Savages

By Simon Sage

On request of book reviews by Manitoba Writers Guild

 

            The Savage in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World has two alternatives; “an insane life in Utopia, or the life of a primitive in an Indian village, a life more human in some respects, but in others hardly less queer and abnormal.” Huxley expressed this view of these two—of rather limited—human choices in his Foreword to the first edition in 1931. But in the Foreword of the 1946 edition, after WWII, he wrote, “If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the utopian and the primitive horns of this dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity …”

       His ‘Utopia’ should be read and re-read for the frightening exaggerated scenes of irrationality of our behavior—we are ‘savages’. Some of us are motivated by base impulses using science and technology, “…a sad symptom of the intellectual class in time of crisis.” He wrote this to an academic critic of his ‘Utopia’ and sarcastically added, “Let us build a Pantheon to professors. It should be located among the ruins of one of the gutted cities of Europe or Japan, and over the entrance to the ossuary I would inscribe, in letters six or seven feet high, the simple words: SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE WORLD’S EDUCATORS.”

       But Huxley, in a subtle way, also blames himself for not giving a chance to a positive vision of rationality in the first printing of his futuristic book. He would have produced a better vision of the future of humanity by foretelling the application of science and technology in a rational manner for the betterment of human life. He called it “a kind of High Utilitarianism, in which the Greater Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End Principle.”

            Huxley would also have included a new role of religion, “a philosophical completeness,” in the rewritten issue of his book, but he had no energy left for it. So he gave his new notions in the 1946 Foreword. “Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man’s Final End, the unitive knowledge of  the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman.”