Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are you John the Savage or Bernard Marx?

Western society has marched down the road of Brave New World for decades with slight deviations here and there. We have touches of Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Harrison Bergeron and other dystopian novels, but Brave New World is a solid fit right now. The world state of BNW is pretty fantastic with sex, drugs, entertainment, and everyone having high self esteem no matter what caste they belong to in the hierarchy (hmmm that's familiar). There is a dark side of triviality, conformity and emptiness that irritates some but causes even fewer to openly rebel. It is the velvet gloved totalitarian regime. There are two men who definitely know the world state is awful, and they have very different circumstances. If we do live in a BNW style world state, then who are you? Are you John the Savage or Bernard Marx?
John the Savage is a genetic product of the world state but raised outside the sanitized world. He has access to a few old books, a mother who tells him of the civilized world, but exposure to the remnants or excluded system of the natives. He doesn't think like a normie, and has a hard time comprehending the normie world. Bernard Marx is an alpha raised in the world state who is aware. Due to his job, he knows the hypnopaedia that brainwashes those around him and dabbles in unorthodox behavior. He doesn't think like a normie thoroughly, he understands the world around him and seeks to manipulate it for his gain. John the Savage ends up betraying his principles because of actions by the world state and commits suicide upon discovery instead of giving into the world of pleasure. Bernard Marx pushes too hard for personal gain and is banished to an Island in exile.
You might see yourself as a John the Savage. You're an outsider. You have books to the ancients and won't compromise your principles. You aren't an opportunist like Bernard Marx. You aren't one of them. I'll disagree. I think we are more like Bernard than we are John. We know something is wrong, but we are a part of it. We went through the same schooling, are awash in the propaganda and entertainment, and interact with human products of this system. We try to work the system. John was outside of it and thrown into it. Bernard knew the terrible truth but was also a product of it and wanted a plum little spot. We can pose as outsiders all we want, but it doesn't change the fact that we are products of the very system we dislike. We can only hope for its collapse under its expanding weight or exile on the Falklands. John is the romantic ideal of what we want to be, but Bernard is the cloudy pond reflection of who we really are.


asdf said...

Bernard is always contrasted to his alpha+ friend (name escapes me) who also wants to rebel. However, because Bernard was damaged (alcohol in test tube, short) he has an inferiority complex and his rebellion stems from not fitting in more then a genuine dislike of the system. When he gets a chance to fit in he takes it.

By contrast his friend was highly successful in the system and had everything it could offer. He grew tired of this and rebelled for real.

The implication is that only people that have truly succeeded in the system can opt out of it for real. Those that never succeeded will always want to succeed because if they quit they will just be seen as losers who are opting out because they could never win.

Quartermain said...

Read that book back when I was 17 or 18, that was in the late '70's.

All in all, an excellent post on your part.

Anonymous said...

I believe the alpha +'s name was Helmholtz Watson.