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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Important Quotations Explained

Chapters 17–18

Key Facts

1.
Mother, monogamy, romance. High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the wild jet. The urge has but a single outlet. My love, my baby. No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn’t allow them to take things easily, didn’t allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty—they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable?

This passage comes from Chapter 3, when Mustapha Mond is explaining the history of the World State to the group of boys touring the Hatchery. “Mother, monogamy, romance” can be seen as a concise summary of exactly the issues with which John will be most concerned. And “feeling strongly” is what John values most highly, and also what leads to his eventual self-flagellation, insanity, and suicide. Mustapha is saying that by doing away with these things, the World State has finally brought stability and peace to humanity. John’s critique of this position is that stability and peace are not worth throwing away everything that is worthwhile about life—“mother, monogamy, romance” included. Another facet of World State philosophy that is encapsulated in this quote is the idea of constructing a world in which human beings have only one way of behaving. The World State is an enormous system of production and consumption in which humans are turned into machines for further production and consumption. The world “allows” them to be happy by creating a system in which not being happy—by choosing truth over soma—is forbidden.

2.
Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one. Even Epsilons are useful. We couldn’t do without Epsilons. Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one. . . .

This quotation comes from Chapter 5, when Lenina remembers waking up as a small girl and, for the first time, hearing hypnopaedic messages whispered into her ear. She is reminded of the quote by a discussion with Henry Foster about the fact that all humans, regardless of caste, become equal after death. This quote illustrates the power of mind-numbing repetitiveness of the hypnopaedic rules and beliefs that form the basis of World State society. The message also highlights the hypocrisy of the conditioning: it may be true that “every one works for every one else,” but it is also true that certain castes have a much better time of it than others.

3.
Ford, we are twelve; oh, make us one,
Like drops within the Social River;
Oh, make us now together run
As swiftly as thy shining Flivver.
. . .
Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,
Kiss the girls and make them One.
Boys at one with girls at peace;
Orgy-porgy gives release.

This song is sung during the Solidarity Service attended by Bernard in Chapter 5. It gives an example of the banal “religion” the World State uses to keep its members in conformity with societal rules. The song’s silly wording helps emphasize the triviality of the ceremony. It also contrasts with the snippets of Shakespeare that John quotes later in the novel. The theme of anonymity is a metaphor for the whole of World State society, whose aim is to create humans that are as indistinguishable from each other as machines made on an assembly line. The repeated calls to “Ford” also point out the connection to the assembly line. Finally, the last stanza’s “orgy-porgy gives release,” like the Violent Passion Surrogate, the Pregnancy Surrogate, and soma, is a signal that the World State has not been able to entirely annihilate human nature. There is still some need for release, some need to experience strong emotions that has not been entirely wiped out through conditioning. The Solidarity Service is one of many mechanisms the World State uses to channel strong emotions in such a way that they present no threat to the power of the State.

4.
A gramme is always better than a damn . . . A gramme in time saves nine . . . One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments . . . Everybody’s happy nowadays . . . Every one works for every one else . . . When the individual feels, the community reels . . . Never put off till to-morrow the fun you can have to-day . . . Progress is lovely

These are samples of hypnopaedic sayings that are scattered throughout the novel. Lenina is a continual source of them. In Chapter 6, she responds to Bernard’s soliloquy about the need to be alone with almost nothing but hypnopaedic phrases. Bernard tells her how many times, and for how long, each phrase is pumped into the ears of sleeping children. The irony is that Bernard himself is one of the people responsible for the hypnopaedic phrases, but when he tries to escape their logic he is trapped by the people around him who take every hypnopaedic saying as undeniable truth. The quotes sampled here reflect some of the basic principles of World State society: the use of soma to deal with unpleasant emotions; the identification of happiness as the ultimate goal; the maintenance of the caste system and the use of conditioning to create workers who enjoy their work; the prioritizing of the community over the individual; the support of instant gratification; the promotion of technology and science as necessary foundations of the good life.

5.
And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is.

This passage comes from the conversation between Mustapha and John in Chapter 17. Mustapha is trying to convince John that soma solves one of humanity’s oldest problems: it offers a way to deal with unpleasant emotions that lead to inefficiency and conflict. He claims that soma allows everyone to accomplish something that previously took years to attain. He also makes a connection between religion and soma. The word soma comes from an unidentified, probably hallucinogenic drug that was used in ancient Indian Vedic cults as part of religious ceremonies. The soma of Brave New World is a perversion of this ancient drug. Instead of giving insight, it clouds over the truth. Instead of being used in solemn religious ceremonies, it is used whenever a slightly unpleasant emotion is felt. Mustapha describes soma as a tool that allows everyone to be moral, but it can also be seen as a tool that the State uses to keep its citizens from becoming unhappy enough to try to change the society in which they live. John rejects Mustapha’s “Christianity without tears” as being too easy, too simple, and too superficial. To John, soma seems to be little more than an opiate of the people.

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Our Ford

by AP-ness, July 29, 2012

Replacing the concept of a belief-based, non-verifiable being with Ford, a man who existed, eliminates all the wonder and mystery related to traditional religions.
Also eliminating all other belief systems with a single, inarguable "godhead" rids the World State citizens of anxiety and conflicts based on religious beliefs and orthodoxies.

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