Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Brave New World vs. 1984

When I was 15, I read Aldous Huxley's classic dystopian novel, Brave New World. It fascinated me, and I made my friends read it. We giggled over the "orgy porgy" scenes in the beginning and nodded solemnly about the deeper message. I've read the novel at least three times since; each time it's been a different experience.

For my second reading, I followed it up with George Orwell's equally famous 1984. At the time, I thought Orwell's outlook was far too gloomy to be real. People wouldn't change the language like that, my 16-year-old self thought. No one would submit their civil liberties so easily. And so I continued my love affair with the near-utopic dystopia in Huxley's work.

In the interim, I read a few other classic dystopian works: Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which was good but not quite to the level of intrigue for me; Ayn Rand's Anthem, which I found distasteful. Neither struck me the same way, but I remained interested in the concepts found in these dystopian novels.

A few years and presidential election later, I've reformed my views on which novel is most accurate. If it's possible to be accurate in writing fiction, anyway. Maybe it was just the thousands of opinion writers extolling the Orwellian nature of Bush's administration that kept it in my mind, but there it is.

I've brought five pieces of literature up here with me to peruse as I write this: 1984, Huxley's long essay Brave New World Revisited, the latest issues of Mother Jones and Punk Planet, and a photocopied essay I received at the Bush/anti-Bush rally in Bellevue--"The USA PATRIOT Act: What's So Patriotic about Trampling on the Bill of Rights?" by Nancy Chang in the Winter 2001 issues of CovertAction Quarterly. Admittedly a rag-tag bunch of leftist propaganda and perhaps completely unrelated. I might not even use them.

In fact...I'll try to come back to this later. Stay tuned for why 1984 was more indicative of the future--albeit off by 20 years--than Brave New World.

ETA: I posted an assload of entries yesterday, in case you missed 'em. They were pretty ranty and fun.

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