Aldous Huxley – Eyeless in Gaza
I’m doing it wrong, of course. I have started with his last book (Island) and that’s similar sin than reading the end of the book first.
It is twice as bad with Huxley, who’s last book (“still on the Island Mirko?”) is sort of a summary of all the best thoughts he ever had.
Also, his last book (ISLAND) is an application of his understanding that being plain doesn’t neccessary has to be a mark of a foolish man. Au countraire actually. He has learned that that essence of life is really in that essence of life and not in all those curly thoughts our head usually is full(fool) of. And that’s exactly why people hate on the Island. They don’t understand that it’s more of a tutorial than a regular book, or God forbid, a novel.
Now, you are certainly going to read the Island, that’s given (else get the F out of here and never ever come back!), but you are young and still in the search for yourself and perhapas, you still crave for a good quality artistic experience (however vain Huxley in his elderly finds it), and hence, naturally, you grab this book, start to read its first couple of pages, read them again(maybe even again), reset your mind for a different level of prose and look at your life differently.
Favourite line (This James Miller by far my favorite book character and that is including both Snape (HP saga) and Sherlock):
“Anthony wheeled his animal round, and side by side the two men set off up the track.
‘‘Well, Anthony Beavis,” said the doctor, ‘‘you came to the right address.”
Anthony nodded. “Fortunately,” he said, “I hadn’t been praying, otherwise I’d have had to believe in special providence and miraculous interventions.”
“And that would never do,” the doctor agreed. “Not that anything ever happens by chance, of course. One takes the card the conjuror forces on one — the card which one has oneself made it inevitable that he should force on one. It’s a matter of cause and effect.” Then, without a pause, “What’s your profession?” he asked.
“I suppose you’d say I was a sociologist. Was one, at any rate.”
“Indeed! Is that so?” The doctor seemed surprised and pleased. “Mine’s anthropology,’’ he went on. “Been living with the Lacandones in Chiapas these last months. Nice people when you get to know them. And I’ve collected a lot of material. Are you married, by the way?”
“Never been married?”
Dr. Miller shook his head. “That’s bad, Anthony Beavis,” he said. “You ought to have been.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I can see it in your face. Here, and here.” He touched his lips, his forehead. “I was married. For fourteen years. Then my wife died. Blackwater fever it was. We were working in West Africa then. She was qualified too. Knew her job better, in some ways, than I did.” He sighed. “You’d have made a good husband, you know. Perhaps you will do, even now. How old are you?”
“And look younger. Though I don’t like that sallow skin of yours,” he protested with sudden vehemence. “Do you suffer much from constipation?”
““And kill one another in the intervals. There’s a huge network of vendettas spread across these mountains. Everybody’s involved. I’ve been talking to the responsible men, trying to persuade them to liquidate all the old accounts and start afresh.”
“They’ll die of boredom.”
“No, I’m teaching them football instead. Matches between the villages.” He smiled. “I’ve had a lot of experience with vendettas,” he added. “All over the world. They all detest them, really. Are only too thankful for football when they’re used to it.”
“Those games! Can’t we ever escape from them?”
“But they’re the greatest English contribution to civilization,” said the doctor. “Much more important than parliamentary government, or steam engines, or Newton’s Principia. More important even than English poetry. Poetry can never be a substitute for war and murder. Whereas games can be. A complete and genuine substitute.”
“Substitutes!” Mark echoed contemptuously. “You’re all content with substitutes. Anthony finds his in bed or in the British Museum Reading Room. You look for yours on the football field. God help you! Why are you so frightened of the genuine article?”
For a little while no one spoke. Dr. Miller looked at Anthony, and, seeing that he did not propose to answer, turned back to the other. “It isn’t a question of being frightened, Mark Staithes,” he said very mildly. “It’s a question of choosing something right instead of something wrong. …””