So this last week, a good friend of mine flooded my timeline with tweets on Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, growing more and more excited as he read it. His reaction was very similar to mine when I first read it (except for the “tweeting about it” part), which was, to sum it all up, bewilderment.
The book, published in 1932, depicts what Huxley referred to as a “negative utopia”, in which the biggest frightening factor is the loss or unimportance of personal identity, since humans no longer breed naturally and children are created in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centers and divided up into castes with predetermined social positions. Still, it portrays a world in which recreational sex and the inexistence of religions are natural and widely accepted (although heterosexual sex only, and the believers then are treated quite poorly). It’s way ahead of its time (some would argue it’s ahead of our time as well), amazingly well written (though there are reservations regarding the author’s willingness to shock without any reservations), and it brings up incredible social critique while deconstructing cultural pillars and reconstructing humanity in the most surprising ways (and all the way my favorite character is the Savage).
Brave New World is probably my favorite book, and my first read of it was, if not life changing, mindset changing, somehow. I was sixteen, atheist and queer in a deeply catholic family, and embracing my skepticism wasn’t something I thought I could deal with. This book was one of the catalysts that moved me through accepting I could not conform to what was expected of me. And while I sometimes still struggle with it (not too much time has passed, really), it’s a book and an idea I hold really close to my heart.
Did you ever read a book that changed your life or the way you see the world somehow? Is there a book you think has particular value for the skeptic and queer community?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.