Brave New World: 2016 in books

2016 seems thankfully far away.

What this tumultuous year has shown was a fantastic feat of anti establishment and sociopolitical triumph. It lay unharmed to the apparent death of social justice, or at least the masquerading self-proclamation of social justice, the rise of a forward thinking political movement, and the rebirth of the people’s democracy.                                                      ‘Rights’, freedom, tradition, utility and progress were questioned, which seems to have spawned paradoxical internal division, a great social chasm, or a liberating sense of a more existential freedom, a democratic rebellion against bureaucracy, a mutinous shift against the ‘progressive’, a questioning of all the values our predecessors held dear, in favour of our own creation of morals.

Each month, with its tragedies and euphoria was intensely followed by the post-truth media, its gullible readers revelling in its shocking, tarring, sycophantic travesties of truth. Although, I mentioned 2016 left in favour of our own ideals, which leaves the question of our own creation of truth.

This is an alternative booklist; one which doesn’t suggest, rather relates and connects political and social events in the months of 2016 to works of fiction.                                              It’s rather like a game, if one can compare the events of 2016 to that.

JANUARY The Driver’s Seat 

FEBRUARY Of Mice and Men

MARCH The Good Terrorist

APRIL Mapp and Lucia

MAY – Last Exit to Brooklyn

JUNE Lord of the Flies, The Crucible

JULY – The Star Diaries

AUGUST Animal Farm

SEPTEMBER – Heat Wave

OCTOBER – The Mysteries of Pittsburgh 

NOVEMBER The War of the Worlds, Madame Bovary

DECEMBER – Just an Ordinary Day 

 

 

 

 

Breaking into figurative metaphysics, how to be a Bohemian and other zingers

‘Something new doesn’t mean it’s exciting, important or even relatively good. ‘

From radical romantics to sandal-wearing-sexual-experimenters and valorous vegans, these oddballs have defied convention, society’s hold on authority and authority’s hold on society, even the realms of man’s meaning itself to create some Wundermann, a fluffy Übermensch for the modern age.

The term ‘Bohemian’ is usually wrongly interpreted as a way of life, a way of non-conform, an escape of the consumer-driven society we live in, it’s certainly not the redefinition of ‘holy’; it’s the self-consuming nature of one’s immersion and embrace of consumption, debauchery, and a vulgar sense of art’s form.                                                             – I shall use ‘On The Road’ as an example – Sal uses a relentless sense of seeking because of dissatisfaction – ‘that last thing’ – to create an ethos of spiritualisation, to which the freedom of the open road exists in a necessary conjunction because of the idealized comforts of the middle class American domesticity, and the language at the speed of experience thus because of the elimination of ‘the’ and ‘and’, the language, the game at the speed of ecstasy and the condition between mind, brain and soul.

This sense of never-arrival, to which all successors must worship its Swift arrival, creates an undercurrent theme of moral hierarchy of form – that only art, language, soul and abstract philosophical thought of the paradoxically hypocritical reasoning behind the body-soul complex from Protagoras to Avicenna, can break some Platonist realm – one which the paradoxically hypocritical science and Aristotelian empiricism cannot break.

Brave New World’s endless race with Orwell’s 1984

Coined a ‘negative utopia’ by Huxley, Brave New World explores existentialism and authenticity in a novel scathing of chemical and material ‘progress’, the social class system, authority and new attitudes toward individual thinking.                                                     Although named a dystopia with such authority it’s as ironic as its title, one could argue its innocence – the endless question ‘Is the pen mightier than the sword?’ can be answered in three words – Yes We Can – to acquit Brave New World – through clever use of embryo manipulation, brainwashing (or eloquence, whatever), prejudices, white supremacy, globalisation, recreational sex without need for procreation (these blind sheep have made Freud messianic), and the mysterious drug-anti-depressant soma to keep a comfortable level of blissful ignorance, all citizens are content with the society (with no hypothetical questions, and therefore dystopia or utopia) they live in.

This explores an increasingly relevant topic in our society. The paradox of truth in impersonality is as brightly portrayed in our political mirrors and outlets as ever, our self-centered social outlook isn’t even vilified, our ignorance is portrayed as freedom in compliance of a greater being likened to the mediaeval church.                                                        In this sense, 1984 and Brave New World pertain to the same social issue: communal truth.

1984 doesn’t belong to the elusive group of social exhibition like Brave New World, the essays hidden amongst a well-woven story provide the greatest politically philosophical texts in the first half of the twentieth century. Truth reimagined holds its authority in a fist with which to change itself.

And in a world of advertisement and propaganda this utopia mirrors ours – if we were living in Soviet Russia, our views would perhaps be more in tune towards 1984, although censored -, our world in which shopping centres line the streets, our world of contraception, our world of state-provided television, and our world of so-called free speech.

Will 1984, with its harsh regime of terror likened to Stalin’s Soviet Russia, overtake Brave New World once more? Post-truth is raging established all thought. The gullible self-consuming ‘Tumblr generation’ is a living travesty of the ‘self’. The question is as useless as a utopia.

 

 

Looking back at Fitzgerald’s cautionary satire of ‘The Great Gatsby’

Behind the sumptuous splendour of the Jazz Age comes an honest tale of revenge, the excesses of the rich, and a materialistic desire for the so-called American Dream, wrapped in a rich delicacy of prose love-warfare. 

One might say to achieve the American Dream, a nightmare has to fuse with reality. And certainly Fitzgerald paints a grim downside to all that are forgotten on the road of recklessness and self-authenticity to social superiority, white supremacy and dishonesty. Fitzgerald is holding a heavily embellished mirror, full of beautiful subtleties of writing, and a pounding rhythm of jazz, dance and alcohol toward the death of Gatsby upon a society plagued by post-Prohibition excess and self-trickery in the young, mysterious apparition of Jay Gatsby, each character totemic of a factor Fitzgerald is scathing of.

Even the road from New York to the nouveau riche of the utopic and prosperous, yet shallow, self-absorbed, deplorable and proclaimed as dystopic by Fitzgerald West Egg, an ironic play on the River Styx, is a soft march to death and a warning to all who pursue this ideal of greed, which leaves a trail of suffering, misery and oppression.

This was Fitzgerald’s sardonic view of upper class America – it was written as a warning, and it should be treated as such. It leaves a profound reverberation even today in our self-centered communal callousness in the death of the ‘self’.