City Tech, Fall 2016

Category: BNW, chapters 6-9 (Page 1 of 2)

The New World: Soma

In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley we are introduced to soma. Soma is a drug used by characters when they are looking for a good time or beginning to feel unhappy or discomfort. The commonality of using soma is illustrated when the author states, “She felt in her pocket for her soma –only to discover that, by some unprecedented oversight, she had left the bottle down at the rest-house” (106). The narrator refers to the character Lenina leaving her soma home something she never does. In Brave New World soma is so natural it not able to be seen a debilitating.

The naturalness of soma is worse in comparison to drugs in today’s world making it really debilitating. Like real world drugs soma is addictive. At some point Lenina cries out, “Oh, I wish I had my soma” (110). She needed soma because viewing the primitive Native American tribe—of the reservoir, ritual was overwhelming for her. Soma causes the characters to want a drug to deal with miniscule problems. It is worse than real world drugs because it is sociably acceptable and legal. The fact that soma is so natural makes It worst. In the novel the character Linda who was left among the reservoir states, “What I had to suffer—and not a gramme of soma to be had. Only a drink of mescal every now and then, when Pope used to bring it…But it makes you feel so bad afterwards, the mescal does, and you’re sick with the peyotl; besides it always made that awful feeling of being ashamed much worst the next day” (113). There is not much that turn the characters away from soma because unlike real world drugs soma does not have any awful side effects like hangovers, bad teeth, and aging.

Characters are unable to see that there is something wrong with their excessive use of soma. At some point in the novel the Lenina tries to persuade Bernard to have a gramme of soma but he refuses preferring to feel his anger.  The social reliance of soma makes it possible for Lenina to actually persuade him. Characters are unable to see that they are not really happy and soma is used to feel that void and not live life. It is like going through life numb.

A Mixture of two Distinct Societies

As we continue through chapters 6-9 of Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, we are exposed to a society that inhabits people, that are called savages by the people of the New World.  The New World is a place where in the words of Linda is, “…so clean, and no nasty smells, no dirt at all” (120).  Whereas in the Reservation, it’s pretty much an unsanitary place.  Where cleanliness is the least of the worries for the people living there.  But, there was one person that was able absorb knowledge from both societies.  John is the son of Linda, that was once a Beta-minus, who was raised in an estranged society with a mother that only possessed skills useful in the New World.  Therefore, John was able to develop skills taught from the New World and from the Reservation.

As a child, John was bullied a lot because of his appearance yet, he was able to feel superior compared to the rest of the children due to his ability to read.  Linda was able to teach John how to read through writings on the walls and overtime he was able to get better.  His mother didn’t know how to sew his ruined clothes, so this made him get bullied a lot.  During John’s reminiscence,  he mentioned, “‘Rags, Rags!’ the boys used to shout at him.  ‘But I can read,’ he said to himself, ‘and they can’t.  They don’t even know what reading is ‘”(121).  After this sudden realization that John went through, he was able to feel superior towards the other boys.  Because, reading was a skill that was taught in the New World, but does not exist in the Reservation.

John has had to “self-teach” himself about various traditions related to the reservation.  Due to his appearance, he was not allowed to experience various traditional practices that a normal adolescent from the Reservation goes through.  For instance, John mentioned, “they wouldn’t let me go with the others; they wouldn’t they wouldn’t tell me any of the secrets” (128).  It’s evident that in order for John to satisfy his curiosities, he had to experience these “secrets” on his own.  So he didn’t consume anything for 5 days and traveled to the  mountains so that he can find his sacred animal.  He contemplated suicide, which then led him to discover, “Time and Death and God”(127).  The Savages were not fond of his presence around them at a young age, which led to isolation and denying him of any form of exposure to these traditions.  If only they had accepted him, he wouldn’t have gone through all of these hardships just to fit in with his society.

Eventually, John was taught how to craft by Mitsima.  When John was fifteen, he was taken under the wing of Mitsima and taught how to craft objects using clay.  Given the circumstances, John  had to learn crafting through imitation.  “A moon, a cup, and now a snake”(125).  These were the words of wisdom and apparently the methods used to create a pot.  I assume that after months of practice creating pots, that is when Mitsima decided to teach John how to create weapons.  Mitsima was able to give John teachings of crafting after reaching a certain age.  I suppose that being an able bodied young man will earn you a place within the Reservation.

By developing skills taught from the New World and the Reservation, John can be seen as a diverse character.  Both societies seem to limit the teachings to their citizens.  On one hand we have the New World, which has a skills taught to a person based on their rank within their caste system.  Whereas, within the Reservation, their people are taught traditional teachings and secrets that will be considered useful during their existence.  Yet, John was able to receive knowledge from both societies and this can potentially make him more powerful compared to others from each individual society.

The Civilized and Uncivilized Worlds

As we continue reading Brave New World, we have become more interested and fascinated the form in which Aldous Huxley wrote about this dystopian society. Through his very detailed writing skills, the author makes his readers become acquainted of another side of this dystopian world, a new civilization –The Savage Reservation-, which clearly reflects the opposite of the World controlled by technology. Along with this new society, a new character is introduced in the novel, John, who becomes a central focus as the novel is developed. He struggles to fit in a society that possess cultures and views that differ from his own. Just as John, Bernard share the feeling of rejection from his community from being different as everyone else. Through the use of a literary element called juxtaposition, Huxley tries to compare the rejection that both Bernard and John faced from their own community and, the same time, he also contrast the differences between these two worlds the “civilized” and “uncivilized” Worlds.

Huxley gracefully utilizes juxtaposition to contrast the “civilized” dystopian world in which the characters, Bernard and Lenina, live in. This is shown when the two major protagonists embark into a trip to the New Mexican Reservation and land in the pueblo of Malpais. Here they encounter, to their surprise, a community that has survived several years without the invasion of technology. They are faced to the first old civilian of this society who seems to carry the natural symptoms of aging “his face was profoundly wrinkled and black, like a mask of obsidian. The toothless mouth had fallen in”(pg. 105). However, the travelers –in particular Lenina–, were terrified by the features of the old man since in the society where she comes from, old civilians are technologically conditioned to look younger than they seem to be. Another example that juxtaposes the engineered controlled world is that in the Savage Reservation, the Malpais’ women have the freedom to breastfeed their babies, a spectacle that made Lenina “blush and turn her face”(pg. 106). In the engineered world, the society is “sterilized” and so clean that the natural actions of human beings like giving birth and aging have been long forgotten. However, in the pueblo of Malpais, the pain of giving birth and facing death still exist within the society being an essential part of human life.

Another aspect in which Huxley uses juxtaposition is to compare the sentiment of rejection from these two characters, John and Bernard, who find a hard time to fit in a society of opposite values and prejudices. For instance, John is rejected by the people from the Savage Reservation since he is born from a woman that once belonged to the “civilized” world. His physique and way of expressing himself is different reason why he has created hate among the members of his community as he states: “they dislike me for my complexion. It’s always been like that. Always”(pg. 101). Similarly, Bernard is reject by his society for not being as everyone else and for having a different way of thinking towards humanity. Bernard is not accepted by his society and he desperately looks for a place in which he can be himself once and for all. These two characters face the struggle of living in a society that constantly reminds them of their nature.

“I actually dream about it sometimes.”

It seems no one is completely conditioned by the human construct of a “perfect society” that has taken hold of humankind in the story. Bernard’s visit to the D.H.C to obtain his initials for a permit to travel to a savage reservation was rather peculiar. Interested with the location destination, the Director recalled when he went there with a woman he was familiar with. Even though she went missing and was never found, he quietly admits that he still dreams about that fateful night. He quickly recollects himself and shrugs off the feelings, and proceeds to warn Bernard for his behavior outside of work. The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning has a subconscious feeling about that night that he won’t admit to himself or anyone else for that matter. The Director knows about fear and despair, even losing someone you can say meant something to him.

Secrets are somewhat kept as part of the human nature. When Bernard and Linda see the public sacrifice, they meet a man named John. John is not like the others due to a light complexion. John’s backstory intrigues Bernard as a man named Tomakin is John’s father. Coincidentally, Linda (John’s mother) had ended up in the New Mexico reservation because she had suffered a fall that hurt her head. She is from “The Other Side” but lives here with a son born from a man named Tomakin. Bernard quickly puts two and two together to realize that he is the Director’s son, for his name is Thomas. However, Bernard doesn’t share this information with Lenina. Why is he withholding this information? Is it for an advantage to up-stand the Director since he was warned he would be transferred to Iceland? What are his motives?

The feeling of being immersed into a culture other than your own can be daunting for some people, so much so, people will seek means of coping. Lenina is horrified by this feeling; she cannot grasp why people live differently. Albeit, the public whipping was a bit excessive, everything from the smell to Linda’s appearance appears to scare or disgust her. Lenina’s way to cope is to swallow 3 grams of soma and knock out for a long period of time. The conditioning, it seems makes, her blissfully ignorant of the world at large. She is so acclimated to a life of order, soma and conventional sex that seeing a new way of life is as if though she was looking at aliens.

 

 

Most Human

In next few chapters you find out that Bernard is actually the most “Human” out of his peers, based on his reactions to specific events and how he takes things that happen to him.  The place you see this the strongest would be when Bernard and Lenina travel to the reservation and encounter people still living under the old ways, people not part of their “Ford”. Bernard’s reaction to everything that they witnessed was of someone who was interested in the way of life, while Lenina’s was of disgust and fear. While Lenina questioning how people could live like this Bernard seemed to not even be phased by their lifestyle. “they’ve been doing it for the last five or six thousand years. So i suppose they must be used to it by now”. His tone is of someone who is more accepting of their nature, while Lenina is more denouncing. Another interesting exchange was when they both encountered the Elder of the reservation Lenina saw something she could barely comprehend, while Bernard saw someone who was just old. “That’s because we don’t allow them to be like that. We preserve them from diseases. We keep their internal secretions artificially balanced at a youthful equilibrium. We don’t permit their magnesium-calcium ratio to fall below what it was at thirty. We give them transfusion of young blood. We keep their metabolism permanently stimulated. So, of course they don’t look like that, Partly”. Lenina didn’t want to listen to his explanation because to her the sight was enough to distract her from the truth, her “conditioning” won’t let her. Bernards inability to fit in and “conform” is because he still thinks he doesn’t let his brainwashing control his thoughts on situations. Another Situation where Bernard showed his different personality from his peers was in the Director’s office, he was threatened with a transfer is he doesn’t conform and stop with his “lapse from a proper standard of infantile decorum”. They want him to conform and be the alpha he was conditioned to be. Bernard took this threat like it didn’t matter “Bernard left the room with a swagger, exulting as he banged the door behind him, in the thought that he stood alone, embattled against the order of things”. Bernard is by far the most Human character, in a story of Programed conditioned cyborgs.

The Aura That Is Within The Characters

Just as when you thought things cannot go wrong as you’re continuing to read a story like “Brave New World”, it turns out that things just got deep. If there’s one thing that makes a story go deep, it’s the character itself. After reading Chapter 6, the mood of each character shows their inner aura. One character that has a really dark aura around him, while the other character has an aura that may contain darkness and it may continue to grow. These two characters are the Director and Bernard. So the question is, how can we tell that these two characters have those kind of auras?

Let’s start off with the Director. The way how you would see him after reading his quotes in chapter 6, you probably see him as an antagonist in the story. For example, he knows the idea of Bernard’s, which was “to have a look at the savages” (94). And then he starts talking to Bernard a sad and dark story about a girl he was with back in New Mexico for his summer holiday. After he told the story, the Director then “Started into a guilty realization of where he was; shot a glance at Bernard, and averting his eyes, blushed darkly; looked at him with sudden suspicion and, angrily on his dignity” (95). These types of actions definitely shows that he is a psychopath and only a villain can do these kinds of performance.

And as for Bernard, he would have to be a confused boy who thinks that having hatred to the people and only believing himself is a way of happiness. For example, during the time when he was talking to Lenina, he started “stopping  his propeller and hovering on his helicopter screws within a hundred feet of the waves” (89). In which case, it made the weather go even worse and darker. After he turned off the current, he said to her “It makes me feel as though I were more me, if you see what I mean. More on my own, not so completely a part of something else. Not just a cell in the social body” (90). As we see what Bernard did and how he felt about it, this shows that he would need to quickly learn that believing only yourself is not the true answer and he can have the chance to change the aura that he has right now, or else he’ll probably end up like the Director.

Through the things we readers see into these characters right now, their auras are determined of the path they choose. As the Director had made his chose of his aura, he will stick with it permanently. But the question for Bernard, however, is “Will he change his aura, or will he never change it forever?”

How the New World Deals with Celebrating Company

As it’s been touched on in class, the people of Brave New World use a drug called soma in order to attain some sort of escape. The drug is widely used in almost all social situations, like here when Bernard and Lenina end up attending a Woman’s Wrestling match as part of their first date:

“In a crowd,” he grumbled. “As usual.” He remained obstinately gloomy the whole afternoon; wouldn’t talk to Lenina’s friends (of whom they met dozens in the ice-cream soma bar between the wrestling bouts); and in spite of misery absolutely refused to take the half gramme-raspberry sundae which she pressed upon him. “I’d rather be myself,” he said. “Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.” (p. 89)

Soma acts as a crutch in this society not only for escape for one’s self, but also escape from any related human interaction. Even at a public gathering with Lenina’s “friends”, they are all partaking in the drug. And rather than wanting to enjoy each other’s company watching the moon over the ocean, Lenina insists on how dreadful it is while not feeling the affects of soma.

The “savages” at the reservation do not rely on an escape from human interaction, rather they embrace the concept. Even Bernard is evident of this, as he saw it happening when they entered the reserve and were seeing a mother breast-feeding her child:

“What a wonderfully intimate relationship,” he said, deliberately outrageous. “And what an intensity of feeling it must generate! I often think one may have missed something in not having had a mother. And perhaps you’ve missed something in not being a mother, Lenina. Imagine yourself sitting there with a little baby of your own….” (p.107)

And during the whole time they are at the reserve, neither of them are on soma. Bernard being reliant on his own determination doesn’t need it while Lenina (like a drug-abuser) is relapsing from not having it. Her conditioning with soma also contributes to the fact that she can’t deal with deep emotional human connections. There are numerous examples of this, she takes the drug when not wanting to deal with another person.

The only sign of cope I observed from her while on the reserve, was when she would link whatever she was witnessing back to norms of her society:

It reminded her reassuringly of the synthetic noises made at Solidarity Services and Ford’s Day celebrations. “Orgy-porgy,” she whispered to herself. These drums beat out just the same rhythms…Queer – yes. The place was queer, so was the music, so were the clothes and the goitres and the skin diseases and the old people. But the performance itself – there seemed to be nothing specially queer about that. (p.108)

Though she sees a barbaric display as people sing as one and show signs of brotherhood, she is able to enjoy herself. And this is only through relating it back to her good experiences, the times when she knew that what she was doing was right, is how she is able to deal with not having soma.

In a way, soma draws the person back to “civilized” society. The manipulations of a world that conditions it’s residents to not have deep emotional connections with one another; all the celebration, without the needed outcome of connecting with people. In contrast, the reserve community rely on one another both emotionally and in regards to attaining knowledge; and they show their gratitude with one another with tradition and unified celebration.

Over the Fence

Pure Humanity without technology is as doomed as one with technology without Humanity. Outside the New Mexico Savage Reservation which is in a state of a third world or less country, the rest of the world is an advanced superpower with a lack of human aspects. These two worlds are in conflict with each other due to their opposing ideologies and values. The world of the Reservation is trapped by the world of Advancement, yet the world of Advancement fears the world left behind.

From the modern cities of the world After Ford with its gleaming skyscrapers, orderly and clean, we descend to the dirt, dust and filth of the Reservation. It is there that the savages are born not bred and it is there that they will die, watched by the outside world (99). The savages do not look like modern mankind, they are half clothed, unshaven, uncleaned and in rags (104-105). The follow the older ways of the world with a mix of newer and older, they know of Christianity, yet, their rituals eco the sacrifices made during the reign of the Aztecs (109-110). The still believe in monogamy and take the law into their own hands, when they believe it is broken (118-119). The live in communities and are taught by their elders about the world (125-126). In a sense they know more about themselves VS the world outside their walls. However, they live with death, illnesses, diseases, plague and disorder. Their level of technology is primitive, at best they know how to create bows, knives, pots, and how to work with wood and clay. There is no economy between them, people seem to share or trade what they need but there is no given value for an item. A sense of family is strong in the Savage world and the sins of the parents can be carried by the children (126-127). They are more tuned to their biological nature and the Nature around them. The world of Ford is populated by beings that resemble humans but rarely act like adults (95-96). They wish for immediate rewards, actions and gratitude. They are free to be with many people as they wish at the same time and then to find others to be with. The society is very open to an extent, limited by the rules that govern it. Everyone has a job to do, a place to be, and belong. They do not question their own existence and do not know more than what they need. They believe in Ford and progress. The people are identical with each other within their batch. They are produced, therefore they lack the understanding of family, comradery and of closer ties. But they live well without disease, age, imperfections. But they are empty. They are programmed to believe in what they do, dot not question it. They take drugs to keep themselves happy and do activities that bring them joy, while under the influence of said drug. One world is natural, close to Nature and is dying and the other is artificial and thriving but dead already.
As said before, these two worlds are opposite one another. One hold on to the values of the past, while the other rejects them and substitutes its own. Marriage VS polygamy, freedom to VS freedom from, reality VS fabrication, grown VS made, ancient VS future. When these two worlds collide with no way out for the modern one to leave (112-115), trouble arises (118-119). Seen as an outsider with no morals or self-decency, Linda is seen as a loose woman, who takes away the husband of the married woman, however, she herself doesn’t see and issue with her actions due to her previous life. But the married woman do not care or understand her reasons, they only care about her actions and take their own against her. Instead of talking, explaining or stopping their own husbands they go out and harm Linda, who does not understand why at all. Linda’s son was born not bred in a lab, unlike her. Which leads her to be ashamed of herself, while at the same time accepting that she is a mother (119). This creates a slight bridge between the new and old ways of how human are made. But this also leads to her son being an outcast because of the view the settlement has of his mother and his own external appearance (126-127). It is also unclear if his physical and mental labilities are of the same class as his mother’s or if they are more akin to regular human being.

The Reservation is closed off from the rest of the world by high tension fencing that kills any, who touch it (101-102). The entire Reservation is under control of a warden which is very similar to current prisons and holding facilities for criminals (98-99). Yet, the people in the Reservation at the every least the current ones have not committed any crimes. It is possible that they are of the old ways and therefore in the eyes of the New World order are guilty. Guilty of the old ways that lead to near destruction and the destabilization of the World. Therefore, they made possibly bring ruin upon the New World if allowed to be free. The people of the Reservation remember the old religions, the old thoughts, the old values and practice them. However, it seems that in effort to preserve the past as much as possible, they managed to jumble it up. They have families and love their children and yet they practice sacrifices to get plentiful harvests.

Technology without people is meaningless and people without technology revert to old methods and ways.

Cowardly New World

Welcome back Class and followers, this week we read up on chapters 6 to 9 of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This week we primarily followed the characters of Bernard, Lenina who travel into the savage lands. There we meet John who comes from the savage lands. Just like Bernard John is an outsider and doesn’t find much happiness in the world he lives. Johns mother shows that she is in fact very sad without all of the comforting aspects of her home in London. In this part of BNW we are shown that many of the characters use Drugs(soma and alcohol),and religion in order to cope with reality.

I first noticed Soma as a substance abuse issue in chapter six when Bernard shows Lenina the open sky. Being isolated and alone allows Bernard to reflect on his feelings on being isolated and alone. Lenina responds to Bernard’s feelings with “why you don’t take Soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You’d forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you’d be jolly,”(pg91). This view on how to handle your personal issues is clearly substance abuse.  Lenina expects Bernard to block his problems instead of learning to deal with them. This drug abuse helps them view their home as perfect utopia since it alters their sense of reality, because of this i could argue that Lenina might in fact be a Soma addict.

But addiction doesn’t only happen in the new civilized world. When we get to the Savage lands we meet Johns mother Linda, a Beta minus who was left stranded there. John retells the story of his upbringing where we see Linda receiving a gourd of Mescal. Linda describes it as” It ought to be called Soma; only it made you feel ill afterwards”(pg118). Its shown that Linda soon began drinking most of the time. Linda uses mescal in order to escape and deal with harsh non tech society. It seems that in both societies each character uses some kind of drug to escape their problems.

John’s religious attitude helps him cope with the world he doesnt understand. As a boy from the savage lands with ties to the more advanced world he is constantly isolated. John results in feeling unhappy and therefore practices religious traditions like “I stood againsta rock in the middle of the day, in summer, with my arms out, like Jesus on the cross”(pg128). John does this practice in order to cope with his mood.

What I find most interesting is that these two world vary so much in technology and culture, yet still uses similar practices to cope with their daily lives. Drugs and religion is something that society uses in order to create peace and avoid negativity.

Definition

For a couple of chapters, we escape the limitless ecstasy and cacophony of hollow platitudes. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World takes a detour into the world of the “savages.” They act and speak in odd ways, particularly one more than the others. By introducing us to John, Huxley demonstrates how words allow us to see the world more clearly, give words meaning and discover truths.

Equipped with the gift of language, John sees Pope clearly for the first time. Reciting Shakespeare, John describes Pope as a “Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain.” (123) He doesn’t fully grasp the meaning of the words, nonetheless he feels as though they ring true. He realizes he had never felt the capacity for such overwhelming hate until he possessed the words to encapsulate his raw and visceral emotions. Being able to finally put his contempt into words gives his world form. “They even made Pope himself more real” (124) he remarks.

Arguable, John is only parroting words, just as civilized people do. John quotes Shakespeare, and Lenina quotes her conditioning, how do they differ? On page 110, the two exchange words.

And, pointing to the bloodstains in the centre of the square, “Do you see that damned spot?” he asked in a voice that trembled with emotion.

“A Gramme is better than a damn.” Said Lenina mechanically from behind her hands.

Foremost, John speaks with gravitas, his voice waivers. He reacts viscerally to the blood. There is a richness to his words, they carry emotion. Additionally, they show his knowledge of Shakespeare as he wittingly quotes Lady Macbeth. A character riddled with guilt, just as John feels for not having taken the lashes.  Lenina on the other hand hides behind her hands. She refused to observe, she only responds “mechanically.” Her words rhyme, but ring hollow.

Alone in the moonlight, John discovers that life is finite. Covered in blood, looking over a precipice, he contemplates suicide. “Drop, drop, drop. To-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow… He had discovered Time and Death and God.” (127) In his solitude, he looks inward. The drops of blood fall steadily, like a clock. The word drop also invokes the image of him falling. No more tomorrows. Drop or tomorrow, he has to choose.  Moreover, his words trail off. He has begun to quote Shakespeare again. More precisely Macbeth famous soliloquy contemplating the passage of time and inevitably of death. Perhaps Shakespeare’s writing held no meaning for John until he sat on that precipice. John’s hardships coupled with Shakespeare’s words helped him make these discoveries about “Time and Death and God.”

Anyone can wield a tool. What is done with that instrument is what matters. Given the same tool we can all create the same objects, but with varying efficacy. Moreover, no two people may wield it in the same fashion. Some are more adept; some wield the it more fiercely. Language is merely a tool. Through John, Huxley demonstrates how language can impact and enrich life.

 

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