“Everybody’s happy now”

Beginning “A Brave New World” the first and second pages immediately caught my attention. The story begins with the a sort of “walk-through” of the facility, including detailed descriptions of the attire and of the people working here – “The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber.” (15). We also get introduced to the first character which happens to be the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning or D.H.C for short. This character walks around a group of students introducing the different areas of the facility and describes what is done in specific each area. I found it very interesting the way Huxley describes these areas in such a futuristic manner and so convincing; It made me believe that this place was actually real. This way of using the characters and create a situation in which it seems that the students are being shown around but in fact it is the reader that is being shown around the facility. I felt as if I was on that same tour, learning and being fascinated by this state-of-the-art “hatchery” as they call it. Learning about how they’ve managed to advance and improve the reproduction cycle using the “Bokanovsky’s Process” was remarkable. “One egg, one embryo, one adult- normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.” (17). I was thinking to myself if only this was something scientifically possible today! Reading along I start to get familiar with the several rooms and the exact purpose they served in the growth of these embryos. For example the “Decanting Room” was a dark room in which the embryos would develop according to their designated caste. Each embryo or caste group were set at a specific revolution and were given certain liquids/chemicals to enhance or discourage certain traits made for that specific caste. Which then brought me into recognizing the classes of caste this society had. Caste were named after the greek alphabet, these caste (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, & Epsilon) were in a hierarchy format. Alphas being the strongest, more attractive, and more intelligent. Down to epsilons which were seen as the lowest yet still usable for the dirty work. When these humans were being created designated a caste, they were already  “predestined” by the facility. Meaning, as young embryos they were being programmed to be exactly what was needed. For example “But why do you want to keep an embryo below par?. . . . Hasn’t it occurred to you that an Epsilon embryo must have an Epsilon environment as well as an Epsilon heredity?. . .The lower the caste the…the shorter the oxygen” (24). This quote was in regards of how the facility creates a sort of retardation in Epsilons by shortening their oxygen supply just enough were they still can function proper; by function they mean work.

Aside from the hierarchy in mental and physical attributes, they were also segregated by clothing color: Alpha-Grey, Beta-Unknown, Gamma-Green, Delta-Khaki, & Epsilon-Black. To further separate the caste from each other they were conditioned through a recording instilling the desired moral values played during the child’s sleep; a technique used by the facility from an old story about a young polish boy that recalled things said from a radio station that was played on accident in his sleep. They realized this wasn’t useful for intellectual training but rather moral training.

After Huxley introduces us to the facility and the way things are created and why. He begins introducing us to more characters that carry on the story. We notice some relationships and interactions. My attention was brought to a character named Mustapha Mond. He is the “Resident Controller for Western Europe; One of the Ten World Controllers” (40). This character is shown a tremendous amount of respect from the time he enters the story, he also seems to know a lot of the history of Ford before it became what is shown today. In the first paragraph on page 41, Mustapha gives a major detail about knowledge of our (the reader) worlds history; everything from Bibles to Poetry. He also gives some insight on how parental figures used to be; During this, some students from the group felt sick. As if these ideas were so repulsive it made them sick to their stomachs to even think about it. Although we don’t know much of this character I feel he will definitely be our only connection to the past via the “Controllers”.

Some values of this society are exposed during the introduction of Mustapha Mond. For example “No pains have been spared to make your lives emotionally easy – to preserve you, so far as that is possible, from having emotions at all.” (49). From this quote I realized that the people were made in laboratories and raised exactly how they “The Controllers” wanted and providing them with everything they need to survive (stability) to prevent them from ever have emotional ties to anyone. This made it easy for them to concentrate on the work they were given to do. Another value is the “every one belongs to every one else” (48). This society believed in polygamy and were very open about sexual acts with one another, anything else was seen as abnormal. Many examples are shown throughout pages 46-49. Also seen, was that the society knew they they were all different in terms of the caste hierarchy but “All men are physico-chemically equal”(76) and even in death “even Epsilons perform indispensable services”(76)

Another character that caught my attention was Bernard Marx. Bernard is an Alpha, yet barely has the features of one. An example is shown in a conversation between Lenina and Fanny: “He’s so ugly!” said Fanny. “But I rather like his looks” “And then so small.” Fanny made a grimace; smallness was so horribly and typically low-caste.”. Also “Benard’s physique was hardly better then that of the average Gamma. He stood eight centimetres short of the standard Alpha height and was slender in proportion (69). Bernard knows he looks like an outsider “Contact with members of the lower castes always reminded him painfully of his physical inadequacy. . .his self-consciousness was acute and distressing. . .he felt humiliated” (69). This would cause him to isolate himself from every one. I also notice he is very defensive and thinks differently of people but does not show it. Although Bernard does not show rebellion against Ford, he does seem like he will be a troublesome character and may cause internal conflicts. An example of this is in his thoughts, overhearing a conversation about Lenina between Henry Foster and a coworker: “Talking about her as though she were a bit of meat.”. Bernard ground his teeth. “Have her here, have her there. Like mutton. Degrading her to so much mutton. . . “Oh, Ford, Ford, Ford.” He would have liked to go up to them and hit them in the face – hard, again and again. (51). What we do know is that what Bernard does not have in brawn he has in metal excess. As well as Bernard’s good friend Helmholtz Watson, another Alpha. Watson is a lecturer at the College of Emotional Engineering and is the prime example of an Alpha but yet is having trouble finding pleasure in the usual sports and communal activities.

I’m definitely eager to find out what happens in the upcoming chapters.

Brave New World Ch:1-5

As soon as I started reading Brave New World I found it to be interesting the way people were being produced, the carefulness it took, as well as the organization held within the facility. As I got further into the book I don’t like it at all, I think its rather boring, more so because I find the story strange.

What I got out of chapter 4 was that it was ok to be debauched in this world, as Lenina is, “She was a popular girl, at one time or another, had spent a night with almost all of them (pg 62).” In today’s world being promiscuous is somewhat frowned upon depending on how one views women.

What I also found rather strange was that once you were born you ere “trained” for the life you were going to live. As early as eight months, babies start getting trained, from what they should and shouldn’t like, as well as what color they should wear to distinguish them from the others. “They’ll grow up with what the psychologist used to call an “instinctive” hatred of books and flowers. They’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives (pg 30).”

This book or shall I say world has discrimination and superiority, which I think is bad. People don’t have a choice in who they would want to become because that is chosen for them when making them. Also, there is not much individuality, but rather uniformity in a sense, more so between each kind of person rather then the whole society. The fact that each kind of person has to wear a certain color to be distinguished is unfair, everyone in the society knows what “kind” of person you are. In knowing what “kind” person one is, someone who is a different kind automatically feels superior to you, especially Epsilons.

As far as Soma goes, I think it’s pointless because people in this society seem to not have much to worry about so why take Soma to be “happy”, when they already seem to be happy. The reason as to why I say they seem to already be happy is because they are “trained” to like they way they will be living for the rest of their lives, so one should already know what to expect out of life, and therefore shouldn’t be a “problem” needed to be solved by using Soma.

There seems to be a lot of emphasis on Bernard’s character, although I think he’s portrayed to be a bit of an outcast in this society. Throughout the story people have different speculations as to what exactly is weird about him. Some people think he was made differently, or that he lacked an “ingredient” while they were making him. What I find sad about Bernard is that not only does everyone in the society think he’s weird, he himself finds himself weird, and he himself knows something is wrong with him, he is also very aware that everyone around him thinks he’s weird. I think maybe he seems like the outcast of this world because he’s going to do something very important later on in the story.

HW for next class (Th 2/27)

Just a reminder that we do not have class this Th 2/20, because it is a CUNY Monday. Therefore, the next time we will meet in person is Th 2/27.

Since a number of you missed class last Th (2/13) due to the snowstorm, that means that many of us will not have seen each other in 3 weeks by then! While we will still move forward with the new reading (we are moving from short stories to novels, and you should have already started to read Brave New World … I hope that you’re enjoying it so far!), in the meantime we will continue our conversations online about the three short stories, because they are an important foundation for our future conversations about utopias/dystopias (and also because they will be on the Midterm exam!).

As a result, we have a number of things due for next week (please pay particular attention to due dates, as they vary), which will count for your OpenLab composing and Participation course grades. For our next class, on Th 2/27, you should do all of the following:

1. Read chapters 1-5 of Brave New World and post a reading response.

Don’t forget, as you read, to annotate the text, to take note of the Elements of Fiction (characters, setting, plot, point of view, conflict, theme, imagery, etc.), and to consult the Utopian/Dystopian Framework and answer its questions in the context of the novel. Come to class prepared to discuss all of the items on the framework in relation to the first part of this novel, as we work together to get a handle on what type of world the World State is (and what it values).

As always, your response post should incorporate specific details/scenes/quotes (with correct citations, in MLA format) from the text. Categorize appropriately. And, as always, this reading response is due the night before class (W 2/26).

2. Create a “My Utopia” post.

Perhaps it would be best if you imagined as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I can not suit you all (2).

What else, what else belongs in the joyous city? (3).

In the above excerpts from Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” the narrator speaks directly to the readers, asking us to participate in creating this “perfect” city (and perhaps therefore to be complicit in the child’s suffering as well). Now, it is your turn to imagine your own “utopia,” to describe what your ideal world would be like.

  • Make a post in which you describe your own “utopia” (your ideal world), in as much detail as possible. Your post may take any form you find conducive to conveying your utopian vision (e.g. it could be a description of a place, a story that shows us the values in action, dialogue between characters, etc.). I encourage you to make a multimedia post (add images, videos, music, links, etc.), if you need more than just words to communicate your ideal society.
  • Minimum of 500 words (though it will likely be longer!), categorize appropriately, and post by Su night (2/23).
  • Before class, o back and read/comment on your classmates’ utopian visions. What is your reaction to your classmates’ ideal worlds? Are there elements there that, to you, are not utopian? Perhaps even dystopian? Why? Look at the Utopian/Dystopian Framework, and try to apply it to their utopian visions. What values can identify lurking beneath the surface of the vision?
  • Come to class prepared to discuss these visions (yours and your classmates), and to provide a rationale for your own utopian vision.

3. For those of you who missed class on Th 2/13, contact a classmate who was there to get their notes/find out what we covered.

We spent all of class last Thursday (2/13) writing about and discussing “The Machine Stops” according to its central “conflicts” and the Utopian/Dystopian framework. Therefore, if you missed class, make sure to contact a classmate who was there to get notes/find out what we covered (as stated on the syllabus, you are responsible for that material, even when you are absent).