Version 3.2: October 27, 2019
Complete, but want to add several links. Research suggestions for other posts
Crome Yellow is a novel published in 1921 by Brave New World author Aldous Huxley .
According to commentators, this novel is a satire concerning Aldous Huxley’s real life stays at Garsington Manor, the home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, where he met with other cultural influencers .
Denis Stone, the main character, is staying with familiar friends at a house called “Crome” in the village of the same name.
Chapter 2: Mrs. Priscilla Wimbush, the hostess, is introduced as spending her time with New Thought, the Occult, horoscopes, and gambling on horses and football. She talks to Denis about how exciting faith is, believing in “the next world and all the spirits, and one’s Aura” and refers to Mrs. Eddy, the “Christian Mysteries” and “Mrs. Besant” .
Chapter 4: Anne likes Denis and they talk. Denis worries about philosophy, ideas and “ratiocination.” Anne has “always taken things as they come. . . One enjoys the pleasant things, avoids the nasty ones . . . .” Denis says he has to “invent an excuse, a justification for everything that’s delightful. . .” Anne tells him that he needs a “nice plump young wife” and “a little congenial but regular work.” At this point, Denis fails to express what he really wants to say to Anne: “What I need is you.” He is in despair. The opportunity passes. He repeats this mistake in a more dramatic way at the end of the novel.
His own words seem to explain the problem: his mind–his thoughts and rationalizations–prevent him from doing what he (or every other part of him) really feels he needs to do. Later, Denis starts to wonder whether his ideas are even his own [see Chapter 24]. I think we should ask the same question about where our ideas come from. Are we led around and blocked from living a happier life by our minds which are full of half-baked and deceptive ideas from outside “authorities”?
I think Denis’s mistake is a pop culture trope. Another example is Charlie Brown being too scared to talk to the “little red-haired girl.” I think it would be a healthier story if the famous comic strip Peanuts showed Charlie Brown resolving his fear and lack of confidence, but he never does. There is some vague fear that causes the indecision–there is no rational explanation other than possibly a false belief about himself or about the world–and it would be better if there were more of an intact network of family members and friends who would be willing to encourage him and counter the negative programming. Whether it is transmitted via our family or not, it seems clear to me that we operate in many areas of life according to external programming.
In real life, Denis’s mistake is a happiness-reducing, dis-empowering and population-reducing (family-preventing) pattern of behavior. Considering some of the themes in Crome Yellow, I think it’s reasonable to speculate that the author is considering the implications of Denis’s behavior pattern in a similar way.
We take these very simple things in stories for granted. To us, pop stories of romance are very entertaining–and I think many of us would find it distasteful to consider the idea that we are being observed like domesticated animals and manipulated in a clinical way–via entertainment–by other classes of society who are counting the number of children we produce. [See McLuhan’s comment on reading and propaganda: 4] [See examples from Peanuts: 5]
Chapter 5: The residents are gathered round looking at a sow nurse her fourteen young. Henry Wimbush wants to slaughter the other one who had only five and also the boar who was getting old. Anne thought it was cruel, but Mr. Scogan praises the practicality of it. He compares the farm to a model of sound government, and so we get an idea of the line of thought Huxley encountered in his circles:
Make them breed, make them work, and when they’re past . . . , slaughter them.
The character Gombauld, who Denis sees as a rival for Anne’s affections, speaks up in favor of everyone having as many children as possible:
Lots of life: that’s what we want. . . .
The author explains Gombauld’s thoughts:
Sterility was odious, unnatural, a sin against life. Life, life, and still more life.
Mary is angry at this because she was a “convinced birth-controller” [see note on Annie Besant: 3].
Scogan starts in on how love is now dissociated from “propagation” and “Eros” is now an “entirely free god” and eventually humans will succeed in separating reproduction from sex:
An impersonal generation will take the place of Nature’s hideous system.
The he talks about “state incubators” and “gravid [pregnant] bottles” (producing bottle babies or what we eventually call test-tube babies, or maybe we can call them incuba-tots), which produce the population that the world “requires” as if the world thinks as a collective all-knowing entity–like a fake AI or H. G. Wells’s “World Brain” –that decides how many is too many. It’s just a genocidal and imperial attitude of domination dressing up its culling decisions in scientific/technological garb.
The family system will disappear; society, sapped at its very base, will have to find new foundations; and Eros
Eros . . .will flit like a gay butterfly from flower to flower . . . [6.]
And this is very similar to major aspects of Huxley’s later novel Brave New World. Anne thinks it sounds “lovely.” Mary is astonishe