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Huxley and mass media

A journey through Brave New World

Thinking is useless

Publié par Aldous Huxley sur 10 Décembre 2012, 17:00pm

Thinking is useless, or that is, at least, the way people in Huxley’s Brave New World “think” (if we may use this term, considering the fact that we just said that they don’t). If people have such an idea of the act of pondering, it is precisely because everything is made for them to have plenty of other entertaining things to do.

As a director explains it when talking about the previous generation: “Old men in the bad old days used […] to spend their time reading, thinking–thinking!” while people in this new society “have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think”. The past is considered as “bad” because reading and thinking are considered such a waste of time (because, of course, the society wants to prevent people from thinking!). This over-controlling world gets round this problem by not letting people have any leisure time anymore. 

And, even if someone “by some unlucky chance” finds some time to think, “there is always soma, delicious soma” that is to say a pill that makes people forget about all their problems and makes them happy. It is a sort of drug that everyone uses when one feels bad about something. It suppresses their feelings, emotions and thoughts.

As a consequence, people have no critical mind at all, because the latter has been totally destroyed from their birth: they live in a world where nobody thinks anymore, where everything is programmed and never questioned, simply because no one thinks and thus no one even imagines that what is happening is abnormal. This society has created a vicious circle for people to be imprisoned in, where they are glad yet unaware of their stupidity.

However, in order to function, every society needs intelligent minds able to take on difficult tasks. That is the reason why there are different casts and why the Alpha cast (the upper one) is physically and psychologically privileged even before their birth. Alphas are the most beautiful and physically able, as well as the smarter ones.

Still, people from the upper casts do not think either, or at least, they don’t have a critical mind, like all the rest. We could have presumed that people having jobs requiring high intellectual skills would tend to think and ask themselves questions about things, but it is unfortunately not the case. Here, students for example, write everything that is said and are even compared to “chickens”. The director that is supposed to educate them for their future job does not explain everything to them. He only wants to give them “some sort of general idea” of what they have to do, “for of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently–though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible”. This passage means that they only need little information to realize their work, and that knowing more would be inconvenient and dangerous. Comprehending things as well as thinking are considered a threat to the smooth functioning of the society and durability.

Indeed, to disagree with something, one needs to be conscious of it; to rebel, one needs to be master of his opinions.

For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently–though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible.

Brave New World, Chapter 1, Aldous Huxley

Thinking is useless
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