Aldous Huxley Essay, Research Paper
Aldous Huxley, because he was ill most of the time and since the world he live in was corrupt, tried to make a perfect world seem possible in Brave New World and Island.
Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, at Godalming, in the county of Surrey. As a young boy, Aldous was quite docile and usually kept to himself. He had an unusually large head for his size, and his family nicknamed him “Ogie,” as in Ogre. His brother Julian once said, “He sat quiet most of the time, contemplating the strangeness of things. He showed some quality, some innate superiority, which called for respect even in the nursery jungle. This recognition dawned when Aldous was five and I was a prep school boy of twelve”(Bedford 3). Aldous liked to complain frequently and his mother once gave him a milk mug which bore the inscription, Oh isn’t the world flat with nothing whatever to grumble at. (Bedford 10)
He began writing poems at age nine and was labeled as a troubled child because of his odd observations of everyday occurrences. When he was 14, he attended college at Eton and was an outstanding student but never gained more than a casual interest in sports.
During the winter of 1911, Aldous began having trouble with his eyes. One morning they were swollen and extremely red. His vision rapidly decreased and within a few weeks, Aldous was blind. The diagnosis was, ultimately, keratitis punctata, an inflammation of the cornea. He attended sessions once a week for injections into the eyes of penicillin and cortisone. The actual inflammation subsided gradually, which left opacities in the corneas, extremely impairing sight. The damage had been done.
Aldous, now on his own, began to teach himself braille and to type on a portable typewriter. As time progressed, he also taught himself the piano. Aldous quickly became very well read and once explained his passion for reading, “With braille, you can’t just glance over a page and lose interest” (Bedford 127). School was completed at Oxford with the help of tutors in 1914. Within two years, one eye was capable of light perception and the other with enough vision to detect very large objects.
Limbo, a collection of Aldous’ short stories was published in 1920. The book didn’t sell too well, due to its content of the anticipation and predictions of the postwar mood. Leda was also published in 1920, and contained a compilation of poems. Aldous called these two works his “two children.” In 1921, his first cynical novel, Chrome Yellow, was released. The book received mixed reviews but Aldous would only reply by saying, “I’m such a timid person, much too, in fact, to vent it aloud” (Bedford 210).
Point-Counter-Point was written in 1928. This was the most cynical writing anyone had seen yet. It was as if Aldous was trying to shock the public. While on vacation in Tuscany, Aldous met and befriended D.H. Lawrence. Their works were constantly compared to one another’s because of the bizarre topics on which they seemed to focus (Bedford 225).
For reasons unknown, Aldous Huxley became very outspoken in his disgust at the materialistic society in which he lived. The classic and at the time controversial Brave New World was released in August 1932. The book tells of a counter-utopian society in the 25th century, after a nine-year war. The planet is controlled by the World Controllers, who dictate everyday life for the population except for the Savages, who struggle to hold on to the life that free-willed humans once lived. The deity of this world is Henry Ford, inventor of the production line. Productivity is the only concern of the world controllers, as procreation is illegal and only recreational sex is encouraged. The world is populated through the technology of cloning human embryos and altering their genetic structure, casting them into lifelong roles (Huxley, H). Is this how Aldous viewed the future of man?
Brave New World made Aldous Huxley a very wealthy man, which consequently made matters worse. He was thrown head-first into the exact materialistic circle of people that he despised so much. Nobody is quite sure why his anger grew so intense over the next five years, but the events that followed gave some possible insights.
In 1938, Aldous and his wife Maria, moved to Los Angeles, California. Aldous immediately became ill with a mild but stubborn attack of bronchial pneumonia, and had to spend three weeks in the hospital. After a slow recovery, he began painting and making notes for a future novel. The pictures he painted were of visions he saw while blind, and his perceptions of insignificant objects such as the floor on which he stood. Still not able to venture out at night, Aldous spent much of his spare time with his friend Edwin Hubble, the astronomer, and his wife Grace.
Within a short time, bad news arrived from Europe. Maria’s mother had become ill in a Mexican hospital and three days before returning to Belgium she was knocked down by a bus. Aldous’ older brother Trevenen had committed suicide, and Julian had a nervous breakdown. With all of the new stresses Aldous faced, his poor eyesight became very bothersome to him. He withdrew from family and friends and Maria was losing her nerve as well. Aldous tried many new treatments for his eyes, but sustained little improvement.
As the weeks went by, Aldous drank more frequently, ate enough to feed three people, and read more and more books. With a contract to produce another book, he began to lie to his publishers about his progress. Aldous gained an enormous amount of weight, and with his six-foot-six frame became quite a large man. Suddenly, partial vision was restored in his left eye and it was soon making rapid progress. His disposition improved at the same rate as his eyesight and he eventually lost the 75 pounds he had gained.
In the summer of 1938, Aldous, completely disgusted with religion and politics, decided to take a vacation and travel to India. There, he finished After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. The book contained references to Hollywood, the gross displays of materialism in the communities, and the lack of human compassion. After completing his book, he had started but abandoned another utopian novel. Meanwhile, his son Matthew had been drafted into the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, became seriously ill, and was consequently discharged. Maria’s health worsened, and they almost packed up and moved back to England to “give it all up.” Then Aldous thought, “What if?” He had decided that it would not be the logical course of action to be defeated by the human conscience (Bedford 546).
Time Must Have a Stop was written in 1944. This was a very spiritual work, involving life-after -death issues and exploration of the human psyche and the acquisition of total awareness. In 1948, Aldous completed the anti-utopian novel he had previously abandoned. Ape and Essence took place in the post-atomic war era of the twenty-first century. It portrayed an utter disgust for humanity and a grim outlook for the future of humanity.
Aldous started to become obsessed with the idea of breaking through the realms of reality and experiencing the powers of the mind. He began to take a drug called Mescaline, derived from the peyote cactus found in many desert areas. He would undergo medically supervised sessions while ingesting a pure form of the drug. In 1954, The Doors of Perception was written about the experiences he had while taking mescaline. Eventually, mescaline was no longer strong enough, so Aldous tried a drug called lysergic-acid diethylamine, or LSD. LSD was invented by the United States government trying to create the perfect soldier who would kill without any remorse or memory of his actions.
On the evening of November 21st, 1963, Aldous lay in bed, barely able to communicate, the result of a malignant tumor in his neck. As he held Maria’s hand, he scribbled a note on a piece of paper. “LSD-Try it inter muscular 100 mm.”(Bedford 615) There was more written, but those words were the only that were legible. His doctor allowed the extremely large dose of LSD. Aldous Leonard Huxley, “Ogie,” died at 5:20 p.m., quite possibly in a state of the utopia he never believed he’d see. (Bedford 750)
All his life, Aldous was forced to see the world as it actually was in spirit, not in sight. He perceived the emotions present at any given time rather than the false images the society had created to cover up the horrors of the truth.