Brave New World

Recently, a friend of mine asked me : "So what differences do you find between Indian and American culture ?"
I bluntly replied : "What culture ?"

Huxley's 'Brave New World' depicts a fictional dystopian society where everyone is happy. This happiness is not a result of personal milestones or successes but stems from the complete removal of every social aspect which might some day become a reason of unrest in the society. In this society, individuals are 'created' artificially based upon the demands of 'economic consumption' and 'labour'. Every individual, from birth, is conditioned to do a particular type of work and has the sole purpose of serving as yet another consuming unit. 'Distractions' like love, art, solitude, literature etc. have been conveniently removed from the system so that every individual may serve its purpose of consumption without any undue interruptions. 'Everyone is meant to be for everyone else' so that the pain associated with love and refusals is uprooted from the society. In short, everyone is happy.

While reading the book, I could not help but compare the nightmarish scenario depicted in the book with the present American society in general and the modern Indian society in particular. Having taken the blue pill of mindless capitalism, the dwellers of these societies have now been reduced to mere consuming units. Their lives are dictated by those idiotic TV commercials. Their needs, magnified by the giant corporations which try to sell them everything from nutritious and great tasting 'dog food' to credit cards to cars and what not. The notion that all these material amenities are necessary for emotional fulfillment and happiness is darkly etched in the collective psyche of these societies. Love in these societies, is conveniently compartmentalized into manageable, separate 'relationship' slots so that every 'break up' has the silver lining of being an indication of a new 'relationship'. Sitcoms like 'Sex and the city' expect us to identify with the emotions of the protagonist as she tries to overcome her 50th break-up. What crap!. In such societies, art, literature and happiness which results from solitude and silent contemplation die a cruel death as no one has time for such things. And this behaviour is entirely in accordance with the capitalist views. Its sad that in a place where events like valentine's day, mother's day, father's day and a zillion other days are marked by 10 advanced days of special advertisements of sales and discounts, a 4th of July passes off without even a single mention on the T.V. Sure, it is accompanied by fireworks but they are the prerogative of the Government not the people. Sure, it is accompanied by a host of parties, but I feel that people out here just need an excuse for getting wasted. This is not the sad part. The sad part is that the modern Indian society is frighteningly similar to its American counterpart.

5 observations on “Brave New World
  1. aabeirah

    @ankit: Wow!!! I love this blog. Most sensible one I've read in a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong while.

  2. Amit

    I am not sure why I should be criticizing your blog as I donot identify myself with anything American here but I think there are somethings quite opposite to what you have observed!

    The America as we know today is all about arts and business, comfortable lifestyle, making huge fuss about very small things, being too emotional about things that we hardly care about. They are mostly content with not knowing that outside world exist as well. The most amazing thing is that in spite of all the comforts in their life they are never happy.

    We are from a country where life and emotion of people are hardly ever cared about. The main questions that majority of the people in India always face are always about their day to day survival and basic needs. Inspite of this their happines index is higher than their counterpats in america.

    I agree that their is a certain hollowness in life here but I believe it is not the way that you think it is. It seems to me that the people here are becoming more complacent due to their sheltered lifestyle and sheltered beliefs rather than similar to efficient machines in a factory.

  3. Amit

    I watched Matrix again and I could not help but marvel again how much the movie had borrowed from this movie! It is also quite surprising when I grapple with the fact that the book was written such a long time ago when test tube baby were at best a concept of fantasy.

  4. Ankit

    yes you are right... the book represents a surprisingly big leap of imagination... one of the better ones I have read in a while now


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