Dear Aldous Huxley: The author of a Brave New World was born 100 years ago today. But forget the mescalin-induced mysticism, this man was a true visionary
Tuesday 26 July 1994
I'm afraid your writing isn't much in vogue nowadays and that a lot of people think of you as a mescalin-tripping mystic, but I wanted to thank you for alerting me to the possible future, which now seems to be becoming the predictable present.
I remember studying Brave New World in a classroom that looked out over Salisbury Plain, an area with many connections to the past (which may go some way to explaining my old school's disposition towards ancient teaching methods). In that setting, the world of your novel seemed very far away, but it always stuck in my mind and prepared me for what was to come.
Now the concept of a 'Happy Dead Foetus Day' greetings card doesn't seem quite so strange. Where you would address it to, I'm not so sure. Are Sky Television, Gladiators and Mr Blobby soma in another form? We have your letter grading system, too, after a fashion. Of course, we're too polite to use it. All of us except advertisers who seem to drool over Alphas and Betas, and pollsters who talk endlessly about C-plus Tory voters in Basildon.
In your 1946 foreword to Brave New World you stated that 'as political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase'. I'm sure that you'd be interested to hear some of our former government ministers comment on this assertion. But I don't think you would care to be around now. It's probably as well that you went out on a high, taking LSD on the same day as President John F Kennedy was shot. I wonder if you met on the way up. If you did, I bet you had a strange conversation.
Finally, it's just a thought, but do you think John Major could turn out to be another Savage? I wouldn't want him to suffer the same fate. Although, when you think about it, it does seem to hang well on him: 'Slowly, very slowly, like two unhurried compass needles, the feet turned towards the right; north, north-east, east, south-east, south, south-south-west; then paused and after a few seconds, turned as unhurriedly back towards the left. South-south-west, south, south-east, east . . .'
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