In Memoriam

On this day in 1963, Aldous Huxley died. Fewer people heard about it, but so did John Kennedy. He was the King of Camelot at the time, but a crazed left-wing nutmeg took him out in Dallas, Texas. Another person you may have heard about who died on the same day was CS Lewis.

It’s an impressive coincidence that these three died on the same day (almost as impressive as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson each dying on July 4, 1826 – the day the Republic died?). Each represented a very different worldview, a different paradigm of beliefs.

Peter Kreeft wrote a book speculating on the discussion the three of them might have had waiting in the ante-chamber to their judgment that I read a few years back. It is called Between Heaven and Hell and is worth the read.

Aldous Huxley wrote the dystopic novel Brave New World, which some might argue competed with George Orwell’s 1984 as the prophetic novel of the future from the perspective of the mid-20th century. While Orwell regarded the tyrannically cruel state as the great enemy of man, Huxley feared the emptiness of sensory pleasure and its destructive power.

Lewis also wrote a novel about a dystopic society called That Hideous Strength. It’s the novel version of The Abolition of Man and one I would highly recommend for people interested in the theme, especially if you plan on attending the CiRCE conference in 2011. I remember trying to read That Hideous Strength as a boy of about 17 and not appreciating it at all. Now, I can hardly stand going a year without reviewing it. In fact, if people show an interest, I might devote a breakout session to a discussion of this book.

Kennedy stood inside a dystopia in 1962 and said something along the lines of “I am a jelly doughnut.” Just kidding. He said, I am a Berliner, and its really an excellent speech, except when he gets a little too abstract and fanciful at the end.

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