The day JFK, Aldous Huxley, & C. S. Lewis died

Kreeft Between Heaven & HellOn November 22, 1963, three icons of the 20th century died:  John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C. S. Lewis.

People of my generation remember where they were when the news came of Kennedy’s assassination.  (I was in 7th grade study hall.)  Other traumatic public catastrophes would follow.  Now we also remember where we were when we learned about the 9/11 attacks. (I was in the basement of Rincker classroom at Concordia Wisconsin, going to my English Lit. class where we were going to study Grendel’s attack on the Hall Heorot in Beowulf.)  But JFK, for all of his faults that we learned about later, inspired an idealism that I can still remember to this day, an idealism that was shattered at his assassination and that received further shocks as the century wore on.  Stephen King captures the feel of those times perfectly in his novel about time travel to stop Kennedy’s assassination, 11/22/63.

Huxley is associated now with New Age mysticism, what with his advocacy of Eastern religions and the use of LSD (which he wanted to take at the moment of his death).  But he deserves to be honored for his dystopia Brave New World, which predicted the future more profoundly than George Orwell’s 1984.   [Read more…]

Happy Lewis/Huxley/Kennedy day!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley.  The curious conjunction of the death of these three individuals (a Christian apologist, an American president, and a speculative novelist), with their different cultural contributions and different worldviews, on November 22, 1963 is worth contemplating, especially at the half-century milestone.  So that’s what we will do today on this blog.

A good way to observe the day, after the jump. [Read more…]

A society controlled by inflicting pleasure

Aldous Huxley, who died on this date 50 years ago along with C. S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy, was the author of Brave New World.  The other great dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell offers many lessons about totalitarianism and state tyranny.  But the year 1984 came and went, and though we worry about “Big Brother” and rewriting history, most of Orwell’s predictions did not come to pass, at least not yet, and at least not in America.

But back in 1931, Huxley predicted the severance of sex and procreation.  Children are conceived and engineered in laboratories and brought up in state-run nurseries, eliminating the family.   The population doesn’t worry about its all-controlling government because everyone is blissed out with drugs (“soma”) and constantly entertained with “feelies,” which offer total immersion into what we would call virtual realities, including those of a pornographic nature.  Though romance is forbidden, casual sex is encouraged.  And at the age of 60, everyone is cheerfully euthanized.  Any of that sound familiar?

Huxley himself seems to have missed the message of his own novel, becoming an early adopter of LSD and other soma-like drugs and embracing the ideology of the brave new world that was the ’60s.  But his book was more prescient than he was.  After the jump, a comment from the late media critic Neil Postman about Huxley’s novel that will leave you reeling. [Read more…]

November 22, 1963

This is the day, 47 years ago, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and C. S. Lewis died. Also Aldous Huxley, who wrote the prophetic dystopian novel Brave New World.

So the day can be seen as something of a watershed–the end of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian age, the entry into a new dystopian age, the day the music died, etc.

People of my generation remember where they were when they learned that Kennedy was shot. I was in study hall in Junior High. I guess I was 12. I was a big Kennedy fan and political idealist at the time. A few of my friends applauded at the news, whereupon I yelled at them. It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack. Then seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated too blew our minds again. Watching the news was more dramatic than watching fiction.

Are any of you old enough to remember where you were and what you felt?

Was the day really a watershed?