Aldous Huxley wrote a treatise in 1958 that explained how his dystopian vision in Brave New World was coming true. If Huxley felt this way then, he imagines what he would say about the world now. The hypermediation of computer technology has led to a digitized existence; iPads and iPhones have taken over communication, resulting in much less face-to-face interaction. In most cases, digital media is a huge boon, as educational websites like Shmoop demonstrate, but there are dangers of where it could lead. While the digital revolution has not led to the extreme mechanization of society that Huxley envisioned, it certainly raises fears about artificial intelligence and impersonal interaction. Huxley’s fictional world in which humans are genetically engineered and users of soma, a drug that transports them to a hallucinatory universe far removed from reality, could easily be compared to the post-millennium existence in which cyborgs and the virtual reality have infiltrated society (think of the increasingly real possibility of the Matrix).
In Huxley’s world and perhaps ours, the antidote is Shakespeare. Looking at classic literature that explores the depths of human nature certainly counteracts technological overload. So the next time you want to turn on an episode of Bachelor Pad, try picking up Romeo and Juliet. While neither exactly represents reality, since neither scheming bachelors on a TV show removed from reality, nor hapless lovers who fall in love at first sight are exactly viable scenarios, at least the latter poetically explores the essence of the human being. nature.
That is precisely what is missing from the dystopia imagined in Brave New World. Genetic engineering and the mechanization of mass production have eliminated individuality and emotion. Naming his dystopian society the World State, Huxley intuitively prophesied globalization, which has been rapidly amplified by the World Wide Web. The World State is maintained through the application of science and mathematics to social control. In other words, don’t underestimate the importance of AP Calculus. Applied calculus is the basis of mechanics. For example, the Physics equation Force = Mass x Acceleration has its roots in Calculus. Also, it is used in computer technology: digital images are made up of discrete values, usually integers, which are stored as a bitmap (grids of pixels), making the image directly subject to computational manipulation. Images are no longer just captured, but also controlled. The next time you think Calculus has no real-world application, think again. A group of mad scientists, as demonstrated in Brave New World, could certainly use it to take over the world. Huxley does not necessarily condemn the advancement of science and technology, but instead warns against its negative power when used to extinguish humanity in the name of efficiency and control.
Just as Tobey Maguire convinces the citizens of Pleasantville in the movie of the same name that real thrills are worth it, John, an outsider from the Reservation, introduces Shakespeare to the mind-controlled citizens in the World State. Helmholtz, a citizen who wishes to recover his individuality, is particularly mesmerized by the beautiful lyricism of the works, but since he has been under the mind control of the World State all his life, he has difficulty understanding its meaning. When John introduces him to Romeo and Juliet, he can’t understand why Juliet wouldn’t tell her family directly about her affair with Romeo. In a totally sexually free and emotionless society, Helmholtz laughs at the complexity of family rivalry and forbidden love. In the world he knows, there are no such intense passions. Unfortunately, John’s passion is too intense for the listless “brave new world”, and like Juliet, he meets a deadly end. However, he would rather be dead than a much worse fate: living a flat existence.
If you spend all day in a dark room playing too much World of Warcraft and you look a little pale and feel a little dead inside, it would be useful to review Romeo and Juliet quotes to renew your vitality. Juliet eloquently states: “Presumption, richer in matter than in words, boasts of its substance, not of ornament: they are but beggars who can count their value; but my true love has grown to such excess that I cannot add the sum of half. my wealth” (2.6.2). In other words, love and adornment, also known as passion and art, are much more valuable than conceit and wealth. In relation to Brave New World, as well as the World State is obsessed with the production and consumption of products, which means that the individual is subservient to the vanity of the state, Juliet is a victim of her family’s vanity.The Montagues and Capulets are so obsessed with their families’ reputations that they they’ve also forgotten what really matters: love, family, and community. Maybe Juliet’s passionate words will inspire you to get closer to your crush at school. Not wealth, not reputation, not virtual reality can replace the spine-tingling, heart-stopping ecstasy of love.