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BOOK REVIEW: “Island” by Aldous Huxley

Harper Perennial
"Island" by Aldous Huxley
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One may think that Island written by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, The Doors of Perception) and originally published in 1962 is totally out of date but after reading the 340 pages of this fascinating book I can say that Island is accurate now more than ever.

The themes in Island addressed are still of actuality, which in a certain way is disconcerting as it tells us that nothing has really changed during the last 60 years, if not the almost total victory of a capitalistic, consumer-focused society.

Huxley’s book is written as seen through the eyes of a cynical, shipwrecked journalist, Will Farnaby, telling us of the utopian society of Pala, an island in the Pacific Ocean, where people lives in harmony with themselves and where wisdom and good sense have taken the path to power, overcoming simple emotions and stupidity.

But this tropical paradise has its weaknesses. There is no army and huge unexploited oil resources are there and whet the appetite of other nations. And things on Pala are not all rosy. The future king, Murugan, and his queen mother, Rena, have taken the side of the corporations and are ready to sell their country to the highest bidder.

Even if the use of drug through the form of mushroom to help people’s brain for enlightenment can be called into question. After all why one will need mushrooms for a decade of his life to become enlightened? The book shows an interesting approach in how to educate our children to avoid them to become the next Hitler, or in a reflection of our troubled times, the next Trump.

Instead of having just one set of parents, every kid has a couple dozens of parents, uncles, and brothers that with whom they will share their life beside their biological family providing them numerous experiences and limiting the power of tyrannical parents.

In school, hypnosis and practical experiences will help teenagers to understand the world better while aware of their own emotions and limits. The books also approach the themes of spirituality, democracy, overpopulation, ecology and psychology.

Buddhism is the religion used by inhabitants of Pala because this spirituality (if one remove all the superstitions and unnecessary rituals) is one of the more accurate and practicable about the description of life on our planet. And 60 years later after Island was published, Buddhism has well spread around the world and into Western countries. 

The feeling that reached me after reading Huxley's fascinating book, is why are we here? Are we here to simply work and consume and retire and die? Are we here to work together for a dictator or a birth-privileged minority? Or are we here to experiment and play through day life experiences, such as in a video game?

Well, I think the last one is the most accurate, because as one may have forgotten and has it well described in Island, sooner or later everyone dies there is no escape, free pass or privileges. Rich, poor, beautiful, ugly, happy, sad men or women everyone dies whatever its conditions. So why wait until is too late to realize your dream and build a nice society? The lack of courage is often the answer.

Island is still a relevant book to read because we are still far to have even something that is similar as described in the book. One has to pull the head out of the oven if one want to see the truth in life.

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About the Author

Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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