because of this, Luft did not appear synthetic to Rick and he felt as though a real person was murdered by Resch.  I believe that Rick obtained his empathy for androids, not because of his admiration for operas or his attraction towards female androids, but that he believes that androids can change themselves to become human.

Being treated differently by humans for being a special, John Isidore can empathize the most with androids as humans treat them differently as well.  As we know, three of the eight escaped androids from mars remain operational, and they are residing within the same apartment complex as John.  The androids begin conversing about their home planet, Mars.  All of them stating that Mars is a horrible place to live.  Once Isidore discovers that they are androids, he mentions, “‘But what does it matter to me? I mean, I’m a special; they don’t treat me very well either, like for instance I can’t emigrate'” (163).  Evidently, Isidore is the only one out of all the characters that can truly understand how an android feels.  His treatment from other humans hasn’t been the best experience, and he can relate that for androids, it’s been pretty much the same.  They are both neglected as being human, from all of the other normal humans within this society.  As a special, you lack intelligence, and as an android, you lack empathy.  Both of which, are essential to be declared as a normal human.

In general, understanding the concept of being human involves many complex emotions and the ability to feel.  From these three characters, we are able to familiarize ourselves with how the levels of empathy for androids are scaled for humans.  Phil represents humans who view androids as machines, Deckard represents humans who can view some of them as human, and Isidore evidently accepts them completely.  Overall, whether or not someone can view an android as a human, depends on the individual.

 

 

 

 

What’s The Difference?

Phillip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep introduces us to some emotionless things. The line between living creatures and androids is blurred. Why blur the line? It can be inferred from the first few chapters that nothing is genuine, not even people, especially the people.

Iran awakes in a separate bed, hollow and distant.  She is aware something is not right. She is objectively aware, her mind is receiving information, but no response is being elicited from her. Dick writes “At that moment,’ Iran said, ‘when I had the TV sound off, I was in a 382 mood; I had just dialed it. So although I heard the emptiness intellectually, I didn’t feel it. “ (5) If Rachel had faltered for a millisecond in responding to an emotional eliciting question, what kind of condemnation is this for Iran?  Either the determinants for humanity are faulty, or the range for humanity’s emotion or lack thereof is boundless.

If empathy is indeed a determinant for humanity, there are seemingly few humans left. In John’s apartment, a TV belies humanity’s facetious empathetic nature. “The TV shouted, ‘- duplicates the halcyon days of the pre-Civil War Southern states!” (17) An announcer uses some perverse nostalgia of slavery to sell androids. There is no empathy for the slaves, history and the pain that time period had caused. Human life is just stock. Empathy is only ever shown towards animals and babies. Its bunk, a practiced premeditated emotion needed for survival.

Deckard second guesses Rachel, he’s a classic gumshoe. The final question reveals that Rachel is indeed a Nexus-6 Android. “The reaction had come, but too late. He knew the reaction period down to a fraction of a second, the correct reaction period; there should have been none.” (59) Rachel is ousted as an android, despite her being unaware. As a reader however, the test is negligible. Rachel has a striking personality, she wears perfume and recoils to touch. She is shocked, frightened perhaps, to find out she is an android. Iran on the other hand doesn’t respond to her vacuous mental state. It is either high praise for the android or condemnation for humanity. Perhaps Rachel is what we humanity should be, the idealized self in Dick’s post fallout world.

There is a paradox I’ve was reminded of recently, “The Ship of Theseus.” If a boat has every single one of its parts replaced and retains its image, is it still the same boat? If we create something precisely in our image, down to our essence, is it human? Dick’s novel shows that creating a definitive definition of humanity may cause for some of us to be excluded.

Mercerism; the Post-Apocalyptic Version of Christianity…

Off the bat, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is teeming with biblical references and allusions to Judeo-Christian theology. Going from Old Testament to New Testament, there are so many references to biblical events and representations just in the first 6 chapters of the novel. It already establishes a religion of “Mercerism” that was started by a man named Wilbur Mercer (who acts like a prophet) and alludes to the rapture of Revelations and Noah’s ark.

Living in a post-apocalyptic America, the people who remain on Earth and were not able to go to Mars are akin to people who did not ascend into heaven during the rapture as described in the Book of Revelations. John Isidore, a “special” human who is physically and mentally below average, is barred from going to Mars because he does not meet the requirements to “emigrate”:

“To himself John Isidore though acidly, And it’s gone away for me, too, without my having to emigrate. He had been a special now for over a year, and not merely in regard to the distorted genes which he carried. Worse still, he had failed to pass the minimum mental faculties test, which made him in popular parlance a chickenhead.” (19)

Though not directly referring to the rapture, John is like a man who was left behind on a doomed Earth that is now inhabited by “the void” (an emptiness of humanity). Because of his short-comings, he was not judged appropriately to go into the “after-life”, in this case Mars, which is a wonderful utopia that everyone strives to reach.

And despite being damned to an Earth that is left behind by the rapture, the people who remain on Earth (so far from accounts of Rick and John), embrace the theological practices of one Wilbur Mercer. John uses an “empathy box” in order to connect with the prophet, as described here:

“The visual image congealed; he saw at once a famous landscape, the old, brown, barren ascent, with tufts of dried-out bonelike weeds poking slantedly into a dim an sunless sky. One single figure, more or less human in form, toiled its way up the hillside: an elderly man wearing a dull, featurelss robe, covering as meager as if it had been snatched from the hostile emptiness of the sky. The man, Wilbur Mercer, plodded ahead, and, as he clutched the handles, John Isodore gradually experienced a waning of the living room in which he stood; the dilapidated furniture and walls ebbed out and he ceased to experience them at all. He found himself, instead, as always before, entering into the landscape of drab hill, drab sky. And at the same time he no longer witnessed the climb of the elderly man. His own feet now scraped, sought purchase, among the familiar loose stones; he felt the same old painful, irregular roughness beneath his feet and once again smelled the acrid haze of the sky–not Earth’s sky but that of some place alien, distant, and yet, by means of empathy box, instantly available.

He had crossed over in the usual perplexing fashion; physical merging–accompanied by mental and spiritual identification–with Wilbure Mercer had reoccurred. As it did for everyone who at this moment clutched the handles, either here on Earth or on one of the colony planets.” (21- 22)

It depicts something similar to virtual reality, as John escapes from his own reality and is in another location entirely. But beyond the literal depiction, John is “praying” or showing some sort of worship to Mercer through the empathy box. He “merges” with the religious figure not only physically, but mentally and spiritually, which is the goal that people have when praying to God/Jesus; people say they connect with God when they pray to him and feel close/a oneness with God Not only that, but Mercer is described like typical depictions of Moses (old, wearing robes), which goes further to the point that Mercer is the central religious figure of the post-apocalyptic Earth and everyone follows his teachings, as did Moses who led his people and gained the Ten Commandments.

Lastly, encompassing more on Mercer linked to religious figures, the idea of Mercerism is similar to the thought process behind Noah and his ark in the Old Testament:

“’But,’ Rick interrupted, ‘for you to have two horses and me none, that violates the whole basic theological and moral structure of Mercerism.’

‘You have your sheep; hell, you can follow the Ascent in your individual life, and when you grasp the two handles of empathy, you approach honorably. Now if you didn’t have that old sheep, there, I’d see some logic in your position. Sure, if I had two animals and you didn’t have any, I’d be helping deprive you of true fusion with Mercer.’” (11)

With the promise of Ascent, Rick and other residents of Earth gather as many animals as they can and tend to them to preserve their existence. Preservation of animals is what Noah did with his ark by gathering two of every animal in order to preserve their species and rebuild society, much like the goal of these post-apocalyptic survivors trying to rebuild society through maintenance of their livestock. Barbour also mentions “grasping the two handles of empathy” just like what John does in order to connect with Mercer; so everyone is using these empathy boxes to connect with Mercer and follow his practices.

And so on; there are many more things to look into which relate back to Christianity. Like with Rick having a sheep (“And the Lord is my Shepard”) and the implications that has with it being a fake sheep; or how the defective androids are like “fallen angels” that became corrupt and came back to Earth and hide among humanity like demons. Again, this book from the very beginning is throwing so many religious references, you just need to look hard enough to find them.

Nature, Technology or something new.

Hey all this week we have read the first five chapters of “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” Through out the story we slowly see what this futuristic earth has become and how humanity has adapted to it. The story does not tell you everything at once so in the beginning we get small bits of information on a war, mutation, the extinction of almost all species on earth and rouge androids that must be put down. The main character Rick is a bounty hunter who’s job is to hunt down and kill lose androids that no longer follow order’s. Through Rick’s experiences we see many conflicting traits showing how technology and nature have become analogous.

Are android’s equal to humans? That’s the question I found myself asking while i read the first page.  We start at a scene where Rick starts his morning arguing with his wife Iran. On page 4 they tell each other

“You’re a murderer hired by the cops.

“I’ve never killed a human being in my life”…

Iran said “just those poor andys.”

This conversation here shows us two separate opinions on androids and how they should be treated. Iran clearly shows concern for them thinking of them as though they are alive. We see a sympathetic side of her when she calls them “poor andys”. While Rick on the other hand does not declare them human and uses that to justify his job. Rick’s choice of words degrades androids by making them something less important than a human life.

Their are also similarities between nature and technology through the use of animal’s. In this future taking care of an animal is a norm, but because most of the animals on earth were wiped out most people get robotic androids even though its looked down upon. Rick has an electric sheep which he feels bad about but cant afford to get a real sheep. He describes it on pg12 as he talks to Barbour about it

“Its a premium job. And I’ve put as much time and attention into caring for it as i did when it was real. But- ‘ He shrugged.

“Its not the same,” Barbour finished.

“But almost as you feel the same doing it; you have to keep your eye on it exactly as you did when it was really alive. Because they break down and everyone in the building knows…”

While Rick holds some apathy to androids he clearly uses them to cope with his desire to own an animal. Rick explains that in order to maintain he has to put in the same amount of effort for a real sheep. The difference is that now Rick must do it in order not to look bad in front of his neighbors. We see how shameful this is on pg 13 when Barbour says ” You know how people are  about not taking care of an animal; they consider it immoral and anti empathetic…” Rick only holds on to his robotic sheep only so that the community will not think bad again. The strange thing is that while everyone tries to own a real animal Rick cant and must pretend to do so with a false animal.

Rick also shows traits of becoming less human like by incorporating technology into his body. We are introduced to whats called a mood organ in the story. My understanding of what the mood organ is that it is a device that connects to a human, it is then capable of taking in direct codes in order to alter the mood of a human being to whatever they please. This artificial control of the emotions we see here show’s the user directly controlling what they want to feel through machines and code. The first example of how the mood organ works is shown on pg4 “At his console he hesitated between dialing a thalmic suppressant… or thalmic stimulant.” Here we see how Rick no longer feels emotions, or makes decisions like normal human, his actions and emotions are all dictated by technology he wields. In a way his human reactions have now become more mechanical and controlled similar to a robot in today’s standard’s. Rick’s line of work demands for him to become colder.

Lastly Ricks job demands him to constantly interact with androids and in effect we see how androids are beginning to blend into human civilization. On pg 29 we read the line

“We had better just accept the new unit as a fact of life,” he said “It”s always been this way, with every improved brain unit that’s come along.”

Here we see an evolution of androids when we learn about the new “Nexus 6” capable of seeming almost human. Rick states that the differece between human and android is empathy. Humans are social creatures and nothing like predators, so they have evolutionary benefits from being empathetic. On pg 31 Rick states

“A herd of animal such as man would acquire a higher survival factor through this; an owl or a cobra would be destroyed. Evidently the humanoid robot constituted a solitary predator.”

Rick’s job demands him to kill Androids that become more advanced and similar to humans with each upgrade. I question Ricks roll here when we look at the quote since he himself is a predator of androids trying to make money by hunting them.  Since Rick is a predator should we question whether he can lose the defining trait that separates humans and androids which is empathy.

Well that’s all folks!

Pursuing happiness rather than actually obtaining it…

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” those are the three virtues bestowed on American citizens as dubbed by the Declaration of Independence. Notice the attention to wording when saying “pursuit” of happiness; though one may never get happiness, you are allowed to go for whatever you determine to provide happiness to you. London in Brave New World makes attaining happiness very simple; by devaluing both liberty and life, you are able to obtain happiness.

The conditioning of people from birth to death sets the boundaries of a person, determining both what is considered “happiness” and, more strictly, what isn’t. When everything is meticulously planned out and limits are set, then a person does not realize what they’re missing something and must by default be happy; the old adage of “ignorance is bliss” comes to mind. And Mustapha Mond/the other controllers of the world realize this:

“‘Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel‒and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get.’” (p.198)

“… and they never want what they can’t get,” the conditioning that everyone undergoes prevents people from even yearning for something more. This clearly eliminates a person’s ability to have free-will; meaning you can’t choose how you attain happiness, happiness is given to you and you accept it because the scope of your understanding is limited strictly by your worldview. But in turn, this is a limiter on people’s ability to live life the way they want to and are thus not free.

But even happiness itself is an obstacle, because how can you be happy while not knowing what other emotions are. We know what darkness is because we have light, and so on. The struggle of getting happiness in turn creates dullness:

“‘Of course it does. Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations of misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.’” (p.199)

There is no point to living without having a struggle, which is why we in our society “pursue” happiness rather than full on obtain it. The journey is more rewarding than the destination; as shown with John appreciating self-sacrifice (self-flagellation) more than being given everything, seen throughout the entire last chapter of the novel.

In the end, real happiness is obtained through the ability to freely think about what you want to do and then go after it. Helmholtz and even the Controller both strive to do more than be complacent with being constantly, positively stimulated:

“…Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. You’re paying for it, Mr.Watson‒paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too.” (p.205)

Helmholtz, loving the idea of being expressive, is not happy because he’s shackled by the ability of having free-will and knowing he wants to do more in a world that universally sees happiness as over-stimulation of sex and drugs. The Controller, in an oddly sympathetic way, is striving to make everyone else happy and to maintain a status quo; that’s his goal in life, to make everyone else happy while suffering himself to not pursue his true passion of science.

So are you truly happy when you’re completely complacent with yourself and what you currently have? Or are you happy when you do what you want to do, yearning to make more out of what you don’t currently have/achieved? In other words, should you strive for happiness or for freedom?

Persistent Ghosts

Aldous Huxley guides the readers of Brave New World to a grim conclusion. The final image is disheartening. A man who fights for freedom is left with only one option to attain it. From the bleak world Huxley has painted, it may be inferred that true freedom is a facetious concept. Its’ definition is paradoxical and liberty cannot be given nor attained.

True freedom is unattainable.  It almost escapes definition in its intangibility. John and Mond argue primarily not with their own words, but by quoting people long since deceased. Even in this small regard, they are not free. As the two argue about freedom, Mond proffers this repartee “But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man- that it is an unnatural state- will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end…” (209) To Mond, independence is “unnatural,” it doesn’t exist. Furthermore, to Mond freedom would not entail completely autonomy, it would only entail a different master, God. Monds words are disconcerting, yet persuasive.  Hypothetically, what true freedom would entail, is frightening, it would unravel society.

Forcing freedom onto someone is a paradoxical act, futile even. It pains John to see people being rallied like cattle, it disgusts him and prompts him to act. John attempts to shake them out of their atrophy, he berates and yells “Don’t you want to be free and men? Don’t you even understand what manhood and freedom are?’ … ‘I’ll teach you; I’ll make you be free whether you want to or not.” (192) The desire for freedom has to come from their own volition, and it is not in their hearts. They react with violence; they fight for the drug that sedates them. Their loyalty to pleasure is near irreparable, they are forever slaves to it. True freedom is not real. Even after the being released, the ghosts of our desires, vices and addictions linger, whispering in our ears.

John is perpetually haunted by his memories; he contemplates freedom through death. John sequester himself to a lone lighthouse far from civilization to atone for his transgressions. Nonetheless, he feels deplorable for the small comforts granted by the ocean and distant skyline. Memories of his ardor for Lenina drive him to self-harm. With a spade in his hand, John thinks to himself, “And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. A convincing thunder rumbled through the words.” (226) Here Huxley uses Shakespeare to bring light and death together to a focal point. Having John hide in the lighthouse has become grimly ironic and foreshadows his passing. The thunder acts as an ethereal approval of his thoughts, and foreshadows the imminent arrival of his torture. The fact that he cannot escape from his past manifests themselves in the crowd that surround him. We cannot be free of our past no more than we can from our shadows.

“There is no such thing as a good influence… all influence is immoral” was one of Oscar Wilde’s many witticisms. Our desires remain our captors long after our release. All of our acts and words are indelible, even the most innocuous of words can alter another person permanently. How can we be free if all our actions have consequences and if we secretly seek a master to guide us? Freedom, in all its incarnations, is illusory.

Do Sacrifices Need to Be Made to Achieve “Happiness”?

Reading the last chapters of the book, I can only tell that Huxley arduously dedicated the last chapters of his literary work to discuss several social conflicts that were implied in previous chapters of the novel. One of the main conflicts is the concept of true happiness and how individuals attain this happiness. In this Brave New World, people have been adapted to reject and detest things like human emotions, new ideas, and knowledge about the world. The government have banned anything that allows an individual to learn, think and feel since they believe it might change the individual’s thinking and bring instability and unhappiness to the society. So in order to establish a happy and balance world, the people have to pay a high price in exchange of what they mostly mention it as “happiness”. Not only the society, but, the characters in general have also given up something at a particular point in their lives in order to attain this certain type of “happiness and stability. One of these clear examples is mainly shown in the conversation between Mustapha Mond and John which becomes the central point as it makes the entire novel more explicit to the readers. Through this conversation we are revealed how things such as art, science, religion and freedom had been sacrificed to achieve happiness where people can live in a more socially stable society.

The world society is a vivid example of people making sacrifices for the sake of their own happiness.  Throughout the chapters we discover that the society have to give up several things in order to promote a more stable and satisfied society. They have been brainwashed to the extent that they believe that, feeling emotions, establishing human connections, and having different views and ideas, are the most nefarious and terrible things in the world. This fact is revealed during Mustapha Mond and John’s conversation about Othello’s books. The Controller reveals to John that any form or art and science and any act of human relations have become useless and unnecessary to the society of this time since its people have been conditioned to reject any feelings, new ideas and understand things beyond their mediocre knowledge. He states that by doing this the world has reached an outstanding level of harmony: “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They are well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about…”(pg. 198). They have eliminated any human emotion that causes people pain and unhappiness and replace it with superficial thoughts and desires. This would bring a stable society where everyone is satisfied and happy.

It is not only the society, but also some of the characters in Brave New World have sacrificed something in life in order to reach their happiness. One of these characters is the head of this dystopian society, Mustapha Mond. Mond is the creator of this materialistic, ignorant, and inhumane world who restricted the society from using any scientific knowledge and developing deeply feelings that make humans unhappy. He arguments that things should be sacrificed in order to develop a more stable and happy society. He also reveals that becoming a World Controller was a sacrifice that he had to make to achieve happiness. During his youth time, Mond was also man with a great passion towards science and art and with questions about life; “I was an inquisitive young scullion once” (pg. 203). However, the government did not agree with his ideas and questioning and saw Mustapha as a threat to society. They asked him if he would rather live to an island and be isolated from society or to possibly become a world controller. He gives up something that is more valuable and powerful and chooses to be a world controller; “I chose this and let the science go” (pg. 204). Mond justifies that his sacrifice was made to bring harmony and wellbeing to the society what he describes as “happiness”. He decides to pay the price by putting other people’s happiness before his own “That’s how I paid. By choosing to serve happiness. Other people’s–not mine” (pg. 205).

Then we also have our main character John, who decides to sacrifice his freedom to accomplish what I would call true happiness. Contrary to Mustapha Mond who sacrifices science in exchange of a wicked and false happiness, John’s happiness is based in truth and his desire to stand up with his human feelings without caring the consequences. This is revealed when the Controller tries to persuade John that things such as art, science and religion are a worthless thing that should never exist again because they only cause instability and suffering to the world. However John can only see that Mustapha wants to control people in a way that they are restrained to have their own ideas, acquire a more extensive knowledge and learn values such as love, family, religion which is the beauty of life. He feels repulsed and tired of living in a synthetic and fake society where people are customized to not feel any emotions, rely on drugs, and treat individuals of lower classes as tame animals. He rejects all these things that are comfortable for the society and accepts what, according to Mustapha, causes unhappiness to them.  As he manifests in the text, “But I don’t want comfort. I want God. I want poetry. I want real danger. I want freedom. I want goodness. I want sin.” (pg. 215), John chooses to live a more authentic life. Even tough Mond tells him that all his choices would lead to unhappiness, John accepts them but does not abandon his ideals. He chooses to be exile to an island but this sacrifices causes him joy and satisfaction.

Bernard’s Gain in Importance

Reading on through the next few chapters of Brave New World, chapter’s 10-13 to be exact, there were many scenes that were worth noting.  But what I found to be the most interesting/intriguing, is Bernard’s rise in importance and becoming the center of attention.  Something that he has never hoped to achieve or even thought of as something worth of achieving.   Yet, once he realized this sense of importance among others, he happily indulged.  Because of John, being labeled as a Savage living together with the civilized people of the New World, he was able to gain a tremendous sense of importance.

Curiosity for Savages is the reason for Bernard’s sudden rise of importance within the New World.  A case in point would be when John’s mother, Linda, was being examined by Dr. Shaw.  The doctor concluded his examinations, and declared that it would be best if Linda continues taking a large amount of soma daily so that she would die quicker.  Yet, before the doctor left he tells Bernard, “‘to have had this opportunity to see an example of senility in a human being. Thank you so much for calling me in'”(144).  It was evident that the doctor only had interests with Linda and her senility, but at the same time he treated Bernard with the utmost respect.  Something that he didn’t have initially.  People were no longer spreading rumors behind his back and he was able to get all the women he desired.  Again, he happily indulged.

Bernard was acting differently compared to his usual self because of all the attention he received.  Throughout earlier chapters we viewed Bernard as sort of an outcast, someone who doesn’t want to take part of the norms within the New World.  Someone who wasn’t satisfied with taking soma and having artificial feelings.  Although once he was able to get all of this attention from others of his rank, he became a completely different person.  The text mentions, “The days passed.  Success went fizzily to Bernard’s head, and in the process completely reconciled him (as any good intoxicant should do) to a world which, up till then, he had found very unsatisfactory.  In so far as it recognized him as important, the order of things was good”(145).  This piece of text pretty much sums up what change of personality Bernard experienced throughout this event.  A sense of importance is a good intoxicant indeed, but like any other intoxicant, it doesn’t last forever.

John gave Bernard a sense of importance within this society, and he was also able to take it away.  Bernard had organized a party so that top ranking individuals, such as the Arch-Community-Songster, would be able to meet the Savage.  Once the Savage refused to appear, the sense of importance that Bernard desperately clanged onto, suddenly dissipated.   There were insults being thrown around all directed towards Bernard, and he wasn’t able to do anything about it and felt miserable again.  John brought up a good point about Bernard’s change in personality which I also found interesting.  He mentioned, “‘Well I’d rather be unhappy then have the sort of false, lying happiness you were having there'”(163).  I suppose that in John removing Bernard from this new sense of entitlement and importance, he was doing him a favor of removing him from these false sentiments.

Overall, Bernard’s importance exemplified that even the most unsatisfied individuals of their own society, are able to change their perception of the world as soon as they become the center of attention.  He let his ego get the best of him, and he decided to take advantage of it to the fullest extent.  Chapters 10-13 really showed its readers how emotions developed by false admiration from others can really change someone.