Archive for the ‘Brave New World’ Category

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Moving On

March 18, 2009

Well Twin,

  I officially finished Brave New World.  It was about 7:35 yesterday morning on my morning bus commute.  I was simultaneously happy to see this book end and saddened at the way the story unfolded.  And if there’s one thing that makes going back to work after a three day weekend hard, it’s paradoxically conflicting emotions.

  Did I mention I had a three day weekend last weekend?  It was wonderful.  I have another one this weekend (I can hardly wait!)

  Is it me or was this perhaps one of the weirdest books you’ve ever read?  It was for me.  And I don’t me weird like “Oooh in the future full meals come in pellets.”  Or “Zowie…in the future talking robots will be our maids.” (PS: The Jetsons is weird like that.  Freaky weird.).  I mean weird in the way the protagonist shifted, and the plot puttered and zoomed.  I’m genuinely curious to find someone who likes this book and find out what attracts them to it.  What am I missing?

  Anyway…If you look to the right you’ll see in the “What We’re Reading” box I’ve switched the title to Dead Souls.  I’m ready to start it if you are (maybe I’ll read it during my long weekend…did I mention that I have another long weekend this weekend already?).

  Au Revoir Soma.  Arrivedercci Alpha-Pluses.  Hello Tsarist Russia!

  Jon

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I’m Really Almost Finished

March 17, 2009

Dear Twin,

  I have been reading and I’m closing in on the last ten pages of this book…but I think that if I do finish tonight (not likely…I have laundry to fold and sleep to sleep) it will be too late for me to post anything that makes sense.  So I thought I’d write these quick thoughts before Fold-a-palooza 2009 starts.

  As I sat in Starbucks this afternoon enjoying the savory Pike Place blend and thinking futuristic thoughts I was unsettled as my mental meanderings took a turn towards believing that maybe Mustapha Mond is right and John is wrong.  We’re conditioned to think the dystopic utopias of futuristic fiction are in some way wrong…but if I was making judgments solely on the persuasive speeches given in Chapter 17, I think the victory goes to Mond.  (Because, it’s true “You can’t play Electro-magnetic Golf according to the rules of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.”  Aside:  I really want to play Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.).  So as I finished that thought process I found myself radically decentered.  And if there’s one place in which it’s radically decentering to be radically decentered, its Starbucks.  So I came home and watched Perry Mason.  Perry Mason is radically centering–you always know what you’re going to get.  Although this episode (“The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor”) did have a bit of a surprise when Hamilton Burger (!) called Perry Mason to be his friend’s lawyer (!!!).

  So I should be finished tomorrow and then full steam ahead to Dead Souls.  I don’t know if this book was soul deadening, but it certainly was boring at points.  Here’s to hoping Gogol will pick up the pace.

  Sweet dreams,

  Jon

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The Many Things Aldous Huxley Is

March 10, 2009

Dear Twin,

Agreed..definitely an idea man.  Some interesting notions, but so far weird plotting and flat characters have moved my feelings about this book more to the negative end of the spectrum.  But this “idea man” is just one of the many facets of the shining crystal that is  Aldous Huxley.  We know that he was also a proponent of psychedelics (at least according to Wikipedia –which I think may explain large portions of this book).  From what I read in Chapter Eleven I deduce he also had a little pop star inside of him–a little Christina Aguilera or Kylie Minogue just trying to burst out.  (Lenina sings the oh so catchy, “Hug me till you drug me, honey/Kiss me till I’m in a coma/Hug me honey, snuggly bunny/Love’s as good as soma”–one can only guess how pop music would be different today had he followed that dream.)

But most surprising of all to this reader is that Aldous Huxley appears to be a softy.  Sure this book is all dystopia this, fascism that.  But I detect the emergence of a “love conquers all theme” emerging in the budding love affair between Lenina and “The Savage” (why did they decide to stop referring to him as John?).

…Unless of course the constant references to Romeo and Juliet are supposed to act as harbingers of a woe as yet untold.

But Huxley is too subtle for that.  Right? . . .

. . .

…I think John and Lenina may be in trouble.

I’m plowing through the last fifty pages.  I’m ready for this book to be over.  Anytime you want to announce the next title in our literary sojourn I’d be interested to hear it.  Give me a goal to move towards.  (But warning if it includes talking animals I may actually slow down my reading).

Best,

Jon

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Return of the King

March 7, 2009

And by “king” I mean me, Jon.  Hi.

And by “return” I mean I’ve dove head first into the Huxley’s world once again.  I have a lot to cover so I’m going to break this us into easy to scan sections.

Subliminal Messagings

Freaks me out!  So don’t do it.

Not really about Brave New World…but since you brought it up in your post [don’t use subliminal messaging it freaks me out!] I figure it’s fair game.

Pacing

So granted my pacing in reading this book hasn’t been stellar, but I think one reason for that is because the pace of this narrative is a sloppy, sloppy mess.  We had about one hundred pages of pure exposition where nothing happened and then all of sudden the plots points come hurtling at us like barrels in Donkey Kong.  You think you’re in for a marathon and then Huxley has you running wind sprints.

Linda

And speaking of sloppy, sloppy messes–J/K!  But do you get the feeling that Huxley has some serious disdain for this character.  Here’s his description of her as Bernard reintroduces her into the Brave New World

Bloated, sagging, and among those firm youthful bodies, those undistorted faces, a strange and terrifying monster of middle-agedness, Linda advanced into the room, coquettishly smiling her broken and discoloured smile, and rolling as she walked, with what was meant to be a voluptuous undulation, her enormous haunches.

She was abandoned in the wilderness by her boyfriend…I think I’m going to cut her some slack.

The Two Faces of Bernard Marx

I was kind of troubled by the way that Bernard introduces John to his birth father.  First Bernard and John share this very Horton-Who Child-Suessical-“Alone in the Universe” kind of moment and then the next thing you know Bernard’s like “Oh I’m fired am I, Mustafa?!  Well you have a long lost son who was actually born..and here he is!”  Thusly Jerry Springering John into Mustafa’s life.

Using your  newfound friend to thumb your nose at your ex-employer (who happens to be the father who abandoned his mother in the wilderness)–not cool!

So those are my thoughts as I move into Chapter 11 (Isn’t that bankruptcy?  Funny.)  I hope you’ve picked back up too…I’m ready for a new read!

Best regards,

Jon

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I’m Not Reading Brave New World

March 3, 2009

Dear Twin,

A happy belated birthday to you as well.  My belated gift to you is a confession…a mea culpa…a breast cleaning.   Here goes:  I’m not reading Brave New World.

I realize this confession is probably a little anti-climactic after seeing this post’s subject heading, but there you have it.  I’m not reading this book right now.  And I haven’t been for a while.

Oh I’d like to make up excuses…like I’m still haunted by the plaintive cry of  “Soooooommmmmmaaaa!   Sooooooooommmmmaaaaa!” from Sally Kirkland’s portrayal of Linda in the clip that I linked to in my last post.  But its not that simple.

Sometimes life just has a way of happening…hold onto your hat I’m going to wax philosophical a bit here.  I won’t go too Derrida on you, but consider yourself warned.  In fact I think I’m going to wax philosophical in a numbered list format.  A numbered list I’ll entitle

Life Happening That Has Kept Me From Reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (A Numbered List):

  1. I lost the book for like 8 days It, not surprisingly, was under more books.  I need to de-bookify a bit.
  2. The Oscars.  A long show right?  But worth it for the musical medley featuring a sparkly Beyonce and Zac Efron (who’d have guessed one stage could hold so much star power!)
  3. 2666.  It is like a 1600 page 900 page book.  It has taken over my life.  I’m trying to finish it like a no one’s business but it’s taking up all of my free reading time.
  4. Except for the time I devote to my new blog discoveries Brendan Emmet Quigley and Jane Fonda (it’s amazing!–she watches Brothers and Sisters and tweets–just like me!)
  5. And, of course, my unending quest to get caught up with New Yorkers–I’m currently trying to read the current issues as they come and read the back issues spanning from September 2008-January 2009 (I’m almost to October…I can definitely see it on the horizon!).

So that’s some stuff that’s been keeping me from reading.  That and I’m not super-engaged with this book…although I think I will be more engaged now that I’m picturing Bernard Marx as Peter Gallagher.

So you’ll hear from me soon…we’re coming quickly to our blog-iversary (about a week, I think) and I think nothing would be more appropriate of a celebration than starting a new book.  And just as you started us with Tristram Shandy oh so long ago I charge you to find us a new winner of a read to discuss.

Well I’m going to try and finish 2666–wish me luck!

Adieu,

Jon

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Close Reading and Crossover Possibilities

February 17, 2009

Hello Twin,

  Sorry for the lag time in response…it’s been crazy busy at the library and by the time I get home I’m just beat.  (Shh…do you hear the violins playing a sombre melody filled with pathos in the background of my tale of woe).  But woe begone!  I’m back…and I have a bone to pick with you (does that saying stem from paleontology…because when I just thought it I pictured the both of us in pith helmets at some desert site marked off with pegs and string). 

  But back to the bone (focus, Jon, focus):  Rocket ships?  I pictured them as helicopters.  And to back me up I’d like to include the following clip from the 1998 made-for-TV movie (starring Peter Gallagher!) that I just found excerpted on YouTube:

  Yep definitely helicopters.  And notice the ominous minivans of the future!

  But back to the meat of your post…your television ideas are brilliant.  In In Full Bloom I can picture Gilbert Gottfried as Roger Avery and his catchphrase can be a plaintive, “I’m trying to paint here!”  But what I really love about these television shows is the cross over possibilities.  Do you remember NBC’s classic Saturday night lineup of Golden Girls, Nurses, and Empty Nest and how sometimes they’d have thematically linked shows because all three were produced by the same people and all took place in Miami.  So like one Saturday night a hurricane hit and all the shows featured the hurricane.

  Do you remember?  Do you?

  Well instead of a natural disaster your two programs could be linked by that hurricane of an economist John Maynard Keynes.  In Bloomsbury he’s in some torrid love affair with an Oxfordian and in FDR’s administration he’s talking big government spending with that cat puppet. Really the possibilities are endless.

  I just wanted to put that idea out there.

  AND every once in a while in In Full Bloom there could be the appearance of…Aldous Huxley.  Maybe he’s working on a little futuristic tale of conformity and sexual gluttony.  Genius!

  Well back to the book…

   Jon

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Snuffleupugus and Cultural Understanding

February 11, 2009

Is that really what you dream about?  Virginia Woolf and/or New Dealers.  My dreams tend to involve me flying (I never feel as free as I do in the air–sigh) or me trying to wake up but my eyelids being too heavy.  Not very literary at all.  Although once I did have a dream where Snuffy (the Snuffleupugus) sat on a bar stool singing “The Rainbow Connection” while I tap danced in nothing but my y-fronts.

Questions I have after typing that last paragraph:  Does Snuffy count as a literary character?  Did I just overshare?  And why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Actually I’d like Snuffy (or Kermit) to list the all of these songs about rainbows that he’s heard.  I’ve heard one…”Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  Name another guys…c’mon…whenever you’re ready.

But back to things Brave.  Although I’m not loving the distopia-part of the story (I feel like I’ve read that before)…I do enjoy the lessons in cultural understanding that occur as Bernard and Lenina vacay in the wilds of New Mexico.  This whole time we’ve been like “Weird they torture babies, weird everyone seems to do some pretty hardcore recreational drugs.”  But the tables get turned on us when these two travelers find themselves looking the representative of our society when they meet John and Linda and they live somewhat like we do today and what we consider commonplace is met with revulsion (“Oh she’s fat!”  “The baby came from where!?!”).  Maybe we should give this brave new world a bit of a break and stop applying our norms and mores to their lives.

I should note here that I’m not 100% on what a more is, but it seemed to fit, right?

And I found you referencing of Virginia Woolf to be very prescient…because the book goes a little stream o’ conscious in Chapter 8 when John recounts his boyhood.  

What a coincidence.  

Well it’s been a slice…I look forward to hearing what you think of the book when you actually read it again.  But until then keep me updated on those dreams…they’re something else!

Adieu,

Jon