Selected Passages from Huxley’s Brave New World

If you want to think, read Brave New World. Here are a few excerpts that I found particularly compelling.

On friendship

“One of the more principal functions of a friend is to suffer (in a milder and symbolic form) the punishments that we should like, but are unable, to inflict upon our enemies. p. 179

Dialogue about happiness and art: p. 221-222

Mustapha Mond shook hands with all three of them; but it was to the Savage that he addressed himself. “So you don’t much like civilization, Mr. Savage,” he said.

The Savage looked at him. He had been prepared to lie, to bluster, to remain sullenly unresponsive; but, reassured by the good-humoured intelligence of the Controller’s face, he decided to tell the truth, straightforwardly. “No.” He shook his head.

Bernard started and looked horrified. What would the Controller think? To be labeled as the friend of a man who said that he didn’t like civilization–said it openly and, of all people, to the Controller–it was terrible. “But, John,” he began. A look from Mustapha Mond reduced him to an abject silence.

“Of course,” the Savage went on to admit, “there are some very nice things. All that music in the air, for instance …”

“Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about my ears and sometimes voices.”

The Savage’s face lit up with a sudden pleasure. “Have you read it too?” he asked. “I thought nobody knew about that book here, in England.”

“Almost nobody. I’m one of the very few. It’s prohibited, you see. But as I make the laws here, I can also break them. With impunity, Mr. Marx,” he added, turning to Bernard. “Which I’m afraid you can’t do.”

Bernard sank into a yet more hopeless misery.

“But why is it prohibited?” asked the Savage. In the excitement of meeting a man who had read Shakespeare he had momentarily forgotten everything else.

The Controller shrugged his shoulders. “Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here.”

“Even when they’re beautiful?”

“Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones.”

“But the new ones are so stupid and horrible. Those plays, where there’s nothing but helicopters flying about and you feel the people kissing.” He made a grimace. “Goats and monkeys!” Only in Othello’s word could he find an adequate vehicle for his contempt and hatred.

“Nice tame animals, anyhow,” the Controller murmured parenthetically.

“Why don’t you let them see Othello instead?”

“I’ve told you; it’s old. Besides, they couldn’t understand it.”

Yes, that was true. He remembered how Helmholtz had laughed at Romeo and Juliet. “Well then,” he said, after a pause, “something new that’s like Othello, and that they could understand.”

“That’s what we’ve all been wanting to write,” said Helmholtz, breaking a long silence.

“And it’s what you never will write,” said the Controller. “Because, if it were really like Othello nobody could understand it, however new it might be. And if were new, it couldn’t possibly be like Othello.”

“Why not?”

“Yes, why not?” Helmholtz repeated. He too was forgetting the unpleasant realities of the situation. Green with anxiety and apprehension, only Bernard remembered them; the others ignored him. “Why not?”

“Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel–and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma. Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage. Liberty!” He laughed. “Expecting Deltas to know what liberty is! And now expecting them to understand Othello! My good boy!”

The Savage was silent for a little. “All the same,” he insisted obstinately, “Othello’s good, Othello’s better than those feelies.”

“Of course it is,” the Controller agreed. “But that’s the price we have to pay for stability. You’ve got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We’ve sacrificed the high art. We have the feelies and the scent organ instead.”

“But they don’t mean anything.”

“They mean themselves; they mean a lot of agreeable sensations to the audience.”

“But they’re … they’re told by an idiot.”

The Controller laughed. “You’re not being very polite to your friend, Mr. Watson. One of our most distinguished Emotional Engineers …”

“But he’s right,” said Helmholtz gloomily. “Because it is idiotic. Writing when there’s nothing to say …”

“Precisely. But that requires the most enormous ingenuity. You’re making flivvers out of the absolute minimum of steel–works of art out of practically nothing but pure sensation.”

The Savage shook his head. “It all seems to me quite horrible.”

“Of course it does. Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”

or the sake of the labourers; it would be sheer cruelty to afflict them with excessive leisure. It’s the same with agriculture. We could synthesize every morsel of food, if we wanted to. But we don’t. We prefer to keep a third of the population on the land. For their own sakes–because it takes longer to get food out of the land than out of a factory. Besides, we have our stability to think of. We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.” p.224

Science? The Savage frowned. He knew the word. But what it exactly signified he could not say. Shakespeare and the old men of the pueblo had never mentioned science, and from Linda he had only gathered the vaguest hints: science was something you made helicopters with, some thing that caused you to laugh at the Corn Dances, something that prevented you from being wrinkled and losing your teeth. He made a desperate effort to take the Controller’s meaning.

“Yes,” Mustapha Mond was saying, “that’s another item in the cost of stability. It isn’t only art that’s incompatible with happiness; it’s also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.” p225

On being human, what makes art…suffering?

“What you need,” the Savage went on, “is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.”

(“Twelve and a half million dollars,” Henry Foster had protested when the Savage told him that. “Twelve and a half million–that’s what the new Conditioning Centre cost. Not a cent less.”)

“Exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, death and danger dare, even for an eggshell. Isn’t there something in that?” he asked, looking up at Mustapha Mond. “Quite apart from God–though of course God would be a reason for it. Isn’t there something in living dangerously?”

“There’s a great deal in it,” the Controller replied. “Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.”

“What?” questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.

“It’s one of the conditions of perfect health. That’s why we’ve made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.”


“Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences.”

“But I like the inconveniences.”

“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”

“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”

“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” There was a long silence.

“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last. chapter 17 p240

100 Things to Enjoy, 2001

1. Watching a 3am football game at Cornell in the snow and seeing people act like kids again.happy14

2. Hugging Jennifer, putting my nose in her hair and smelling strawberries.

3. Feeling my body relax when my head hits the pillow at night.

4. Remembering the joy in my father’s face on the first day of kindergarten.

5. Hannah’s eyes when her head is tipped down.

6. Having sled day with my boys at home.

7. Getting packages from people, love in the mailbox.happy13

8. Wearing my Ezekiel hat and thinking about how much it means to me.

9. Blueberry cheese muffins from the dragon.

10. Putting my hands in things that are squishy, i.e. pudding mashed potatoes.happy17

11. Being a respected person by my peers.

12. Taking pictures of friends without them knowing (candid shots).

13. Going to the top of the clock tower for no reason, just the view.happy19

14. Walking alone and thinking about how smart I feel in the plantations.

15. Driving Cars.happy20

16. The nape of the neck.happy16

17. Cuddling with someone I care about.happy21

18. Dancing at a party and getting noticed.happy3

19. Learning new dance moves.happy15

20. Bragging about how cool my parents are.

21. Being so dead set on moving to California.

22. Knowing I could quit school now and get a really great job.

23. Understanding that my family loves me no matter what.

24. Nature at Cornell and walking home at night is so beautiful.

25. The understanding that I can, in 15 minutes learn and understand a new computer program.

26. Knowing that I value relationships over grades and act accordingly.

27. Having the audacity to dress the way I want and know that people wish they were me.happy22

28. My confidence in all my skills.happy12

29. I love going to a new place and making new friends, especially with common interests.

30. Hot, steaming fajitas with crisp vegetables.

31. Day dreaming about how I am going to have a beach front house and make money typing on my laptop in my boxers.happy24

32. Working hard and getting a cool drink in the summer.

33. Cheese Fries the old way at Tasty Dog.

34. Eating tons of candy with the knowledge it will never turn to fat.happy11

36. Being 165 pounds of twisted titanium.happy25

37. Listening to the three Gymnopedes by Sate and relaxing.

38. Changing my earrings and sunglasses to redefine myself.

39. Everyday is Halloween.happy10

40. Trying new art supplies for the first time.happy26

41. The memory of sledding down the steps in a big snow storm.

42. Trying on clothes and buying parts of an outfit for cheap.

43. My mobile from the Viking museum in Denmark.

44. Natalie’s smile and her laugh when I tell her a really stupid joke.happy27

45. What did one burp say to the other burp? Letís be stinkers and go out the other end.

46. Asking pops to go to 7/11 for an ice cream cone.happy23

47. All the Ladies I saw in Sweden, and enjoying the culture.

48. Comfy shoes and socks.

49. Playing basketball on Laguna Beach.happy9

50. Lying on a blanket with Collene in a field of dandelions.happy28

51. Styling my hair in spikes.happy8

52. Dick the barber from the Sanitary Barber Shop calling me Ivy.

53. The first time I told Jennifer “I love you.” at Aux Sable Locks.happy7

54. The smell of Hershey PA.

55. Sleeping in the Arts Quad freshmen year.happy6

56. The joy of getting Doggie to turn on.happy29

57. Riding the Big Wheels with Gary and Sam.

58. Going to the pool every summer with Oliver Wendell Holmes School.

59. Really God-Awful Bright Hawaiian shirts, especially in polyester.happy5

60. The Tripping Game.

61. My mother drawing pictures on the brown bag for lunch.

62. Soft peanut butter and jelly on white bread, very squishy.

63. Jell-o jigglers and Jell-o.

63. Jumping off the second platform at Rhem pool in floaties.happy30

65. Cards (asshole and euchre) with the CC team.

66. Cross Country sports followed by McDonald’s.

67. Comfortable blanket warmth on a cold night.happy4

68. Sleeping nude.happy18

69. The shock of going from the sauna to the pool.

70. Watching cartoons late at night with Mikey.

71. Late night snacks.

72. Popcorn on my nightstand from The Mom and Pops.happy31

73. Holiday magic singing carols to the bears and putting my face into the wooden walrus painting.

74. Climbing Open Bible at Mississippi Palasades, Eagles flying.

75. Surprise Birthday parties.

76. Drinking a few beers at the chapter house two years in a row at 12:01 AM.

77. Getting a free pint the second year at the chapter house when I am 22.

78. Putting pennies in the floorboards at 243 S. East Ave.

79. Disney world as a junior in high school, feeling young again.

80. Skateboarding to work at Signal Interactive.happy32

81. New years eve and the craziness of Berlin.

82. Watching people open gifts that Iíve given them.

83. Wrestling with family members, especially pops, Bridget and Matt.

84. Having Matt Bridget and Marianne see me at Heps Freshmen year at Brown

85. Collapsing into Jen’s arms after a tough race at conference senior year.

86. Running with my father one year after he almost died from staph.

87. Playing on the power pad for Nintendo with JP in track and field.

88. Knowing how bad things could be (i.e. last spring) to how good they will continue to be.

89. Kissing and necking Erika in Dickson while the guys were outside messing around in the hall making noise.

90. Dinner and Dancing in the Prairie State Games with Lia.

91. Climbing around Louie’s rock gym roof.

92. Being able to make people smile and laugh.happy2

93. Writing songs on the spot in my head and then singing about anything.

94. Summer trips to Warren Dunes.happy34

95. Haunted Trails, Gradyís and mini golf in general.

96. Chuckie Cheese for Ski ball with The Mom and Rob always putting our tickets together in a cool way to get a family prize.

97. Indoor Kitchen Basketball from J Bikowski and itís legacy at home.

98. Being recruited and accepted to Yale, Penn, and Cornell.happy33

99. Building the giant snowman, mud sliding , dressing up with the boys of Dickson.happy1

100. All you can eat at Oakenshields and dancing at the dinner table and making fools of ourselves as the track team. The best food challenges and the dining hall classic, and bragging rites.

I got a space pen today,…

[kml_flashembed movie=”../../flash/space_pen.swf” height=”930″ width=”500″ /]

I got a Space Pen today, it is amazing. I highly recommend the bullet model shown above. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket, and it’s great to use for reading and annotating books while inverted in space…Or if you are laying on the couch.listen

Powered by Jott

Carl Sagan Lectures Published

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A personal view of the Search for God

There was some excerpts published in the Cornell University Alumni Magazine that I found particularly poignant.

In regard to the growth of huge empires out of hunter gatherer groups…I think we’re getting really close especially with the ideas of social networking sites like Facebook…

As time passed, groups have merged, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily, and the unit to which personal identification and loyalties are due has grown. The sequence is known to all of those who take courses in history of civilization at universities, in which we pass through allegiances to larger groups, to city-states, to settled nations, to empires. Today the typical person on the Earth is obviously a patchwork quilt of political, economic, ethnic, and religious identifications, owing allegiance to a group or groups consisting of a hundred million people or more. It’s clear that there is a steady trend; if the trend continues, there will be a time, probably not so far in the future, where the average person’s typical identification is within the human species, with everyone on Earth.

On religion…

We have Ten Commandments in the West. Why is there now commandment exhorting us to learn? “Thou shalt understand the world. Figure things out.” There’s nothing like that. And very few religions urge us to enhance our understanding of the natural world. I think it is striking how poorly religions, by and large, have accommodated to the astonishing truths that have emerged in the last few centuries.

I think regarding the aforementioned it’s interesting to note how the comprehension of the earth and our relation to it has been examined by David Abram in The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World…he makes the point that understanding is spiritual *and* scientific, overall it’s about being aware.