Island (novel)

From Academic Kids

Island (ISBN 0060085495) is a novel by Aldous Huxley that was first published in 1962. It is the account of Will Farnaby, a cynical journalist and would-be poet who is shipwrecked on the fictional island of Pala. Island is Huxley's utopian foil to his dystopian Brave New World. In his foreword to Brave New World written in the 1950's, Huxley wrote:

If I were now to rewrite the book, I would offer the Savage a third alternative. Between the Utopian and primitive horns of his dilemma would lie the possibility of sanity...In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque co-operative. Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not, (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them. Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle–the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: "How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?"

Common background elements occur in both Island and Brave New World, used for good in the former and for ill in the latter. Such elements include:

Island Brave New World
Drug use for enlightenment, and self-knowledgeDrug use for pacification
Group living for children (Mutual Adoption Clubs) so that children would not have unalloyed exposure to their parents' neurosesGroup living for the elimination of individuality.
Trance states for super learningTrance states for indoctrination
Easy access to contraception, expressive sexmeaningless sex

Island explores many of the themes and ideas that interested Huxley in the Post World War II decades, and were the subject of many of his nonfiction books of essays, Including Brave New World Revisited, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, The Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy. Some of these themes and ideas include overpopulation, ecology, modernity, democracy, mysticism, hallucinogenics, and somatypes.

A central element of Palanese society is restrained industrialization, undertaken with the goal of providing fulfilling work and time for leisure and contemplation. For the Palanese, progress means a selective attitude towards technology, which Huxley contrasts to the underdeveloped poverty of the neighboring island of Rendang, and with the alienating overdevelopment of the industrialized West, chiefly through Will Farnaby's recollections of London. The Palanese embrace modern science and technology to improve medicine and nutrition, but have rejected widespread industrialization. For example, electricity is made available for refrigeration, so that surplus fresh food can be stored, improving nutrition and protecting against food shortages. Huxley viewed this selective modernization as essential for his "sane" society, even if it means that such a society is unable to militarily defend itself from its "insane" neighbors who wish to steal its natural resources.

Aldous Huxley made philosophical observations about the nature of death while two mantids mated in the sight of two characters in the novel Island (novel). The species was Gongylus gongylodes. In another memorable scene, Will Farnaby watches a Palanese version of Oedipus Rex with a little girl. Will points out that in his version Oedipus pokes his eyes out. The replies that that is silly, since all the king had to do was stop being married to his mother.

The culture of Pala is the offspring of a Scottish Secular Humanist medical doctor and the island's existing Mahayana Buddhist tradition. In seeking to reconcile western science and eastern mysticism, Island can be considered a more intelligent and circumspect manifestation of the New Age Movement. This novel has served as the inspiration for the Island Foundation, a non-profit corporation "dedicated to the creation of a psychedelic culture."

Pala may to be a reference to Pali, the language of the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism.


“And always, everywhere, there would be the yelling or quietly authoritative hypnotists; and in the train of the ruling suggestion givers, always everywhere, the tribes of buffoons and hucksters, the professional liars, the purveyors of entertaining irrelevances. Conditioned from the cradle, unceasingly distracted, mesmerized systematically, their uniformed victims would go on obediently marching and countermarching, go on, always and everywhere, killing and dying with the perfect docility of trained poodles. And yet in spite of the entirely justified refusal to take yes for an answer, the fact remained and would remain always, remain everywhere -- the fact that there was this capacity even in a paranoiac for intelligence, even in a devil worshipper for love; the fact that the ground of all being could be totally manifest in a flowering shrub, a human face; the fact that there was a light and that this light was also compassion”

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