January 2016 Book Club Book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Discussion in 'TMB Book Club' started by LKRFN88jp, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. LKRFN

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    This one seemed to be the one people wanted to read the most, so figured I would start the thread. I'll prob start reading it tomorrow night (if bowl game sucks) or over the weekend.
     
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  2. The Blackfish

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    Love it lets do it.
     
  3. The Blackfish

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    Arkie Proud can you do some maintenance and un-pin the old ones and pin this one
     
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  4. RegimentML

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    Somewhat related, Aldous Huxley's grandfather was a pretty famous scientist, proponent of Darwin, and coined the term "agnosticism." He also taught H.G Wells.
     
  5. LKRFN

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    Page 57/21%
    I am loving this so far. Absolutely fascinating. Dystopian stories have always interested me and I think this is nailing the genre so far.

    Read 1984 last month and obviously these two books have been compared to each other. I think this is an interesting angle to take on it. In 1984, they ruled through fear and an iron fist and pretty much erased people from existence at the drop of a hat.

    This seems to be ruling through enjoyment and brainwashing from the jump. Drugs are fair game and obviously they're having sex all the time. Whereas in 1984, sex was a duty that they had to do. In this, it's hooking up with as many people as possible and never settling down.

    Also, I thought the end of chapter three was interesting. First two chapters were basically one continuous story of characters and setting. Then chapter three bounced all over the place at the end. I read that as showing the mindset of the world, drugged out as it is.

    So yeah, big fan so far. Also, I have to imagine this rustled lots of jims when it came out and was on every banned books list in the history of man.
     
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  6. RegimentML

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    I'm at the same page/%.

    As to your last point, I would definitely agree--parents probably freaked out when they saw kids reading it.
     
  7. Truman

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    Through Chapter 3 (21%)
    Im still easing in. Definitely didnt like the jumping around in Chapter 3. I really thought I had a bad copy of the book until and didnt quite understand what it was going for until I read LKRFN88jp and realized it was supposed to be that way. Hope it's more of a congruent story going forward. Agree with everything else. Like the pavlovian conditioning to create mind control.

    Will knock out a few more chapters this afternoon
     
  8. RegimentML

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    Through chapter 7 (Pg. 122/~47%)

    I definitely expected them to encounter Linda in New Mexico after she was brought up earlier. Though, I was also expecting her to have come around to the native lifestyle and to be critical of how she had grown up. This is a pretty quick read--I feel like I haven't invested that much time yet I'm almost halfway done.
     
    #8 RegimentML, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  9. Truman

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    Chapter 5
    I was laughing my ass off during Orgy-Porgy. Idk why, it just was so ridiculous. I can see even more now why this book was banned
     
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  10. RegimentML

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    Finished. Final thoughts.

    I enjoyed this book because I liked the idea that, instead of 1984 rule through fear, this is the opposite in that it's power through pleasure (sex and drugs). Everyone belongs to everyone. That was discussed by LK above. The populace no longer wishing to read or think critically seems poignant in current society, so it rang a bit true. Parts of this book were ridiculous and intentionally so (orgy-porgy). The transfer of narrative from Bernard to the Savage (John) probably was to show a move from skepticism to a preserved "uncivilized" voice. John's fear of sex and inability to communicate except through (in the story) dated Shakespeare left him isolated no matter where he was, and when he finally accepts this and actually moves to an isolated location he still is haunted by civilized pressures (#strumpet) and returns to self mutilation, which becomes a spectacle. I really liked the chapter where he talks Shakespeare and ideals with the Controller. The Savage ends up hanging himself, which I guess is another example of civilized society winning in the end and eliminating the "savages", along with pushing anyone who thinks differently to isolated islands (which the leader sees as a luxury almost). I like the social commentary of the novel. The caste system seems a little bland, but the iceberg analogy was a good one. All in all, I can see why this novel was as heavily challenged as it was but also why, along with Orwell's 1984, it has served as a major piece of dystopian warning for almost a century. Interestingly enough, Huxley said it originated as an answer piece to H.G. Wells' optimistic view of the future and just kind of grew from there.
     
    #10 RegimentML, Jan 3, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
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  11. Truman

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    Just finished as well

    You wrapped it up nicely. As you said, the whole book can pretty much be broken down to the conversation between John and the Controller. I loved this line during that exchange. It really stuck with me.

    "Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons—that’s philosophy."

    It;s a great line when discussing religion and other opiate of the masses, as Marx would say.


    I found the book more interesting than enjoyable, if that makes sense. I was curious how it would end, but couldnt get invested in the characters or their plot lines.
     
    #11 Truman, Jan 3, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
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  12. RegimentML

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    Not sure this really needs a spoiler but

    I agree with your second point regarding character investment. I would've liked this story to have been longer than 250 pages/60k words so we could fill out the world and the characters involved.
     
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  13. LKRFN

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  14. rv12

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  15. RegimentML

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    I'd probably give it a 3/5.
     
  16. RonBurgundy

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    I read this in High School and really liked it. May have to reread it.
     
  17. rv12

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    Didn't enjoy this. I'll accept that I'm in the minority in that opinion but I was bored and not invested in any of the characters. I didn't find the social commentary to be too radically different from any other dystopian novel.

    I did enjoy the conversation between John and the Controller.
     
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  18. Truman

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    I agree against today's standards, but for 1930's standards, Im sure it was quite a statement. Maybe Im putting more stock in that than I should. I just assume everyone of that time was extremely prudish.

    This just occurred to me - this was published in the beginning of the Great Depression. Maybe commentary about the hedonism of the Roaring 20s and how it was turning out to be a false sense of security. IDK that was just off the top of my head. Havent really flushed that idea out.

    I am enjoying this discussion. This is by far the deepest book discussion I can remember. Usually it's just "that was awesome, that sucked."
     
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  19. RegimentML

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    Huxley was considered by some to be a pornographer for this book. I think it's fairly realistic to think it outraged a lot of folks.

    According to some of the discussion I've read about the book, the Depression had a pretty big impact on Huxley. Huxley also was afraid of "Americanism" coming to Europe. Mass communication and production coupled with self indulgence and increasing promiscuity kind of created the backdrop for this story. Wells and other writers were writing stories with cheery outlooks, while Huxley was afraid that people would eventually revel in ignorance and sedate themselves anytime they feel bad.
     
    #19 RegimentML, Jan 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
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  20. LKRFN

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    Agreed. We've never really discussed anything too deep from a literary perspective before, sans dialogue in a book or two. I've enjoyed it.

    Page 153/57%
    I'm still enjoying it, though I certainly didn't it expect it to go the way of hanging out on the other side of the tracks for so long. And definitely not in the way they did. I thought the story of growing up like that was really interesting. Linda and John seeing their former lover/dad was great. Thought that reveal was really good.

    So, I really don't have that much left. Busy the next couple of days, but goal is to finish by Thursday. I'm excited to see where it goes and how it ends.
    And I definitely disagree on this not being any different than any other dystopian novel. Especially when you consider it was written ~80 years ago. I think it's pretty radical to read in HS by today's standards, let alone by standards of then.
     
  21. rv12

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    I think when you take into context that it was written 80 years ago, yes it was extremely radical. But really it is no different than a myriad of other things in today's literature. It may also have to do with the fact that I've read what feels like 20 dystopian novels in the past 3 years as a middle school teacher (kids are going crazy over them).
     
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  22. The Blackfish

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    [​IMG]
     
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  23. LKRFN

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    Done
    I thought it was really good. I know so often in books, movies, and TV, that going behind the curtain can be viewed in a negative light (think Neo's conversation with the architect in The Matrix). But the penultimate chapter of this book was fucking phenomenal. I loved learning all that stuff, finding out what the Controller thought/why he thought that way, etc. Just fascinating.

    What I thought of as I read it was: What was Huxley arguing for? And what should we as readers argue for? Because on one hand you had John who wants life to be earned in a sense. Shit will suck. Things get messy. But that makes the good times that much more valuable. Whereas the way society is set up in this world, there's no such thing as life being worth it. It's just there. And it's always good.

    And it's interesting because that type of life does inherently sound good. Why wouldn't I want a life with long health? Why wouldn't I want a life where death isn't viewed so poorly. The drugs that don't cause problems. The sex. Etc. But it's the negatives of life that really do make things worth living. Idk.

    Also, I thought the POV structure, while not super pronounced like in other books (ASOIAF for instance) was interesting to see. First chapter was just this broad look at the world. Then we got Bernard and his shit. And I figured this come to Jesus would happen with him and instead we got this 180 once John was brought into the picture. And then the last 30-40 pages are essentially his story. Thought that was interesting as a narrative choice.

    8.5/10 for me. Honestly, had the book ended there, it would have been a 9 or 9.5. The last chapter was fine, maybe more depressing that the previous one, but I wasn't in love with it by any means.
    TL;DR, 8.5/10.
     
  24. The Blackfish

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    Almost done with chapter 3. Enjoying it so far.
     
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  25. BigRed

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    This book has been on my to-read list for a while. I am going to try and read it with you all this month.
     
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  26. Truman

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    BETTER HURRY UP!
     
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  27. The Blackfish

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    Finished today. I enjoyed it a good bit. Like most I enjoyed the contrast to 1984 and the conversation between John and the Controller as well as the character shift in Bernard.
     
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