I am a computer programmer by day and philosopher by night. I post once or twice a week. I aim to prevent blogging from taking to much time, while allowing time to develop each idea before posting it. Each has some reference to human, universal, or societal truths, while presented in an organized, understandable & consise way -- this is the plan anyway. Results may very as what rings true for one may seem false to another. Also becuase sometimes I get things wrong.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Island by Aldous Huxley

The first Huxley book I ever read was the ever popular Brave New World (BNW from now on). I read BNW while in high school, we had to choose to read a book that was specific to a time period (20's I think). In some ways I see Island as being similar to BNW in many ways.

BNW is about the worst in Capitalism meeting the worst in Communism to create a mentally lethargic society of non-thinkers and non-questioners. It tells about the evils of over indulgence in drugs, sex and other entertainment. The estrangement of human beings from that natural world.

Island is about an island called Pala where the inhabitants have made it their purpose to bring the best of spirituality and technology to their people. The people of Pala have created their own utopia. It portrays the rest of the world as greedy, selfish, deeply in pain and ultimately self destructive. Pala has a deep spiritual life that is the opposite of the dystopia in BNW. The society of BNW turns out to be hollow and empty.

Pala's spirituality a mix of Buddhism and something else, Tantra I think. I am not familiar, but it sounds like another offshoot of Hinduism. The book plays out like a comparison of the western way of living exemplified by Will Farnaby (main character), the ruler of Pala (the Raja) and her son versus Huxley's eastern ideal expressed by the various citizens of Pala that Will encounters. The Raja has spent much time away from Pala and has her own spirituality if you could call it that.

Much of the story examines Will's efforts to end the suffering he has been going through most of his life. It seems that he is still suffering the pain of the loss of many deaths. His efforts all seem to point in the wrong direction. The people of Pala that Will encounters help him back on course. As do the "Notes on What's What," which begins like this:

Nobody needs to go anywhere else. We are all, if we only knew it, already there. If I only knew who in fact I am, I should cease to behave as what I think I am; and if I stopped behaving as what I think I am, I should know who I am.

...takes a couple seconds or minutes to sink in.

Like BNW, Island is an attempt at saying something so the plot really isn't very interesting nor is it the point of the book.

There are a couple other reviews I found to help me think about the book:

1. Short but a good summary
2. Excellent overview of the book including much of the early plot
3. I got a chuckle out of this one, that is all

I look forward to providing a review of the Power of Now by Eckhard Tolle in the future.


At Sat Dec 24, 03:12:00 PM EST, Blogger Bar Bar A said...

Can't wait for your review on The Power of Now, I already know it's good because I am reading it thanks to your recommendation.

James, I am stopping by to wish you a Merry Christmas and thank you for being a friend. You are an amazingly gifted, gentle, wise and very cute guy and I wish the best for you.

At Sun Dec 25, 07:31:00 AM EST, Blogger stevie.be. said...

great review. i was turned on to bnw when i was nineteen. i went to the store and picked it up and realized i wasn't ready for it yet. im glad you mentioned it, i think maybe i am ready to read it now. i will keep it on the short list during my transition time off in 2006. (and of course the island will accompany it quite nicely)

happy holidays!

At Mon Dec 26, 12:51:00 PM EST, Blogger Netwoman said...

sounds like an interesting book. havent read BNW since high school either (and i wont tell you how long ago that was either!).
Will have a look at chapters this week! thanks!

At Thu Mar 15, 06:46:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wed Dec 03, 05:46:00 PM EST, Anonymous Lije Baillie said...

Great review! have just done a similar one on my own (http://psypressuk.wordpress.com/) always happy to see Huxley being put out there! Legend!


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