On Language and the Modern Male

I’ve been reflecting on the dissatisfaction of young men in the west. I think that in a large part, it stems from the nature of the modern economy. Our jobs are removed from our communities. Upon moving out of home, we are given a choice of either living an a rat’s nest inner city apartment or a commute in traffic for hours from the vast wastelands of outer suburbia. To buy either of these less-than-preferable real estate options requires debt-servitude to the banking cartel, making your life’s mission to pay them, rather than your family, community or your own pursuits.

How is one to practice martial virtues of strength, courage, honour and mastery when the only traits rewarded are selfishness, greed and self-righteous indignation at thought-criminals who dare question the orthodoxy of the mainstream. ‘Loyalty’ in the service of an employer, equates to working longer hours and lowering your hourly rate. ‘Strength’ to having eyes that can still focus after staring at documents on a screen for fourteen hours. ‘Honour’ to maintaining moral hygiene by buying the requisite lapel pins every other month – Veteran’s Day, Breast Cancer, Mental Health ‘Awareness’ or whatever other approved, feel good ‘cause’ is shoved down our throats. Mastery to memorised keyboard shortcuts, file template directories and regurgitated phrases like ‘actioned this item’, ‘going forward’, ‘vertical integration’ and ‘the corporate landscape’ that molest the English language created by our ancestors.

“But” – I hear you say, “some are clever enough to escape this trap and start a business, become minimalist or move overseas”. But this does not change the culture. The vast majority are stuck in this matrix and they don’t even know it. Most of those who do don’t know how to escape it. Most of those who know how to escape it aren’t capable of it. Most of those capable of it still don’t.

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In Huxley’s Brave New World, the half-savage John, who is brought from the tribal wild into our dystopian future is disgusted by what he sees. It is by reading Shakespeare and the Bible that he is armed with the words to describe his visceral revolt:

“If you allowed yourselves to think of God, you wouldn’t allow your-

selves to be degraded by pleasant vices. You’d have a reason for bear

ing things patiently, for doing things with courage. I’ve seen it with the

Indians.”

 

“I’m sure you have,” said Mustapha Mond. “But then we aren’t Indians.

There isn’t any need for a civilized man to bear anything that’s seri-

ously unpleasant. And as for doing things-Ford forbid that he should

get the idea into his head. It would upset the whole social order if men

started doing things on their own.”

 

“What about self-denial, then? If you had a God, you’d have a reason

for self-denial.”

 

“But industrial civilization is only possible when there’s no self-denial.

Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and econom-

ics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning.”

 

“You’d have a reason for chastity!” said the Savage, blushing a little as

he spoke the words.

 

“But chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And pas-

sion and neurasthenia mean instability. And instability means the end

of civilization. You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of

pleasant vices.”

 

“But God’s the reason for everything noble and fine and heroic. If you

had a God …”

 

“My dear young friend,” said Mustapha Mond, “civilization has abso-

lutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of

political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody

has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to

be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. Where there are

wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are tempta-

tions to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended-there,

obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense. But there aren’t any

wars nowadays. The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving

any one too much. There’s no such thing as a divided allegiance;

you’re so conditioned that you can’t help doing what you ought to do.

And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the

natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren’t any

temptations to resist. And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything

unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give

you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your

anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-

suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by mak-

ing a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you

swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody

can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your mortality about in

a bottle. Christianity without tears-that’s what soma is.”

“But the tears are necessary. Don’t you remember what Othello said?

‘If after every tempest came such calms, may the winds blow till they

have wakened death.’ There’s a story one of the old Indians used to

tell us, about the Girl of Mataski. The young men who wanted to marry

her had to do a morning’s hoeing in her garden. It seemed easy; but

there were flies and mosquitoes, magic ones. Most of the young men

simply couldn’t stand the biting and stinging. But the one that could-

he got the girl.”

 

“Charming! But in civilized countries,” said the Controller, “you can

have girls without hoeing for them, and there aren’t any flies or mos-

quitoes to sting you. We got rid of them all centuries ago.”

The Savage nodded, frowning. “You got rid of them. Yes, that’s just

like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put

up with it. Whether ’tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and ar-

rows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles

and by opposing end them … But you don’t do either. Neither suffer

nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It’s too easy.”

He was suddenly silent, thinking of his mother. In her room on the

thirty-seventh floor, Linda had floated in a sea of singing lights and

perfumed caresses-floated away, out of space, out of time, out of the

prison of her memories, her habits, her aged and bloated body. And

Tomakin, ex-Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning, Tomakin was still

on holiday-on holiday from humiliation and pain, in a world where he

could not hear those words, that derisive laughter, could not see that

hideous face, feel those moist and flabby arms round his neck, in a

beautiful world …

 

“What you need,” the Savage went on, “is something with tears for a

change. Nothing costs enough here.”

 

(“Twelve and a half million dollars,” Henry Foster had protested when

the Savage told him that. “Twelve and a half million-that’s what the

new Conditioning Centre cost. Not a cent less.”)

“Exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, death and

danger dare, even for an eggshell. Isn’t there something in that?” he

asked, looking up at Mustapha Mond. “Quite apart from God-though of

course God would be a reason for it. Isn’t there something in living

dangerously?”

 

“There’s a great deal in it,” the Controller replied. “Men and women

must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.”

“What?” questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.

“It’s one of the conditions of perfect health. That’s why we’ve made

the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.”

“V.P.S.?”

 

“Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the

whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent

of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and be-

ing murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences.”

“But I like the inconveniences.”

 

“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real dan-

ger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be un-

happy.”

 

“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be

unhappy.”

 

“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right

to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right

to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may

happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured

by unspeakable pains of every kind.” There was a long silence.

“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.

Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. “You’re welcome,” he said.

 

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