The novel repeatedly explains that the reason for such advanced technology is to keep workers busy manufacturing products. Interestingly though, the citizens of the World State could enjoy significantly better devices. In a conversation towards the end of the novel, World Controller Mustapha Mond explains to John that countless plans and designs for more advanced technologies already exist. The World State could, he explains, synthetically manufacture all of its food products and use highly efficient labour-saving machines. However, more advanced technology is not developed, as the World Controllers fear that high-tech machines would result in people having too much time on their hands. This, explains Mond, is not in the World State's best interests, following a previous experiment in Ireland , which revealed that more advanced technology simply led to widespread boredom and increased use of soma . Although the citizens of Brave New World enjoy apparently very advanced gadgets, they are unaware that human technology has in fact been limited artificially.
And maybe it is to Waits, rather than Orwell or Huxley, that we should look for wisdom on our current predicament. On Thursday, the N ew York Times published a wonderful series of interviews featuring Waits, Beck, and Kendrick Lamar, each speaking at some length on the subject of writing songs. Or approximately that: Waits, as is his habit, told a funny and poignant story that is true (and may even have happened) about his (purported) career as a fireman in his youth. After all the drills and practice, he was ready for something dramatic, and finally got called to his first fire. The air, he says, was full of the familiar smell of fried chicken: His squad had been called to a burning chicken farm, and Waits describes, in his poetic way, the poignant contrast between the couple watching their home and livelihood go up in literal flames while Waits and his fellow fireman made mad and hilarious efforts to hose down flaming chickens.