The question we are left with, therefore, is far more interesting than the bromides of most modern dystopian fiction. It is the notion — enshrined into our liberal cultural consciousness with force of law — that repression is bad, freedom is good, and all we need as human beings is the freedom to choose. This Brave New World challenges us by asking, What is it that we need freedom from? What is it that we should be free to do?
The New Londoners, after all, are free to have as much sex as they want, to satisfy all their physical needs, to be happy. But this means they are free to divorce themselves from the meaning that can only result from stricture: the relationships built on choosing one another and forsaking all others, the narrative power of stories built on human limitations. The Savages, for their part, are free in another sense: free to battle one another for sexual access, or to embrace and institute their various wills to power.
Both groups, at least in the Peacock miniseries’ schema, thus fall victim to different representative illnesses of modern life. Both a techno-utopian faith in human perfectibility and the atavistic “savagery” of the all-American hero are revealed as insufficient: incapable of grappling with the complexities of being human. Neither our savages nor our civilized are free of whatever, in CJack60’s words, makes them like this.
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