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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A brave new world of Reading

I bought this edition of Brave New World
a year ago for Php20 only from
BOOKSALE, a book shop in the
Philippines that sells relatively
low-priced unused and previously-owned
books and other publications.
Call it pure luck. 
After putting this book down for a long time, I pulled this out of my book case again last Sunday. It was too difficult for me to understand, so instead of turning the pages, I closed the book and forgot about it. I also forgot about reading for quite some time because of the increasing demands of being a graduating student and a schedule made busier by an exhausting part-time job. It was only until the end of the semester when I embraced reading again.

I just finished reading George Orwell's 1984 and I wouldn't say that I thoroughly and fully understood the book but I did get a good grasp of the classic dystopia that the author portrayed. And currently, I am halfway reading through 'How to Read a Book: A Classical Guide to Intelligent Reading' by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. It is a practical book on active and effective reading and it has taught me so much, so far. While it has made me realize how lousy and ineffective I was as a reader, it has also challenged me to be better one.

So maybe what prompted me to read Brave New World all over again are these previous reading engagements. Primarily, my goal is to understand its content but I am also hoping, without external aid, to make a comparison with Orwell's 1984 since both are Dystopian literature and this:

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us."

This is syntopical reading and although I still lack the skills, it wouldn't hurt to try. I'm sure no attempt is futile.

So when I checked out the book, the bookmark was left halfway through the pages already but I could barely even remember what the book was all about. This is because a year ago, I was a complete ignorant of this book's greatness and significance (not to mention its controversies) and it has only been lately that I got myself informed of its status not only in literature but in other fields of discourse as well (social, political, etc.).

Anyway, let me share with you the first paragraph of Aldous Huxley's foreword in this editon of Brave New World:
“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
This kind of effort could be applied similarly in my pursuit of becoming a better reader.  

1 comment:

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