فصل 16

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فصل 16

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Chapter sixteen

The New God

‘Art, science - you seem to have paid a fairly high price for your happiness,’ said the Savage when they were alone. ‘Anything else?’

‘Well, religion, of course,’ replied the Controller.

‘At one time there used to be something called God. But I was forgetting: you know all about God, I suppose.’

‘Well…’ The Savage paused. He would have liked to say something about being alone, about night, about the plain lying pale under the moon, about the fall into shadowy darkness, about death. He would have liked to speak, but there were no words. Not even in Shakespeare.

The Controller, meanwhile, had crossed to the other side of the room and was unlocking a large safe fixed into the wall between the bookshelves. The heavy door swung open. Feeling about in the darkness inside, ‘It’s a subject,’ he said, ‘that has always had a great interest for me.’ He pulled out a thick black volume. ‘You’ve never read this, for example.’

The Savage took it. ‘The Holy Bible,’ he read from the title page.

‘Nor this.’ It was a small book and had lost its cover.

‘The Imitation of Christ.’

‘Nor this.’ He picked out another one.

‘The Varieties of Religions Experience. By William James.’

‘And I’ve got plenty more,’ Mustapha Mond continued, sitting down. ‘A whole collection of old, forbidden books. God in the safe and Ford on the shelves.’ He pointed with a laugh to his official library, to the shelves of books, the reading-machine films and soundtrack rolls.

‘But if you know about God, why don’t you tell them?’ asked the Savage angrily. ‘Why don’t you give them these books about God?’

‘For the same reason as we don’t give them Othello. They’re old. They’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now.’

‘But God doesn’t change.’

‘Men do, though.’

‘What difference does that make?’

‘All the difference in the world. People used to turn to God when they were growing old and troubled and tired of the world. In the modern world we’ve got youth and happiness right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. “Religious feeling will make up to us all our losses”, says the writer of one of these old books. But we haven’t any losses to be made up. We don’t need religious feeling.’

‘Then you think there is no God?’

‘No, I think there quite probably is one.’

‘Then why-?’

Mustapha Mond cut him short. ‘But he shows himself in different ways to different men. In the old times he showed himself as the being that’s described in these books. Now-‘

‘How does he show himself now?’ asked the Savage.

‘Well, he shows himself as if he weren’t there at all. Where there is comfort there is no need for God.’

‘But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.’

‘In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.’

‘All right, then,’ said the Savage, ‘I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’

‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and weak; the right to suffer disease; the right to have too little to eat; the right to live in constant fear of what may happen tomorrow; the right to fall a victim to pains of every kind.’

There was a long silence.

‘I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last.

Mustapha Mond spoke slowly. ‘You’re welcome,’ he said.

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