Monday, July 16, 2012

Seeds of Brave New World?

In Alix Spiegel's July 16, 2012 NPR article "Can Science Plant Brain Seeds That Make You Vote?" we have a hint at the psychological conditioning that Huxley foresees as one of several methods of control used by the World Controllers in his novel Brave New World. Ironically however, active participation in the democratic process is precisely the kind of behavior that can help prevent the kind of subtle technologized control that makes the Brave New World possible - unless, of course, those 'seeds' also guide or override our natural choice of candidate.

In the novel it is the ever-present hypnopedia that continually plants slogan seeds that help keep the populace docile and obedient, and even those who know about the conditioning and/or have helped design the hypnopedic seeds are subject to their influence. As Bernard Marx reflects in chapter 3: "Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth" a fact that Joesph Goebbels recognized which is in full operation today - especially in politics.

But, as Spiegel notes, the successful sprouting of the brain seed is at least partly due to the visualization of a future action or response. This seems to be part of the World State's program for de-sensitizing children to death in chapter 11. While voting is a desirable and necessary part of a healthy democracy, we might wonder about the "brain seeds" planted in us by corporate propagandists as suggested by MIT Cognitive Scientist & Linguistics Professor Noam Chomsky  in his 1998 recording Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind.

So, we have to wonder, has hypnopedia been here all along? The kind of critical thinking that Huxley indirectly encourages in Brave New World should move us all to ask: what ideas or attitudes are sprouting in my brain and who planted the seeds?