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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley CHAPTER 1

Chapter 1


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One A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and, in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. The enormous room on the ground floor faced towards the north. Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory. Wintriness responded to wintriness. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. Only from the yellow barrels of the microscopes did it borrow a certain rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter, streak after luscious streak in long recession down the work tables. “And this,” said the Director opening the door, “is the Fertilizing Room.” Bent over their instruments, three hundred Fertilizers were plunged, as the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning entered the room, in the scarcely breathing silence, the absent-minded, soliloquizing hum or whistle, of absorbed concentration. A troop of newly arrived students, very young, pink and callow, followed nervously, rather abjectly, at the Director’s heels. Each of them carried a notebook, in which, whenever the great man spoke, he desperately scribbled. Straight from the horse’s mouth. It was a rare privilege. The D. H. C. for Central London always made a point of personally conducting his new students round the various departments. “Just to give you a general idea,” he would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fret sawyers   and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society. “Tomorrow,” he would add, smiling at them with a slightly menacing geniality, “you’ll be settling down to serious work. You won’t have time for generalities. Meanwhile .” Meanwhile, it was a privilege. Straight from the horse’s mouth into the notebook. The boys scribbled like mad. Tall and rather thin but upright, the Director advanced into the room. He had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth, just covered, when he was not talking, by his full, floridly curved lips. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And anyhow the question didn’t arise; in this year of stability, A. F. 632, it didn’t occur to you to ask it. “I shall begin at the beginning,” said the D.H.C. and the more zealous students recorded his intention in their notebooks: Begin at the beginning. “These,” he waved his hand, “are the incubators.” And opening an insulated door he showed them racks upon racks of numbered test-tubes. “The week’s supply of ova. Kept,” he explained, “at blood heat; whereas the male gametes,” and here he opened another door, “they have to be kept at thirty- five instead of thirty-seven. Full blood heat sterilizes.” Rams wrapped in theremogene beget no lambs. Still leaning against the incubators he gave them, while the pencils scurried illegibly across the pages, a brief description of the modern fertilizing process; spoke first, of course, of its surgical introduction- “the operation undergone voluntarily for the good of Society, not to mention the fact that it carries a bonus amounting to six months’ salary”; continued with some account of the technique for preserving the excised ovary alive and actively developing; passed on to a consideration of optimum temperature, salinity, viscosity; referred to the liquor in which the detached and ripened eggs were kept; and, leading his charges to the work tables, actually showed them how this liquor was drawn off from the test-tubes; how it was let out drop by drop onto the specially warmed slides of the microscopes; how the eggs which it contained were inspected for abnormalities, counted and transferred to a porous receptacle; how (and he now took them to watch the operation) this receptacle was immersed in a warm bouillon containing free-swimming spermatozoa-at a minimum concentration of one hundred thousand per cubic centimetre, he insisted; and how, after ten minutes, the container was lifted out of the liquor and its contents re-examined; how, if any of the eggs remained unfertilized, it was again immersed, and, if necessary, yet again; how the fertilized ova went back to the incubators; where the Alphas and Betas remained until definitely bottled; while the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons were brought out again, after only thirty-six hours, to undergo Bokanovsky’s Process.     “Bokanovsky’s Process,” repeated the Director, and the students underlined the words in their little notebooks. One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress. “Essentially,” the D.H.C. concluded, “bokanovskification consists of a series of arrests of development. We check the normal growth and, paradoxically enough, the egg responds by budding.” Responds by budding. The pencils were busy. He pointed. On a very slowly moving band a rack-full of test-tubes was entering a large metal box, another, rack-full was emerging. Machinery faintly purred. It took eight minutes for the tubes to go through, he told them. Eight minutes of hard X-rays being about as much as an egg can stand. A few died; of the rest, the least susceptible divided into two; most put out four buds; some eight; all were returned to the incubators, where the buds began to develop; then, after two days, were suddenly chilled, chilled and checked. Two, four, eight, the buds in their turn budded; and having budded were dosed almost to death with alcohol; consequently burgeoned again and having budded-bud out of bud out of bud-were thereafter-further arrest being generally fatal-left to develop in peace. By which time the original egg was in a fair way to becoming anything from eight to ninety- six embryos- a prodigious improvement, you will agree, on nature. Identical twins-but not in piddling twos and threes as in the old viviparous days, when an egg would sometimes accidentally divide; actually by dozens, by scores at a time. “Scores,” the Director repeated and flung out his arms, as though he were distributing largesse. “Scores.” But one of the students was fool enough to ask where the advantage lay. “My good boy!” The Director wheeled sharply round on him. “Can’t you see? Can’t you see?” He raised a hand; his expression was solemn. “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!” Major instruments of social stability. Standard men and women; in uniform batches. The whole of a small factory staffed with the products of a single bokanovskified egg. “Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm. “You really know where you are. For the first time in history.” He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.” Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.” Solved by standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform Epsilons. Millions of identical twins. The principle of mass production at last applied to biology. “But, alas,” the Director shook his head, “we can’t bokanovskify indefinitely.” Ninety-six seemed to be the limit; seventy-two a good average. From the same ovary and with gametes of the same male to manufacture as many batches of identical twins as possible-that was the best (sadly a second best) that they could do. And even that was difficult. “For in nature it takes thirty years for two hundred eggs to reach maturity. But our business is to stabilize the population at this moment, here and now. Dribbling out twins over a quarter of a century-what would be the use of that?” Obviously, no use at all. But Podsnap’s Technique had immensely accelerated the process of ripening. They could make sure of at least a hundred and fifty mature eggs within two years. Fertilize and bokanovskify-in other words, multiply by seventy-two-and you get an average of nearly eleven thousand brothers and sisters in a hundred and fifty batches of identical twins, all within two years of the same age. “And in exceptional cases we can make one ovary yield us over fifteen thousand adult individuals.” Beckoning to a fair-haired, ruddy young man who happened to be passing at the moment. “Mr. Foster,” he called. The ruddy young man approached. “Can you tell us the record for a single ovary, Mr. Foster?” “Sixteen thousand and twelve in this Centre,” Mr. Foster replied without hesitation. He spoke very quickly, had a vivacious blue eye, and took an evident pleasure in quoting figures. “Sixteen thousand and twelve; in one hundred and eighty-nine batches of identicals. But of course they’ve done much better,” he rattled on, “in some of the tropical Centres. Singapore has often produced over sixteen thousand five hundred; and Mombasa has actually touched the seventeen thousand mark. But then they have unfair advantages. You should see the way a negro ovary responds to pituitary! It’s quite astonishing, when you’re used to working with European material. Still,” he added, with a laugh (but the light of combat was in his eyes and the lift of his chin was challenging), “still, we mean to beat them if we can. I’m working on a wonderful Delta-Minus ovary at this moment. Only just eighteen months old. Over twelve thousand seven hundred children already, either decanted or in embryo. And still going strong. We’ll beat them yet.” “That’s the spirit I like!” cried the Director, and clapped Mr. Foster on the shouder. “Come along with us, and give these boys the benefit of your expert knowledge.” Mr. Foster smiled modestly. “With pleasure.” They went. In the Bottling Room all was harmonious bustle and ordered activity. Flaps of fresh sow’s peritoneum ready cut to the proper size came shooting up in little lifts from the Organ Store in the sub-basement. Whizz and then, click! the lifthatches hew open; the bottle-liner had only to reach out a hand, take the flap, insert, smooth-down, and before the lined bottle had had time to travel out of reach along the endless band, whizz, click! another flap of peritoneum had shot up from the depths, ready to be slipped into yet another bottle, the next of that slow interminable procession on the band. Next to the Liners stood the Matriculators. The procession advanced; one by one the eggs were transferred from their test-tubes to the larger containers; deftly the peritoneal lining was slit, the morula dropped into place, the saline solution poured in. and already the bottle had passed, and it was the turn of the labellers. Heredity, date of fertilization, membership of Bokanovsky Group details were transferred from test-tube to bottle. No longer anonymous, but named, identified, the procession marched slowly on; on through an opening in the wall, slowly on into the Social Predestination Room. “Eighty-eight cubic metres of card-index,” said Mr. Foster with relish, as they entered. “Containing all the relevant information,” added the Director. “Brought up to date every morning.” “And co-ordinated every afternoon.” “On the basis of which they make their calculations.” “So many individuals, of such and such quality,” said Mr. Foster. “Distributed in such and such quantities.” “The optimum Decanting Rate at any given moment.” “Unforeseen wastages promptly made good.” “Promptly,” repeated Mr. Foster. “If you knew the amount of overtime I had to put in after the last Japanese earthquake!” He laughed goodhumouredly and shook his head. “The Predestinators send in their figures to the Fertilizers.” “Who give them the embryos they ask for.” “And the bottles come in here to be predestined in detail.” http://www.idph.net 10 IDPH “After which they are sent down to the Embryo Store.” “Where we now proceed ourselves.” And opening a door Mr. Foster led the way down a staircase into the basement. The temperature was still tropical. They descended into a thickening twilight. Two doors and a passage with a double turn insured the cellar against any possible infiltration of the day. “Embryos are like photograph film,” said Mr. Foster waggishly, as he pushed open the second door. “They can only stand red light.” And in effect the sultry darkness into which the students now followed him was visible and crimson, like the darkness of closed eyes on a summer’s afternoon. The bulging flanks of row on receding row and tier above tier of bottles glinted with innumerable rubies, and among the rubies moved the dim red spectres of men and women with purple eyes and all the symptoms of lupus. The hum and rattle of machinery faintly stirred the air. “Give them a few figures, Mr. Foster,” said the Director, who was tired of talking. Mr. Foster was only too happy to give them a few figures. Two hundred and twenty metres long, two hundred wide, ten high. He pointed upwards. Like chickens drinking, the students lifted their eyes towards the distant ceiling. Three tiers of racks: ground floor level, first gallery, second gallery. The spidery steel-work of gallery above gallery faded away in all directions into the dark. Near them three red ghosts were busily unloading demijohns from a moving staircase. The escalator from the Social Predestination Room. Each bottle could be placed on one of fifteen racks, each rack, though you couldn’t see it, was a conveyor traveling at the rate of thirty-three and a third centimetres an hour. Two hundred and sixty-seven days at eight metres a day. Two thousand one hundred and thirty-six metres in all. One circuit of the cellar at ground level, one on the first gallery, half on the second, and on the two hundred and sixty-seventh morning, daylight in the Decanting Room. Independent existence-so called. “But in the interval,” Mr. Foster concluded, “we’ve managed to do a lot to them. Oh, a very great deal.” His laugh was knowing and triumphant. “That’s the spirit I like,” said the Director once more. “Let’s walk around. You tell them everything, Mr. Foster.”  Mr. Foster duly told them. Told them of the growing embryo on its bed of peritoneum. Made them taste the rich blood surrogate on which it fed. Explained why it had to be stimulated with placentin and thyroxin. Told them of the corpus luteum extract. Showed them the jets through which at every twelfth metre from zero to 2040 it was automatically injected. Spoke of those gradually increasing doses of pituitary administered during the final ninety-six metres of their course. Described the artificial maternal circulation installed in every bottle at Metre 112; showed them the resevoir of blood- surrogate, the centrifugal pump that kept the liquid moving over the placenta and drove it through the synthetic lung and waste product filter. Referred to the embryo’s troublesome tendency to anæmia, to the massive doses of hog’s stomach extract and foetal foal’s liver with which, in consequence, it had to be supplied. Showed them the simple mechanism by means of which, during the last two metres out of every eight, all the embryos were simultaneously shaken into familiarity with movement. Hinted at the gravity of the so-called “trauma of decanting,” and enumerated the precautions taken to minimize, by a suitable training of the bottled embryo, that dangerous shock. Told them of the test for sex carried out in the neighborhood of Metre 200. Explained the system of labelling-a T for the males, a circle for the females and for those who were destined to become freemartins a question mark, black on a white ground. “For of course,” said Mr. Foster, “in the vast majority of cases, fertility is merely a nuisance. One fertile ovary in twelve hundred-that would really be quite sufficient for our purposes. But we want to have a good choice. And of course one must always have an enormous margin of safety. So we allow as many as thirty per cent of the female embryos to develop normally. The others get a dose of male sex-hormone every twenty-four metres for the rest of the course. Result: they’re decanted as freemartins-structurally quite normal (except,” he had to admit, “that they do have the slightest tendency to grow beards), but sterile. Guaranteed sterile. Which brings us at last,” continued Mr. Foster, “out of the realm of mere slavish imitation of nature into the much more interesting world of human invention.” He rubbed his hands. For of course, they didn’t content themselves with merely hatching out embryos: any cow could do that. “We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Alphas or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or future .” He was going to say “future World controllers,” but correcting himself, said “future Directors of Hatcheries,” instead. The D.H.C. acknowledged the compliment with a smile.   They were passing Metre 320 on Rack 11. A young Beta-Minus mechanic was busy with screw-driver and spanner on the blood-surrogate pump of a passing bottle. The hum of the electric motor deepened by fractions of a tone as he turned the nuts. Down, down. A final twist, a glance at the revolution counter, and he was done. He moved two paces down the line and began the same process on the next pump. “Reducing the number of revolutions per minute,” Mr. Foster explained. “The surrogate goes round slower; therefore passes through the lung at longer intervals; therefore gives the embryo less oxygen. Nothing like oxygen- shortage for keeping an embryo below par.” Again he rubbed his hands. “But why do you want to keep the embryo below par?” asked an ingenuous student. “Ass!” said the Director, breaking a long silence. “Hasn’t it occurred to you that an Epsilon embryo must have an Epsilon environment as well as an Epsilon heredity?” It evidently hadn’t occurred to him. He was covered with confusion. “The lower the caste,” said Mr. Foster, “the shorter the oxygen.” The first organ affected was the brain. After that the skeleton. At seventy per cent of normal oxygen you got dwarfs. At less than seventy eyeless monsters. “Who are no use at all,” concluded Mr. Foster. Whereas (his voice became confidential and eager), if they could discover a technique for shortening the period of maturation what a triumph, what a benefaction to Society! “Consider the horse.” They considered it. Mature at six; the elephant at ten. While at thirteen a man is not yet sexually mature; and is only full-grown at twenty. Hence, of course, that fruit of delayed development, the human intelligence. “But in Epsilons,” said Mr. Foster very justly, “we don’t need human intelligence.” Didn’t need and didn’t get it. But though the Epsilon mind was mature at ten, the Epsilon body was not fit to work till eighteen. Long years of superfluous and wasted immaturity. If the physical development could be speeded up till it was as quick, say, as a cow’s, what an enormous saving to the Community! “Enormous!” murmured the students. Mr. Foster’s enthusiasm was infectious. He became rather technical; spoke of the abnormal endocrine coordination  which made men grow so slowly; postulated a germinal mutation to account for it. Could the effects of this germinal mutation be undone? Could the individual Epsilon embryo be made a revert, by a suitable technique, to the normality of dogs and cows? That was the problem. And it was all but solved. Pilkington, at Mombasa, had produced individuals who were sexually mature at four and full-grown at six and a half. A scientific triumph. But socially useless. Six-year-old men and women were too stupid to do even Epsilon work. And the process was an all-or-nothing one; either you failed to modify at all, or else you modified the whole way. They were still trying to find the ideal compromise between adults of twenty and adults of six. So far without success. Mr. Foster sighed and shook his head. Their wanderings through the crimson twilight had brought them to the neighborhood of Metre 170 on Rack 9. From this point onwards Rack 9 was enclosed and the bottle performed the remainder of their journey in a kind of tunnel, interrupted here and there by openings two or three metres wide. “Heat conditioning,” said Mr. Foster. Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels. Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays. By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold. They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner and acetate silk spinners and steel workers. Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. “We condition them to thrive on heat,” concluded Mr. Foster. “Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it.” “And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.” In a gap between two tunnels, a nurse was delicately probing with a long fine syringe into the gelatinous contents of a passing bottle. The students and their guides stood watching her for a few moments in silence. “Well, Lenina,” said Mr. Foster, when at last she withdrew the syringe and straightened herself up. The girl turned with a start. One could see that, for all the lupus and the purple eyes, she was uncommonly pretty. “Henry!” Her smile flashed redly at him-a row of coral teeth. “Charming, charming,” murmured the Director and, giving her two or three little pats, received in exchange a rather deferential smile for himself. “What are you giving them?” asked Mr. Foster, making his tone very professihttp://www.idph.net 14 IDPH onal. “Oh, the usual typhoid and sleeping sickness.” “Tropical workers start being inoculated at Metre 150,” Mr. Foster explained to the students. “The embryos still have gills. We immunize the fish against the future man’s diseases.” Then, turning back to Lenina, “Ten to five on the roof this afternoon,” he said, “as usual.” “Charming,” said the Dhector once more, and, with a final pat, moved away after the others. On Rack 10 rows of next generation’s chemical workers were being trained in the toleration of lead, caustic soda, tar, chlorine. The first of a batch of two hundred and fifty embryonic rocket-plane engineers was just passing the eleven hundred metre mark on Rack 3. A special mechanism kept their containers in constant rotation. “To improve their sense of balance,” Mr. Foster explained. “Doing repairs on the outside of a rocket in mid-air is a ticklish job. We slacken off the circulation when they’re right way up, so that they’re half starved, and double the flow of surrogate when they’re upside down. They learn to associate topsy-turvy  with well-being; in fact, they’re only truly happy when they’re standing on their heads. “And now,” Mr. Foster went on, “I’d like to show you some very interesting conditioning for Alpha Plus Intellectuals. We have a big batch of them on Rack 5. First Gallery level,” he called to two boys who had started to go down to the ground floor. “They’re round about Metre 900,” he explained. “You can’t really do any useful intellectual conditioning till the foetuses have lost their tails. Follow me.” But the Director had looked at his watch. “Ten to three,” he said. “No time for the intellectual embryos, I’m afraid. We must go up to the Nurseries before the children have finished their afternoon sleep.” Mr. Foster was disappointed. “At least one glance at the Decanting Room,” he pleaded. “Very well then.” The Director smiled indulgently. “Just one glance.”    MR. FOSTER was left in the Decanting Room. The D.H.C. and his students stepped into the nearest lift and were carried up to the fifth floor. INFANT NURSERIES. NEO-PAVLOVIAN CONDITIONNING




show sb aˈround/ ˈround (sth) to be a guide for sb when they visit a place for the first time to show them what is interesting

bud :  a small lump that grows on a plant and from which a flower, leaf or stem develops
 the first buds appearing in spring
 The tree is in bud already. 


viviparous:  producing live babies from its body rather than eggs


Scores, = MANY
 very many
> There were scores of boxes and crates, all waiting to be checked and loaded.


callow  prononciation. ['kæləʊ] adjective
▶ inexpérimenté, ▶ novice
■ a callow youth :  un blanc-bec


syringe [sɪ'rɪndʒ]
 ▶ seringue 

topsy-turvy topsy-turvy   ['tɒpsɪ'tɜːvɪ] adjective ; adverb  
▶ sens dessus dessous, ▶ à l'envers
■ to turn everything topsy-turvy :  tout mettre sens dessus dessous | tout bouleverser or chambouler ✰
■ everything is topsy-turvy :  tout est sens dessus dessous
figurative use c'est le monde à l'envers or renversé


and having budded were dosed almost to death with alcohol

The whole of a small factory staffed with the products of a single bokanovskified egg.

“Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!”

our business is to stabilize the population

“The lower the caste,” said Mr. Foster, “the shorter the oxygen.” The first organ affected was the brain. After that the skeleton. At seventy per cent of normal oxygen you got dwarfs. At less than seventy eyeless monsters. “Who are no use at all,”




1 Un bâtiment gris et trapu de trente-quatre étages seulement. Au-dessus de l’entrée principale, les mots : CENTRE D’INCUBATION ET DE CONDITIONNEMENT DE LONDRESCENTRAL, et, dans un écusson, la devise de l’État mondial : COMMUNAUTÉ, IDENTITÉ. STABILITÉ. L’énorme pièce du rez-de-chaussée était exposée au nord. En dépit de l’été qui régnait au-delà des vitres, en dépit de toute la chaleur tropicale de la pièce elle-même, ce n’étaient que de maigres rayons d’une lumière crue et froide qui se déversaient par les fenêtres. Les blouses des travailleurs étaient blanches, leurs mains, gantées de caoutchouc pâle, de teinte cadavérique. La lumière était gelée, morte, fantomatique. Ce n’est qu’aux cylindres jaunes des microscopes qu’elle empruntait un peu de substance riche et vivante, étendue le long des tubes comme du beurre. — Et ceci, dit le Directeur, ouvrant la porte, c’est la Salle de Fécondation. Au moment où le Directeur de l’Incubation et du Conditionnement entra dans la pièce, trois cents Fécondateurs, penchés sur leurs instruments, étaient plongés dans ce silence où l’on ose à peine respirer, dans ce chantonnement ou ce sifflotement inconscients, par quoi se traduit la concentration la plus profonde. Une bande d’étudiants nouvellement arrivés, très jeunes, roses et imberbes, se pressaient, pénétrés d’une certaine appréhension, voire de quelque humilité, sur les talons du Directeur. Chacun d’eux portait un cahier de notes, dans lequel, chaque fois que le grand homme parlait, il griffonnait désespé- rément. Ils puisaient ici leur savoir à la source même. C’était un privilège rare. Le D.I.C. de Londres-Central s’attachait toujours – 20 – à faire faire à ses nouveaux étudiants, sous sa conduite personnelle, le tour des divers services. « Simplement pour vous donner une idée d’ensemble », leur expliquait-il. Car il fallait, bien entendu, qu’ils eussent un semblant d’idée d’ensemble, si l’on voulait qu’ils fissent leur travail intelligemment, – et cependant qu’ils en eussent le moins possible, si l’on voulait qu’ils fussent plus tard des membres convenables et heureux de la société. Car les détails, comme chacun le sait, conduisent à la vertu et au bonheur ; les généralités sont, au point de vue intellectuel, des maux inévitables. Ce ne sont pas les philosophes, mais bien ceux qui s’adonnent au bois découpé et aux collections de timbres, qui constituent l’armature de la société. — Demain, ajoutait-il, leur adressant un sourire empreint d’une bonhomie légèrement menaçante, vous vous mettrez au travail sérieux. Vous n’aurez pas de temps à consacrer aux géné- ralités… D’ici là… D’ici là, c’était un privilège. De la source même, droit au cahier de notes. Les jeunes gens griffonnaient fébrilement. Grand, plutôt maigre, mais bien droit, le Directeur s’avança dans la pièce. Il avait le menton allongé et les dents fortes, un peu proéminentes, que parvenaient tout juste à recouvrir, lorsqu’il ne parlait pas, ses lèvres pleines à la courbe fleurie. Vieux, jeune ? Trente ans ? Cinquante ? Cinquante-cinq ? C’était difficile à dire. Et, au surplus, la question ne se posait pas ; dans cette année de stabilité, cette année 632 de N.F., il ne venait à l’idée de personne de la poser. — Je vais commencer par le commencement, dit le D.I.C., et les étudiants les plus zélés notèrent son intention dans leur cahier : Commencer au commencement. – Ceci – il agita la main – ce sont les couveuses. – Et, ouvrant une porte de protection thermique, il leur montra des porte-tubes empilés les uns sur les autres et pleins de tubes à essais numérotés. – – 21 – L’approvisionnement d’ovules pour la semaine. Maintenus, expliqua-t-il, à la température du sang ; tandis que les gamètes mâles – et il ouvrit alors une autre porte – doivent être gardés à trente-cinq degrés, au lieu de trente-sept. La pleine température du sang stérilise. Des béliers, enveloppés de thermogène, ne procréent pas d’agneaux. Toujours appuyé contre les couveuses, il leur servit, tandis que les crayons couraient illisiblement d’un bord à l’autre des pages, une brève description du procédé moderne de la fécondation ; il parla d’abord, bien entendu, de son introduction chirurgicale, « cette opération subie volontairement pour le bien de la société, sans compter qu’elle comporte une prime se montant à six mois d’appointements » ; il continua par un exposé sommaire de la technique de la conservation de l’ovaire excisé à l’état vivant et en plein développement ; passa à des considérations sur la température, la salinité, la viscosité optima ; fit allusion à la liqueur dans laquelle on conserve les ovules détachés et venus à maturité ; et, menant ses élèves aux tables de travail, leur montra effectivement comment on retirait cette liqueur des tubes à essais ; comment on la faisait tomber goutte à goutte sur les lames de verre pour préparations microscopiques spécialement tiédies ; comment les ovules qu’elle contenait étaient examinés au point de vue des caractères anormaux, comptés, et transférés dans un récipient poreux ; comment (et il les emmena alors voir cette opération) ce récipient était immergé dans un bouillon tiède contenant des spermatozoïdes qui y nageaient librement, – « à la concentration minima de cent mille par centimètre cube », insista-t-il ; et comment, au bout de dix minutes, le vase était retiré du liquide et son contenu examiné de nouveau ; comment, s’il y restait des ovules non fécondés, on l’immergeait une deuxième fois, et, si c’était nécessaire, une troisième ; comment les ovules fécondés retournaient aux couveuses ; où les Alphas et les Bêtas demeuraient jusqu’à leur mise en flacon définitive, tandis que les Gammas, les Deltas et les Epsilons en étaient extraits, au bout de trente-six heures seulement, pour être soumis au Procédé Bokanovsky. – 22 – « Au Procédé Bokanovsky », répéta le Directeur, et les étudiants soulignèrent ces mots dans leurs calepins. Un œuf, un embryon, un adulte, – c’est la normale. Mais un œuf bokanovskifié a la propriété de bourgeonner, de prolifé- rer, de se diviser : de huit à quatre-vingt-seize bourgeons, et chaque bourgeon deviendra un embryon parfaitement formé, et chaque embryon, un adulte de taille complète. On fait ainsi pousser quatre-vingt-seize êtres humains là où il n’en poussait autrefois qu’un seul. Le progrès. — La bokanovskification, dit le D.I.C. pour conclure, consiste essentiellement en une série d’arrêts du développement. Nous enrayons la croissance normale, et, assez paradoxalement, l’œuf réagit en bourgeonnant. Réagit en bourgeonnant. Les crayons s’affairèrent. Il tendit le bras. Sur un transporteur à mouvement très lent, un porte-tubes plein de tubes à essais pénétrait dans une grande caisse métallique, un autre en sortait. Il y avait un léger ronflement de machines. Les tubes mettaient huit minutes à traverser la caisse de bout en bout, leur expliquait-il, soit huit minutes d’exposition aux rayons durs, ce qui est à peu près le maximum que puisse supporter un œuf. Un petit nombre mouraient ; des autres, les moins influencés se divisaient en deux ; la plupart proliféraient en quatre bourgeons ; quelques-uns, en huit ; tous étaient renvoyés aux couveuses, où les bourgeons commençaient à se développer ; puis, au bout de deux jours, on les soumettait soudain au froid, au froid et à l’arrêt de croissance. En deux, en quatre, en huit, les bourgeons bourgeonnaient à leur tour ; puis, ayant bourgeonné, ils étaient soumis à une dose d’alcool presque mortelle ; en conséquence, ils prolifé- raient de nouveau, et, ayant bourgeonné, on les laissait alors se développer en paix, bourgeons des bourgeons des bourgeons, – tout nouvel arrêt de croissance étant généralement fatal. À ce moment, l’œuf primitif avait de fortes chances de se transformer en un nombre quelconque d’embryons compris entre huit et – 23 – quatre-vingt-seize, « ce qui est, vous en conviendrez, un perfectionnement prodigieux par rapport à la nature. Des jumeaux identiques, mais non pas en maigres groupes de deux ou trois, comme aux jours anciens de reproduction vivipare, alors qu’un œuf se divisait parfois accidentellement ; mais bien par douzaines, par vingtaines, d’un coup. » — Par vingtaines, répéta le Directeur, et il écarta les bras, comme s’il faisait des libéralités à une foule. Par vingtaines. Mais l’un des étudiants fut assez sot pour demander en quoi résidait l’avantage. — Mon bon ami ! le Directeur se tourna vivement vers lui, vous ne voyez donc pas ? Vous ne voyez pas ? Il leva la main ; il prit une expression solennelle : Le Procédé Bokanovsky est l’un des instruments majeurs de la stabilité sociale ! Instruments majeurs de la stabilité sociale. Des hommes et des femmes conformes au type normal ; en groupes uniformes. Tout le personnel d’une petite usine constitué par les produits d’un seul œuf bokanovskifié. — Quatre-vingt-seize jumeaux identiques faisant marcher quatre-vingt-seize machines identiques ! – Sa voix était presque vibrante d’enthousiasme. – On sait vraiment où l’on va. Pour la première fois dans l’histoire. – Il cita la devise planétaire : « Communauté, Identité, Stabilité. » Des mots grandioses. Si nous pouvions bokanovskifier indéfiniment, tout le problème serait résolu. Résolu par des Gammas du type normal, des Deltas invariables, des Epsilons uniformes. Des millions de jumeaux identiques. Le principe de la production en série appliqué enfin à la biologie. — Mais, hélas !, le Directeur hocha la tête, nous ne pouvons pas bokanovskifier indéfiniment. – 24 – Quatre-vingt-seize, telle semblait être la limite ; soixantedouze, une bonne moyenne. Fabriquer, avec le même ovaire et les gamètes du même mâle, autant de groupes que possible de jumeaux identiques, c’était là ce qu’ils pouvaient faire de mieux (un mieux qui n’était malheureusement qu’un pis-aller). Et cela, c’était déjà difficile. — Car, dans la nature, il faut trente ans pour que deux cents ovules arrivent à maturité. Mais notre tâche, c’est de stabiliser la population en ce moment, ici, maintenant. Produire des jumeaux au compte-gouttes tout au long d’un quart de siècle, à quoi cela servirait-il ? Manifestement, cela ne servirait absolument de rien. Mais la Technique de Podsnap avait immensément accéléré le processus de la maturation. On pouvait s’assurer au moins cent cinquante œufs mûrs en l’espace de deux ans. Que l’on féconde et que l’on bokanovskifie, en d’autres termes, qu’on multiplie par soixante-douze, – et l’on obtient une moyenne de presque onze mille frères et sœurs dans cent cinquante groupes de jumeaux identiques, tous du même âge, à deux ans près. — Et dans des cas exceptionnels, nous pouvons nous faire livrer par un seul ovaire plus de quinze mille individus adultes. Faisant signe à un jeune homme blond au teint vermeil qui passait par hasard à ce moment : — Mr. Foster, appela-t-il. – Le jeune homme au teint vermeil s’approcha. – Pourriez-vous nous indiquer le chiffre maximum obtenu d’un seul ovaire, Mr. Foster ? — Seize mille douze, dans ce Centre-ci, répondit Mr. Foster sans aucune hésitation. – Il parlait très vite, avait l’œil bleu et vif, et prenait un plaisir évident à citer des chiffres. – Seize mille douze ; en cent quatre-vingt-neuf groupes d’identiques. Mais, bien entendu, on a fait beaucoup mieux, continua-t-il vigoureusement, dans quelques-uns des Centres tropicaux. Singapore en – 25 – a souvent produit plus de seize mille cinq cents ; et Mombasa a effectivement atteint les dix-sept mille. Mais c’est qu’ils sont injustement privilégiés, aussi. Il faut voir comment un ovaire de noire réagit au liquide pituitaire ! Il y a là de quoi vous étonner, quand on est habitué à travailler sur des matériaux européens. Néanmoins, ajouta-t-il en riant (mais l’éclair de la lutte était dans ses yeux, et le soulèvement de son menton était un défi), néanmoins, nous avons l’intention de les dépasser s’il y a moyen. Je travaille en ce moment sur un merveilleux ovaire de Delta-Moins. Il n’a que dix-huit mois, tout juste. Plus de douze mille sept cents enfants déjà, soit décantés, soit en embryon. Et il en veut encore. Nous arriverons encore à les battre ! — Voilà l’état d’esprit qui me plaît ! s’écria le Directeur, et il donna une tape sur l’épaule de Mr. Foster. – Venez donc avec nous, et faites profiter ces gamins de votre savoir d’expert. Mr. Foster sourit modestement. — Avec plaisir. Ils le suivirent. Dans la Salle de Mise en Flacons, tout était agitation harmonieuse et activité ordonnée. Des plaques de péritoine de truie, toutes coupées aux dimensions voulues, arrivaient continuellement, dans de petits monte-charge, du Magasin aux Organes dans le sous-sol. Bzzz, et puis flac ! Les portes du montecharge s’ouvraient toutes grandes ; le Garnisseur de Flacons n’avait qu’à allonger la main, prendre la plaque, l’introduire, aplatir les bords, et avant que le flacon ainsi garni eût le temps de s’éloigner hors de la portée le long du transporteur sans fin, – bzzz, flac ! – une autre plaque de péritoine était montée vivement des profondeurs souterraines, prête à être introduite dans un autre flacon, le suivant dans cette lente procession interminable sur le transporteur. – 26 – Après les Garnisseurs il y avait les Immatriculeurs ; un à un, les œufs étaient transférés de leurs tubes à essais dans les récipients plus grands ; avec dextérité, la garniture de péritoine était incisée, la morula y était mise en place, la solution saline y était versée… et déjà le flacon était passé plus loin, et c’était au tour des étiqueteurs. L’hérédité, la date de fécondation, les indications relatives au Groupe Bokanovsky, tous les détails étaient transférés de tube à essais à flacon. Non plus anonyme, mais nommée, identifiée, la procession reprenait lentement sa marche ; sa marche à travers une ouverture de la cloison, sa marche pour entrer dans la Salle de Prédestination Sociale. — Quatre-vingt-huit mètres cubes de fiches sur carton, dit Mr. Foster avec un plaisir manifeste, comme ils entraient. — Contenant tous les renseignements utiles, ajouta le Directeur. — Mis à jour tous les matins. — Et coordonnés tous les jours, dans l’après-midi. — Sur la base desquels sont faits les calculs. — Tant d’individus, de telle et telle qualité, dit Mr. Foster. — Répartis en telles et telles quantités. — Le Pourcentage de Décantation optimum à n’importe quel moment donné. — Les pertes imprévues étant promptement compensées. — Promptement, répéta Mr. Foster. Si vous saviez combien j’ai dû faire d’heures supplémentaires après le dernier tremblement de terre au Japon ! Il eut un rire de bonne humeur et hocha la tête. — Les Prédestinateurs envoient leurs chiffres aux Fécondateurs. – 27 – — Qui leur donnent les embryons qu’ils demandent. — Et les flacons arrivent ici pour être prédestinés en détail. — Après quoi, on les descend au Dépôt des Embryons. — Où nous allons maintenant nous rendre nous-mêmes. Et, ouvrant une porte, Mr. Foster se mit à leur tête pour descendre un escalier et les mener au sous-sol. La température était encore tropicale. Ils descendirent dans une pénombre qui s’épaississait. Deux portes et un couloir à double tournant protégeaient la cave contre toute infiltration possible du jour. — Les embryons ressemblent à une pellicule photographique, dit Mr. Foster d’un ton badin, ouvrant la seconde porte d’une poussée. Ils ne peuvent supporter que la lumière rouge. Et en effet l’obscurité, où régnait une chaleur lourde dans laquelle les étudiants le suivirent alors, était visible et cramoisie, comme, par un après-midi d’été, l’est l’obscurité perçue sous les paupières closes. Les flancs bombés des flacons qui s’alignaient à l’infini, rangée sur rangée, étage sur étage, étincelaient en rubis innombrables, et parmi les rubis se déplaçaient les spectres rouges et vagues d’hommes et de femmes aux yeux pourprés, aux faces rutilantes de lupiques. Un bourdonnement, un fracas de machines, imprimait à l’air un léger frémissement. — Donnez-leur quelques chiffres, Mr. Foster, dit le Directeur, qui était fatigué de parler. Mr. Foster n’était que trop heureux de les leur donner. — Deux cent vingt mètres de long, deux cents de large, dix de haut. Il tendit la main en l’air. Comme des poulets qui boivent, les étudiants levèrent les yeux vers le plafond lointain. – 28 – Trois étages de porte-flacons : au niveau du sol, première galerie, deuxième galerie. La charpente métallique, légère comme une toile d’araignée, des galeries superposées, se perdait dans toutes les directions jusque dans l’obscurité. Près d’eux, trois fantômes rouges étaient activement occupés à décharger des damesjeannes qu’ils enlevaient d’un escalier mobile. L’escalator, partant de la Salle de Prédestination Sociale. Chaque flacon pouvait être placé sur l’un d’entre quinze porte-bouteilles, dont chacun, bien qu’on ne pût s’en apercevoir, était un transporteur avançant à la vitesse de trente-trois centimètres un tiers à l’heure. Deux cent soixante-sept jours à raison de huit mètres par jour. Deux mille cent trente-six mètres en tout. Un tour de la cave au niveau du sol, un autre sur la première galerie, la moitié d’un autre sur la seconde, et, le deux cent soixante-septième matin, la lumière du jour dans la Salle de Décantation. Dès lors, l’existence indépendante – ainsi dé- nommée. — Mais, dans cet intervalle de temps, dit Mr. Foster pour conclure, nous avons réussi à leur faire pas mal de choses. Oh ! beaucoup de choses. – Son rire était averti et triomphant. — Voilà l’état d’esprit qui me plaît, dit de nouveau le Directeur. Faisons le tour. Donnez-leur toutes les explications, Mr. Foster. Mr. Foster les leur donna congrûment. Il leur parla de l’embryon, se développant sur son lit de pé- ritoine. Il leur fit goûter le riche pseudo-sang dont il se nourrit. Il expliqua pourquoi il avait besoin d’être stimulé par de la placentine et de la thyroxine. Il leur parla de l’extrait de corpus luteum. Il leur montra les ajutages par lesquels, à tous les douze mètres entre zéro et 2040, il est injecté automatiquement. Il parla de ces doses graduellement croissantes de liquide pitui- – 29 – taire administrées au cours des quatre-vingt-seize derniers mètres de leur parcours. Il décrivit la circulation maternelle artificielle installée sur chaque flacon au mètre 112 ; leur montra le réservoir de pseudo-sang, la pompe centrifuge qui maintient le liquide en mouvement au-dessus du placenta et le chasse à travers le poumon synthétique et le filtre à déchets. Il dit un mot de la tendance fâcheuse de l’embryon à l’anémie, des doses massives d’extrait d’estomac de porc et de foie de poulain fœtal qu’il est nécessaire, en conséquence, de lui fournir. Il leur montra le mécanisme simple au moyen duquel, pendant les deux derniers mètres de chaque parcours de nuit, on secoue simultanément tous les embryons pour les familiariser avec le mouvement. Il fit allusion à la gravité de ce qu’on appelle le « traumatisme de décantation », et énuméra les précautions prises afin de réduire au minimum, par un dressage approprié de l’embryon en flacon, ce choc dangereux. Il leur parla des épreuves de sexe effectuées au voisinage du mètre 200. Il expliqua le système d’étiquetage – un T pour les mâles, un cercle pour les femelles, et pour ceux qui étaient destinés à devenir des neutres, un point d’interrogation, noir sur un fond blanc. — Car, bien entendu, dit Mr. Foster, dans l’immense majorité des cas, la fécondité est tout bonnement une gêne. Un ovaire fertile sur douze cents, – voilà qui serait largement suffisant pour nos besoins. Mais nous désirons avoir un bon choix. Et, bien entendu, il faut toujours conserver une marge de sécurité énorme. Aussi laissons-nous se développer normalement jusqu’à trente pour cent des embryons femelles. Les autres re- çoivent une dose d’hormone sexuelle mâle à tous les vingtquatre mètres pendant le reste du parcours. Résultat : quand on les décante, ils sont neutres, absolument normaux au point de vue de la structure (sauf, fut-il obligé de reconnaître, qu’ils ont, il est vrai, un rien de tendance à la croissance d’une barbe), mais stériles. Garantis stériles. Ce qui nous amène enfin, continua Mr. Foster, à quitter le domaine de la simple imitation stérile de – 30 – la nature, pour entrer dans le monde beaucoup plus intéressant de l’invention humaine. Il se frotta les mains. Car, bien entendu, on ne se contentait pas de couver simplement des embryons : cela, n’importe quelle vache est capable de le faire. — En outre, nous prédestinons et conditionnons. Nous dé- cantons nos bébés sous forme d’êtres vivants socialisés, sous forme d’Alphas ou d’Epsilons, de futurs vidangeurs ou de futurs… – Il était sur le point de dire « futurs Administrateurs Mondiaux », mais, se reprenant, il dit « futurs Directeurs de l’Incubation ». Le D.I.C. fut sensible au compliment, qu’il reçut avec un sourire. Ils en étaient au mètre 320 sur le porte-bouteilles n° 11. Un jeune mécanicien Bêta-Moins était occupé à travailler avec un tournevis et une clef anglaise à la pompe à pseudo-sang d’un flacon qui passait. Le ronflement du moteur électrique devenait plus grave, par fractions de ton, tandis qu’il vissait les écrous… Plus grave, plus grave… Une torsion finale, un coup d’œil sur le compteur de tours, et il eut terminé. Il avança de deux pas le long de la rangée et recommença la même opération sur la pompe suivante. — Il diminue le nombre de tours à la minute, expliqua Mr. Foster. Le pseudo-sang circule plus lentement ; il passe par conséquent dans les poumons à intervalles plus longs ; il donne par suite à l’embryon moins d’oxygène. Rien de tel que la pénurie d’oxygène pour maintenir un embryon au-dessous de la normale. De nouveau, il se frotta les mains. — Mais pourquoi voulez-vous maintenir l’embryon audessous de la normale ? demanda un étudiant ingénu. – 31 – — Quel âne ! dit le Directeur, rompant un long silence. Ne vous est-il jamais venu à l’idée qu’il faut à un embryon d’Epsilon un milieu d’Epsilon, aussi bien qu’une hérédité d’Epsilon ? Cela ne lui était évidemment pas venu à l’idée. Il fut couvert de confusion. — Plus la caste est basse, dit Mr. Foster, moins on donne d’oxygène. Le premier organe affecté, c’est le cerveau. Ensuite le squelette. À soixante-dix pour cent d’oxygène normal, on obtient des nains. À moins de soixante-dix pour cent, des monstres sans yeux. — Lesquels ne sont absolument d’aucune utilité, dit Mr. Foster pour conclure. Tandis que (sa voix se fit confidentielle, avide d’exposer ce qu’il avait à dire) si l’on pouvait découvrir une technique pour réduire la durée de maturation, quel bienfait ce serait pour la société ! — Considérez le cheval. Ils le considérèrent. — Mûr à six ans ; l’éléphant à dix. Alors qu’à treize ans un homme n’est pas encore mûr sexuellement, et n’est adulte qu’à vingt ans. D’où, bien entendu, ce fruit du développement retardé : l’intelligence humaine. — Mais chez les Epsilons, dit fort justement Mr. Foster, nous n’avons pas besoin d’intelligence humaine. On n’en a pas besoin, et on ne l’obtient pas. Mais, bien que chez l’Epsilon l’esprit soit mûr à dix ans, il en faut dix-huit avant que le corps soit propre au travail. Que de longues années d’immaturité, superflues et gaspillées ! S’il était possible d’accélérer le développement physique jusqu’à le rendre aussi rapide, mettons que celui d’une vache, quelle économie énorme il en résulterait pour la Communauté ! — Énorme ! murmurèrent les étudiants. – 32 – L’enthousiasme de Mr. Foster était contagieux. Ses explications se firent plus techniques ; il parla de la coordination anormale des endocrines qui fait que les hommes croissent si lentement ; il admit, pour l’expliquer, une mutation germinale. Peut-on détruire les effets de cette mutation germinale ? Peut-on faire régresser l’embryon d’Epsilon, au moyen d’une technique appropriée, jusqu’au caractère normal qui existe chez les chiens et les vaches ? Tel était le problème. Et il était sur le point d’être résolu. Pilkington, à Mombasa, avait produit des individus qui étaient sexuellement mûrs à quatre ans, et de taille adulte à six ans et demi. Triomphe scientifique. Mais socialement sans utilité. Des hommes et des femmes de six ans et demi étaient trop bêtes pour accomplir même le travail d’Epsilons. Et le processus était du type tout-ou-rien ; ou bien l’on ne réussissait à modifier rien du tout, ou bien l’on modifiait complètement. On essayait encore de trouver le compromis idéal entre des adultes de vingt ans et des adultes de six ans. Jusqu’à présent, sans succès. Mr. Foster soupira et hocha la tête. Leurs pérégrinations parmi la pénombre cramoisie les avaient amenés au voisinage de mètre 170 sur le portebouteilles n° 9. À partir de ce point, le porte bouteilles n° 9 disparaissait dans une gaine, et les flacons accomplissaient le restant de leur trajet dans une sorte de tunnel, interrompu çà et là par des ouvertures de deux ou trois mètres de large. — Le conditionnement à la chaleur, dit Mr. Foster. Des tunnels chauds alternaient avec des tunnels rafraîchis. La fraîcheur était alliée à d’autres désagréments sous forme de rayons X durs. Lorsqu’ils en arrivaient à être décantés, les embryons avaient horreur du froid. Ils étaient prédestinés à émigrer dans les tropiques, à être mineurs, tisserands de soie à l’acétate et ouvriers dans les aciéries. Plus tard, leur esprit serait formé de façon à confirmer le jugement de leur corps. – 33 – — Nous les conditionnons de telle sorte qu’ils se portent bien à la chaleur, dit Mr. Foster en conclusion. Nos collègues là- haut leur apprendront à l’aimer. — Et c’est là, dit sentencieusement le Directeur, en guise de contribution à cet exposé, qu’est le secret du bonheur et de la vertu, aimer ce qu’on est obligé de faire. Tel est le but de tout conditionnement. Faire aimer aux gens la destination sociale à laquelle ils ne peuvent échapper. Dans un intervalle entre deux tunnels une infirmière était en train de sonder délicatement, au moyen d’une seringue longue et fine, le contenu gélatineux d’un flacon qui passait. Les étudiants et leur guide s’arrêtèrent pour la regarder quelques instants en silence. — Eh bien ! Lenina, dit Mr. Foster, lorsque enfin elle dégagea la seringue et se releva. La jeune fille se retourna avec un sursaut. On voyait qu’elle était exceptionnellement jolie, bien que l’éclairage lui fît un masque de lupus et des yeux pourprés. — Henry ! Son sourire lui décocha un éclair rouge, une rangée de dents de corail. — Charmante, charmante, murmura le Directeur, et, lui donnant deux ou trois petites tapes, il reçut en échange, pour sa part, un sourire un peu déférent. — Qu’est-ce que vous leur donnez là ? demanda Mr. Foster, imprimant à sa voix un ton fort professionnel. — Oh ! la typhoïde et la maladie du sommeil habituelles. — Les travailleurs des tropiques commencent à subir des inoculations au mètre 150, expliqua Mr. Foster aux étudiants. Les embryons ont encore des branchies, comme les poissons. Nous immunisons le poisson contre les maladies de l’homme à – 34 – venir. Puis, se retournant vers Lenina : Cinq heures moins dix sur le toit, ce soir, dit-il, comme d’habitude. — Charmante, dit le Directeur une fois de plus, et, avec une petite tape finale, il s’éloigna derrière les autres. Sur le porte-bouteilles n° 10, des rangées de travailleurs des industries chimiques de la génération à venir étaient dressés à supporter le plomb, la soude caustique, le goudron, le chlore. Le premier d’un groupe de deux cent cinquante mécaniciens embryonnaires d’avions-fusées passait précisément devant le repère du mètre 1100 sur le porte-bouteilles n° 3. Un mécanisme spécial maintenait leurs récipients en rotation constante. — Pour améliorer chez eux le sens de l’équilibre, expliqua Mr. Foster. Effectuer des réparations à l’extérieur d’un avionfusée en plein air, c’est un travail délicat. Nous ralentissons la circulation quand ils sont en position normale, de façon qu’ils soient à moitié affamés, et nous doublons l’afflux de pseudo sang quand ils sont la tête en bas. Ils apprennent à associer le renversement avec le bien-être. En fait, ils ne sont véritablement heureux que lorsqu’ils se tiennent sur la tête. – Et maintenant, reprit Mr. Foster, je voudrais vous montrer un conditionnement très intéressant pour Intellectuels Alpha Plus. Nous en avons un groupe important sur le porte-bouteilles n° 5. – Au niveau de la Première Galerie, cria-t-il à deux gamins qui s’étaient mis à descendre au rez-de-chaussée. – Ils sont aux environs du mètre 900, expliqua-t-il. On ne peut, en somme, effectuer aucun conditionnement utile avant que les fœtus aient perdu leur queue. Suivez-moi. Mais le Directeur avait regardé sa montre. — Trois heures moins dix, dit-il. Je crains que nous n’ayons pas de temps à consacrer aux embryons intellectuels. Il faut que nous montions aux pouponnières avant que les enfants aient fini leur sieste d’après-midi. – 35 – Mr. Foster fut déçu. — Au moins un coup d’œil sur la Salle de Décantation, supplia-t-il. — Allons, soit. Le Directeur sourit avec indulgence. Rien qu’un coup d’œil.


MR. FOSTER was left in the Decanting Room. The D.H.C. and his students stepped into the nearest lift and were carried up to the fifth floor.


The Director opened a door. They were in a large bare room, very bright and sunny; for the whole of the southern wall was a single window. Half a dozen nurses, trousered and jacketed in the regulation white viscose-linen uniform, their hair aseptically hidden under white caps, were engaged in setting out bowls of roses in a long row across the floor. Big bowls, packed tight with blossom. Thousands of petals, ripe-blown and silkily smooth, like the cheeks of innumerable little cherubs, but of cherubs, in that bright light, not exclusively pink and Aryan, but also luminously Chinese, also Mexican, also apoplectic with too much blowing of celestial trumpets, also pale as death, pale with the posthumous whiteness of marble.

The nurses stiffened to attention as the D.H.C. came in.

“Set out the books,” he said curtly.

In silence the nurses obeyed his command. Between the rose bowls the books were duly set out-a row of nursery quartos opened invitingly each at some gaily coloured image of beast or fish or bird.

“Now bring in the children.”

They hurried out of the room and returned in a minute or two, each pushing a kind of tall dumb-waiter laden, on all its four wire-netted shelves, with eight- month-old babies, all exactly alike (a Bokanovsky Group, it was evident) and all (since their caste was Delta) dressed in khaki.

“Put them down on the floor.” The infants were unloaded.

“Now turn them so that they can see the flowers and books.”

Turned, the babies at once fell silent, then began to crawl towards those clusters of sleek colours, those shapes so gay and brilliant on the white pages. As they approached, the sun came out of a momentary eclipse behind a cloud. The roses flamed up as though with a sudden passion from within; a new and profound significance seemed to suffuse the shining pages of the books. From the ranks of the crawling babies came little squeals of excitement, gurgles and twitterings of pleasure.

The Director rubbed his hands. “Excellent!” he said. “It might almost have been done on purpose.”

The swiftest crawlers were already at their goal. Small hands reached out uncertainly, touched, grasped, unpetaling the transfigured roses, crumpling the illuminated pages of the books. The Director waited until all were happily busy. Then, “Watch carefully,” he said. And, lifting his hand, he gave the signal.

The Head Nurse, who was standing by a switchboard at the other end of the room, pressed down a little lever.

There was a violent explosion. Shriller and ever shriller, a siren shrieked. Alarm bells maddeningly sounded.

The children started, screamed; their faces were distorted with terror.

“And now,” the Director shouted (for the noise was deafening), “now we proceed to rub in the lesson with a mild electric shock.”

He waved his hand again, and the Head Nurse pressed a second lever. The screaming of the babies suddenly changed its tone. There was something desperate, almost insane, about the sharp spasmodic yelps to which they now gave utterance. Their little bodies twitched and stiffened; their limbs moved jerkily as if to the tug of unseen wires.

“We can electrify that whole strip of floor,” bawled the Director in explanation. “But that’s enough,” he signalled to the nurse.

The explosions ceased, the bells stopped ringing, the shriek of the siren died down from tone to tone into silence. The stiffly twitching bodies relaxed, and what had become the sob and yelp of infant maniacs broadened out once more into a normal howl of ordinary terror.

“Offer them the flowers and the books again.”

The nurses obeyed; but at the approach of the roses, at the mere sight of those gaily-coloured images of pussy and cock-a-doodle-doo and baa-baa black sheep, the infants shrank away in horror, the volume of their howling suddenly increased.

“Observe,” said the Director triumphantly, “observe.”

Books and loud noises, fiowers and electric shocks -already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.

“They’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an ’instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes unalterably conditioned. They’ll be safe from books and botany all their lives. The Director turned to his nurses. “Take them away again.”

Still yelling, the khaki babies were loaded on to their dumb-waiters and whee-led out, leaving behind them the smell of sour milk and a most welcome silence.

One of the students held up his hand; and though he could see quite well why you couldn’t have lower-cast people wasting the Community’s time over books, and that there was always the risk of their reading something which might undesirably decondition one of their reflexes, yet- well, he couldn’t understand about the flowers. Why go to the trouble of making it psychologically impossible for Deltas to like flowers?

Patiently the D.H.C. explained. If the children were made to scream at the sight of a rose, that was on grounds of high economic policy. Not so very long ago (a century or thereabouts), Gammas, Deltas, even Epsilons, had been conditioned to like flowers -flowers in particular and wild nature in general. The idea was to make them want to be going out into the country at every available opportunity, and so compel them to consume transport.

“And didn’t they consume transport?” asked the student.

“Quite a lot,” the D.H.C. replied. “But nothing else.”

Primroses and landscapes, he pointed out, have one grave defect: they are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes; to abolish the love of nature, but not the tendency to consume transport. For of course it was essential that they should keep on going to the country, even though they hated it. The problem was to find an economically sounder reason for consuming transport than a mere affection for primroses and landscapes. It was duly found.

“We condition the masses to hate the country,” concluded the Director. “But simultaneously we condition them to love all country sports. At the same time, we see to it that all country sports shall entail the use of elaborate apparatus. So that they consume manufactured articles as well as transport. Hence those electric shocks.”

“I see,” said the student, and was silent, lost in admiration.

 There was a silence; then, clearing his throat, “Once upon a time,” the Director began, “while our Ford was still on earth, there was a little boy called Reuben Rabinovitch. Reuben was the child of Polish-speaking parents.”

The Director interrupted himself. “You know what Polish is, I suppose?” “A dead language.”

“Like French and German,” added another student, officiously showing off his learning.

“And ’parent’?” questioned the D.H.C.

There was an uneasy silence. Several of the boys blushed. They had not yet learned to draw the significant but often very fine distinction between smut and pure science. One, at last, had the courage to raise a hand.

“Human beings used to be .” he hesitated; the blood rushed to his cheeks. “Well, they used to be viviparous.”

“Quite right.” The Director nodded approvingly.

“And when the babies were decanted .”

“’Born,”’ came the correction.

“Well, then they were the parents  -I mean, not the babies, of course; the other ones.” The poor boy was overwhelmed with confusion.

“In brief,” the Director summed up, “the parents were the father and the mother.” The smut that was really science fell with a crash into the boys’ eye-avoiding silence. “Mother,” he repeated loudly rubbing in the science; and, le- aning back in his chair, “These,” he said gravely, “are unpleasant facts; I know it. But then most historical facts are unpleasant.”

He returned to Little Reuben -to Little Reuben, in whose room, one evening, by an oversight, his father and mother (crash, crash!) happened to leave the radio turned on.

(“For you must remember that in those days of gross viviparous reproduction, children were always brought up by their parents and not in State Conditioning Centres.”)

While the child was asleep, a broadcast programme from London suddenly started to come through; and the next morning, to the astonishment of his crash and crash (the more daring of the boys ventured to grin at one another), Little Reuben woke up repeating word for word a long lecture by that curious old writer (“one of the very few whose works have been permitted to come down to us”), George Bernard Shaw, who was speaking, according to a well- authenticated tradition, about his own genius. To Little Reuben’s wink and snigger, this lecture was, of course, perfectly incomprehensible and, imagining that their child had suddenly gone mad, they sent for a doctor. He, fortunately, understood English, recognized the discourse as that which Shaw had broadcasted the previous evening, realized the significance of what had happened, and sent a letter to the medical press about it.

The principle of sleep-teaching, or hypnopædia, had been discovered.” The D.H.C. made an impressive pause.

The principle had been discovered; but many, many years were to elapse before that principle was usefully applied.

“The case of Little Reuben occurred only twenty-three years after Our Ford’s first T-Model was put on the market.” (Here the Director made a sign of the T on his stomach and all the students reverently followed suit.) “And yet .”

Furiously the students scribbled. “Hypnopædia, first used officially in A.F. 214. Why not before? Two reasons. (a) .”

“These early experimenters,” the D.H.C. was saying, “were on the wrong track. They thought that hypnopædia could be made an instrument of intellectual education .”

(A small boy asleep on his right side, the right arm stuck out, the right hand hanging limp over the edge of the bed. Through a round grating in the side of a box a voice speaks softly.

“The Nile is the longest river in Africa and the second in length of all the rivers of the globe. Although falling short of the length of the Mississippi-Missouri, the Nile is at the head of all rivers as regards the length of its basin, which extends through 35 degrees of latitude .”

At breakfast the next morning, “Tommy,” some one says, “do you know which is the longest river in Africa?” A shaking of the head. “But don’t you remember something that begins: The Nile is the .”

“The-Nile-is-the-longest-river-in-Africa-and-the-second-in-length- of - all - the - rivers - of - the - globe .” The words come rushing out. “Although - falling - short - of .”

“Well now, which is the longest river in Africa?”
The eyes are blank. “I don’t know.”
“But the Nile, Tommy.”
“The - Nile - is - the - longest - river - in - Africa - and - second .” “Then which river is the longest, Tommy?”

Tommy burst into tears. “I don’t know,” he howls.)

That howl, the Director made it plain, discouraged the earliest invesfigators. The experiments were abandoned. No further attempt was made to teach children the length of the Nile in their sleep. Quite rightly. You can’t learn a science unless you know what it’s all about.

“Whereas, if they’d only started on moral education,” said the Director, leading the way towards the door. The students followed him, desperately scribbling as they walked and all the way up in the lift.Moral education, which ought never, in any circumstances, to be rational.” 🍄

“Silence, silence,” whispered a loud speaker as they stepped out at the fourteenth floor, and “Silence, silence,” the trumpet mouths indefatigably repeated at intervals down every corridor. The students and even the Director himself rose automatically to the tips of their toes. They were Alphas, of course, but even Alphas have been well conditioned. Silence, silence.” All the air of the fourteenth floor was sibilant with the categorical imperative.

Fifty yards of tiptoeing brought them to a door which the Director cautiously opened. They stepped over the threshold into the twilight of a shuttered dormitory. Eighty cots stood in a row against the wall. There was a sound of light regular breathing and a continuous murmur, as of very faint voices remotely whispering.

A nurse rose as they entered and came to attention before the Director. “What’s the lesson this afternoon?” he asked.

We had Elementary Sex for the first forty minutes,” she answered. “But now it’s switched over to Elementary Class Consciousness.”

The Director walked slowly down the long line of cots. Rosy and relaxed with sleep, eighty little boys and girls lay softly breathing. There was a whisper under every pillow. The D.H.C. halted and, bending over one of the little beds, listened attentively.

“Elementary Class Consciousness, did you say? Let’s have it repeated a little louder by the trumpet.”

At the end of the room a loud speaker projected from the wall. The Director walked up to it and pressed a switch.

“. all wear green,” said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in the middle of a sentence, “and Delta Children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.”


There was a pause; then the voice began again.

“Alpha children wear grey They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able .”

The Director pushed back the switch. The voice was silent. Only its thin ghost continued to mutter from beneath the eighty pillows.

“They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson.”

Roses and electric shocks, the khaki of Deltas and a whiff of asaf?tida- wedded indissolubly before the child can speak. But wordless conditioning is crude and wholesale; cannot bring home the finer distinctions, cannot inculcate the more complex courses of behaviour. For that there must be words, but words without reason. In brief, hypnopædia.

“The greatest moralizing and socializing force of all time.”

The students took it down in their little books. Straight from the horse’s mouth.

Once more the Director touched the switch.

“. so frightfully clever,” the soft, insinuating, indefatigable voice was saying, “I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because .”

Not so much like drops of water, though water, it is true, can wear holes in the hardest granite; rather, drops of liquid sealing-wax, drops that adhere, incrust, incorporate themselves with what they fall on, till finally the rock is all one scarlet blob.

Till at last the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind. And not the child’s mind only. The adult’s mind too-all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides- made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions!” The Director almost shouted in his triumph. “Suggestions from the State.” He banged the nearest table. “It therefore follows .”

A noise made him turn round.
“Oh, Ford!” he said in another tone, “I’ve gone and woken the children.”

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