Aldous Huxley – Ape and Essence

Aldous Huxley (1949). Ape and Essence. London: Vintage. 2005. ISBN 9781409079668. Pagine 176. 6,01 €

Ape and Essence

Aldous Huxley è un autore che mi piace molto: Brave New World è e resta la mia distopia preferita, ho molto amato Chrome Yellow (se non l’avete letto, attualmente è gratis su Kindle) ma soprattutto Point Counter Point è stato il libro per eccellenza di un periodo (burrascoso) della mia vita. Naturale, quindi, che potessi essere tentato da un libro di Huxley, pur sapendo che correvo qualche rischio (Huxley è un autore discontinuo, che ha scritto anche delle solenni porcate), soprattutto dopo averne sentito parlare 2 volte a poche settimane di distanza.

La prima volta mi ero imbattuto in quest’opera minore di Huxley a partire dalla scoperta della lettera inviata da Huxley a Orwell nell’ottobre del 1949 (trovata su Letters of Note e da me riportata nel già citato post sulla distopia). La seconda nel libro di George Dyson Turing’s Cathedral, che non ho ancora terminato di leggere, e che fa iniziare così (un po’ a sproposito per la verità):

“THE CAMERA MOVES across the sky, and now the black serrated shape of a rocky island breaks the line of the horizon. Sailing past the island is a large, four-masted schooner. We approach, we see that the ship flies the flag of New Zealand and is named the Canterbury. Her captain and a group of passengers are at the rail, staring intently toward the east. We look through their binoculars and discover a line of barren coast.”
Thus begins Ape and Essence, Aldous Huxley’s lesser-known masterpiece, set in the Los Angeles of 2108, after a nuclear war (in the year 2008) has devastated humanity’s ability to reproduce high-fidelity copies of itself. On the twentieth of February 2108, the New Zealand Rediscovery Expedition North America arrives among the Channel Islands off the California coast. The story is presented, in keeping with the Hollywood location, in the form of a film script. “New Zealand survived and even modestly flourished in an isolation which, because of the dangerously radioactive condition of the rest of the world, remained for more than a century almost absolute. Now that the danger is over, here come its first explorers, rediscovering America from the West.” [6369-6429]

Lesser-known masterpiece! Non direi proprio, dopo averlo letto, ingannato dal giudizio di George Dyson. A dirla tutta, adesso, ho il sospetto che Dyson il libro di Huxley non l’abbia neppure letto per intero.

Anche se il libro nel complesso è mal riuscito e indisponente, Huxley è pur sempre un autore intelligente e raffinato, e qualche perla ce la dispensa:

Tragedy is the farce that involves our sympathies; farce, the tragedy that happens to outsiders. [1080]

[…] Copulation resulted in population—with a vengeance!’ [2004]

[…] Fouling the rivers, killing off the wild animals, destroying the forests, washing the topsoil into the sea, burning up an ocean of petroleum, squandering the minerals it had taken the whole of geological time to deposit. An orgy of criminal imbecility. And they called it Progress. Progress,’ he repeats, ‘Progress!
Progress — the theory that you can get something for nothing; the theory that you can gain in one field without paying for your gain in another; the theory that you alone understand the meaning of history; the theory that you know what’s going to happen fifty years from now; the theory that, in the teeth of all experience, you can foresee all the consequences of your present actions; the theory that Utopia lies just ahead and that, since ideal ends justify the most abominable means, it is your privilege and duty to rob, swindle, torture, enslave and murder all those who, in your opinion (which is, by definition, infallible), obstruct the onward march to the earthly paradise. Remember that phrase of Karl Marx’s: “Force is the midwife of Progress”? He might have added—but, of course, Belial didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag at that early stage of the proceedings — that Progress is the midwife of Force. [2031-2039]

For a moment Dr. Poole hesitates between the inhibitory recollection of his Mother, the fidelity to Loola prescribed by all the poets and novelists, and the warm, elastic Facts of Life. After about four seconds of moral conflict, he chooses, as we might expect, the Facts of Life. [2368]

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