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Literature Archives for June 2016

But what sort of science?

June 13, 2016, Literature

'Yes,' Mustapha Mond was saying, 'that's another item in the cost of stability. It isn't only art that's incompatible with happiness; it's also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chaned and muzzled.'

'What?' said Helmholtz, in astonishment. 'But we're always saying that science is everything. It's a hypnopaedic platitude.'

'Three times a week between thirteen and seventeen,' put in Bernard.

'And all the science propaganda we do at the College…'

'Yes; but what sort of science?' asked Mustapha Mond sarcastically. 'You've had no scientific training, so you can't judge. I was a pretty good physicist in my time. Too good—good enough to realize that all our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody's allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn't be added to except by special permission from the head cook. I'm the head cook now. But I was an inquisitive young scullion once. I started doing a bit of cooking on my own. Unorthodox cooking, illict cooking. A bit of real science in fact.' He was silent.

'What happened?' asked Helmholtz Watson.

The Controller sighed. 'Very nearly what's going to happen to you young men. I was on the point of being sent to an island.'

Aldous Huxley, Brave new world, 1932, p. 171.

The optimum population

June 13, 2016, Literature

'The optimum population,' said Mustapha Mond, 'is modelled on the iceberg—eight-ninth below the water line, one-ninth above.'

'And they're happy below the water line?'

'Happier than above it. Happier than your friends here, for example.' He pointed.

'In spite of that awful work?'

'Awful? They don't find it so. On the contrary, they like it. It's light, it's childishly simple. No strain on the mind or the muscles. Seven and a half hours of mild, unexhausting labour, and then the soma ration and games and unrestricted copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for? True,' he added, 'they might ask for shorter hours. And of course we could give them shorter hours. Technically, it would be perfectly simple to reduce all lower-caste working hours to three or four a day. But would they be any the happier for that? No, they wouldn't. The experiment was tried, more than a century and a half ago. The whole of Ireland was put on to the four-hour day. What was the result? Unrest and a large increase in the consumption of soma; that was all. Those three and a half hours of extra leisure were so far from being a source of happiness, that people felt constrained to take a holiday from them. The Inventions Office is stuffed with plans for labour-saving processes. Thousands of them,' Mustapha Mond made a lavish gesture. 'And why don't we put them into execution? For the sake of the labourers; it would be sheer cruelty to afflict them with excessive leisure. It's the same with agriculture. We could synthesize every morsel of food, if we wanted to. But we don't We prefer to keep a third of the population on the land. For their own sake—because it takes longer to get food out of the land than out of a factory. Besides, we have our stability to think of. We don't want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That's another reason why we're so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.'

Aldous Huxley, Brave new world, 1932, pp. 170–171.

Happiness is never grand

June 13, 2016, Literature
Last edited on June 13, 2016

'Actual happiness always looks pretty qualid in comparison with the over-compensation for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.'

Aldous Huxley, Brave new world, 1932, p. 168.

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