Thursday, October 01, 2009

Huxley Vs. Orwell: Just a couple of irrelevant dinosaurs? (screen grab from the classic film, the Lost World, 1925, special effects by Willis O'Brien who later gave us the beloved original King Kong)

The other day, while squeezing off a few rounds at the Jesus Saves But Just In Case Church and Gun Club, I resumed ruminating on Aldous Huxley, specifically on the contrast between Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. Who was the greater prophet? Who was more accurately describing the future? Or, taking a Huxleyan approach to the question: who really cares? Orwell was brilliant in showing that the straw man enemy would be an invaluable tool of the government that wishes to indulge in infinite (or at least indefinite) war. Huxley's perception that humans, once their basic physical needs were fulfilled, would then require varied distractions, which would allow the prevailing masters to go about their nefarious business unhindered, was an essential insight into our reality. The answer is: they are both good at what they do. Orwell was a more compelling writer. He was scarier and more emotional. Huxley was intellectual, diffident, and objective. Huxley claimed Orwell was merely reflecting through a magnifying mirror recent history (Hitler's Nazi Germany and Stalin's Communist Russia) in his novel, while he (Huxley) was presenting a more accurate long range prophecy in his. If you accept the Tavistock stooge theory of Huxley, maybe he knew something. The future never is simple as long as human involvement is taken into consideration. In our time we see elements of both writers' visions jousting here and there. Brutal suppression is a handy tool to take down kids demonstrating against the G-20. But modern societies seem to be trending Huxley. Few people are even noticing.
Then I found this cartoon version, called "Amusing Ourselves To Death" by Stuart McMillen.
It's based on Neil Postman's book of the same name.  
But it must be acknowledged that the bleak world of Orwell and the vapid future of Huxley are not the only social structures that have been described in science fiction. Future posts will investigate some of these others.

"A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it."
- Aldous Huxley

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