Tuesday, June 25, 2013

O Brave New World!

One of the things I love most about books is that some of them will spark interesting conversations.  Not all of them are intelligent, in fact some of them are volatile, but I always enjoy that two people can share a moment based on a book they've both read.

Today, my coworker, we'll call him Al, came into my office looking bewildered.

Al: Ok, I was on the elevator going to C1 (our basement/storage/mail room level) when this woman got on.  She asked if me I knew I was going to C1. I told her yes and she asked me if I was sure and if I realized that was the basement.  I mean, I pressed the button, didn't I?
Me: Weird.  She got on one of our floors (we rent floors 2-5 to the Dept of Justice)?
Al: Yeah. 
Me: Why would anyone from one of our floors question going there?  Everyone goes there to mail something or get something out of storage.
Al: It was weird.  And especially from someone on 7.  Don't we breed them for their docility?
Me: So they're Gammas?  What are we, Betas?  Let's face it, we sure as hell aren't the Alphas.
Al: We can dream, Susie, we can dream.
Me: [mumbling as I walk off to get tea] But I like being a Beta. Alphas work too hard...

Brave New World

If you haven't had the (for some, dubious) pleasure of reading Brave New World, then that exchange will mean nothing to you.  However, if you have read it, you may remember that in this futuristic dystopian novel, people were made in petri dishes to fit into one of three groups: Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, the blue collar laboreres; Betas, the middle of the road beings; and the Alphas, the high intellect, upper class people.  Gammas love being Gammas because Betas and Alphas have to think too much.  Betas love being Betas because they're smarter than Gammas but don't have to work as hard as Alphas.  And Alphas love being Alphas because they are superior to the two other groups.  Etc.

While I didn't love this book - it's way too disturbing for me and depressing at the end - it provokes a lot of interesting conversations.  There are so many themes in the book: technological advances, the caste system, lack of self, hedonism, Freud's Id, Ego and SuperEgo, etc. Again, I didn't like this book, but I appreciate it for the brilliance and the importance of its themes.

This isn't why I read books, but it is an added bonus.  I love to have a conversation about them and glean some other insight, to see how someone else responded to it.

My favorites to discuss are: Brave New Work, The Handmaid's Tale, The Hunger Games, World War Z, and, just because I hate it SO much, 50 Shades of Grey.  Oddly enough they're all dystopian.  Except for 50 Shades, which is just awful.

So what books have you found relevant in today's world?  Ones that spark conversations or arguments?

13 comments:

  1. *Grumbles about the stereotyping that goes on in this place* - Eh-hem. Well, you know how much I love the Hunger Games, mainly because I can see something like that happening. Video games, "reality" shows, over-dramatized news programs...these things all desensitize us to humanity. We forget about the people on the other side of the camera having feelings, issues, a need for privacy, and instead focus on OUR need for more, more more! After some time, we accept this as normal...no privacy, shallow lives, murder everywhere.

    I love Divergent and Insurgent, too. Mostly because I think people are always trying to fit into a certain "type" of lifestyle, rather than just being themselves.

    Anyway, I'm going for coffee now. Then I'm going to ponder my existence on the 7th floor. Dammit. Why am I still here?

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    1. Don't worry, Krystal, you're an Alpha. :)

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    2. Aww. I knew it! I work too hard! And think too much. Yeah, that sounds about right. Not sure about high intellect, though.

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  2. Let's hope Brave New World never materializes.

    It indicates the upside/downside of creating people rather than having them born at the whim of natural selection. But to be relegated to a predestined level doesn't always sit well.

    You're right - books are a great conversation starter, if both people are readers.

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    1. As I said, Brave New World disturbed me on many levels, and that is just one of them.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. This was one of my favorite books in high school! I might need to re-read it this summer!

    Also, LOL at your conversation :P

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    1. Glad you appreciated the convo. It was ridiculous, but I still had to giggle. :)

      It's a brilliant book, but so disturbing. I can live without re-reading it for a good long while. LOL

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  4. Books can be great conversation starters. I loved The Hunger Games Series (I think the love story part the most.) I also enjoyed Fifty Shades (not sure why.)

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    1. I loved so many aspects of The Hunger Games, but the love story took a back burner for me, which is odd since I love romance.

      Fifty Shades just repulsed me. The fact that stalking, scaring and blatant domestic abuse was marketed as sexy is horrifying to me.

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  5. The awesome thing about Fifty Shades of Gray is that it allowed me to pinpoint what the worst book I have ever read was. There are a whole lot of reasons why it is the worst, but the thing that bothered me the most was the horrible writing. "He cocked his head to one side" is in there about 40 times. Drove me nuts. Yep, the absolutely worst book I've ever read.

    I read Cloud Atlas earlier this year and it has a lot of the same themes as Brave New World. It was an interesting and thought provoking read.

    Also, I had never seen the Call Me Al music video before today. Thank you so much for that! :)

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    1. You are so welcome for the video. :) Love me some Chevy Chase!

      I'll have to read Cloud Atlas. I have the movie, but of course, it's never as good as the book.

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  6. Great topic Sus. I actually love to have discussions based on Lord of the Rings. I love some of his themes and fascinations we see replayed in the books. I even wrote a post about it on the blog at work. To summarize I was interested in leadership parallels. It was Gandalf the wizard that coaxed Bilbo and Frodo into taking on larger adventures. It was only later on they discovered their capabilities. There is a parallel between Gandalf’s role as a mentor for the hobbits and a manager’s role to their employee. Like Gandalf, managers operate with more knowledge of a bigger picture and usually see much more possibility for innovation. Leadership involves slowly bringing employees out of their shell and helping them to recognize their own capabilities.

    I could go on about Tolkien's fascination with "happy chance," and more. I do think the most meaningful books for me are the ones that leave asking questions in my life, which translates to conversations :)

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    1. Wow, I never knew that about Lord of the Rings, and certainly never made those connections. That's so neat! Thanks for sharing that, Emilyann! So cool!

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