July 27th, 2011 17:09 EST
Did Aldous Huxley or George Orwell Predict America's Society Today?
Who was right, Huxley or Orwell?
Few things delight me on a daily basis more than The Writer`s Almanac, which I receive by e-mail. Today`s Almanac reminds us that it`s the birthday of Aldous Huxley. He is perhaps most famous for his 1932 book Brave New World, which portrays a world eerily like our own.
Brave New World is often compared with George Orwell`s 1948 book, Nineteen Eighty Four. The Almanac summarizes an intriguing comparison between the two famous books by the cultural critic Neil Postman in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. " In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us. "
At the outset Huxley planned to parody H.G. Wells` utopian novel Men Like Gods (1923). But his book envisions a society like an automobile production line "a mass-produced culture in which people are fed a steady diet of bland amusements and take an antidepressant called Soma to keep themselves from feeling anything negative.
Huxley saw us winding up as consumer bots drugged by trivia.
Given the eerie placidity of the American electorate in the face of ever more sovereign power and personhood for corporations, whose dystopian vision comes closer to present reality, Huxley`s or Orwell`s? Are we consumer bots or citizens in charge of our destiny?
Djelloul Marbrook`s first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. Artists` Hill, an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction. Artemisia`s Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller`s Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com