‘Prescient Writers For Present Times’
We are without doubt living in the times that were written of in recent literature, in the form of a technologically based fictional future, or science fiction.
The sort of fiction no-one would have believed possible at the time of its writing and publication, whether that was George Orwell’s ‘1984’, or that other curious fellow Aldous Leonard Huxley (middle name after is father).
He is after all known for that best seller and horrific scenario entitled ‘A Brave New World’. But he wrote several other rye, disturbing and politically challenging works including ‘Point Counter Point’, ‘Eyeless In Gaza’, ‘Chrome Yellow’, and that violent dystopian world called ‘A Clockwork Orange’, of which in some ways we have witnessed, if we swap the clubs of the men in white for the needles that have clobbered the arms of many.
And considering our present times, Huxley has some rather apt quotes to his name, and as we’re on the subject of clubs, its worth mentioning his cynicism of that thing called government in the following quote of his …
Of course, the future he envisioned and wrote of is fast turning into our present now. On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to his friend George Orwell, author of ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, congratulating him on “how fine and how profoundly important the book is”. He went onto say in his letter to Orwell, or Eric Blair as he knew him, away from the Orwell pen name Blair used …“Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.”
Ironically, Huxley may have been a visionary, but as a young man he actually lost is eyesight for 18 months as a youth due to a disease called keratitis punctata. Huxley seems to have cured himself of this condition and wrote about his experience. He was criticised by the establishment at the time for his book ‘The Art of Seeing’ where he explains the principles by which he re-found his lost eyesight.
This non-fiction, practical book, designed to help others, in which he recalls how he regained his sight, was literally ridiculed, even in the face of his successful results. His way was to use what was called The Bates Method. It involved simply relaxing.
It is analogous to what is happening now, where many successful examples of remedial outcomes from what we basically call COVID, have been not just roundly criticised by the ‘official’ establishment, but even censored and taken out of circulation. It is a form of madness for sure. And goes way beyond what Huxley encountered in his time. We are dealing with a top-down, centrally controlled agenda to stymie anything that counters the generally accepted or official line, even if counter intuitive, or demonstrably successful.
Huxley was interested in ‘seeing’ beyond the immediate. His brother Julian commented that Aldous was noted for his curiosity at how strange the world was around him. Perhaps for this reason, he was taken with possibilities, both utopian and dystopian. He was certainly interested in, if not aware of the possibility of other realities, and as such, was interested in what we know as Indian Vedanta philosophy, in the Upanishads and Vedic thinking and culture. He was good friends with the spiritual man of the moment Jiddu Krishnamurti and wrote a foreward for Krishnamurty’s 1954 book ‘The First & Last Freedom’.
As much as Huxley was taken with the future, he was also taken with the ancient past. In other words, he was interested in the long view, and seeking better possibilities, and would write about dystopia only to warn of the dangers of unfettered technological ‘progress’, and the hellish world of a supposed technocracy.
He raised and waved a red flag against the dangers of such a world that we may walk into with a blindfold on. A world that is over engineered, over-planned and ‘perfected’. He may have realised that organic and apparent chaotic human life, may in fact be best realised through the heart, as vedanta or vedic culture was lived. That a balance of order and infinite possibilities can coincide, without force, without technology that leaves out the sensibilities of the human.
Far Sighted Visionaries
Part of the advantage of great writers is that they have a great imagination and the rare ability to create great detail within that wide and far sighted vision too. The combination of foresight and insight, coupled with finessing with detail is potent, usually as a consequence of great learning from history. Their willingness to open their minds to other possibilities is a major characteristic. They can sketch out different scenarios that perhaps most of us would not think of or even realise could be possible.
But they also go beyond this, in that they also reach into the abyss and the light, looking beyond the nose, beyond the horizon, and even into the the darker corners of what we as a race tend to ignore as a consequence of either shame and taboo, or laziness. The great writer will allow for consequence to be followed through from the decisions that are not always well thought through.
Seeing the wood despite the trees
But perhaps this ‘animal’ of the good, the great and prescient writer has a place in world’s such as this, where people don’t seem to be able to see the wood for the trees, being as they are, too close to the situation. Space is required. The ability to be able to see a given situation, away from one’s own embroiled circumstances.
So perhaps a look at historical events, such as the Nazification of Germany, and a looking forward to a potential future, perhaps based on imagined, or even partly real technologies, social conditioning, cultural fears, taboos and aspirations and political thinking, are necessary tools to enable the masses to see the potentiality, or even the reality for and of mass control and man’s propensity to manipulate others to his whim or will.
Perhaps, only then can we get to see the dangers of unfavourable possibilities, or stark realities, that otherwise we would not otherwise see, let alone believe. Or even cannot see, due to our belief systems, and immersion in the very stuff of celebrated fictional conspiracy – the only conspiracy that is enjoyed and swallowed whole, due to the benefit of space, the removal of one’s self from the equation due to the inability to perceive something due to the lack of distance, time or fictional supposition, which offers no threat to the consumer, but a revelling in pure entertainment, with supposedly no consequence.
Doors of perception
Huxley was not averse though to recreational investigation and revelry. He indulged in taking mescaline, his drug of choice, partly as a way to explore what he called the doors of perception. This became the title of another of his books, for which that phenomenal 60’s music group The Doors got their name.
Huxley was fascinated in exploring the world of the mind and of seeing and experiencing beyond the five senses. What he encountered in the perplexing, strange world around him, was not satisfactory. It was, after all, manufactured from someone else’s imaginings, or calculations, often Machiavellian. He wanted better. He imagined and sought better, and went beyond the limits of acceptability of his time in the process.
Meanwhile, the main entertainment perhaps for those imposing draconian regimes based on fantastical and heavily manipulated science, is that non-fictional and very real character in the here and now, known as you.
Perhaps in hindsight we should have paid greater heed to prescient and clear thinking writers such as Eric Blair and Aldous Huxley. Or maybe, we can use those powerful tools the writer uses ourselves, to entreat others to see how other peoples from the past and supposed foreign fields of future land and time could be fooled into a false sense of security, and be cajoled to act like bloody fools and useful idiots. To do the bidding of those who have no interest in us, other than to play their selfish hunger games.
In our next look at significant writers and their phantasmagorical useful stories of note, we’ll look at forms of wizardry that don’t include wizards other than wizen old men, and how maybe a dog could be the people’s champion after all in sniffing out the great manipulators behind the scenes. You’ve simply got to have a nose for these things I suppose, whether you are a Tin Tin, Toto or Poirot. Or, maybe like Huxley, our weakest human feature can in some perceptive creative way become our greatest strength and pointer or lesson for the rest of humanity.
Paul Heaney, May 2023
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