On this Garden Island of Kauai, there is certainly a movement to further sustainability, growing what we need right here. For some, this would be the first step in making a utopia right here in our own back yard.
Author Aldous Huxley (famous for his classic dystopian novel “Brave New World”), imagined such a place near the end of his life. “Island”, which many consider Huxley’s best work, conceives of a utopia that goes far beyond sustainability, challenging the very notion of “society” as we understand it.
This beautifully written novel explores a utopian Polynesian society set on a remote island in the Pacific named Pala which has flourished for the past 120 years. Will Farnaby, the protagonist, is a sardonic journalist who was sent to Pala to find a way to acquire the wealth of oil reserves beneath the Island of Pala. He becomes shipwrecked on Pala, awakening to a leg injury and a life amongst a society who have kept themselves almost completely isolated from the entire world. Their culture has focused itself on refining the possibilities of eco-sustainability, self-actualization, self-improvement, spirituality, and pacifism even in the face of potential exploitation from the outside world.
Through Will Farnaby, we vicariously experience his encounters with this culture and how his time with them changes him, his desires, and even his entire understanding of reality itself. To his surprise, it even gives him hope.
Huxley’s final book is a wild read: native drugs, group-families, trance-states, and mynah birds that say the word “attention.” Quite frankly, “Island” is unlike any other work before it.
“Island” is brilliant, thoughtful, critical, humorous, serious, and thought-provoking, providing a read you will always remember, and guaranteed to create exciting and timely discussions with friends and family!
See you soon! Read-on!
Ed and Cynthia Justus are the owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.