Brave New World, Aldous Huxley , 1932
This is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the novel.
1. A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main
2. entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND
3. CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State's motto,
4. COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.
5. The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north.
6. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the
7. room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking
8. some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but
9. finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory.
10. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white,
11. their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen,
12. dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow
13. a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter,
14. streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables.
15. "And this," said the Director opening the door, "is the Fertilizing Room."
16. Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as the
17. Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely
18. breathing silence, the absent-minded, soliloquizing hum or whistle, of
19. absorbed concentration. A troop of newly arrived students, very young, pink
20. and callow, followed nervously, rather abjectly, at the Director's heels.
21. Each of them carried a notebook, in which, whenever the great man spoke,
22. he desperately scribbled. Straight from the horse's mouth. It was a rare
23. privilege. The D. H. C. for Central London always made a point of
24. personally conducting his new students round the various departments.
25. "Just to give you a general idea," he would explain to them. For of course
26. some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work
27. intelligently–though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy
28. members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows,
29. make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary
30. evils. Not philosophers but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose
31. the backbone of society.
32. "To-morrow," he would add, smiling at them with a slightly menacing
33. geniality, "you'll be settling down to serious work. You won't have time
34. for generalities. Meanwhile …"
35. Meanwhile, it was a privilege. Straight from the horse's mouth into the
36. notebook. The boys scribbled like mad.
37. Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room.
38. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when
39. he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty?
40. Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And anyhow the question didn't
41. arise; in this year of stability, A. F. 632, it didn't occur to you to ask it.
42. "I shall begin at the beginning," said the D.H.C. and the more zealous
43. students recorded his intention in their notebooks: Begin at the beginning.
44. "These," he waved his hand, "are the incubators." And opening an
45. insulated door he showed them racks upon racks of numbered test-tubes.
46. "The week's supply of ova. Kept," he explained, "at blood heat; whereas the
47. male gametes," and here he opened another door, "they have to be kept
48. at thirty-five instead of thirty-seven. Full blood heat sterilizes." Rams
49. wrapped in theremogene beget no lambs.
50. Still leaning against the incubators he gave them, while the pencils
51. scurried illegibly across the pages, a brief description of the modern
52. fertilizing process; spoke first, of course, of its surgical introduction–
53. "the operation undergone voluntarily for the good of Society, not to
54. mention the fact that it carries a bonus amounting to six months'
55. salary"; continued with some account of the technique for preserving
56. the excised ovary alive and actively developing; passed on to a
57. consideration of optimum temperature, salinity, viscosity; referred
58. to the liquor in which the detached and ripened eggs were kept;
59. and, leading his charges to the work tables, actually showed them
60. how this liquor was drawn off from the test-tubes; how it was let out
61. drop by drop onto the specially warmed slides of the microscopes;
62. how the eggs which it contained were inspected for abnormalities,
63. counted and transferred to a porous receptacle; how (and he now
64. took them to watch the operation) this receptacle was immersed in
65. a warm bouillon containing free-swimming spermatozoa–at a
66. minimum concentration of one hundred thousand per cubic centimetre,
67. he insisted; and how, after ten minutes, the container was lifted out of
68. the liquor and its contents re-examined; how, if any of the eggs
69. remained unfertilized, it was again immersed, and, if necessary,
70. yet again; how the fertilized ova went back to the incubators;
71. where the Alphas and Betas remained until definitely bottled;
72. while the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons were brought out again,
73. after only thirty-six hours, to undergo Bokanovsky's Process.
74. "Bokanovsky's Process," repeated the Director, and the students
75. underlined the words in their little notebooks.
76. One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanovskified
77. egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds,
78. and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every
79. embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings
80. grow where only one grew before. Progress.
81. "Essentially," the D.H.C. concluded, "bokanovskification consists
82. of a series of arrests of development. We check the normal growth
83. and, paradoxically enough, the egg responds by budding."
84. Responds by budding. The pencils were busy.
85. He pointed. On a very slowly moving band a rack-full of test-tubes
86. was entering a large metal box, another, rack-full was emerging.
87. Machinery faintly purred. It took eight minutes for the tubes to go
88. through, he told them. Eight minutes of hard X-rays being about
89. as much as an egg can stand. A few died; of the rest, the least
90. susceptible divided into two; most put out four buds; some eight; all
91. were returned to the incubators, where the buds began to develop;
92. then, after two days, were suddenly chilled, chilled and checked. Two,
93. four, eight, the buds in their turn budded; and having budded were
94. dosed almost to death with alcohol; consequently burgeoned again
95. and having budded–bud out of bud out of bud–were thereafter–further
96. arrest being generally fatal–left to develop in peace. By which
97. time the original egg was in a fair way to becoming anything from
98. eight to ninety-six embryos– a prodigious improvement, you will
99. agree, on nature. Identical twins–but not in piddling twos and threes
100. as in the old viviparous days, when an egg would sometimes
101. accidentally divide; actually by dozens, by scores at a time.
102. "Scores," the Director repeated and flung out his arms, as though
103. he were distributing largesse. "Scores."
104. But one of the students was fool enough to ask where the advantage
106. "My good boy!" The Director wheeled sharply round on him. "Can't you
107. see? Can't you see?" He raised a hand; his expression was solemn.
108. "Bokanovsky's Process is one of the major instruments of social
110. Major instruments of social stability.
Based on the passage, what can the reader infer about tubes containing a "rich and living substance" (line 13)?