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Extra resources for Aldous Huxley and the Mysticism of Science
Being able to go fast was one of the genuinely new pleasures given us by modern technology, he contended. 27 His young hero, Lord Hovenden, agrees. When driving his car, Hovenden undergoes a remarkable transformation, an increase in courage being directly related to the increase of velocity (Barren 272ff). At times he expresses an almost religious, and, it seems, peculiarly masculine, bonding with machinery. 'The male soul, in immaturity, is natura/iter ferrovialis', observes the narrator in Eyeless in Gaza, so that for young Anthony Beavis a railway journey is a kind of religious 'sacrament' (93).
Eliot's tradi29 tional characterization of the nightingale as the mythical Philomel. In actual fact, recent ornithology has explained that it is the male bird (not the female) who does the singing and that he does so to stake out his territory, not because he has a passion for the moon or a Baudelairean love of darkness. 30 'To the twentieth-century man of letters this new information about a tradition-hallowed piece of poetic raw material is itself a piece of potentially· poetic raw material. To ignore it is an act of literary cowardice', Huxley declares.
20 Lucy's almost sociopathic coldness is explicitly attributed to her inheriting 'a touch of her father's detached scientific curiosity. She enjoyed experimenting, not with frogs and guinea-pigs, but with human beings' (PCP 114). Mrs Thwale also underlines the dark side, the wantonness of science. 'Cutting bits off frogs and mice, grafting cancer into rabbits, boiling things together in test-tubes - just to see what'll happen, just for the fun of the thing. Wantonly committing enormities that's all science is,' she remarks (Time 75), and she regards her own actions as 'scientific to the point of outrage and enormity' (Time 214).