A Book Review – Aldous Huxley’s “Island”

8/3/17

These book reviews are not only a lot of fun to do but they are getting very good responses from YOU GUYS …. thanks for reading them!

ISLE_Hux Quote Drugged Ppl

“Island” was the final novel by Aldous Huxley. Written in 1962 and paralleling “Brave New World” in the sense that it’s a vision of a possible future where humans have adopted a system of control over their populace.

Unlike “BNW” this story was placed in a very different setting (The Kingdom of Pala) and featured a completely  different set of protocols for “managing” the populace. Isle_Hux Prop Quote

The copy I own is the paperback edition and it spans 354 pages of work that reads a bit like a playbook or treatise on how to control a large population — while keeping them perfectly content and docile.

So this novel is a type of counterpoint to his more famous earlier work. “Island” was meant to truly describe an orderly, utopia where people are being controlled for their own good — and they fully support the arrangement.

 

Some characteristics of the Island’s culture include:

  •  A de-militarized government that emphasizes a blend of Western science and a revised form of the predominant native religion – Buddhism.
    • It’s interesting to note how the book details how non-natives ultimately modified the native religion and made it less “superstitious” and more centered on the individual.
  • Similar to “BNW” Huxley’s island Utopia also features the end off the traditional family. Multiple parent families and small networks of adopted children are the norm in this setting.

ISLAND_SHROOMS

  • Also similar to “BNW” this ideal society heavily emphasizes the routine use of psychotropic drugs (made from a type of mushroom that grows on the island) to help ensure stability.
    • The drug is called “moksha medicine” and it plays a key role in helping the HAPPY HAPPY inhabitants to maintain an optimal “in the moment” frame of mind.
  • Finally – the author includes unrestrained (and sometimes public) “tantric” sexual indulgence and expression as a primary feature of an ideal, stable society.
    • It’s interesting to note that the overt sexualization that appears in “BNW” was described as a way to help reduce the association with the Family Unit  — which had been eradicated completely (while the terms “Mother” and “Father” were considered taboo and vulgar to mention in polite conversation)

ISLAND_Hux window

I don’t want to spoil the plot but Aldous did a very good job of introducing conflict to this island “paradise”,  ultimately the drams comes to a climax and, for me, the confusion of the story was difficult to interpret.

I believe the ending can be interpreting in one of two ways:

Mr Huxley is either expressing a sense of cynicism on the notion of mankind ever attaining a utopian state

OR

He’s only presenting the dystopian elements in order to make the story more interesting and perhaps  providing  a profile of the types of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that can destroy an orderly and desirable society.

I hope you choose to give the book a chance, I believe that anyone who’s read Brave New World should make an extra effort to add this one to the reading list!

ISLAND_ISLE

 

 

 

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