Five Sentence Abstract:
In an uncomfortably accurate Huxleyian science fiction prediction we see, in fictional terms, the origins of many developments yet pursued a hundred years after this was written. The story contains genetic tampering with both animals and man; creating various mutants that today might be called designer babies. The main theme is a kind of telepathic mind control, built for positive ends but which could easily be used in the pursuit of nefarious ends. It also includes one of the oldest mentions I have ever seen of tin/metal foil hats, a common derogatory epithet hurled at conspiracy theorists (itself defamatory) in modern times. The story is couched as a warning, but if you view it through a conspiratorial lens, the lens of history, you can see that, given the Huxley family connections, it is nothing more than revelation of the method spun as entertainment; itself a form of mind control that it supposedly warns of.
I really enjoyed it. Those Huxley's sure have, for better or for worse, a way
with words. This was written by Aldous' brother, Julian Huxley, and has the
same "I'm warning you, but with the blueprints of what I'm working on mentality
of Brave New World."
In a mere 9 pages there are a plethora of topics covered, vaguely disguised in
a darkest Africa story.
!! SPOILER ALERT !!
The first things we see, that are noteworthy at least, are the genetic engineer
animals. This gives way, at first through allusion and later explicitly, to
engineered humans: babies injected with hormones to make them dwarfs or giants.
Next, through a series of experiments, the narrator reveals that a kind of mass
telepathy had been discovered. Initially this is used to induce a simple
hypnosis in individuals, causing them to take parlor trick commands: dance like
a chicken and the like.
Eventually it is found that the hypnosis can be more effective with groups,
leading to a super-consciousness among the tribe. As the process is improved
the range increases to subsume the entire nation.
These experiments are conducted under the guise of religion. Tissue-cultures
allow for a closer ancestor worship and hypnosis can allow the entire
population to engage in a collective prayer.
The scientists doing these experiments discover that tinfoil hats provide
protection from the mass hypnosis. Noting this they attempt an escape, putting
everyone to hypnotically induced sleep before running away. One of them does
not make it. After discarding their tinfoil hats he is overcome by a hypnotic
message to return to the tribe. The other, now back in London ends the tale
with a warning of how the pursuit of science may lead to disastrous unintended
!! END SPOILERS !!
If you are either aware of the manipulation that occurs through the hypnotic
medium of television, Internet, and the like, or are a naive Aldous Huxley fan,
you'll enjoy this story.
Table of Contents
01: The Tissue-Culture King
// Republished Amazing Stories Volume 02 Number 05 in 1927.
// Originally published in Yale Review in 1926.
// Pages numbers from the pdf.
- according to the law, once children were twenty-five years of age, they were
not only assigned the duty of worshiping their ancestors, alive or dead, but.
were also given complete control over them,
- by repeated injections of pre-pituitary, I
could make an ordinary baby grow up into a
experiments which most excited his imagination were those he was conducting
into mass telepathy.
He soon established that the people were, as a race, extremely prone to
dissociation, and could be made to lapse into deep hypnosis with great ease
the hypnotized minds were reinforcing each other.
"I'm after the super-consciousness," Hascombe said, "and I've already
got the rudiments of it."
we found that with increasing reinforcement, we could get telepathy conducted
to greater and greater distances, until finally we could transmit commands from the capital to the national
boundary, nearly a hundred miles. We next found that it was not necessary for the subject to be in hypnosis to receive
the telepathic command. Almost everybody, but especially those of equable
temperament, could thus be influenced.
Haseombe, with the old Tibetan prayer-wheel at the back of his mind,
suggested that eventually he would be able to induce
hypnosis in the whole population, and then transmit a prayer.
through this mental machinery, planting such ideas as
he wished in the brain-cases of his people. He saw himself willing an
order; and the whole population rousing itself out of trance to execute it. He
dreamt dreams before which those of the proprietor of a newspaper syndicate,
even those of a director of propaganda in wartime, would be pale and timid.
"...You can then get a battery of two hundred men, and after you have tuned
them, the reinforcement will be so great that you will have at your disposal a
mental force big enough to affect the whole population. Then, of course, one
fine day we should raise the potential of our mind-battery to the highest
possible level, and send out through it a general
hypnotic influence. The whole country, men, women, and children, would sink
into stupor. Next we should give our experimental squad the suggestion to
broadcast 'sleep for a week.' The telepathic message would be relayed to
each of the thou- sands of minds waiting receptively for it, and would take
root in them, until the whole nation became a single super-consciousness,
conscious only of the one thought 'sleep' which we had thrown into it."
caps of metal foil, enormously reduced the
effects on ourselves.
I was tormented by doubts as to whether the knowledge of mass-telepathy would
not be a curse rather than a blessing to mankind.
Besides, old men like sermonizing and you must forgive, gentle reader, the
sermonical turn which I now feel I must take. The question I want to raise is
this: Dr. Haseombe attained to an unsurpassed power in a number of the
applications of science— but to what end did a-U this power serve? It is the
merest cant and twaddle to go on asserting, as most of our press and people
continue to do, that increase of scientific knowledge and power must in itself
be good. I commend to the great public the obvious
moral of my story and ask them to think what they propose to do with the power
which is gradually being accumulated for them by the labors of those who labor
because they like power, or because they want to find the truth about
how things work.