The Importance of the Consumption Phenomenon in Posthuman Fiction and Its Perspective on Consumption as Depicted in the Novel Brave New WorldÖmer Torlak
Based on the effects of human actions and relationships on other living things and the environment, the existence of fiction, thought, and mental efforts cannot be ignored. While some of these efforts can be explained through research on the development features in humans, some of them go beyond well-intentioned efforts. Posthuman fiction is not far from the area of interest of literature as many other fields. This study explores the supportive role of the phenomenon of consumption as an important dimension in posthuman fiction through a novel. Consumption values and consumer behaviors are used as very important clues for posthuman fiction in the novel Brave New World, which was written in a period that can be regarded as quite conservative. The findings reveal that the idea that one of the most important characteristics of posthuman fiction is to consume more and avoid questioning is well illustrated in the novel. Notably, consumption is also used as an important element in posthuman fiction, and this is a true reflection of real life. These findings demonstrate the role fiction plays in the novel and the authors’ anticipation.
İnsan Sonrası Kurguda Tüketim Olgusunun Önemi ve Tüketime Bakışı Cesur Yeni Dünya Romanı Üzerinden OkumakÖmer Torlak
İnsan eylem ve ilişkilerinin diğer canlılar ile çevreye olan etkilerinden yola çıkılarak insan sonrasına ilişkin yine insan tarafından kurgu, düşünce ve zihinsel çabaların varlığı inkâr edilemez. Bu tür çabaların bir kısmı insanda var olan araştırma merakı ve gelişime açıklık özellikleri ile açıklanabilirken bir kısmı ise iyi niyetli çabaların ötesine geçebilmektedir. İnsan sonrası, diğer pek çok alan için olduğu gibi edebiyatın ilgi alanından da uzak olmamıştır. Bu çalışmada bir roman üzerinden insan sonrası kurguda önemli bir boyut olarak tüketim olgusunun destekleyici rolü ele alınmıştır. Sosyal ve ekonomik şartları dikkate alındığında, tüketime bakış açısının oldukça muhafazakâr sayılabilecek bir dönemde yazılmış olan Cesur Yeni Dünya romanında, tüketim değerleri ile tüketici davranışlarının insan sonrası kurgu için çok önemli ipuçları olarak kullanıldığı görülmüştür. İnsan sonrası kurgusunun insanının önemli özelliklerinden birinin daha fazla tüketerek sorgulamadan uzaklaşması olduğu düşüncesinin romanda oldukça başarılı bir şekilde işlendiği ortaya konulmuştur. Diğer taraftan, insan sonrası kurguda tüketimin önemli bir unsur olarak kullanıldığı ve gerçek hayatta da bunun fazlasıyla karşılık bulduğu ifade edilebilir. Bu hususlar çalışma konusu romanın bu bağlamdaki kurgusunun ve yazarının öngörüsünün gücünü ortaya koymaktadır.
This study examines the consumption phenomenon, which is one of the prominent contexts of posthuman fiction, as illustrated in the Brave New World novel. The novel has been acknowledged as one of the important novels in posthuman fiction. Since consumption is among the necessities of sustaining human life, it is clear that it is also a non-negligible situation in posthuman fiction. The study also explores how predictions about changes in consumption among people who cannot avoid consumption actions are shaped. The predictions in the novel are evaluated in the context of social development that is based on consumption theories. Content analysis is used to examine fiction within the novel—with reference to leisure consumption and reference group consumption theories, especially Veblen's theory of conspicuous consumption, which is also called the idle class theory. In the context of associating novels with posthuman fiction, which has been covered by very few studies in the marketing and consumer behavior literature, this study is expected to be both introductory and not stimulating.
Regardless of the purpose and reason for its production, it can easily be said that dystopian content aims at a specific consumer profile through movies and novels (Dholakia, & Fırat, 2019:1509). Therefore, in addition to the question of how authentic the posthuman consumer is, there are question marks about how positive contributions can be made to the right to life of other non-human things and why the existing negativities do not seem to have diminished.
The novel Brave New World was published in 1932. Together with George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949, these two novels describe to the reader how the second half of the twentieth century would look. They not only cover the utopian perspective but also the dystopian perspective that can be fictionalized through novels in terms of predictions about the future of humanity. In her preface to Brave New World, Margaret Atwood states that the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was one step ahead during the Cold War period, but with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, experts were convinced that the era was over and the shopping spree began to reign victoriously. Atwood further states that the Brave New World novel won the race with its predictions and ditopic fiction (Huxley, 2020: 7–8). The following evaluation is also considered important in terms of the subject of this article. The main difference between Orwell and Huxley is that while Orwell's novel emphasizes the control of people by inflicting pain, Huxley replaces pain with pleasure and brings forth a standardized human fiction that has lost the ability to criticize and think in entertainment.
Today, the Brave New World can not only be read as a utopian critique—that is, as a dystopia—but also as a transhumanist critique. While basing its arguments on the values of the positive technological development of human beings, the novel also emphasizes what is lacking in success. It ultimately sacrifices human freedom in search of improvement while criticizing the fragility of humanity. This is the price for human freedom that the world government refuses to pay. Ultimately, it is the cost of successfully applying the transhumanist techniques that Huxley challenged. In this examination of how the Brave New World is a transhumanist critique, the novel is first regarded as a novel before it is interpreted as a social warning (Carbonell, 2014:111). Therefore, as in every novel, the Brave New World, which should be read primarily as a novel, contains important clues about both the dystopian and posthuman fiction.
Looking back from today, it can easily be said that the predictions in this fiction came true within a short time. It presents a true picture of the people who are fictionalized with the consumption patterns that are expressed in the novel, which are pleasing and intended to be perceived as entertainment. Otherwise, the system will become unstable; that is, “… There can be no civilization without social stability. There is no social stability without individual stability. … The wheels should turn constantly, but they cannot turn without care. They need men to take care of them, steadfast men like cogs on their axles, sane obedient men, happy and stable men” (Huxley, 2020: 65–66). To support such stability, children in the novel are subjected to lessons idealizing overconsumption, which shove them toward the service of the consumption system of the world state. To support all these, the novel, with the support of modified proverbs, also explores the use of drugs and how they facilitate mental escape and encourages excessive capitalist consumption. (Hamamra, 2017: 13). Arguably, such fiction in the novel is intended to support the process that encourages and directs consumption, which is defined as Fordism.
Another important aspect of the novel's construction on consumption values and consumer behavior is that while trying to encourage all these values and behaviors, the mother-child relationship is the presentation of life as a disease-free and painless process that is completely far away from feelings such as discomfort, illness, and pain that a person may encounter throughout his life biologically. This implies that a person may not only feel constraints such as pain and aging related to himself, but also will be able to continue leading a life that is completely oriented toward the satisfaction of his own desires, without any emotional biological bonds, by consuming more. The pleasure tablets that he needs are presented to him in a way that he can easily access them whenever he wishes and in case of any need.
Leisure consumption is seen throughout the novel. Today, many examples of the directable and manageable human being in the posthuman fiction continue to be experienced through the consumption phenomenon. Therefore, it can easily be said that the fictionalization of the consumption phenomenon in the novel took place much earlier than the author's foresight, and that it has become a reality that emerges in the context of the predictions in the novel in terms of its effect or contributions to the posthuman fiction. In this respect, it would be correct to state that the utopian and sometimes dystopian posthuman fiction presented in the novel is neither a utopian nor a dystopian phenomenon in the context of consumption values and consumer behaviors, which are the subject of this study, and has turned into a part of our daily life as a very realistic phenomenon.