The Meaning of Life: Life without Soma
Richard Taylor concludes in his essay that individuals create their own meaning to a meaningless life. Following Taylor’s philosophy, would it then be true that although Lenina and Bernard radically differ in their thinking, both have created meaning to their lives within the World State? Or, does soma play a dramatic role in suppressing the meaning of life for certain characters? The World State’s creation of stability through use of soma and forced ideas does not leave space for a true living of life (which derives from danger, freedom, discomfort) nor for individual creation of meaning.
Lenina represents the stability of the World State system. She sees happy and content with her life since no troubles. She rejects any ideas that don’t fit with the model she grew up with. Automatically, if things don’t fit with the ideas of the World State system, she repeats memorized words such as “everyone works for everyone else. We cant do without anyone” to affirm the system’s logic ( Huxley 73). However, does this life have meaning for her? Since she seems satisfied one would assume she is content within this dictatorship. Taylor would argue that she resembles Sisyphus if he had but one obsession that is rolling stones. He is satisfied since his “life is now filled with mission and meaning” ( Taylor 978). However, the difference is that Lenina had been forced meaning to her life by the authoritarian rule. Furthermore, any chance to create meaning for her life is pushed aside by taking soma. The system has created meaning to her own life, which is artificial and false because life is meaningless until humans create meaning for themselves.
Bernard represents individualism and struggle within the World State. Through the struggle, Bernard is trying to create meaning for his own life that Taylor would applaud. Taylor states that “ the meaning of life is from within us, it is not bestowed from without” (Taylor 982). Especially at the scene where he wants to look at the see in peace, Bernard displays his struggle for the meaning of life within himself. He states that “ it makes me feel as though I were more me... more my own, not so completely part of something else. Not just a cell in a social body” (Huxley 90). This escape from a solely social world is necessary in the process of finding the meaning to life. It is only when Bernard stops taking soma that he is able to think clearly and desire peace from social life. Lenina will ever be able to find true meaning until she escapes the social body and soma like Bernard.
Without the use of Soma, character questioning of the present would not be suppressed. This would most likely lead to an empire of individualistic thinkers that would collapse the World State’s system. Although the system seems to cure instability, it does not account for the truth. The truth, Taylor would believe is that life is meaningless, yet individuals need to create meaning within themselves rather than forcing or ignoring meaning through soma.