Aldous Huxley´s Mother

Estos párrafos, Mother,  provienen de la revista Esquire de 1956, edición en inglés encontrada en la biblioteca del abuelo, aquí en Salta. ¿Aldous Huxley? Un genio…

Heat and gravity, molecular motion and atomic disintegration – these are the physical prime movers of our economy. But there are also energies of thought, energies of feeling, instinct and desire – energies which, if canalized and directed, can be made to do useful work and ring up handsome profits. Some of these invisible energies were harnessed at the very dawn of civilization and have been turning the wheels of industry ever since. Personal vanity, for example, has powered half the looms and supported all the jewelers. The horror of death and the wish for some kind of survival have raised pyramids, have carved innumerable statues and inscriptions, have given employment to whole armies of painters, masons, embalmers and clergymen. And what of fear, what of aggressiveness and the lust for power, what of pride, envy and greed? These are the energies which, from the time of chipped flints to the time of split atoms, have powered the armament industry.

In recent years manufacturers and retailers have been turning their attention to other hitherto unexploited sources of psycho-industrial power. Directed by the advertisers into commercially profitable channels, snobbery and the urge to conformity have now been made to yield the equivalent of millions of horsepower of energy. The longing for sexual success and the dread of being repulsive have become the principal motive force in the ever- growing cosmetics and deodorant industries. And how brilliantly our psychological engineers have tackled the problem of turning religious tradition, children´s phantasies and family affection to commercial use! Read Dickens´s account of an old-fashioned  Christmas in The Pickwick Papers and compare what happened at Dingley Dell to what the victims of the modern American Christmas are expected to do now. In Dickens´s time, the Savior´s birthday was celebrated merely by overeating and drunkenness. Except for the servants, nobody received a present. Today Christmas is a major factor in our capitalist economy. A season of mere good cheer has been converted, by the steady application of propaganda, into a long-drawn buying spree, in the course of which everyone is under compulsion to exchange gifts with everyone else – to the immense enrichment of merchants and manufacturers.
And now compare the activities of the children described in Little Women, in Puck of Pook´s Hill, in Winnie the Pooh, with the activities of children growing up in the age of electronics. Before the invention of television, the phantasies of childhood were private, random and gratuitous. Today they are public, highly organized, and cannot be indulged in except at considerable expense to the parents, who must pay for a second TV set, buy the brands of breakfast food advertised by the purveyors of phantasy, and supply the young viewers with revolvers and coonskin caps.
The same process of publicizing the private, standardizing the random and taxing the gratuitous may be observed in the field of personal relationships. The family is an institution which permits and indeed encourages the generation of immense quantities of psychological energy. But until very recent times, this energy was allowed to run to waste without doing any good to industry or commerce. This was a situation which, in a civilization dependent for its very existence on mass production and mass consumption, could not be tolerated. The psychological engineers got to work and soon the private, random and gratuitous sentiments of filial devotion were standardized and turned to economic advantage. Mother´s Day and, despite the growing absurdity of poor Poppa, Father´s Day were instituted, and it began to be mandatory for children to celebrate these festivals by buying presents for their parents, or at least by sending them a greeting card. Not a letter, mind you; letters are private, random and bring money only to the Post office. Besides, in these days of telephones and Progressive Methods of teaching orthography, few people are willing to write or able to spell. For the good of all concerned the greeting card was invented and marketed.… (Excerpt from the American magazine Esquire, February, 1956) Artículo del 2014, ahora remozado.

Para saber
Aldous Leonard Huxley was born in Surrey, England, in 1864. He was a writer. Some of his most important works are Brave New World, Island, Point Counter Point, The Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy.

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