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Posts Tagged ‘Aldous Huxley

“The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience”*…

 

In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher.

Orwell had just published his groundbreaking book Nineteen Eighty-Four, which received glowing reviews from just about every corner of the English-speaking world. His French teacher, as it happens, was none other than Aldous Huxley who taught at Eton for a spell before writing Brave New World (1931), the other great 20th century dystopian novel.

Huxley starts off the letter praising the book, describing it as “profoundly important.” He continues, “The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.”

Then Huxley switches gears and criticizes the book, writing, “Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.”…

Read the letter in full at “Huxley to Orwell: My Hellish Vision of the Future is Better Than Yours.”

See also Neil Postman’s and Alan Moore’s agreement.

* Aldous Huxley, in his letter to George Orwell

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As we question authority, we might recall that it was on this date in 1966, the date that LSD was declared illegal, that The Love Pageant Rally was held in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  The first big free concert of it’s sort in the park, it was organized by Allen Cohen and artist Michael Bowen, the creators of the San Francisco Oracle, which first hit the streets in September 1966, to mark the banning of the drug– which effectively created a neighborhood of outlaws in the Haight, where acid was a staple of community culture.  Music was provided by the Grateful Dead and by Big Brother and the Holding Company; Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters were on hand.

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Written by LW

October 6, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”*…

 

The idea that American life is increasingly transient and uprooted is a myth: people are moving less, but worrying more.

In 1971, the great Carole King sang: ‘So far away/ Doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore?’ Thirty years later, the editors of The New York Times explained that families in the United States are changing because of ‘the ever-growing mobility of Americans’. And in 2010, a psychologist argued that ‘an increased rate of residential mobility played a role in the historical shift’ toward individualism. It’s a common US lament that human bonds are fraying because people are moving around more and more. Americans fear the fracturing of communities that constant moving seems to bring.

Yet when King sang, Americans had been moving around less and less for generations. That decline was even more obvious when the Times editorial appeared in 2001, and it has continued to decline through the 2010s. The increasingly mobile US is a myth that refuses to move on…

More on this widespread misapprehension– and what it means– in “The great settling down.”

* James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

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As we tend the roots we’ve put down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that we lost two greats of imaginative literature:

C.S. Lewis, the novelist The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and others), poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist (Mere Christianity).

And Aldous Huxley, the writer, novelist, philosopher best remembered for Brave New World.

Neither passing was much remarked at the time, as they happened on the same day as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

 

“I confess, I do not believe in time”*…

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The automatic analysis of sentiment in text is fast changing the way we interpret and interact with words. On Twitter, for example, researchers have begun to gauge the mood of entire nations by analysing the emotional content of the tweets people generate.

In the same way, other researchers have started to measure the “emotional temperature” of novels by counting the density of words associated with the eight basic emotions of anticipation, anger, joy, fear, disgust, sadness, surprise and trust.

All this automation is possible thanks to new databases that rate words according to their emotional value.

Now Hannah Davis at New York University and Saif Mohammad at the National Research Council Canada have gone a step further. These guys have used the same kind of analysis to measure the way the emotional temperature changes throughout a novels and then automatically generated music that reflects these moods and how they evolve throughout the book.

They say their new algorithm, TransProse, will change the way we interact with information. “The work has applications in information visualization, in creating audio-visual e-books, and in developing music apps,” they say…

Judge for yourself:  read on at “The Music Composed By An Algorithm Analysing The World’s Best Novels“; check out the research at arXiv.org; and then listen to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Flies, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and A Clockwork Orange.

* Vladimir Nabokov, novelist and noted “sufferer” of synaesthesia

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As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that D.H. Lawrence, writing to Aldous Huxley, judged prolific non-fiction author and novelist Arnold Bennett “a pig in clover.”  Exactly three years later, on this date in 1931, Bennett died of typhoid at age 64, after drinking water in a Paris hotel to demonstrate to companions that it was safe.

The next night Virginia Woolf noted in her diary, “Queer how one regrets the dispersal of anybody…who had direct contact with life — for he abused me; & yet I rather wished him to go on abusing me; & me abusing him.”

Arnold Bennett

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Written by LW

March 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

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