Friday, January 7, 2011

"Christianity without tears -- that's what soma is."

What you need is a gramme of soma.
He put away the soma bottle,
by this time the soma had begun to work.
"Feel how the Greater Being comes!
Rejoice and, in rejoicings, die!
Melt in the music of the drums!
For I am you and you are I."
Why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours.
She had inconspicuously swallowed half a gramme of soma,
with the result that she could now sit,
serenely not listening,
thinking of nothing at all.
and with nothing
but one's own inward resources
to rely on)
"Was and will make me ill,"
"I take a gramme and only am."
In the end she persuaded him to swallow four tablets of soma.
 She felt in her pocket for her soma --
only to discover that,
by some unprecedented oversight,
she had left the bottle down at the rest-house.
Ashamed, now that the effects of the soma had worn off.
Astonishment made her forget the deprivation of soma.
"What I had to suffer-
and not a gramme of soma to be had."
The return to civilization was for her the return to soma-
Soma played none of these unpleasant tricks.
(for on soma-holiday
she was most conveniently
out of the way),
Soma may make you lose a few years in time.
Every soma-holiday is a bit of what our ancestors used to call eternity.
She got her soma and the soma tablets within reach of her hand-there she remained;
and yet wasn't there at all,
was all the time away,
infinitely far away,
on holiday; on holiday in some other world,
where the music of the radio was a labyrinth of sonorous colours,
a sliding, palpitating labyrinth,
that led (by what beautifully inevitable windings) to a bright centre of absolute conviction;
where the dancing images of the television box were the performers
in some indescribably delicious all-singing feely;
where the dripping patchouli was more than scent-was the sun, was a million saxophones.
The Savage refuses to take soma,
and seems much distressed ashamed of his jealousy,
and alternately made efforts of will
and took soma to keep himself from feeling it.
But the efforts were not very successful;
and between the soma-holidays there were,
of necessity,
The odious sentiment kept on returning.
Their soma ration.
"How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world ..."
"Soma distribution!" shouted a loud voice. "In good order, please. Hurry up there."
The Savage stood looking on.
"O brave new world, O brave new world ..."
In his mind the singing words seemed to change their tone.
They had mocked him through his misery and remorse,
mocked him with how hideous a note of cynical derision!
Fiendishly laughing,
they had insisted on the low squalor,
the nauseous ugliness of the nightmare.
Now, suddenly, they trumpeted a call to arms.
"O brave new world!"
proclaiming the possibility of loveliness,
the possibility of transforming
even the nightmare into something fine and noble.
"O brave new world!"
It was a challenge, a command.
"No shoving there now!"
"I shall stop the distribution unless I have good behaviour."
Deprivation of soma -- appalling thought!
"Stop!" called the Savage in a loud and ringing voice. "Stop!"
"Listen, I beg of you," cried the Savage earnestly.
"Lend me your ears ..."
"Don't take that horrible stuff. It's poison, it's poison."
"Poison to soul as well as body."
"Throw it all away, that horrible poison."
"But do you like being slaves?"
His face was flushed,
his eyes bright with ardour and indignation.
"Do you like being babies?
Yes, babies.
Mewling and puking,"
exasperated by their bestial stupidity
into throwing insults at those he had come to save.
The insults bounced off their carapace of thick stupidity;
they stared at him with a blank expression of dull and sullen resentment in their eyes.
"Yes, puking!"
and remorse,
and duty-all were forgotten now
and, as it were, absorbed into an intense overpowering hatred of these less than human monsters.
"Don't you want to be free and men?
Don't you even understand what manhood and freedom are?"
Rage was making him fluent; the words came easily, in a rush.
"Don't you?"
"Very well then,
I'll teach you;
I'll make you be free whether you want to or not."
with spraying machines buckled to their shoulders;
pumped thick clouds of soma vapour into the air.
From out of the Synthetic Music Box a Voice began to speak.
The Voice of Reason,
the Voice of Good Feeling.
The sound-track roll was unwinding itself
in Synthetic Anti-Riot Speech Number Two (Medium Strength).
Straight from the depths of a non-existent heart,
"My friends, my friends!" said the Voice so pathetically,
with a note of such infinitely tender reproach that,
behind their gas masks, their eyes were momentarily dimmed with tears,
"what is the meaning of this?
Why aren't you all being happy and good together?
Happy and good," the Voice repeated.
"At peace, at peace."
It trembled, sank into a whisper and momentarily expired.
"Oh, I do want you to be happy,
I do so want you to be good!
Please, please be good and ..."
.... the Voice and the soma vapour had produced their effect.
They don't find it so.
On the contrary,
they like it.
It's light,
it's childishly simple.
No strain on the mind or the muscles.
Seven and a half hours of mild,
unexhausting labour,
and then the soma ration
and games
and unrestricted copulation
and the feelies.
What more can they ask for?
And if ever, by some unlucky chance,
anything unpleasant should somehow happen,
there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts.
And there's always soma to calm your anger,
to reconcile you to your enemies,
to make you patient
and long-suffering.
In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort
and after years of hard moral training.
you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets,
and there you are.
Anybody can be virtuous now.
You can carry at least half your mortality about in a bottle.
"Christianity without tears -- that's what soma is."

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