Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

Huxley's 'Soma' Within Reach of Human Race?

Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World- that seminal novel all university students used to read as a matter of course in the sixties- introduced the notion of 'soma', an officially sanctioned drug which made everyone happy and banished low spirits. Since then some Marxist leaning political theorists have suggested that governments effectively do something similar by allowing drugs like alcohol to be freely available-i.e. while they are happy people are not aware of how they are being exploited and bamboozled. Unfortunately alcohol has nasty side-effects like hangovers, enormous beer bellies and death (if you consume too much too regularly).

But maybe this unhappy state of affairs is about to end and the Huxley utopian vision achieved...(yes I know the novel described a DYstopia but stay with me). In today'sGuardian , Ian Sample tells us of a new development involving 'partial agonists'(PAs) which, according to Professor David Nutt from Bristol University, will provide all the advantages of booze without any of the nasty bits. Neurologists have apparently cracked the processes involved in inebriation and reckon they can produce a drug which simulates only the good side of being squiffy.

'You could design one chemical', says Professor Nutt, 'to replace all the benefits of alcohol in drinks and it would save hundreds of thousands of lives.' Sounds good? Even better is the fact that at the end of an evening (presumably) swigging back pints of the old PA, you could take an antidote called 'flumenazenill', sober up and then drive home! Problem is with all these 'breakthroughs' is that we only hear of them at the theoretical stage when some publicity seeking scientist issues a press release. Then, somehow, we never hear of them again. I do so hope this one is not merely a ruse by some professor to attract more research funding for his cash strapped department. I always empathise with Philip Larkin who reflected ( approximately) that 'sexual intercourse was invented in 1963/ which was far too late for me. Just hope I make the cut on this one to enhance and delight my later years.

Comments:
Professor Nutt!? 'Flumenazenill'!? Are you sure this isn't a spoof Skip?

And Larkin might have *written* that 1963 was too late for him, but he had three women on the go at the same time - so I opine that he got his fare share, especially for the balding four-eyed old fart that he was (albeit a decent pow-et).
 
I only write as I read it Roy, but I must confess I did check the date a couple of times. It was on Radio 4 later in the day too so must be kosher.
Take your point re Larkin- he was scarcely the Brad Pitt/Johnny Depp of English poetry but he had a very strong libido in a very unprepossessing looking body. No doubt that's why he felt a teensy bit resentful.
 
Check out what's going on in the word of booze: http://mcbourniescolumn.blogspot.com/
 
I am myself the proud and unprepossessing owner of an "enormous beer belly" and let me tell you I have invested a great deal of time and money to acquire it. Mind you, I could be wasting my money - apparently some people are "genetically programmed to get a beer belly". I don't know if Professor Nutt was involved in this research but see this...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2636509.stm
 
Misquotation is a grave insult.

Sexual intercourse began in 1963 (which was rather late for me) -- Between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles' first LP
 
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