Archive | July, 2013

Oh Brave New World: Are we there yet?

31 Jul

When I’m brave, I notice old things in new ways.  Even when I barely remember ‘it’, my second viewing can feel as fresh – or even better.

Before your imagination runs rampant with romanticized ‘do-overs’, I’m talking about rereading ‘A Brave New World’, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 shocking and ground-breaking novel.  It’s initial review: ‘nothing can make it come alive.”

Or, oops, have we brought to life this fictionalized world?

Revisiting anything after 40 years or so (YIKES) is like entering a brand new world.  A reminder of how experience and age adds perspective.  I’m reminded why ‘do-overs’ can be wonderful.  The reason we should all literally be physical tourists to our past.

But here’s what I wonder:  does Huxley’s world  need to be relived, or it our own?

Here are my 7 perspectives on our bridged worlds:

1.  Conformity:  Their brave new world was big on conformity.  Our thoughts are freely shared – with the hope of FB likes – and the affirmation that others agree.

2.  Consumption:  Their economy survived because people consumed new stuff.  Post 2008 crash and awareness most people had no savings, we’re now told to go out and spend money to build the economy.  Throw away stuff anyone?  Products that don’t last and have to be replaced?  New styles that must be purchased to update your look every season?  Check, check, check.

3.  Never alone:  Their society shunned being alone.  Our society doesn’t have to be alone, or not virtually.  Most of us are never thumbs away from texting – or more like tweeting and FaceBook-ing our thoughts, whereabouts, and eating habits.

4.  Feeling good:  Their drug of choice, soma, made bad thoughts disappear without negative side effects.  Our society may not match that, though we do have eating, shopping, and drugs and alcohol to make us feel better even momentarily – though, unfortunately all with negative side effects.  O.k., we need to

work on this one.

5.  Class differentiation:  Their classes were separated and defined by ‘pre-natal’ nurturing (or rather test-tube), educational conditioning, and by dress.  Our society is still challenged with school inequality based on zip code, higher drop out rates and lower literacy in ‘inner cities’.  We are reminded about the importance of pre-natal care and faced with young children’s learning difficulties based on lead poisoning, fetal alcohol treatment, and poor nutrition.  And differentiation by dress:  before I knew there was a name for them, I could identify them on the ‘F’ train:  hipsters.

6.  Dislike of the natural world:  Their entertainment focused on the beautiful and clean.  Our entertainment still takes us into the natural world, though even National Parks are feeling the strain of consumerism with wildlife lying victim as roadkill.  Perhaps we can handle the dirt though because of our ubiquitous anti-bacterial sprays and hand lotions, which thankfully kill off the very bacteria which our bodies are equipped to keep in check and keep us healthy.

 There’s clearly a divide between the ‘natural’  – outdoor – world – and humankind’s ‘unnatural’ one.  Hmmm….  What does that say about our place within ‘livingkind’?

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His first choice: the remains of a Dorito’s bag in Prospect Park

7.  Love of beauty:  Their world thrived on eternal youth and beauty:  a lack of wrinkles, fat, and ugliness.   Suddenly I’m sold on traveling to this brave new world.  Then I glanced through a fashion magazine while watching T.V.  Oh, wait, we are getting there.   Check, check, check to the aforementioned.

There’s no excuse for aging or ugliness in our world (though I’ll come up with a reason soon):  anti-wrinkle/aging creams are easily found at all price points in every drug/department store.  Botox is like soma.  (I think I use parenthesis often because I see them every time I look in the mirror.)   Fat is bad: Diet advice, pills, powders and food are as plentiful as those anti-aging potions.  Spanx and slimming undergarments come in all sizes for both sexes.  Even size 2 actresses wear layers of Spanx.    If you don’t get the picture yet, just turn on your computer to watch T.V. or a movie, then look around you.  Last reminder for our distaste of the unattractive:  we’re shown pictures of stars aging poorly (i.e. look like ‘regular’ 55 y.o.’s) or look imperfect without make-up or a done hair do.

I don’t mean this to be as cynical as it sounds.  Really, I don’t.  I also don’t think it’s us following art.

Rather, I think it is us following our human nature.   Seeking natural selection to be our best, while still discovering what that best may be.

If we are ‘there’ – or where-ever we are – where do we go next?  Are we brave enough to decide?

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Going up! Running express from 350 ppm to 400 ppm: Is it worth the risk?

8 Jul

You’re running late.  Standing at the elevator, you push the button what feels like a bazillion times, fully aware that it won’t make it come any faster.  The familiar ping of the arriving car brings a wave of relief – until the doors open.  The elevator is packed tighter than  proverbial sardines in a can.  There’s a sliver of light between sweaty bodies and bulky briefcases –  just enough inches for you.

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Fitting 12 oz. in an 8 oz. glass, there’s need for those compression storage bags to fit you all in comfortably.  Arranging your body in an uncomfortable angle, you mumble apologies and giggle, your eyes avoiding others.  Your bodies are  superimposed in intimate configurations.  For distraction, you fixate on the weight limit warning, boldly posted in the upper right hand corner.  Involuntarily your eyes, the only part of your body able to move, dart around the two square foot space, mentally adding up real vs. driver license weights.  Horror mixes with fear: realistically, you should all be crashing to your deaths right about now.

So when the door opens do you run out screaming for safety?  Or do you inhale and sidle up even closer to those nameless weighted bodies from the 7th floor to make room for the next dangerous addition to your safety violating can?  After all, this is a daily occurrence.  Besides, how often do overweight elevators crash at warp speed to a deadly destination for its inhabitants?  Your worries dissipate with thoughts of Chicken Little-like elevator inspectors.

Arriving safely at your destination, a bit late, a lot rumpled, you mentally run through all the warnings that never come to pass:  the 2012 Mayan calendar,  the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, the hazards of eggs or is it coffee this week?

Then there’s those environmentalists crying ‘wolf’, or rather:  global warming! global warning!  Is there any real difference between an elevator holding too much weight and the atmosphere holding too much carbon dioxide?

The CO2 limit in the right hand corner of the sky reads 350 parts per million (ppm).  That’s the safe amount of carbon dioxide in the mix of ‘air’ to allow life to continue as we know it.  But climate scientists lecture our ‘weight’  is now at a rip-roaring 400 ppm.

That air you’re breathing is CO2 obese.  Can we blame CO2 for personal obesity too?

400 ppm – we should be grabbing our chests and grasping for oxygen.  If the scientists are more accurate in their predictions than elevator inspections.  Which clearly they are not.  Because we are still here, sweltering in triple digit temps, disaster weary after hurricanes and tornadoes rip through formerly safe havens.

Global Warning!

Yet we can each make the choice to step off an overweight elevator.  When it comes to a safe gas mix in the air we breathe, there is no escape.  Though we escape from record-breaking heat in air-conditioned shelters, in air-conditioned cars.  AC that inches up the CO2 reading further.

It’s about risk.  We can always take the stairs.   In fact taking stairs and walking will reduce obesity.  Using less AC (the smallest of starts) will reduce CO2 levels.  (And wouldn’t it be nice to do away with plastic!)

There is no substitute for oxygen and healthy breathing air.  No substitute for balance in the CO2 cycle.  Not unless we want our species to go crashing down.

We might be safe for now.  Are you willing to risk your kids or grandkids future?

Speak up for alternative energy.  Recycle.  Support environmental groups.  The earth has taken care of us, now it’s time for us to take care of her.

350.org

Sierra Club

World Wildlife Fund

Heifer International

These are just a few…. share your favorite group and what they do!