Yesterday I read a blog post by Matthew Warner entitled What’s Your Favorite Dystopian Novel? The post itself, referencing 1984, was aimed more closely at current events, especially the Health Care bill, and Mr. Warner’s dislike of government intrusion. He proposes that dystopian novels have much to teach us. Then he lists three novels: 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I’ve read the first and the third. The second was sitting on my “To Read” pile. A commenter suggested that Brave New World was more appropriate to the times we are living in now. So, that got me to thinking that maybe I should move Brave New World to my “Reading Now” pile. And, that’s what I did. I left (temporarily) Mimi, Gusto, and their children on the cusp of their brave new adventure in inner space (for the uninitiated, this is from the novel Ghulf Genes by Arsen Darnay) to set off on a quest for Huxley’s Brave New World.
I’m not yet far into this troubling little book, however this did catch my eye. The director is talking to a student about why giving the children shocks to decondition their love of flowers is sound practice for the Community.
If children were made to scream at the sight of a rose, that was on the grounds of high economic policy. Not so very long ago (a century or thereabouts), Gammas, Deltas, even Epsilons, had been conditioned to like flowers—flowers in particular and wild nature in general. The idea was to make them want to go out into the country at every available opportunity, and so compel them to consume transport.
Primroses and landscapes…have one grave defect: they are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided…to abolish the love of nature, but not the tendency to consume transport….
We condition the masses to hate the country,…But simultaneously we condition them to love all country sports. At the same time, we see to it that all country sports shall entail some use of elaborate apparatus. So that they consume manufactured articles as well as transport.
Developing a consumer class. Isn’t that the aim of marketing departments everywhere? Even though the correlation is somewhat sketchy, the marketing of the newest technology, comes to mind. HD TVs. See the most life-like picture from your living room. Almost as good as being there in person. Soon there will be 3D TVs. Then I’ll be able to sit on my couch and really experience Nature, without actually leaving my living room. Experiencing real-life in 3D seems more fulfilling to me than experiencing it from any future 3D TV set I may own. But, then again, I was not conditioned from childhood to think otherwise.
But, I digress. As I was thinking about dystopian novels, I was wondering if there were any utopian novels? Plato’s Republic perhaps. Though, not really a novel. I’m sure I’ve read at least exerpts of that back in college. But, I don’t seem to recall reading any other utopian novels. So, let’s think positively. I’m putting the call out to my readers. What are some of your favorite utopian novels, and why?