Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Uncensored Librarians: Brave New World

College is a time for new experiences, new understandings and new perspectives. During my own post-secondary education, I encountered Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and it opened my eyes to a whole world of dystopian images and repressive social control systems. The class was 20th Century English and American Lit., and my young, impressionable mind had already been bombarded with offensive language and insensitivity, so I was ready for anything.

Huxley began his most notable title with a tour of the "Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center"--a thirty-four story factory specializing in the creation, incubation and modification of human beings. Chemically engineered and divided into five castes based on their intelligence and physical growth, these human beings make up the majority of the world's more efficient population. This doesn't sound like too far of a stretch from the purposes of the Human Genone Project of the 90s. It's interesting how sometimes an author's imagining of how certain aspects of current society will affect the future is spot on.

Ranked #16 on the American Library Association's list of most challenged books, Brave New World is most often cited for offensive language, insensitivity, racism and for being sexually explicit. That's not too surprising, considering recreational sex is an integral part of the novel's society, encouraged by The World State as a social activity rather than a means of reproduction. Contraception is conditioned, individuality is abhorred, and citizens are controlled by pleasure. It's probably for these reasons that the novel found itself at the top of the list of the most challenged books even as recent as last year.

Reading Brave New World as a twenty year old college student, though, I was more fascinated with the imagination that Huxley presented in the novel. Even then, I understood there was something we could learn from the story--something more than what the challengers of the book fear.

William - Reference

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