© Aldous Huxley, 1932
© И.Г. Дубиковская, адаптация текста, словарь, 2019
© ООО «Издательство АСТ», 2020
A 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. A harsh thin light glared through the windows. The overalls of the workers were white, their hands gloved with a pale corpse-coloured rubber. The light was frozen, dead, a ghost. The only colourful things were the yellow barrels of the microscopes; 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. A few newly arrived students, very young and callow, followed nervously at the Director’s heels. Each of them carried a notebook. 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, if they were to be good and happy members of society.
“Tomorrow,” he would add, smiling at them in a slightly menacing way, “you’ll be settling down to serious work. You won’t have time for generalities. Meanwhile…”
Meanwhile, it was a privilege. The boys scribbled like mad.
The Director advanced into the room. Tall and rather thin, he had a long chin and big rather prominent teeth. Old, young? Thirty? Fifty? Fifty-five? It was hard to say. And in this year of stability, A.F.632, it didn’t occur to you to ask this question anyway.
“I shall begin at the beginning,” said the D.H.C. “These 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 at blood heat. 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.”
He gave them a brief description of the modern fertilizing process; spoke first, of course, of its surgical introduction; continued with the technique for preserving the ovary alive and actively developing; referred to the liquor in which the eggs were kept; and, leading the students to the work tables, actually showed them how this liquor was drawn off from the test-tubes and 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 this receptacle was immersed in a warm solution containing free-swimming spermatozoa; and how, after ten minutes, the container was lifted out of the liquor; 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. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into an 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, “the process consists of a series of arrests of development.”
He pointed. On a very slowly moving band a rack-full of test-tubes was entering a large metal box, and another rack-full was emerging. It took eight minutes for the tubes to go through, he told them. Eight minutes of hard X-rays. A few eggs died. The rest were returned to the incubators, where they began to develop. In the end, one egg was on its way to becoming anything from eight to ninety-six embryos-an improvement on nature. Identical twins-but not in twos and threes as in the old days, when an egg would sometimes accidentally divide, but in dozens at a time.
One of the students was fool enough to ask where the advantage was.
“My good boy! 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!”
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 director’s voice was very enthusiastic. “You really know where you are. For the first time in history. ‘Community, Identity, Stability.’ If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.”
Solved by standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform Epsilons. Millions of identical twins.
“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 that was the best that they could do. And even that was difficult.
“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. Producing twins for over a quarter of a century-what would be the use of that?”
Obviously, no use at all.
“And in exceptional cases we can make one ovary help produce over fifteen thousand adult individuals.”
Beckoning to a fair-haired 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. “Singapore has often produced over sixteen thousand five hundred; and Mombasa has reached the seventeen thousand mark once. Still, we mean to beat them if we can. I’m working on a wonderful Delta-Minus ovary at this moment. Going strong. We’ll beat them yet.”
“That’s the spirit I like!” cried the Director, and clapped Mr. Foster on the shoulder. “Come along with us, and tell these boys more.”
Mr. Foster smiled modestly. “With pleasure.” They went.
The Bottling Room was bustling with ordered activity. Pieces of fresh peritoneum ready to be cut came up in little lifts from the Organ Store in the sub-basement. Once the lift-hatches flew open the Bottle-Liner had only to reach out, take the flap, insert, smooth down, and then another flap of peritoneum appeared, ready to be slipped into yet another bottle.
One by one the eggs were transferred from their test-tubes to the larger containers. Then the peritoneal lining was slit, the morula dropped into place, the saline solution poured in. Then it was the turn of the labellers. Heredity, date of fertilization, membership of Bokanovsky Group-details were transferred from test-tube to bottle. Then the bottles travelled further to the Social Predestination Room.
“Eighty-eight cubic metres of card-index,” said Mr. Foster, as they entered.
“Containing all the relevant information,” added the Director. “On the basis of which they make their calculations.”
“So many individuals, of such and such quality,” said Mr. Foster.
“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.”
“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 below was still tropical. Two doors and a passage with a double turn insured the cellar against any possible infiltration.
“Embryos are like photograph film,” said Mr. Foster, as he pushed open the second door. “They can only stand red light.”
The sultry darkness here was visible and crimson, like the darkness of closed eyes on a summer’s afternoon. Row upon row and tier above tier of bottles glinted like rubies, and among the rubies moved men and women with purple eyes and all the symptoms of lupus. There was a hum and rattle of machinery in the air.
“Give them a few figures, Mr. Foster,” said the Director, who was tired of talking.
Two hundred and twenty metres long, two hundred wide, ten high. He pointed upwards. The students lifted their eyes towards the distant ceiling.
Three tiers of racks: ground floor level, first gallery, second gallery. Near them three red ghosts were unloading bottles from a moving staircase. Each bottle could be placed on one of fifteen racks. Each rack 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. One round of the cellar at ground level, one on the first gallery, half on the second, and on the two hundred and sixty-seventh morning, sent to the Decanting Room. Independent existence-so called.
“But in that time,” Mr. Foster concluded, “we’ve managed to do a lot to them.”
“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. Explained why it had to be stimulated with drugs. Described the artificial circulation installed in every bottle. Showed them the simple mechanism that shook the embryos into familiarity with movement. Told them about the “trauma of decanting,” and the test for sex taking place 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.
“One fertile ovary in twelve hundred-that would really be enough for our purposes,” said Mr. Foster. “But we want to have a good choice. And we 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 guaranteed sterile. Which brings us at last,” continued Mr. Foster, “to the much more interesting human invention.” He rubbed his hands. “We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as Alphas or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or future…” He was going to say “future World controllers,” but corrected himself “… future Directors of Hatcheries.” instead.
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 the more he turned the nuts. A final twist and he was done. He moved two paces down the line and began doing the same 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.”
“But why do you want to do that?” asked a student.
“Ass!” said the Director. “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 looked confused.
“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. “In Epsilons, 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. 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 abnormality which made men grow so slowly; postulated a mutation to account for it. Could the effects of this mutation be undone? Could the individual Epsilon embryo be reverted to the normality of dogs and cows? That was the problem.
Their wanderings had brought them to the neighborhood of Metre 170 on Rack 9. From this point onwards Rack 9 was enclosed and the bottle spent 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. Cold tunnels also produced 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 silk spinners and steel workers. “We condition them to thrive on heat,” concluded Mr. Foster.
“And that,” said the Director, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue-liking what you’ve got to do. We aim 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 contents of passing bottles.
“Well, Lenina,” said Mr. Foster.
The girl turned with a start. One could see that, for all the lupus and the purple eyes, she was very pretty.
“What are you giving them?” asked Mr. Foster, making his tone very professional.
“Oh, the usual typhoid and sleeping sickness.”
“Tropical workers start being inoculated at Metre 150,” Mr. Foster explained to the students. Then, turning back to Lenina, “Ten to five on the roof this afternoon,” he said, “as usual.”
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 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.
“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. They’re round about Metre 900. You can’t really do any useful intellectual conditioning till the fetuses 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.”
“At least one glance at the Decanting Room,” pleaded Mr. Foster.
“Very well then.” The Director smiled. “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 CONDITIONING ROOMS, announced the notice board.
The Director opened a door. They were in a large bare room, very bright and sunny. Half a dozen nurses were setting out bowls of roses in a long row across the floor. Thousands of petals, silkily smooth.
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 and set out nursery book in between the bowls, each opened at a colourful 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 with eight-month-old babies, all exactly alike and all 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 colours. Babies squealed with excitement.
The Director rubbed his hands. “Excellent!” he said.
The swiftest crawlers were already at their goal. Small hands touched, grasped, the roses and 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. A siren shrieked. Alarm bells rang.
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 their sharp yelps. Their little bodies twitched, their limbs jerked as if to the tug of unseen wires.
“We can electrify that whole strip of floor,” explained the Director. “But that’s enough,” he signaled to the nurse.
The explosions ceased, the bells stopped ringing, the shriek of the siren died down. The little bodies relaxed, and yelping turned into a normal cry of ordinary terror.
“Offer them the flowers and the books again.”
The nurses obeyed; but at the sight of the flowers and the colourful books, the infants shrank away in horror, the volume of their crying increased.
“Observe,” said the Director triumphantly, “observe.”
Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks-already in the infant mind they were linked.
“They’ll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an ‘instinctive’ hatred of books and flowers. 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 wheeled out.
One of the students held up his hand; he could see quite well why you couldn’t have lower-caste people wasting time on books, 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, 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 go out into the country, 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 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; but to keep the tendency to consume transport.
“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.”
“I see,” said the student, 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.”
“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 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. 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 happened to leave the radio turned on.
While the child was asleep, a broadcast programme from London suddenly started to come through; and the next morning Little Reuben woke up repeating word for word a long lecture by George Bernard Shaw. To Little Reuben this lecture was, of course, incomprehensible and, imagining that their child had suddenly gone mad, the parents 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 hypnopaedia, had been discovered.” The D.H.C. made an impressive pause.
“The case of Little Reuben occurred only twenty-three years after Our Ford’s first T-Model was put on the market. And yet these early experimenters were on the wrong track. They thought that hypnopaedia could be made an instrument of intellectual education…”
(A small boy asleep on his right side. 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…”
At breakfast the next morning, “Tommy,” someone 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.”
“Then which river is the longest, Tommy?”
Tommy burst into tears. “I don’t know,” he cries.)
That discouraged the earliest investigators. The experiments were abandoned. No further attempt was made to teach children the length of the Nile in their sleep. 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. “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. 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.
Fifty yards of tiptoeing brought them to a door which the Director cautiously opened. Eighty cots stood in a row against the wall. There was a sound of light regular breathing and a continuous murmur.
A nurse rose as they entered and came to 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.”
Eighty little boys and girls lay softly breathing. There was a whisper under every pillow. The D.H.C. stopped 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 was a speaker. 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. 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. 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 clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. 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.
“They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. After that they go on to a more advanced lesson.”
Once more the Director touched the switch.
“… so clever,” the soft voice was saying, “I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because…”
“Till at last the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the suggestions are the child’s mind. And the adult’s mind too-all his life long. These are 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 woken the children.”