All Paintings In This Series Are Acrylic On Panel
Before I was invited to display a full set of arcade paintings in California in the Spring of 2018, I was offered the chance to paint an entire series based around one of my favorite novels, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", and jumped on it. The idea was put forward by repeat collector Fred Whitehead, who I'd met when he bought a piece from me at the first gallery show I ever did, "Rumor Mills" at the Jones Gallery of Kansas City Missouri in 2012. I did not need to study the novel, but I did reread, relisten and rewatch it countless times as I planned the series. I broke the book down into what I felt were the twelve most important scenes, and spent almost three weeks on pencil sketches for what would become the twelve paintings. It is with great honor that I present this series, in the same year it was created, at the very same Jones Gallery of downtown KC, on the evening of Friday, November 2nd. Thanks so much to David Jones and Fred Whitehead for believing in me, way back when, and giving me the chance to see this dream come true.
I. Prelude: Once Upon A Time In The American Southwest, The Untold Story
My name is Mustapha Mond, ex-Western World Controller of Europe of the year A.F. 632. I created this twelve painting series on an island, where I was banished following the scandal known as the “lighthouse incident”.
The islanders call the year 2540 A.D. after the death of the religious figure of the former time scale. Back in civilization, A.F. stands for “After Ford” - homage to industrialist Henry Ford, who sponsored the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.
The story began when a colleague of mine named Thomas Grahm Bell took holiday on a native reservation in the American Southwest. To help avoid spiritual psychosis, he brought a colleague, but the two ran low on drug rations and got lost in the desert. The Indians found Thomas near death and incoherent, but helped get him back to civilization. The female, Linda Lisinko, depicted here, was never found, and presumed dead. It was only years later, the truth came out she’d not only survived, but had given birth to Thomas’ illegitimate child; one of the worst crimes to commit in present day society, for a number of reasons…
II. Human beings are grown; not born. They are genetically engineered based on the needs of society to be Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon, and wear respective colors. Alphas control, Betas and Gammas work in health and communication fields, Deltas and Epsilons do physical and menial labor. A new person is grown only when one of the same caste passes; over the centuries, we have determined the optimum numbers, so there's always the perfect amount of people, and all the right kinds, for just the right jobs.
It is universally preached all castes are of equal importance. Alphas and Betas can technically reproduce, but it is strictly prohibited; their sperm and ova are frozen by the state solely for bioengineering future employees. Lower castes are cloned, mass produced, and have fully functional sex drives; but are born sterile.
These processes were initially frowned upon and labeled ‘eugenics’ when introduced. But, after the great population wars of the mid to late 21st century, the masses granted world government indefinite power to control, and we have gone on controlling peacefully since. Only on experimental islands, and rarer, electronically fenced savage reservations, are primitives still allowed to give viviferous birth.
III. Words pertaining to the “nuclear family” like “mother”, “father”, “heritage” and “love” are profanity. After solving overpopulation, bioengineering gradually created equal numbers of all ethnicities, ending racism. Physical disease was then eradicated, as was growing old after the age of thirty, until peaceful passing on around 80.
Religion, philosophy, high art, accurate history, and true science were banned to all citizens, except World Controllers and deported criminals. Violence is virtually non existent - what were once “movies” are now “feelies”, where sensations can be felt as easily as seen. Jealousy, hate, greed, ambition, and other destructive emotions can only be experienced digitally. Violent Passion Surrogate Treatments - the perfect combination of BDSM and virtual reality - satisfy less socially acceptable tendencies in a therapeutic way.
Drugs we have today are far safer and superior than the best cocaine and morphine of the past - more hallucinogenic, more euphoric, better at killing pain - without the faintest hint of a crash or hangover. Recreational use, parties, raves, dances, sporting events, gaming tournaments, random sexual encounters, orgies, social media and gossip, are all not just encouraged; but mandatory. Even dying is social, and celebrated. As a result of these combined efforts, civilization hasn’t recorded a murder in over one hundred years.
IV. Plotting to thwart universal happiness is the worst crime. It was my duty to spot future criminals and recondition them. Incurables are sent to islands catered to their own perversions, and barred from contacting the mainland for life, even by satellite.
Un-fordly rumors surrounded the creation of Bernard Marx, an Alpha-Plus psychologist with a chip on his shoulder. Some say alcohol was accidentally introduced to the fetus; others say he was an illegitimate child, born in secrecy, but…. if either scenario proved true, it might have prevented my advancement. I computo-erased Bernard's early records, convinced they wouldn't come back to haunt me..
I could not deny Mr. Marx was different though; physically shorter, mentally a genius, but socially intolerable. Bernard didn't take prescriptions, educated himself for pleasure, enjoyed solitude, and showed off his deviant over-intelligence, especially to the lower castes. Worse, he refused to participate in high holy orgy ceremonies, ridiculed the feelies and sports plays, and seemed unresponsive to VPST. All his work orders contained heretical ideas, subliminal to most, but obvious to me. I tried to coach him, but my efforts were in vain. I knew the day might come when I'd have to surround him with saltwater.
V: The trouble began when I allowed Bernard to take holiday to the same reservation where Linda Lisinko had been abandoned some thirty years ago. Mr. Marx was more problematic with his superiors than usual around this time, particularly, with the same exact Thomas Graham Bell who'd left her in the southwest. I’d hoped experiencing something out of the ordinary would get Bernard to fly right, and had no way of knowing the truth about what had transpired in the desert.
Mr. Marx took a girl, Lenina Crowell, and I received a much needed vacation from dealing with Bernard. I then got a tele-call from them shortly before they were to return, claiming they’d found two members of civilization on the reservation; one of which was a Beta Minus, the other her…..son…..a word I had not heard for years before Bernard sheepishly muttered it. He wanted to bring the two back with him and run a study, and I allowed it. Technically, this sort of experiment fit Bernard's job description.... I hadn't the faintest idea this action would put into motion my own dismissal and subsequent banishment.
It was only upon meeting the son, and recognizing the Beta Minus from many many years ago, that it dawned on me who she was….but before I could take corrective measures, the news went viral.
VII: The first order of the study was Bernard taking the new celebrity John, now dubbed ‘The Savage’ on a tour of civilization. The media followed them, but John's mother, Linda, cut no ice. She had wrinkled physically on the reservation without anti-aging drugs, and didn’t make good media fodder.
John, on the other hand, was tall, dashing, peculiar in a non-threatening way, and somewhat charismatic, despite his idiosyncrasies. The general audience loved him, and laughed at his Shakespearean quotes and all the other thing he said that were above their head. The tour made great television for members of all castes to enjoy, post-edited.
Most of the second half of the documentary had to be cut, unfortunately, as The Savage grew less pleased with our scientific advancements, and more distraught over their application. The caste system bothered him, as did the central hatcheries unit, the high holy orgy ceremonies, the manipulation of all plant and animal and sealife, and the synthetic foods. Thankfully the tour was not filmed live; for, at some point after explaining Bokanovsky’s cloning process, the mandatory erotic play sessions for high schoolers, death appreciation classes, and the nature nausea reinforcement treatments, The Savage turned green in the face, and vomited.
VIII: It wasn’t long before the talk shows began speculating which girls The Savage was engaging with; the problem was, he wasn’t engaging with any. He was raised by the overprotective and smothering Linda, without the positive model of the state, bought up by Indians to believe in monogamy, romance, and the rearing of children through natural insemination. He might have possibly even been a virgin. None of which could be mentioned to a studio audience.
But the cameras did catch him staring longingly for Lenina, perhaps because she was the first non-native girl he'd ever laid eyes on. Indeed, John is excited at the prospect of spending an evening with her, and she even more so with him. Bernard grows jealous of their chemistry, and even more bitter after John intentionally avoids his presentation of their tour, tarnishing Bernard's reputation.
But the date goes horrible for both Lenina and The Savage. John makes a scene at the Feelie Palace in protest of it's "ignoble" engagement scenes, and subsequent tactile effects, after which, rumor has it Lenina made a sexual advance back at her place, and John responded by slandering and assaulting her. This was the first violent action charged to The Savage by the police, and, by the time I heard of it, only one of many.
IX: John went raging out of Lenina’s apartment after a call from Linda’s nurse. He’d never been taught in civilization, that without families, there were no need for funerals, and hospitals also served as crematoriums.
The Savage’s mother was passing by way of terminal bliss; making up for thirty years time without her joyous pharmaceuticals. She had gradually taken larger doses to stay higher for longer and longer upon returning, which would have been fine had her body not grown so weak and withdrawn, but it had. That’s when the days students arrived for death appreciation training.
The class sang songs about dying, each student applied makeup to their own chosen corpse, and, with the help of morticians and teachers, cremated one apiece. After pulling the levers, the students completed the lesson by eating chocolate eclairs, lollipops, other sugary sweets, and singing more songs. Linda passed peacefully while John cried in anguish by her side. Groups of students approached the recently departed Linda, who mocked her old and unusual appearance. John’s sorrow turned to blind rage again, and he boxed the 11-year-old Delta twin who’d made the rudest remark between the ears. The principal and funeral director tried to intervene, but John threatened more violence, and stormed out of the hospital.
X. There was footage after The Savage left Linda’s side that haunts me to this day. Tears down his face, John gazed upon medication time, and muttered to himself, in sarcastic despair “How beauteous mankind is! Oh brave new world” - a line from my all time favorite piece of smut; William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. Second and third opinions from mechanical and human lip-readers both confirmed it was, indeed, that specific line.
Still in agony over the events at the hospital, John vandalized the dispensary centers, dumped most of the pills out of the windows, and screamed for revolution. The Deltas formed a mob to confront John…when Bernard, along with close friend and brilliant jingle-writer Helmholtz Watson, assisted The Savage in the destruction. A full blown riot broke out, complete with black eyes, broken noses, and trips to the emergency room.
By the time I arrived, the police had already shown up, and laughing-gassed the three perpetrators into hysterical fits of submission. But the story had broken, and other World Controller’s expected me to lay down the law. Too many scandals had taken place in too short a time on my watch, and my reputation was slipping into jeopardy.
XI: I summoned the three to my secret chamber, and showed them the sins humankind sacrificed after the 21st century population wars. Literature, philosophy, poetry, dogma, real science, and high art. I treated them like friends more than criminals...for awhile. Then I reexplained why such knowledge had to be banned, in favor of lifetimes spent serving the the lower castes. I reminded them, those who disagreed deserved to be sent to islands, but all three Alphas failed my test by arguing.
When the police arrived, Bernard went kicking and screaming, cursing me with every name in the book….problem-child to the bitter end. Watson cackled in my face and challenged me “the sooner the better!” He even requested an Antarctic climate, claiming it would make him more creative. I told John I wanted to continue the experiment, in order to slowly cover it up, but he embarrassed me yet again by fleeing.
The Savage ran off to an abandoned lighthouse near the remotest part of the mainland, where he could hunt and grow his own food. I'm sure John hoped the masses would stay away as much as I did….but they didn’t. Once discovered, hordes of lower castes left the factories to live in nature like their celebrity The Savage. It was humiliating, and I felt the only way to get the masses to stop taking John seriously was to make a joke out of him. But the joke I wound up playing was a bad one, on myself, and unlike the Thomas Grahm Bell scandal, no one laughed.