Timeless warning against dehumanization

Timeless warning against dehumanization

Aldous Huxley's literary activity had a great influence on many other artists © Peerayot (shutterstock)

He was as concerned with social criticism as he was with mysticism: 125 years ago, the British writer Aldous Huxley was born. In his most famous novel, he also deals with religious cult.

Almost everyone has read one of these novels at school: "1984" by George Orwell or "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.

Both are frightening in their own way. In Orwell, people are governed by anonymous totalitarian rule; in Huxley's scenario, they have settled into a controlled feel-good mood in which art and individual freedom have been abolished. The literary bestseller of 1932 is considered prophetic by some today.

Good education along with studies at Oxford

Its author was born 125 years ago, on 26. July 1894, born in Godalming, southern England. Already father Huxley was a writer, several family members were successful scientists. Thus, a good education was in store for the young Aldous – until his studies at Oxford. He published his first book at the age of 22.

He subsequently worked as a teacher, journalist, and art critic; Orwell was among his students toward the end of World War I. Huxley, however, considered writing to be his main activity. He was always preoccupied with the question of what constitutes the human being at its core.

Warning against a "technological dictatorship

He was convinced that if society was ruled by big capitalists, they would be "enemies of freedom". A thought that could hardly be more topical: "The rise of populist, anti-democratic, violent and totalitarian movements together with increasing digital control, surveillance and governance seem to be becoming more and more commonplace," write authors Uwe Rasch and Gerhard Wagner in their Huxley biography, published in May.

The warning against a "technological dictatorship" remains meaningful, biographers continue. Because in "Brave New World" a subtle form of undermining of freedom is in the center: Already fetuses and embryos are medically treated, children are manipulated to shape each individual to a caste.

Adults are kept happy with consumption, sex and the drug soma, which suppresses critical thought processes. The title of the novel is borrowed from Shakespeare, through whose work, in turn, the main character, John Savage, is brought to reflection.

Multifaceted influence on other artists as well

Religious themes also play a role in the novel, especially the question of how religious cult arises and functions. Five years after his successful novel was banned by the Nazis, the author moved to California. There he turned to mysticism under the influence of Buddhist teachings. In his 1946 theoretical paper, The Perennial Philosophy, he laid out his own philosophical viewpoint.

As varied as Huxley's interests were, so was his influence on other artists. His essay "The Doors of Perception" (1954) deals with the effects of the psychedelic drug mescaline, which Huxley himself tried out in an experiment. The title alludes to a poem by William Blake, the corresponding verse of which reads: "If the gates of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite."The American rock band The Doors, also not averse to intoxicants, named themselves after Huxley's classic in 1965.

Not avoiding the big questions

Psychedelic substances have always been attributed a mystical component. The London author Jules Evans stated in the spring a "psychedelic renaissance". In the time of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), mystical experiences were still largely dismissed by science; today they are researched in the laboratory, Evans' arc continues.

As a teenager, Huxley suffered from a serious eye disease that was to accompany him throughout his life. In 1960, he received a cancer diagnosis and died of the disease three years later – on 22. November 1963. Many people associate this date with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy; the same day C died.S. Lewis, author of the "Chronicles of Narnia". The coverage of Kennedy put the writers in the shade at the time – which does not change the fact that Huxley still invites us today not to avoid the big questions.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Christina Cherry
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: