What topica 21st century issues or problems does Brave New World Portend?Does Huxley envision these issues as contructive or destructive elements of modern behavior?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In addition to those cogent ones mentioned by theten, sleep conditioning, death-conditioning, etc., that are performed to get people to think a certain way are frighteningly portentous as people are instructed by liberal or conservative media to think a certain way.  Sound-bytes provide a minimal amount of information, but a maximum amount of "hype," causes people to make quick decisions with no depth of thinking.  Text messaging, quick, impersonal emails have replaced thoughtful letters.

Huxley states in his introduction that his main concern is how the advancement of technology will affect human nature.  Indeed, he had cause for concern.

MaudlinStreet's profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Well, one issue that really wasn't considered until the 21st century is fertility enhancement and in-vitro fertilization. The novel is rich with descriptions of sterilized, scientific reproduction, and a stated goal is to produce as many humans from one egg as possible. Fertility enhancement has come under scrutiny lately in the form of women famous for having an outrageous number of children with the help of "fertility drugs." The recent exploits of Kate & Jon Gosselin & Nadia Suleyman (the "octomom") have brought this issue to light, and made some people question whether there should be a limit to the amount of fertility drugs available. I would say that Huxley suggests this is destructive.

Another issue is the incredible amount of synthetics used in all consumer products, from clothing to food. Everything is processed, packaged, preserved, and shelved, combining ingredients from who knows where.Again, I would suggest that Huxley considers this reliance on man-made products unnatural. There has been a backlash against preservatives and other chemicals in food production in recent years, following Fast Food Nation and other such insightful works. The "slow food" movement is another example of people responding to these issues.

Finally, and many may disagree with me, I see the rise in use of prescription medication as a corollary to the rise in use of soma. Now, it certainly isn't as detrimental to society, but we have a tendency to look for medications that will do our jobs for us, rather than looking to the sources of the problems. High blood pressure? Don't look for a change in diet, or meditation, or mental health exercises- just take this pill. That may sound harsh, but I also think the rise in use of illegal drugs, particularly marijuana, among younger citizens also reflects that "we should be happy always" attitude. No need to face your problems if you can escape through drugs instead.

These are just a few thoughts. A great book to reference is another of Huxley's, called Brave New World Revisited. In it he explores the issues that he thinks parallel his ideas in the novel.

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