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Missive #12

This Post is all about Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley. There are a few quotable passages which I have included below. The entire Chapter XXII is what I think to be an explanation of what the book was meant to be. It certainly was not written for the plebs of the day in 1928. I have a fairly good vocabulary but Huxley sent me to the online dictionary repeatedly.

If Huxley had an editor in 1928 this 514 page book might be a good short story. But unfortunately he didn’t, so the book just goes on and on and on… Many have said the book is all about character development, I disagree with this sentiment. I struggled to finish reading it and the customer review expresses my thoughts. I disagree only about the character development. He develops character after character until it is like a clown car at the circus; they just keep coming and keep coming.Huxley has all the characters telling the reading what they are thinking, what their motives are, and what they are going to do next, over and over again. That is not how you write interesting characters, that is how you write a puppet show for sophisticates.

There are countless pages of inner monologue in which the characters repeat the same thought rephrased in further uninteresting ways. Huxley breaks the first rule of writing a good story by padding the book with all tell, and no show. — Customer review @ goodreads.com

Consumption’s proportionate to numbers. But if animals can get more than they actually require to subsist, they take it, don’t they? If there’s been a battle or a plague, the hyenas and vultures take advantage of the abundance to overeat. Isn’t it the same with us? Forests died in great quantities some millions of years ago. Man has unearthed their corpses, finds he can use them and is giving himself the luxury of a real good guzzle while the carrion lasts. When the supplies are exhausted, he’ll go back to short rations, as the hyenas do in the intervals between wars and epidemics.— Illidge in Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

Work! Work’s no more respectable than alcohol, and it serves exactly the same purpose: it just distracts the mind, makes a man forget himself. Work’s simply a drug, that’s all. It’s humiliating that men shouldn’t be able to live without drugs, soberly; it’s humiliating that they shouldn’t have the courage to see the world and themselves as they really are. They must intoxicate themselves with work. It’s stupid. The gospel of work’s just a gospel of stupidity and funk. Work may be prayer; but it’s also hiding one’s head in the sand, it’s also making such a din and a dust that a man can’t hear himself speak or see his own hand before his face. It’s hiding yourself from yourself. No wonder the Samuel Smileses and the big business men are such enthusiasts for work. Work gives them the comforting illusion of existing, even of being important. If they stopped working, they’d realize that they simply weren’t there at all, most of them. Just holes in the air, that’s all. Holes with perhaps a rather nasty smell in them. Most Smilesian souls must smell rather nasty, I should think. No wonder they daren’t stop working. They might find out what they really are, or rather –aren’t–. It’s a risk they haven’t the courage to take. — Spandrell in Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

The great defect of the novel of ideas is that it’s a made-up affair. Necessarily; for people who can reel off neatly formulated notions aren’t quite real; they’re slightly monstrous. Living with monsters becomes rather tiresome in the long run. — CHAPTER XXII -From Philip Quarles’s Notebook- Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley

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