Discussion Board

Topic: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Christopher Cherry
Location: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, UK
Date: 12/29/2008

You know, the fact that there is more of an amount of people taking drugs/medication especially psych meds. Reminds me that society is bordering on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

I mean why do people take anti-depressants and anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers? I'll tell you why to conform to society and be able to work and be a good little citizen. We can' have to many people thinking outside the box can we.

Just my conspiracy theory moaning for today.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Greg Bear
Date: 12/29/2008

Thanks, Christopher! No moaning about it. Drugs have been with us as long as the original Soma, which might have been beer, mead, or mushrooms. Huxley apparently died on LSD. His book THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION is well worth reading.

Queen of Angels should be dramatized for the screen...

From: chris pickens
Location: Fairfax, CA
Date: 12/29/2008


Hi Christopher,

You know, you are right. We do live in a Brave New therapied world....
There was some talk about Ridley Scott directing
a remake of Brave New World....


I am the proud owner of a signed hardback of Queen of Angels and I might try to suggest to Mr. Bear to suggest
to Mr. Scott to consider Queen of Angels instead....
I am not a fan of hollywood and their remaking sensabilities, but Ridley Scott would no doubt honor
the spirit and essence of queen of angels.

Cheers
Chris Pickens



Queen of Angels should be dramatized for the screen...

From: Greg Bear
Date: 12/29/2008

Agreed--Ridley Scott is a terrific film-maker.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Bill Goodwin
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date: 12/29/2008

There will always be a tension between conformity and creativity, and in a healthy society the dialogue is open and ongoing. The powers that be will tend toward "mind control," conspiratorily or no.

But I feel compelled to answer Mr. Cherry's question a little more severely. Only someone who's never been depressed, psychotic or unstable would ask why people take medications for these conditions.

By depressed I don't mean just "down in the mouth." Sure there are folks who'd rather have a quick fix than buckle down and address their issues. And sure it's cheaper to dope trouble-makers than accommodate them. Where does one draw the line between "sensitive" and sick? Is there a practical referent other than ability to contribute to society as it stands? These are deep questions.

However, there are legions of people at the ends of the neurological bell-curve who are not just "thinking out of the box." They are in hell. Many are bright, sensitive individuals who indeed WOULD provide unique perspectives, insights...but can't focus, or bathe, or even connect the fragments of what used to be a "self."

Be careful. To suggest that this latter group should resist treatment is bigotry, and a form of supression all its own.

Believe me, artists and mavericks will always buck the system! We don't need to make traitors out of the mentally ill to affirm our distaste for traitors of the free mind.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Ryan
Location: Cleveland, OH
Date: 12/30/2008

Huxley's Island is very underappreciated. Both as an exercise in some goals society could aspire toward with more mundane technology, and as a criticism of some modernity.

America's biggest narcotic is television. Followed by driving too fast. I enjoy both narcotics. Perhaps excessively.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Steven Becker
Location: San Jose
Date: 12/30/2008

Just a comment on Bill Goodwin's comment. Very, very well said.

In my read, Huxley was getting at conformity as security and control.

Take that metaphor too far, and you ignore the genuine suffering of people whose DNA puts them beyond their own ability to lead the lives of their choosing.

I better stop there as Mr. Goodwin put it so much better.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Greg Bear
Date: 12/30/2008

I'd be more inclinced to target Huxley's satire on drugs (and Chris's reaction) with the variety of prescription drugs available by the time Huxley wrote ISLAND: valium etc. The fifties and sixties were indeed a kind of early stoner generation. Of course, personal drug use is often an attempt at self-medication for a variety of mental illnesses. (And I wish that modern anti-depressants were more universally effective. The chemistry of depression is individually very complex and variable.)

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Mike Glosson
Location: San Diego, CA
Date: 12/30/2008

Christopher, Greg, Chris, Bill and everyone else


Having been primary care giver for some one who sank into Clinical Depression for nearly six years I can see some of Christopher's argument, as the care source was run by the County we live in, and they were more apt to throw the drug of the week at my Care Focus than anything else, until an effective combo was found: instead of going toward the root problems that the depression was arising out of: debilitating migraines and congenital dental problems.

But what the Psych-Industry is doing is at most taking the edge off for that part of the population who is having problems, whether genetic or environmentally induced, dealing with life in the Modern World.

There "was" something more like Christopher's Societal Control in one of the first few "realities" presented in Le Guin's LATHE OF HEAVEN.

But if some Power Cabal really wanted to control the Populace with a Drug Like SOMA in BRAVE NEW WORLD that group would have hopped on Shulgin's work, taking control of the whole MDMA phenomenon at the get go, when it was still basically used in Therapy, before South Western Methodist University started the whole thing of recreation Ecstasy usage (Dry Campus).

Unfortunately for such a Cabal of Alphas the Reagan's JUST SAY NO campaign manifested at the same time, which maybe for us, nearly a quarter century later, had a hidden blessing.

Imaging if either of the Major Political Parties were passing out Free and Compulsary MDMA to the populus...while there might be less conflicts in the work place and the social mileau, the majority of SOMA/MDMA'd populous would also probably LOVE their leaders uncritically.

And it doesn't need to have ben MDMA, that was just one of the two most effective spins on the MDA molecule that Shulgin came up with.

Would chemically compulsory Empathy & Bonding be a Bad Thing or a Good Thing?

This may be a SERIOUS WORRY again around 2020, as Millenialism in Christian Countries dies away (we still have another freak out amongst New Agers in 2012, which will vector out into the general population) and various religions lose steam for a time: Radical Religion may be the only thing that has stood between us and Chemical Control by our Government.

Mike Glosson.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Christopher Cherry
Location: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, UK
Date: 12/31/2008

Allow myself to be clear here. I do take anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. What I have an issue with (or is it more of a thought) is that I have to take these drugs to be a good worker earner and supporter of my family.

If I was to have anything to do with it and had money enough, so that I did not need to work. I would cease the use of these medicines to explore the stranger and more bizzare states of mind I might find myself in.

Probably a bizarre thing but it's always something I have been interested in. How many musicians, artists, writers have been mentally ill and gained inspiration from there illness or affliction.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/05/2009

This was an issue in QUEEN OF ANGELS of course... only therapied workers could get good jobs. Fascinating discussion and points here.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: robert Bollard
Location: birmingham UK
Date: 01/06/2009

There is something in what you have all said but as one person mentioned Island is the book we should all be looking at. Huxley has gave us a perfect template of how we should live, his ideas in this book are astounding and if were put into place there would be no need of any use of Pharmaceutical drugs to help people. Therapy would be a natural part of our upbringing. Brave New World is what were living, we should living in Pala. Lets look to the Good and Positive.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Bill Goodwin
Location: Los Angeles
Date: 01/08/2009

"Created sick, commanded to be sound" --Fulke Greville

A can of many worms. Confession time: I've never read Huxley's book (must fix that). I do suggest we all dust off our copies of Neutron Star and reread Larry Niven's "The Ethics Of Madness."

Mr. Cherry: One danger of going off meds is supposed to be that the patient might not be a fit judge of when to go back on. On the other hand Oliver Sacks writes of a man whose Tourette's medication, while allowing him to work 9 to 5 during the week, impaired his ability as a jazz drummer on the weekends. His "disorder" made him more spontaneous. Fortunately he was able to schedule his dosages to allow him out of the box on Friday nights, and get him back into it by Monday morning. Presumably this was possible because the medication required very little lead time to work; again, one must listen to the experts.

Having been a "starving artist" in L.A. (where it's been seriously suggested that Prozac be added to the water supply) I've known a perhaps disproportionate number of troubled people. I've seen one friend vanish into schizophrenia while refusing medication because taking pills would "be weak." I've seen another friend's brother hanging from a rafter because he stopped taking his, and crashed.

As an artist I'm sympathetic to your viewpoint however. I too am curious about the marvelous beings beyond the edge of my personal map. And frightened! I'm reminded of what Ray Bradbury told Aldous Huxley when the latter encouraged him to use drugs to let his inner creatures out: "I'm afraid I wouldn't get them back in!"

You are to be commended for considering those who depend on you.

A bag of thoughts:

Chemically compulsory Empathy and Bonding: Bad Thing. Nature needs wiggle room to work. Fiddle away as much as you like while someone's around to tend the garden, but doesn't adaptation narrow option? I'm no expert but it seems to me our miseries must corellate with a certain fund of novelty that stands us in good stead. And ruthlessness has its place. As I remember, Empathy-Kirk made a poor starship captain in "The Enemy Within."

Then again, bombs operate a lot faster than evolution.

A great many men must, in order to earn their living, tie a strip of silk into a complex knot underneath their shirt collar each morning. OCD? Of course! But it's been "enculturated," like rosary beads or separate refrigerators (in separate rooms!) for milk and meat. We are ALL mentally ill; crazy chimpanzees whose diverse coping mechanisms, in mass and over time, land cameras on Mars.

Going farther out, the late Terence McKenna believed the appearance of consciousness itself was mediated by hallucinogenic plants, and that a craving for substance-induced altered states is a definitive human trait (McKenna believed a lot of things, some intriguing, others merely lucrative I suspect).

Mind/Body issues are always hotspots. They challenge deep-rooted western notions of the inviolability of the soul. Adding to the problem is a confusion of conflicted theory, financial incentive, tort law, public misunderstanding and politicized science that's enough to make anyone paranoid. Public facilities are being overwhelmed as economic stress triggers an avalanche of "borderline" cases, yet public knowledge is in a deplorable state. I was appauled when PR for the (well written) series "Monk" emblazoned the words "Defective Detective" on buses and billboards. Suppose Shaquille O'Neil starred in a television series? Would we have been entreated to follow the expoits of the "Bigger N-----?" Yet I'm sure the PR people meant no harm. They Just Didn't Think.

My own opinion is that etiology, diagnosis and pharmacology are all clumsy and haphazard and only good fortune and/or trial and error ever result in profoundly efficacious treatment. Psychopharmacology wants so badly to be an exact science, but it's just not. Failing that it wants at least to be on a sound footing...well, maybe. But surely there are broad strategies generally likely to leave patients better off than they were before, no matter how frustrating the remaining hurdles. That's assuming an intelligent and well-meaning practicioner of course. There will be disasters of incompetence or plain bad luck, same as for teachers, cooks or accountants.

At the 2006 Worldcon in Anaheim I was unfortunate enough to wander into an exhibit "coincidentally" housed down the hall from the panel rooms. Workers for the "Citizen's Advisory Council on Public Health" (guess who) denied any knowledge of a science fiction convention in the building. Inside were life-sized montages of Nazi concentration camp victims hanging from gallows and being bulldozed into mass graves. The purpose of the display was to blow the whistle on modern psychiatry, which--one was made to understand--was founded by Adolf Hitler.

Get 'im, Tom!

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Jeff
Location: MI, US
Date: 01/12/2009


I have some personal perspective on this as well, but I won't go into details about it. Just a few things to mention, and please correct me if my assumptions are wrong:

Mental illness, mainly depression, is the single leading cause of disability in the US, and is at or near the top of the list in other "developed" nations as well.

One of the causes is thought to be that the complexity of modern societies has many more sources of stressors than the environment in which we evolved. The limbic system, which is very old, is being engaged more often, and to a greater degree than it would than if we were in a simpler environment. In some people, who for one reason or another, are more sensitive, this continual barrage, in part being sensed by the amygdala-hippocampus system, actually causes changes in the size and function of these structures. It causes other changes in the brain as well, I'm sure, but I'm not an expert in brain physiology.

I seem to recall that some studies also suggest that there is an epigenetic link in there somewhere as well. Something about the environment that a grandparent was in could cause a change in a grandchild's mental health. But I could be wrong about that one, and maybe not remembering it correctly. Forgive me please, I'm too lazy to double-check my facts.

I think it will be interesting to see how we respond to this in the future. Perhaps, as the world becomes more and more complex, we may select for less sensitivity. Could be that this also involves selecting for less creativity as well, as it seems creative types are sometimes more at risk for suffering. I think it is hard to say, because we really have no historical model for what's going on.

Jeff

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/13/2009

Spot-on thoughts and theories here, Jeff. I'm also thinking over the possibility of long-term toxic metals poisoning. Lead has been with us for a very long time, and has been associated with both diminished intellectual capacity, mental illness, and criminal behavior. Who gets exposed most often to lead, as children? The poor.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Jeff
Location: MI, US
Date: 01/16/2009

Bill Goodwin wrote:

"Where does one draw the line between "sensitive" and sick? Is there a practical referent other than ability to contribute to society as it stands? These are deep questions."

I know you may not be asking about clinical diagnoses, but
there are such practical references which determine when someone is ill. I won't say they are always accurate, but often they are. Science is learning more about it, but it is taking time. I conject that one of the root causes will be that irrationality is an environmental toxin...

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Greg Bear
Date: 01/23/2009

Big issues and questions abound. One guideline: personal satisfaction compared with one's contributions to society as a whole. If both personal satisfaction AND contribution are in a deep slide, then perhaps there are actual physical/mental issues to deal with. Today's treatments are getting more effective, but some of our pharmacological solutions are still very blunt instruments. We're all custom-made, after all.

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Dr. Arvind Mishra
Location: Varanasi ,India
Date: 03/19/2009

Greg, You mentioned about Soma ! Recently I came through a reference while reading Atharv Veda that the soma was nothing but a preperation from some kind of Mashroom searched and earthed out by Pigs !
Thought to share this info with you !

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Greg Bear
Date: 03/21/2009

Thanks, Arvind! This does indeed seem to be true. Soma's ingredients are still available in marketplaces in India. Michael Wood tried some in his recent excellent PBS documentary on India... and started talking even faster than his usual brisk delivery!

Re: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a thought!

From: Alex
Location: st neots
Date: 06/21/2010

This is really interesting.
Jeff wrote
"I think it will be interesting to see how we respond to this in the future. Perhaps, as the world becomes more and more complex, we may select for less sensitivity. Could be that this also involves selecting for less creativity as well, as it seems creative types are sometimes more at risk for suffering."

Huxleys Brave New World was ultra-rational, and although presented as a nightmare vision and a cautionary tale doesnt actually look all that bad in some respects compared to the Third World.

With regard to the psychology of depression, and of happiness, there are a several excellent lectures posted by Yale on this topic on Youtube. The other big American universities also post a lot of their courses. Pick any one at random and I guarantee an hours interesting discussion.

As for metal exposure as a long-term problem; early copper smelting locations are still poisoned thousands of years later.

Talking about MDMA solving the worlds problems, the empathy of MD, or Ketamine, or acid can be truly lovely, but you'd need make sure the leaders sign the treaties at 1am before the comedown kicks in or the nukes would fly...

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