Host: Welcome back to The Reading Room on ABC Radio National. I’m your host Christina Reed.
For today’s special we will be celebrating the 86th year of the release of Aldous Huxley’s prognostic novel ‘Brave New World’ (BNW).
Huxley’s work is a dystopic vision of a socially, genetically, ideologically engineered future highlights, through satire, the paradoxes and tensions between individuality and social cohesion that are inherent in any political act. We will also be discussing about Kurt Vonnegut’s extrapolative short fiction ‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow’ (‘TTT’) that focus on representational acts which highlight that in order for a utopian society to achieve a state of stability and social cohesion it comes at the cost of disconnecting from society and the defiance of nature.
Throughout the past and even now, politics has remained controversial. One of Australia’s most prominent writers on education recently published a critique on the new English module discussing the values of studying the way that political ideas are represented in a variety of texts. I would like to extend a warm welcome to a guest that will be joining us in this discussion. Professor Jeff Rodriguez from the University of Sydney. Welcome Professor, thank you for joining us today.
Professor: It’s my pleasure to be here today.
Host: Throughout BNW, Huxley argues that human individuality is irrepressible, and political acts designed to control population en masse , even when they are intended for the greater good can have devastating impacts. Do you agree with that?
PROFESSOR: Yes, of course! While political acts are intended to restrain the chaotic excess of individuality (such as the endless desire to differentiate and the avaricious tendencies that lead to violence, war and uneven distribution of resources) are necessary to achieve social cohesion, the disconnection of individuality and self- made possible by genetic and biological engineering, surgically removing with chemicals their ambitions and free will- retards the individual’s capacity for intellectual rigour and artistic appreciation that is necessary to prevent society from stagnation.
HOST: And how does Huxley represent this in BNW?
PROFESSOR: Well, in the brave new world, society itself is homogenised as a result of suppressive, totalitarian political acts that leads to the inability to express individuality that it is pathologized. Huxley satirically represents the restriction of knowledge and hypnopaedic teachings (only providing citizens with knowledge considered ‘relevant’ to their role) through the characterisation of Lenina Crowne. Lenina is a mindless conformist being considered as the ‘perfect’ citizen within the world state. Her constant