Sunday, July 26, 2009

Aldous Huxley: Britain's Neglected Genius



Writer, philosopher, social critic, and all round genius, Aldous Huxley was born 115 years ago today, on 26th July 1894.

Above you can see a wonderful interview with the great man on the Mike Wallace show in which he stresses his core belief that intelligence and kindness are inextricably linked. Huxley also believed that modern marketing techniques, advertising and other forms of brainwashing used by the ruling elite to maintain their control would pose a far greater threat to human freedom- and humanity in general than the ‘old-style’ dictatorships that relied on terror. His Brave New World was a far more accurate portrayal of the future than George Orwell’s 1984.

We haven’t produced too many world class intellectuals in Britain, but Huxley was undoubtedly one. And how do we commemorate him?
In 2002, a list of the '100 Greatest Britons' was compiled. While David Beckham got to number 33, Boy George got to number 46, Tony Blair to Number 67 and Richard Branson to 86, the author of Brave New World, Point Counterpoint, Eyeless in Gaza, Island and many other great works didn’t even make the top 100.

If he’d have been French, Huxley would have had an underground station named after him, and statues in various towns and cities.

In Britain he gets nothing.

9 comments:

jock mctrousers said...

Yes, I'll second that. JB Priestley is someone else that could do with more appreciation and recognition.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Jock,
Agreed. JBP sadly didn't make the Top 100 either.

douglasbass said...

I recall reading Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited sometime in the late 60's. I read The Doors of Perception in the early 70's but I didn't get it. But like you said, top drawer.

Davros said...

I can't argue with Eric Morecambe being high on the list, but bloody Princess Di and Michael "Ooh Betty" Crawford?
Those thought nullifying lists proliferated like a stupidity plague a few years back.

jock mctrousers said...

I had a look at that list. To be fair, it could have been a lot worse; there are a lot of scientists in there. Against all my expectations James Clerk Maxwell got in there, if only at 91. Seems universal public education has achieved something.

Madam Miaow said...

"... the author of Brave New World, Point Counterpoint, Eyeless in Gaza, Island and many other great works didn’t even make the top 100."

That's because the brainwashing worked.

Neil Clark said...

Douglas: great to hear from you. have you ever read Island? I think you might enjoy it.
Davros- yes, Michael Crawford is an undoubtedly talented song n'dance man, but.....
jock : yes, i agree it could have been worse- tony blair could have made the top ten!
I'm sure he wouldn't get in the top 100 now.
madam miaow: great point.

jolies_couleurs said...

Island is a fabulous book - as a utopia it is only rivalled by Morris' News from Nowhere!

Huxley was a great exemplar both of a thinker and a person willing to re-think and critically assess his past, able to challenge his own convictions and correct them in the light of new insights.

His widow is happily still alive and continuing, in small but very practical ways, his work, bless her.

jolies_couleurs said...

Island is a fabulous book - as a utopia it is only rivalled by Morris' News from Nowhere!

Huxley was a great exemplar both of a thinker and a person willing to re-think and critically assess his past, able to challenge his own convictions and correct them in the light of new insights.

His widow is happily still alive and continuing, in small but very practical ways, his work, bless her.