Monday, July 28, 2008
Brave New World, Indeed
Here on the Secret Sun- and in the wider Synchrosphere as well- we like to look at examples of pop culture prophecy. It's interesting to note that these examples tend to arise in instances of symbolic significance; it seems that when an artist really plugs himself into the Memestream, extraordinary perception is often the reward.
Very few visionary artists have immersed themselves in the deep waters of the unconscious mind than Aldous Huxley. In many ways, Huxley was rebelling against the militant reductionist materialism of his grandfather Thomas, who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog." Huxley was also deeply involved in the human potential movement, to the point that the performance hall at Esalen is named in his honor.
Huxley's cautionary fable, Brave New World, probably seemed like utter fantasy when it was released in 1932, but we're seeing it take shape before our eyes every day. More accurately, we're seeing society moving in sort of state of pre-conditioning for such a environment. We're seeing pop culture being used to not only separate various classes and groups, but we're seeing culture being used to aggressively dumb down the working and lower-middle classes.
In Britain, Hip Hop culture has given birth to the "Chavs," a hedonistic, white, working-class subculture whose adherents have sent Britain's violent crime statistics and other negative social indicators through the roof. The working class in England has always looked at askance at class mobility- the Chavs are ensuring its absolute destruction. Like other aftershocks of Hip Hop, the Chav vision of paradise is the Big Payday, where the heavens open up and bestow a windfall (usually through gambling) that allows the Chav to live a life of indolence and pleasure. But is their culture and their mindset setting themselves up for an entirely different future?
Brave New World postulates a class system that enshrines what we are seeing develop before our eyes. There are Alpha's- the decision makers, Beta- the knowledge workers, Gammas, the clerical class and skilled workers, Deltas- the semi-skilled workers, and the pitiable Epsilons- mindless drones bred for unskilled and usually hazardous labor.
In 1980, there was a TV mini-series adaptation of Brave New World (posted above), starring Keir Dullea and Bud Cort. It's not the greatest thing I've ever seen, but there were a couple of details that made me sit up and take notice.
Here is a Delta, doing some sort of busywork. Note modified baseball cap.
Here's a Chav, wearing his own kind of modified baseball cap.
Here are the lowly Epsilons, skulking around in their hoodies.
Here are the lowly Chavs, skulking around in their hoodies. This is all going nowhere good.
Don't think for a minute that's not the idea.
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