no longer an exclusively vicarious one.

Friday, January 28, 2005

English: BNW: notes

Brave New World and Blade Runner notes
Science Fiction:
Literary fantasy involving the imagined impact of science on society. Science fiction is a genre of text and can be expressed in written texts, or visual (eg. films, comics). It often combines other themes, such as adventure, romance and horror, but its main emphasis is the role of science and especially technology on society. Because it tries to predict and extrapolate the effects, science fiction often takes place in the future, or in alternate universes which are similar to our own, but different in that technology has already had a different effect on those universes.
The novel Brave New World and the film Blade Runner both exemplify the genre in that they contain all of the different aspects which make up science-fiction. They take place in the future, a future dominated by technology (the Hatcheries in BNW and the robots in BR). This domination is seen by the responder as dangerous and strange but the texts are constructed in such a way that they seem totally plausible. Both texts have a “hero” (the Savage and Deckard) and these heroes stand out because they do not fit the mould and the responder can empathise more fully with them than any other character. They seem to think more like we would if put in the same situation. Both texts contain romance, and action and try to predict a future for our own world and the positive and negative effects that technology will have. However they are not fairytales. In trying to sound plausible, they deal with gritty realism – real violence and fear and real dramatic emotion. This is the core of science fiction – it is meant to be as plausible as possible, and both of these texts contain enough emotion and responses of characters that they exemplify the genre.

Plot Summary:
The novel opens in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, in the years A.F., or After Ford. Ford is the God-surrogate. The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning is leading a tour group of young students around a lab. He explains the scientific process by which human beings are fertilized and custom-made, and shows them the Social Predestination room, where workers create the social castes. They pass onto the conditioning rooms, where they reinforce the caste divisions by sleep-teaching.
There are some short interludes between Mustapha Mond, Resident Controller of Europe, and the students; Lenina and her friend Fanny; and Bernard Marx and Henry Foster.
Lenina confirms with Bernard that she would like to go on a trip with him to The Savage Reservation. Following her departure, there is more bitterness on the part of Bernard concerning his own inferiority.
Lenina and Henry eat dinner, go on a soma-holiday, and see a concert of synthetic music. Later, they have sex. The next day is Bernard Marx's Solidarity Service Day. A group of men and women sing and take soma together, and it eventually turns into an "orgy-porgy".
Lenina and Bernard go on a date. He tries to show her the ocean, and to express some of his subversive views to her, but she cries. She convinces him to take soma, and they go back to his rooms and have sex. The next day, when Lenina asks him if he had fun, Bernard is pained at the way she seems to degrade herself.
He and Lenina go to The Savage Reservation. Lenina shudders at the unclean conditions. They meet John, The Savage. He tells his story to Bernard, and it turns out that he is the illegitimate son of the Director and Linda, a woman who disappeared twenty-five years ago. John tells Bernard his life story. He feels desperately unhappy and alone. Bernard identifies with John and invites him to return to London with them.
Bernard triumphantly presents Linda and John, the Director's lost woman and illegitimate son. The Director is laughed out of office. Bernard is the big man on campus.
Lenina is interested in The Savage, and so she takes him out, and much to her chagrin, they do not have sex.
The Savage refuses to appear at an assembly. This shatters Bernard's reputation. Lenina is absent-minded, thinking about the Savage. He tells her he loves her and she undresses. Disgusted by the sexual degradation of the society, he violently rejects her.
The Savage is in the Hospital for the Dying to visit his mother. He hears the low-caste workers and several children talking badly about her and has a violent reaction. Suddenly, Linda wakes, recognizes him, and dies. He attempts to destroy a large supply of soma, causing a riot, and the police take him away, along with Bernard and Helmholtz.
The three meet with Mustapha Mond. Mustapha Mond and the Savage speak of religion. Mond says that there is a choice between machinery, scientific medicine, and universal happiness-- or God.
The Savage flees, planning to become independent. He repents by whipping himself. One day a photographer makes a popular film about The Savage. The Savage becomes a celebrity. There is a huge riot which turns into an orgy. The next morning, reporters find that the Savage has hung himself.

The “Civilised” World:
Introduced by the cold, squat grey building of the Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, the world of the “civilised” people is full of technology and people. People that were purposely engineered to be the same as each other, to think and feel the same as each other and to never have an original thought. They believe they lived in a perfect world, and it really seems like they did. The people were also well accustomed to the technology that surrounded them – helicopters and “feely” cinemas. Each group of workers is separated into clearly defined castes and are never to intermingle. One of the most striking things about the “civilised” world is their dependence on drugs like “soma” and their promiscuity. They have been taught since before they were born by way of sleep teaching and strictly controlled incubation environments, that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. It is wrong to ever be alone, wrong to ever think of anything that has not been taught. Mothers, fathers and families do not exist and are considered horrible and disgusting. These “civilised” people are never sad because if they ever are they simply take more drugs. They don’t need to have children, but if they biologically do, they take a different set of drugs. They are taught when they are young to play games with expensive equipment, indulge in erotic play, and even things like whether they like flowers or not. They use everything only once, and never aspire to anything except to do what they have been taught to do. They are totally controlled by the corporate state running the world, but although it seems like they have no free will, the choices they make are entirely their own, even though they have been taught what to do since birth. They are no “ordered” to do anything they dislike. Everyone is totally and completely happy and content.

The “Reservation” World:
The world of the Savage on the Reservation is much more natural. Natural rock formations, surrounded by trees and animals, the Savage and his society are totally at odds with the “civilised” world. Here, they have mothers and fathers, families and a close-knit tribe. They also have religion and all that that brings – chastity and striving to be better for God. They have no technology, running water or any of the “luxuries” found in the “civilised” world, and seem to be completely uninterested in the goings-on of the world outside their Reservation. They live off the land, reusing clothes and finding food for themselves. They are what is left of the world – the world that has not been conditioned. They are illiterate and have the same values of modern society today, without the curiosity. They are a tribal community and their taboos are much the same as today’s cultures. No conditioning means that babies are still being born and taught the old-fashioned way by their elders.


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