City Tech, Fall 2016

Class Discussion: ‘Brave New World’

We’re continuing our discussion of Brave New World over the weekend. Feel free to pick up on something we discussed in class, bring in aspects of the text we didn’t get to, raise questions, offer excerpts/analysis, provide connections to our contemporary world (references & links to other texts articles, songs, videos, etc. would be great!), raise (& take a shot at answering) big existential questions raised by the text (e.g., can happiness be “real” if it is manufacturing chemically?), or anything else relevant. The goal is conversation that will lead to deeper understanding of the text 🙂

You should make your at least one comment (just hit “reply,” either to my original post or to another comment on it) by Sunday (9/25). Then go back/read through all comments and extend the conversation by making at least two more comments (of course, more are always welcome!) in response by Tuesday 9/27. 

25 Comments

  1. Ghasan shahbain

    I believe happiness is predicted by our last actions. For example, if a positive action is done by a person that that would make him feel happy. Opposite when a negative action is done However in the book they refered to happiness as the result of stability which it can be untrue if the actions done by the community are negative like taking away freedoms.

    • Duron Crichlow

      I would agree to that statement. I do want to add on that after seeing that people were taking somas in the book, they would say to themselves that it can help them fill happiness. But seeing as soma is a drug, to people who don’t do drugs would say that it really doesn’t.

      • Joselin Campoverde

        I would agree to your statement. Being happy is determined by the person’s actions and choices. For instance, when referring to the book we can see that this society rely on soma to escape the unhappiness and the problems that surrounds the word. This drug helps them feel happy and forget any negative thoughts and human emotions. However if we compare to today’s world, we can see that people rely on drugs just to forget their problems and feel better inside them. Even some people justify themselves by saying that drugs makes them feel happy. To my opinion, this is not true happiness and at a long term this would cause destruction and perdition to the person who consumes it. Yes, it might cause happiness and good feelings for a moment but after the drug leaves the human system, the problem or problems will be there and the person will have to face them nonetheless.

        • Duron Crichlow

          And of course, not only they have to face the problems, and the people also have to think about what they have done and just change their future rather than still thinking about their past.

          • Ghasan shahbain

            They also refer to happiness as a theme of good reaction to all actions satisfying the person. I’m

      • Jovan

        As u said in class, and others may feel differently, there are many ways to view happiness so everyone will find it in their own way. Of course taking drugs is dangerous and unhealthy, but yet some people are happiest when they are under the influence of their selective drug. Yes, you may wake up one day and say ” Today is going to be a great day, I will be happy today” but deep down inside, if your not content with you’re life and what you have accomplished, can you really just wake up and say today will be a happy day. I believe people can put on a persona of who they want to be or how they want to feel but that is only temporary. I believe that if you don’t strive for the feeling of happiness, actually work on your goals and overcome your obstacle, that your happiness once again, will only be temporary.

    • Ruben

      I don’t really think happiness works that way. I mean I could be wrong and this is mainly my opinion so feel free to comment my comment. I think happiness like all emotions is a state of mind. I could have a bad day yet still be happy. Sometimes we also get a mixture of emotions, where something bothers you but you get a sense of happiness through out your day maybe because something distracted you or you had your favorite dessert. In BMW happiness is attributed to many things but soma is the most common. We can argue that soma related emotions is not real happiness but the user taking it definitely feels it. We also see an example of mixtures in emotions on PG 171 when Lenin’s says “but in the intervals I still feel like him. I shall always like him.” This quote shows us that Lenina can’t block out negative thoughts even though she’s under the influence of soma. Aside from that I feel that when we look at BMW we judge their sense of happiness not because it’s a feeling but what they do to attain it

    • Sky Captaina - Alex S

      Happiness may be affected by what is done last that may lead to an increase or decrease in the level of it, however all that come before that event are also in play. A streak of sadness can be broken with one good thing however it is more likely that people have ups and downs vs blacks of god and bad. Also it is not always the case that only one good thing takes you out of sadness or one bad to get you there. In Brave New World the people basically stay on a high of joy due to drugs and other actives that the world has given them. It is also true that the world order has taken rights away and freedoms are removed, but these people have never even seem those before. It is that same as the dark ages where some people knew about the Roman laws and ways that ruled before but the new controllers ignored and put in their own. The next set of people born never knew about the Roman empire, laws, lands beyond their area, the advances in technology made by Rome, it was all before their time. That is how you control people, take away rights from people who do not even know they had them before they are born. You will face resistance from the current people who know they have rights, but as soon they and those who they tech the old ways to are gone you have total control. so they do not see the lack of freedom as a negative and in the past the people wanted them removed because of the war that brought devastation upon them.

  2. Rino

    Here are a few random things I was interested in/providing in regards to the book that piqued my interest.

    Character Name References:
    While reading the novel, I noticed some names that stood out to me, like Bernard “Marx” and Helmholtz “Watson” which I knew were significant references to real world people (Karl Marx & John B. Watson). While looking online to link each name to someone of significance, I found a nice presentation that outlined the main character’s names, their etymological origins, and (possible) interpretations behind the name choice of most of the characters. Linda was not included in the list, but I assume her name is simply suppose to be similar to Lenina since they are doubles of one another.
    https://prezi.com/eyoo0xzxj8ny/names-in-brave-new-world/

    Zuni Translations:
    I was only able to find one Zuni translation from the book, and it’s only speculation at most what it means (it’s for “sons eso tse-na”):
    I saw a similar translation to the phrase from here,
    http://www.proz.com/kudoz/zuni_to_english/other/142938-sons_eso_tse_na.html
    The forum post mentioned “sons éso! Te-ä-tú!”, which means “Yea, let us, verily! Be it so.” This is part of a dialog Zuni tribes have when listening to orators of stories, they would respond with this to continue the story/reaffirm an idea that was made by the orator.
    “Sons eso tse-na” by my best guess is the opposite of this (“tse-na” sounds like a negative of “te-ä-tú”); “yeah verily not” or something along those lines. It’s most likely a play on words to the above phrase in order to convey how John disagrees with the ideals of the civilized society.
    The other two phrases (“Ai yaa tákwa!” and “Hani!”) remain unknown to me; surprising considering how long the book has been out and no one seems to have translated this, at least from my Google searches.

    Brave New World (Song):
    A last little thing to note is that, as a music/rock/metal enthusiast, there is a song and album by Iron Maiden called “Brave New World”; here’s the link to the song (with lyrics in the description):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMRYS9vxuR0&index=3&list=PLB0D59C8EC94CED10
    Based on the lyrics and having read the book, the lyrics are in the perspective of John and talks about how he knows that everyone is just brainwashed and can’t do anything about it (“All is lost, sold your souls/You are planned and you are damned”). Even pays a nod to his mother (“Mother love is no more”) and to the last chapter where he commits suicide (“Silent screams, laughing here, dying to tell you the truth”). Just another thing to add, since I just personally love Iron Maiden and this song; where else could I bring up Iron Maiden in a school conversation? Cheers!

  3. Sky Captaina - Alex S

    The whole idea of the world state was to bring order by removing freedoms that would give the people the ability to question, learn and grow beyond what is needed by the state. This is taking what president John F. Kennedy said “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” to an extreme that turns it into a statement of oppression and totalitarian, vs the unity it was to bring. The state is the people and the people make up the state. Due to this the state reflects what the people are and what they want. This is what leads the current world to this stage where they produce people and choose who they will be before they are fully mature. The people have become a means to keep the State as it is. They do not wish to change it nor does the State wish to change. The few that fall outside that norm are put far away to keep the State pure of ideas that would change it. The people are controlled by the means of soma, drifting in and out of reality for all their lives. They are happy but yet they are never really, for they are missing the sadness that comes before or after happiness.

    • Rino

      I guess in a way (at least a way I can interpret it) the State in “Brave New World” is akin to a company/corporation; they produce humans on an assembly line and are able to replicate their conditions to the tee (…Model-T?). The goal with this societies’ government agenda seems to be based on productivity and stability of this production, since these assembly line humans produce labour for the State. In the end, it’s all a cyclical production line of creating labourers, to fuel the state, to create more labourers…to fuel the State even more; in a closed system neatly packaged as “stability”. It sounds like one giant Ponzi Scheme to create the illusion of stability while ultimately justifying the mass production of humans to help out the State rather than the people’s freedom.

  4. Daniel Mayorga

    During one of the end scenes of Brave New World, we are shown that Lenina went to go visit John during his moment of self torture. Other citizens around them were crying out, “‘We-want-the whip! We-want-the whip!'”(129). John then entered into a state of frenzy and began to slash his whip towards Lenina. On page 130, we are also exposed to dialogue from John such as, “‘Oh, the flesh!'” and “‘Kill it, Kill it!'” So he began to whip Lenina and himself repeatedly. Personally, I believe that John did kill Lenina which, could have been one of the ultimate reasons as to why he committed suicide. Since the author didn’t mention what happened to Lenina after the ordeal, I’m curious to know if she survived or not. Do you guys think Lenina survived the incident, or the opposite?

    • Johnny

      Although what precisely happened is ambiguous, I don’t believe John killed Lenina. The papers following the incident describe an “orgy of atonement.” (230) The trangression that John cannot forgive himself for is the soma induced “long-drawn frenzy of sensuality.” (230)

    • Sky Captaina - Alex S

      It is unlikely that John was able to kill Lenina after a short time of just whipping her and then himself. Repeated beating would have lead to the possibility of death without treatment and breaks from it, but unless the whip was made to cut through flesh and reach the inner working of the body, it would only damage the outside of the body and cause pain. Seeing how many times John was able to hit himself with it, it would seem its main goal was to create pain not harm or kill. Also we do not see any body near him when he wakes up and all the choppers are gone, so she was most likely taken by Henry and was treated for cuts and bruises. Also they would have most likely have taken him if he killed someone.

  5. Joselin Campoverde

    Something that I found really interesting about our last class discussion of Brave New World was the concept of genuine happiness. To describe this concept, I utilized our main character, John, as an example of true happiness. Before John’s exile to the island, he has a conversation with the World Controller, Mustapha Mond. In this dialogue, Mond attempts to convince John that a world without religion, art, science and human emotions is always better to achieve social stability and happiness among people within a society. However, John strongly convince of his own values and ideas, he contradicts and rejects Mond’s way of thinking about this society. Disgusted and disappointed of this superficial and inhuman society, John claims the right to be unhappy. John states “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”(215). Through this quote I came up with a question that I wanted to raise and it is following: is it better to have a society that restricts the good things of human life in order to bring comfort and stability, or is it better to have a society that is less stable and less safe but it gives you the chance to experience human feelings that help you grow as a human?

    • Ruben De La Cruz

      You know what I find interesting about your question is that in allot of of ways we have similarities to BNW lack of freedom. For example censorship is something that happens extensively in BNW. But in 21st century America censorship happens everywhere whether it be books, movies or just entertainment. The difference though is that in BNW censorship happens in order to maintain the stability of the state, while in our world we do it to not offend people and protect minors etc. Whats interesting is that in BNW we never get a definitive answer as to which world is better we just understand why it is the way it is. We have a constant feud between Happiness through stability vs Happiness through freedom. To conclude i will finally answer your question, I would not like the idea of not being able to freely feel sadness and being an individual. i sympathize with John in his search for freedom, even though I think he set himself up for failure by trying to rid himself of society.

      • Joselin Campoverde

        Thank you for the response to the question. I would agree with you when comparing the censorship that happens in the BWN society with today’s society. I also may say that I would not be able to live in a society that doesn’t let you express your opinions and be free as an individual and where your chances to grow in knowledge are prohibited by more powerful individuals. I also sympathize with John because he always stood the moral values and customs he learnt from the reservation, even tough at then end he lost against this inhuman society

        • Jovan

          I agree that i would also not be able to live in a society where voicing your own opinions were looked down on or prohibited. I also think that, thats where the questions of freedom comes to play because are they really free if their not free to think, speak and socialize as they feel comfortable with?

    • Johnny

      As long as we govern ourselves, why not both? Something in the middle. Sorry for the non-answer but its probably impossible to please everyone. In my opinion, its not a black or white matter, there is no wrong or right.
      My two cents, a government should be fluid and amenable to change. We need restrictions just as much as we need opportunities for growth.

    • Daniel Mayorga

      That’s a very interesting question to bring up. My thoughts are that there should be a certain balance of stability and instability when it comes to managing societies. If we were to take Mustapha as an example, he mentions, “‘Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled'”(203). We see that Mond limits the exposure of science to his citizens in order to maintain a higher level of stability. In general, he sacrifices one huge aspect in the lives of his citizens in order for them to gain another. This is Mond’s way of balancing stability, yet to all of us, it isn’t the correct way. Which is natural considering the type of society that we live in. So to answer your question, it’s better to have a bit of both.

  6. Ruben De La Cruz

    Something I always wondered was the civilization in BNW was it equal or unfair? Through out the story we are constantly shown citizens from London living happy lives, with work given to everyone, soma being available to the masses and happiness being the daily mood for all of its citizens. Yet what always troubled me was the unchanging caste system they created. People are genetically altered to fill undesired menial work in society’s yet they are conditioned to be happy with that work. While we have the Alphas who are genetically superior and do the harder tasks. Can we find any source of inequality with this system? Is it socially acceptable if everyone is happy?

    I personally cant get over this, Im not okay with it but the book makes it in such a way that it seems acceptable due to the overflowing happiness.

  7. Johnny

    So what the big deal?! I want to lounge around all day and watch feelies. Sounds fun. Sure some have it better than others but we’d all be happy. I for one would like to be secure and not worry about disease and growing old. Speaking of which, I’m gonna eat some pizza and watch netflix.

    • Rino

      You forgot about that swell soma, sure wish we had something like that nowadays. I wonder what it’s like taking something that provides “enormous, immeasurable durations it can give you out of time” (p143), the sensation of eternity as you drift into lucid consciousness and have constant giddy, happiness? Man, if only there was something that’s readily available that you can take to get that sensation of time altering ecstasy, while also being able to partake in it with other people in social events or in the comfort of your own person while not having any “negative side-effects”…*cough* weed *cough*

  8. BkzDanny

    Regarding the discussion on happiness, and #7 quote of the group discussion paper, happiness can be a very vague topic. But, in this case and from what I understand, happiness cannot exist without sadness. Very much like how bravery cannot exist without fear. The #7 quote shows John declaring that he wants to be unhappy, and what can be made from that, is he wants “true” happiness, not their Soma induced version of happiness. He is “claiming the right to be unhappy”, because you can’t feel happiness if you have never felt unhappiness.

  9. Ghasan shahbain

    Thee is this idea that I think about a lot. Can a person be happy when committing a crime ? I mean like those rulers who take action actions that save save some and hurt some. Are they actually considering to be happy on cases such as this ?

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