Tag Archives: societal love of beauty

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’?

photo-117

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?