Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fitzgerald, meet Huxley

"Can someone please invent soma?"

"I forget what that is. Isn't that from Brave New World?" his friend asked.

Oh soma ... "the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of soma-holiday." "she swallowed six half-gramme tablets of soma, lay down on her bed, and within ten minutes had embarked for lunar eternity. It would be eighteen hours at the least before she was in time again."

Telling my friend about soma, I thought of John at the end of "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" murmuring softly to Kismine: "Turn up your coat collar, little girl, the nights full of chill and you'll get pneumonia. His was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours."

John could have used the right prescription. Oh the benefits of somatake us away from here! More bright descriptions from Huxley of this luminous dot:
"Benito was notoriously good-natured. People said of him that he could have got through life without ever touching soma. The malice and bad tempers from which other people had to take holidays never afflicted him. Reality for Benito was always sunny. "

"'You look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma.'"

"The return to civilization was for her the return to soma, was the possibility of lying in bed and taking holiday after holiday, without ever having to come back to a headache or a fit of vomiting, without ever being made to feel as you always felt after peyotl, as though you'd done something so shamefully anti-social that you could never hold up your head again. Soma played none of these unpleasant tricks. The holiday it gave was perfect and, if the morning after was disagreeable, it was so, not intrinsically, but only by comparison with the joys of the holiday." 
"'All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.'"

"half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon..."
This particular quip, along with other descriptions of how taking soma ends thought, made me think it could be a bit like bottled meditation:
"Was and will make me ill,
I take a gram and only am."
Perhaps that's giving it a bit too much credit. Instead of self-awareness, and the moment ceasing thought, the effect of this drug could potentially just be un-inhibition, so no consideration of future or past is countenanced. I haven't taken any, so I'm unsure.
"'Every soma-holiday is a bit of what our ancestors used to call eternity.'"
In the end, let's just sing: "Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny; Love's as good as soma." Virtually, almost, nearly as good as soma. That love, it's something, ain't it!

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