A Stage Set For Macbeth
The ruins would still be burning. By the time any individual or party would ask for complete control of the country in return for assured eternal security and happiness, the citizens would be more than willing to give up their freedoms and become simple sheep. Nature is the embodiment of the endless struggle between the order and the opposing chaos. The tiniest atoms of all composition constantly fight to create balance among their orbitals while early animals reached only the lowliest levels of complexity before evolving into symmetrical beings. Asymmetry and disorder traditionally create feelings of uneasiness in humans, not only because of conditioning but also because of the intrinsic physiological settings that humans have more control over than any other species in the world; geese can make a “flying V,” but only humans have created a mathematically perfect hundred-sided polygon; magnets exist in nature, but only humans have created an magnet capable of creating large amounts of electricity.
Even with all this yoking of nature, which humans have made possible through the centuries, the same elements of “human nature” pushing us toward government are what create conflict between individuals, classes, and states. No people have disputed that they want government; even anarchists fight for what is called “libertarian socialism” outside of North America. Although historically not always true, the firmer grip a government has over its citizens, and the more the citizens follow their government’s laws, the more security and general happiness there should be. People often like being asked to follow instructions, to have a somewhat predetermined way of life, if only because it allows the familiarity and assurance of life running smoothly and the elimination of that many more stressful decisions. It is these observations that lead the controlling powers in both Brave New World and Linden Hills to isolate the citizens from nature.
The realism of the settings in Linden Hills exists because the book occurs during an actual time in history (at the present, when written), in an actual place, and makes references to actual well-known people, events, and facts. Nature in this microcosm exists as in anyplace else. The snow still follows an unknown itinerary, the fires still consume, the trees still grow, and the people still know of love. Nature exists as we still know it today, because the level of direct control by the Nedeeds is very slight. Rather, Luther relies on his indirect power, the secondary effects of his rule. Luther works like a god, like a devil, by setting standards and laws open to interpretation by the community, but immutably coming out on top. Luther counts on three facts of nature: reproduction, death, and the survival instinct.
The future of Nedeeds is built on self-made superstitions and generations-old laws. Reproduction holds a very important place in the lives of the Nedeeds. A single son, his skin of a “darker hue,” must be borne to the current Luther and his light-skinned wife. Despite Luther’s obvious intellect, he refuses to view the creation of his son as anything but magic; he sees himself as the one who compiles the needed components, and his wife as the one who must perform the final task of creation. Luther’s punishment of his wife for her evils and his son for his being merely proves the view Luther has of his wife as being little more than a witch who can create life at will. On the other end of the scale, the Nedeeds take advantage of nature through the profits of death. Luther knows that death is inevitable, and as an undertaker, he seems to take pleasure in the beauty he creates and control he exhibits. Death is natural, but the power he exercises over the dead bodies is not; he fights against the natural appearance of death and creates one final facade of perfection over the realities of death.
The inhabitants of Linden Hills, under (or more accurately, over) the last Luther, built their community on inherent capitalist ideology and belief of social Darwinism. More than common knowledge, scientifically has it been proven that the living fight to survive. A simple amoebae creeps around eating, not because it wants to, but because it somehow has a need to live on. This need to better oneself, to beat the competition, and to build on the foundation of your ancestor, is entirely natural and its existence as such in humans only mimics the physical evolution of humans on the whole. Although existing in its own tiny universe, the community of Linden Hills creates an identifiably realistic society where the shedding of natural human values gives way to a new set of superlative ideals perverting the American dream, religion, and morals. Looking up to Luther as almost godlike, the community is more comfortable listening to him speak than they are the leaders of their church. He creates a new set of rules to live life by, amplifying what’s acceptable in the capitalist world. Hence the inhabitants of Linden Hills make their way through life crushing anything in their path to gain a high position in society.
Opposing the citizens of Linden Hills entirely are the citizens in the world states After Ford. Not only has nature, as we know it, been eliminated entirely, but the values, morals, and lifestyles of the people living there are completely foreign to any modern culture today. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World creates one of the most extreme versions of organization seen in literature through its banishment of both nature and “human nature” from the world.
Although clear description of the cities are not given, it is known that the cities are tall, concrete, bright, and lacking natural beauty. In this new world, nature was one of the first things to go. Diseases are practically eliminated thanks to pre-decantation immunization of people, and any adoration of nature is killed soon after birth. Conditioning by the state takes the place of any natural learning or growing by the children. Every aspect of the people is controlled by the state, from blood content to profession, from sleeping patterns to recreation.
As far as being on top, a caste system is in effect, with the heads of the state at its peak, the males, Alphas, in second, the females, Betas, third, and all the way down through sexless midgets. Despite this caste system, human nature is still defied because the grass is never greener on the other side; people are completely happy existing where they are, never making an effort to advance themselves through society. Although a view of life from the point of view of a lower caste member isn’t presented, a hint of their conditioning “repetitions” is heard and almost all characters slip government issued phrases into their speech about how fortunate they are to be in their current caste and state; they believe that everybody is happy “now” and repeat so often.
Nature, although ridden from the cities still exists outside of the them. The only preventative measures taken to avoid people associating with this nature is their total disinterest or fear of it. The Savage Reservations are still plagued by insects, disease, old age while right outside the cities are still animals for the hunting, and a multitude of plants, as John Savage finds when he escapes there to live. The instinct of curiosity still exists, but gone is the curiosity for the strange and grotesque that exists today as the “stopping at a car accident” example.
The societies in both Linden Hills and Brave New World were created by similar events and completed in somewhat similar outcomes. The history of the people in Linden Hills is related to the history of the civilized people in Brave New World because both faced some sort of fear for their lives. For the people of Linden Hills, the scary history was hundreds of years of oppression and slavery followed by freedom and theoretical equality after the Civil War. As for the citizens in Brave New World, there had been some widespread and long war, bad enough that people were willing to give up individuality and intelligence for security. The differences in the two peoples begins at the motives of the controllers. The controllers of the world states aren’t aiming to prove superiority nor have any selfish reason, only to create a world at peace and a people truly happy.
The world After Ford is one that no longer evolves or changes in any way. Science is used toward fields that help the government to keep stability, new inventions aren’t needed, and the world is perfect for them at its current state. In other words, the world has no reason for improvement whatsoever, and although killing off the entire population would create the same amount of progress, the instinct to survive exists within the controllers, and they don’t allow that to happen. Linden Hills is entirely different since it is a part of different world. The world in Linden Hills changes with each generation as technology advances and politics change. Its existence as a small piece of the whole world is why it exists; its purpose is not the happiness of the people there, but the rather the unhappiness of the people not there. The rest of the world wants to be part of the exclusive society, and the motives of the Nedeeds are to keep it that way, to make Linden Hills the classic city on the hill; Linden Hills should be watched by the world, but by the 1980’s, it’s no longer pushing for Black empowerment, nor is it wanting to be emulated anywhere else in the country. Linden Hills means to be The One place of its nature, and it eventually does nothing but play with “human nature” and the urging of people to be at the top and to be the best. The outcome of Linden Hills, as the Nedeeds treat the people like mechanical toys to be wound up and watched perform, is nothing more than a stage for tragedy; Luther is the audience and the residents are the players. Brave New World’s outcome is always the same: the people are happy and the world is peaceful.
Tao Teh Ching, the ancient Taoist text, makes a relevant point in its second poem, translated that
“When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty, this in itself is ugliness. When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is evil. Indeed, the hidden and manifest give birth to each other.”
As far as human knowledge goes, nothing can be recognized as existing without its nonexistence recognized as well. Dark only can exist in the absence of light, and just as this is true, happiness can only exist in the absence of sadness. In Brave New World, sadness doesn’t exist, so neither does actual happiness. Whatever the people feel is of a degree of stoicism that we, in the present, could never comprehend. Creating people like this goes against nature by eliminating the natural impulses and feelings of all animals. Just as people in Brave New World are blinded from their feelings, the people of Linden Hills are both unable and not allowed to see anything but perfection. Their failure comes in the fact that their false perfection is only measured against who they perceive to be failures, those living in Brewster Place, when in fact the people of Brewster Place are the most hard-working and honest people in the area.
Most clearly, if the people within either Linden Hills or Brave New World had any idea what the truth of their lives were, they would want to break free. Although happiness is what people in the present strive for so often, not having that choice to feel anything else is something that the citizens would surely revolt against.