Brave New World and the Flight from God
by John Attarian
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) is commonly seen as an indictment of both tyranny and technology. Huxley himself described its theme as “the advancement of science as it affects human individuals.” Brave New World Revisited(1958) deplored its vision of the over orderly dystopia “where perfect efficiency left no room for freedom or personal initiative.” Yet Brave New World has a deeper meaning: a warning, by way of a grim portrait, of life in a world which has fled from God and lost all awareness of the transcendent. Reading the signs of his times, Huxley saw awaiting us a soulless utilitarian existence, incompatible with our nature and purpose. Subsequent history has vindicated his pessimism.
Brave New World’s significations flow from Huxley’s vision of reality and human nature and its implications for proper living. As Milton Birnbaum points out, by the early thirties, Huxley was in transition from cynicism to a mystical religion, which held that a transcendent God exists, and that one’s proper final end, as the foreword to the 1946 edition of Brave New World notes, is “attaining unitive knowledge of the immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman.” (Indeed, with its religious theme, Brave New World emerges as a milestone in Huxley’s odyssey.)