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Belmont Club

Two Narratives

October 25th, 2012 - 5:50 pm

Narrative one.

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Narrative two.

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It makes you think.

A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. …

“And this,” said the Director opening the door, “is the Fertilizing Room.”

Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely breathing silence, the absent-minded, soliloquizing hum or whistle, of absorbed concentration. A troop of newly arrived students, very young, pink and callow, followed nervously, rather abjectly, at the Director’s heels. Each of them carried a notebook, in which, whenever the great man spoke, he desperately scribbled. Straight from the horse’s mouth. It was a rare privilege. The D. H. C. for Central London always made a point of personally conducting his new students round the various departments …

He pointed. On a very slowly moving band a rack-full of test-tubes was entering a large metal box, another, rack-full was emerging. Machinery faintly purred. It took eight minutes for the tubes to go through, he told them. Eight minutes of hard X-rays being about as much as an egg can stand. A few died; of the rest, the least susceptible divided into two; most put out four buds; some eight; all were returned to the incubators, where the buds began to develop; then, after two days, were suddenly chilled, chilled and checked. Two, four, eight, the buds in their turn budded; and having budded were dosed almost to death with alcohol; consequently burgeoned again and having budded–bud out of bud out of bud–were thereafter–further arrest being generally fatal–left to develop in peace. By which time the original egg was in a fair way to becoming anything from eight to ninety-six embryos– a prodigious improvement, you will agree, on nature. Identical twins–but not in piddling twos and threes as in the old viviparous days, when an egg would sometimes accidentally divide; actually by dozens, by scores at a time.

“Scores,” the Director repeated and flung out his arms, as though he were distributing largesse. “Scores.”

But one of the students was fool enough to ask where the advantage lay.

“My good boy!” The Director wheeled sharply round on him. “Can’t you see? Can’t you see?” He raised a hand; his expression was solemn. “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!”

Major instruments of social stability.     Standard men and women; in uniform batches. The whole of a small factory staffed with the products of a single bokanovskified egg.

“Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm. “You really know where you are. For the first time in history.” He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.” Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.” …

ART, SCIENCE–you seem to have paid a fairly high price for your happiness,” said the Savage, when they were alone. “Anything else?”

“Well, religion, of course,” replied the Controller. “There used to be something called God–before the Nine Years’ War. But I was forgetting; you know all about God, I suppose.” …

“But if you know about God, why don’t you tell them?” asked the Savage indignantly. “Why don’t you give them these books about God?”

“For the same reason as we don’t give them Othello: they’re old; they’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now.”…

“Then you think there is no God?”

“No, I think there quite probably is one.”

“Then why? …”

“Call it the fault of civilization. God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That’s why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe. They’re smut. People would be shocked it …”

“But God’s the reason for everything noble and fine and heroic. If you had a God …”

“My dear young friend,” said Mustapha Mond, “civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic.

When Aldous Huxley wrote the Brave New World his vision of the future was as follows:

Recreational sex is an integral part of society. According to the World State, sex is a social activity, rather than a means of reproduction (sex is encouraged from early childhood). The few women who can reproduce are conditioned to use birth control, even wearing a “Malthusian belt” (which resembles a cartridge belt and holds “the regulation supply of contraceptives”) as a popular fashion accessory. The maxim “everyone belongs to everyone else” is repeated often, and the idea of a “family” is considered pornographic; sexual competition and emotional, romantic relationships are rendered obsolete because they are no longer needed. Marriage, natural birth, parenthood, and pregnancy are considered too obscene to be mentioned in casual conversation. Thus, society has developed a new idea of reproductive comprehension.

Spending time alone is considered an outrageous waste of time and money, and wanting to be an individual is horrifying. Conditioning trains people to consume and never to enjoy being alone, so by spending an afternoon not playing “Obstacle Golf,” or not in bed with a friend, one is forfeiting acceptance.

In the World State, people typically die at age 60 having maintained good health and youthfulness their whole life. Death isn’t feared; anyone reflecting upon it is reassured by the knowledge that everyone is happy, and that society goes on. Since no one has family, they have no ties to mourn.

Well we are not so far from Utopia after all. Is there a “war on women”? Who’s waging that war? Or is the war rather a more generalized one: a  war on mankind; on humanity; on all that was once our birthright and can be no longer? How did it come to this?

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Dan Riehl is in serious condition in the hospital from respiratory failure. You may wish to consider hitting his tip jar.

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