New? Aldous Huxley's Brave New World illustrates a colorful, fantastic universe of sex and emotion, programming and fascism that has a powerful draw in a happy handicap. This reality pause button is called "Soma."Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology." (Huxley 54). In his universe, Soma is the cure for everything. All problems, be they psychological, physical, or social are totally forgotten, their lurking shadows temporarily banished from sight.
What is worrisome about this futuristic fabrication is its ideal reality. People in our current and very non-fictional times are taking steps toward the world of massive Soma use and acceptation. When one stops, and sees the world today, Huxley's idea of the common drug; cure all, pleasant, and religion-exterminating seems to be a reasonable estimation of our future developments. Drugs are used to escape the real and move into the surreal world of one's own imaginations, where the pain is gone and one believes one can be happy. People look on their life, their world, their own reality, and feel sickened by the uncaring ly blunt vision.
Those too weak to stand up to this hard life seek their escape. They believe this escape may be found in chemicals that can alter the mind, placing a delusional peace in the place of their own depression: "Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant," (52). They do this with alcohol, acid, crack, cocaine, heroine, opium, even marijuana for the commoner economy. These people would rather hide behind the haze than deal with real problems.
.".. A gram me is better than a damn." (55). This becomes such common practice that many times the addiction is more than physical, but emotional need sets in. Why should one suffer the pain of life when it takes so little to escape them? "One cubic centimeter cures ten gloomy sentiments," (54). It is found to be too easy to avoid all of their problems with one little pill, vial, needle, blotter, leaf, or bottle. The drug seems to be the easiest way, the path of least resistance.
This practice is widespread; any population the fits today's guidelines of "civilization" has some kind of drug that provides the escape route, if not a variety of them. The idea of drug induced escape is so ground in that medical professions give in to it today. Psychiatrists are capable of prescribing drugs that soothe the mind, and ease the pain in the troubled patient. These drugs act as a quick fix, seeming to solve a patient's problems immediately, while the fears and troubles are only pushed aside for the time.
This use is intended as a bandage to heal and aid the mind. Like all Band-Aids, the padding wears off, and the patch falls away, when the dosage wears off. These properties are much like those of Soma. Only Soma is better, no headaches, no side effects, and the government gives it to you for doing your job. Soma represents the drugs of today upgraded, mass produced, made free and socially acceptable. Huxley did not create a new concept in Soma, he merely acknowledged what effects his predicted scientific and industrial advancements would have on drugs.
Soma is the fruit of hallucinogenic industrialization. It follows the same proportionate guidelines of advancement and production that Huxley used for his other predictions, the same speed and amount of change for the more, the faster, the easier. "Now, you swallow two or three half-gram me tablets, and there you are." (238). The fear that this realization should bring is that such use of chemical escapism could happen to our world, the real world, in time. Huxley spared no expense in displaying the effects Soma had on his world.
The main character Lenin a displays the "practical" use, wherein she used Soma anytime the situation was not perfect. She was not thinking of this as desperate or necessary, it was just common practice. With the drug becoming the center of stability, other former sources come into question. Religion would soon become the topic of debate on necessity.
Religion forms as a method for dealing with life and the world it makes up. It answers the questions that are beyond science and logic. It eliminates the question of "Why?" , and brings the fellow believers together to cope with the community and personal problems. People come to religion to find stability, a sense of understanding, and help from other believers.
These are the needs that religion fulfills. However, as Soma-like drugs spread throughout, people wouldn't need each other to cope with the answers, they can just slip away into a imaginary place without such difficulties. They don't suffer in repentance, they don't work to follow moral laws that will support the community and one's search for what's next; the next is nothing to fear with Soma inside, and the community has been given its own gram mes. In effect, such a drug and its distribution would remove the needs for a religion one at a time until society would find it unnecessary.
At this point, all that would remain is the social habit of religion. This would fall away in time, as humanity finds other ways to gather in a community; community sings are Huxley's answer for this. Humanity is very well practiced at throwing away the useless, the less advanced. The people of the future expanded on this idea with programming against retaining old things.
The same follows for religion, any religion is simply a concept to be accepted or denied, and is thus subject to the same rules of advancement and salvage which all ideas, materials, and things follow. If religion were found to be useless, it would not take long for humanity to find a way to remove it from view, to remove the obstruction. With Soma to cure everything, what need is there for useless religion? "Christianity without tears - that's what soma is." (238). Humanity is lazy. Many of its inventions come not from inspiration, but from a search for something which will make work easier for all people.
The plane, the light bulb, the factory; these were all created to make things faster, easier, better. The drive to do this is one of the leading factors in human development, and nothing is beyond the reaches of those who seek to advance and upgrade. If something seems to work, it will be toyed with, experimented with, until it can be made into, or replaced by, something better. As people find more and more excuses for drug use, more scientific attention is brought to the subject. It follows that somewhere, on a list of things to be made faster, stronger, and better are the drugs of today..