Saturday, February 11, 2012

quite right

I just finished Island, by Aldous Huxley (yep, that's right, the Brave New World fellow), and can't help but share a little gem of it.

The book is about an island, Pala, that has remained separate from the rest of the industrializing/globalizing world, and in doing so has followed a different path that leads to a basically utopian society. It's pretty good. But I loved this (come on, read it for real. I know people skip over quotes, but this one is good, I promise!):

"You [the people of Pala] seemed to have solved your economic problems pretty successfully."

"Solving them wasn't difficult. To begin with, we never allowed ourselves to produce more children than we could feed, clothe, house, and educate into something like full humanity. Not being overpopulated, we have plenty. But, although we have plenty, we've managed to resist the temptation that the West has now succumbed to--the temptation to overconsume. We don't give ourselves coronaries by guzzling six times as much saturated fat as we need. We don't hypnotize ourselves into believing that two television sets will make us twice as happy as one television set. And finally we don't spend a quarter of the gross national product preparing for World War III or even World War's baby brother, Local War MMMCCCXXXIII. Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence--those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you'd collapse."

Let's keep in mind that this was written in 1962. This is something I've been thinking a lot about because of the geography class I'm taking right now too: it's absolutely nuts how much the problems we talk about now are the SAME EXACT problems people were talking about decades ago. You'd think we'd get somewhere on them.

But problems of society aside, it's a pretty rad book. And nice to read something that, though an indictment of Western society, also presents the possibility of a positive alternative for once, doesn't just leave us with all doom and gloom. Nice job, Mr Huxley!:)

No comments: