Attempt a comparative assessment, after Huxley between past pleasure and present.]
The difference between the two sorts of pleasure is set down by the author at the very beginning of his essay. He means by the modern pleasures, ‘not real pleasure, but the organised activities officially known by the same name’, pleasure.
Modern pleasure arises from the organized distraction which makes in rapidly stupid. There was a time when men indulged in distraction becomes it required intellectual efforts. In the 17th century England royal personages and their courtiers took delight in hearing learned sermons and academical- debates on theology or metaphysics. Another example of intellectual real pleasure that was offered during the marriage ceremony of Pataline with James’s daughter is also mentioned. No such pleasure is enjoyed during the recent time.
Not only the royal personages but the every lady and gentleman of ordinary culture could enjoy the intellectual pleasure. In the Elizabethan period those people could, if situation demanded, took part in part song for several voices, usually unaccompaniment. One who has the real knowledge regarding the complexity of the sixteenth century music can realize that taking part to that madrigal is not easy one in spite of one’s sufficient intellectuality. Our forefathers enjoyed the pleasure in the truest sense of the term. Even the uneducated person delighted in listening to such complex dramas like — Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet etc. Even in the remote country the peasants celebrated the traditions rites by dancing, singing, winter mummings etc throughout the year. Their pleasure was lively, intelligent because they entertained themselves by their own efforts.
Unfortunately we have changed all that. In place of intellectual pleasure we have vast organizations to provide us ready-made distraction that demands no intellectual efforts of any sort. In place of the old pleasures demanding intelligence and personal initiative, we have vast organizations that provide us with ready-made distractions—distractions—which demand from pleasure-seekers no personal participation and no intellectual effort of any sort.” Million of cinemas bring nothing but the meaningless flow of words and words only. The writes of these cinemas are almost nonsense so their works never cross the boundaries of the cities. Now-a-days the whole world by the invention of scenario-writer is continuously soaking passively in the lukewarm water of nonsense. It demands no mental effort, no participation, only sit and keep the eyes open. —“Countless audience soak passively in the tepid bath of nonsense.” They need no mental effort, no intellectual response, no actual participation. They need only sit and keep their eyes and ears open and let the film go in its own way
If one wants to listen music one can get it only switching on the gramophone and if necessary for a change he can get another by adjusting to the right wave-length. For literature they turn to Press. But all these never demand intellectuality your mind, therefore, will find no fatigue and it will go one years after years bearing the name of success.
Equally passive and standardized is the dance today. Previously men and women danced, took intense interest in their craft and even tried to express their personal talent in the same. But the situation has an unfortunate change. All classes still dance, but dance, all the world over, in the same steps to the same tunes. Huxley’s comment, in this connection, is sharp and lays bare the hard fact—“The dance has been scrupulously sterilized of any local or personal individuality”.