Noir Urbanism

A brave new worldAldous Huxley

The essay by Gyan Prakash in Noir Urbanism speaks of how mega cities bring misery to the life of the residents and that the so called modern world itself is a dystopia. The author also discusses how the images we see in the media have trained us to form a perception of what modern life is. However, there are also many movies and novels that discuss how using technology to shape a city can lead to inequity and oppression.
As quoted by Gyan Prakash, “In these portrayals, the city often appears as dark, insurgent (dysfunctional (or forced into machine-like functioning), engulfed in ecological and social crises, seduced by capitalist consumption, paralyzed by crime, wars, class, gender, and racial conflicts, and subjected to excessive technological and technocratic control.”
An example of a dystopian novel is a ‘A brave new world’. The novel is set in a futuristic time where the people of the city live in a time of great technology and innovation. There is no crime, war or ethnic and religious differences.
However, there is a class differentiation that is accepted by the people of that time. Everyone belonging to a particular class is satisfied with who they are. There is no envy or existence of aspirations. This is because at the time of birth, the babies are divided into classes and are brain washed and trained in such a manner that they are happy with what they have.
The futuristic world of Huxley deals with the problem of inequality by brainwashing the citizens. This is because the solution does not reside in eliminating inequality of classes. A city needs a working class to operate and not everyone can be on top of the consumption and production chain. The problem as analyzed by the futuristic government is the ‘need’ and ‘awareness’ that one must break out of a certain class. This in effect leads to suffering, unhappiness, revolt and crime
Hence, the world created by Huxley is one where everyone happily performs their duties and there is no room for complaints. Everything is mechanical and machine like but the nation itself is at peace. However, for an observer this world is a dystopia even though it is a peaceful world. This is because amidst all the modernity and technological advancements, the brainwashed humans proceed with their lives as machines. They lack the qualities and free will that makes us human. The people in Huxley’s world are more like robots and the utopian society they live in is a dark city that lacks the essence of humanity.

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