The pursuit of truth is just a polite name for the intellectual’s favorite pastime of substituting simple and therefore false abstractions for the living complexities of reality.
From their experience or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn.
Death is the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing.
Art is one of the means whereby man seeks to redeem a life which is experienced as chaotic, senseless, and largely evil.
It is only when it takes the form of physical addiction that sex is evil. It is also evil when it manifests itself as a way of satisfying the lust for power or the climber’s craving for position and social distinction.
The effects which follow too constant and intense a concentration upon evil are always disastrous. Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes even perceptibly worse than it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself.
Complete prohibition of all chemical mind changers can be decreed, but cannot be enforced, and tends to create more evils than it cures.
Good action and thoughts produce consequences which tend to neutralize, or put a stop to, the result of evil thoughts and actions. For as we give up the life of self (and note that, like forgiveness, repentance and humility are also special cases of giving), as we abandon what the German mystics called “the I, me, mine,” we make ourselves progressively capable of receiving grace. By grace we are enabled to know reality more completely, and this knowledge of reality helps us to give up more of the life of selfhood – and so on, in a mounting spiral of illumination and regeneration.
Good is that which makes for unity. Evil is that which makes for separateness.
Something that had been a single cell, a cluster of cells, a little sac of tissue, a kind of worm, a potential fish with gills, stirred in her womb and would one day become a man–a grown man, suffering and enjoying, loving and hating, thinking, remembering, imagining. And what had been a blob of jelly within her body would invent a god and worship; what had been a kind of fish would create, and, having created, would become the battleground of disputing good and evil; what had blindly lived in her as a parasitic worm would look at the stars, would listen to music, would read poetry.
For particulars, as everyone knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fretsawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society.
In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or the propaganda might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies – the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.
All war propaganda consists, in the last resort, in substituting diabolical abstractions for human beings. Similarly, those who defend war have invented a pleasant sounding vocabulary of abstractions in which to describe the process of mass murder.
Hitler’s vast propaganda successes were accomplished with little more than the radio and loudspeaker, and without TV and tape and video recording . . . Today the art of mind control is in the process of becoming a science.
What I may call the messages of Brave New World, but it is possible to make people contented with their servitude. I think this can be done. I think it has been done in the past. I think it could be done even more effectively now because you can provide them with bread and circuses and you can provide them with endless amounts of distractions and propaganda.
Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.
Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning, truth and beauty can’t.
And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue — liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.
Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.
A bad book is as much of a labour to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul.
After all, what is reading but a vice, like drink or venery or any other form of excessive self-indulgence? One reads to tickle and amuse one’s mind; one reads, above all, to prevent oneself thinking.
Deprived of their newspapers or a novel, reading-addicts will fall back onto cookery books, on the literature which is wrapped around bottles of patent medicine, on those instructions for keeping the contents crisp which are printed on the outside of boxes of breakfast cereals. On anything.
Human contacts have been so highly valued in the past only because reading was not a common accomplishment…. The world, you must remember, is only just becoming literate. As reading becomes more and more habitual and widespread, an ever-increasing number of people will discover that books will give them all the pleasures of social life and none of its intolerable tedium.
Assemble a mob of men and women previously conditioned by a daily reading of the newspapers; treat them to amplified band music, bright lights…and in next to no time you can reduce them to a state of almost mindless sub humanity. Never before have so few been in a position to make fools, maniacs, or criminals of so many.
My fate cannot be mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent, directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only its noisiest passenger.
God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness.
A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.
Bondage is the life of personality, and for bondage the personal self will fight with tireless resourcefulness and the most stubborn cunning.
Every man’s memory is his private literature.