The Primal Urge
This absurd attempt to popularise various sorts of morality is dedicated to Eddie Cooney and Oscar Mellor because they were the first to hear about it in ‘The Gloucester Arms’ – and for better reasons.
Just as it would be difficult – and fatuous – to write a history of twentieth-century art without mentioning Picasso, I have found it impossible to draw this contemporary picture without mentioning a number of the pillars of our society, from Mr Jack Solomons to Air Chief Marshal Dowding; I have presumed enough to impute to some of these public figures opinions on the hypothetical matters contained in my novel. One particular victim is Mr Aldous Huxley, who has most kindly permitted me to take this liberty with him. May I beg the other sufferers to be similarly indulgent, reminding them that such is the price of fame and semel insanivimus omnes? Of course I realise that their actual opinions could hardly fail to differ from those I have ascribed to them. But their presence here, even if involuntary, has lent me moral support in rough waters.
The same seeking for lifelines has caused me to use a number of branded goods in my pages. I would, accordingly, like to thank the manufacturers of Kosset Carpets, Odo-ro-no, Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade and several automobiles for the sense of security their products have afforded me.
Likewise with institutions. The Harlequins, the British Government and the National Book League are real, and I for one am glad it is so. But the representatives of the British Government who appear in these pages are not real; my Minister of Health, for instance, is no relation to any past, present or forthcoming Minister of Health; for this also one may be grateful.
These qualifications accepted, all characters in this book are fictitious and are certainly not intended to represent anyone living or dead; the institutions in it are purely make believe; such actions and opinions as are ascribed to these characters or institutions are imaginary; even the weather is too good to be true. Readers are asked, nevertheless, to bear in mind the lines of George Santayana:
Even such a dream I dream, and know full well
My walking passeth like a midnight spell.
But know not if my dreaming breaketh through
Into the deeps of heaven and hell.
I know but this of all I would I knew:
Truth is a dream, unless my dream is true.
This light-hearted novel has a juicy futuristic edge: someone has invented an electronic device that indicates if the person you are looking at – or talking to – is sexually attracted to you. If attraction is detected, an ER (Emotional Register) – like a coin on one’s forehead – flares with a pinkish glow.
And then? Well, the next move is up to you …
Real figures from the twentieth century feature heavily in The Primal Urge: Rock Hudson, Dr Kinsey, Bertrand Russell, Patience Strong, Eric Linklater, Gaudi and, most importantly, Aldous Huxley are referenced in the narrative. Huxley was a writer I particularly admired; in The Primal Urge I have him speak up for the ERs. I wrote to him in California, asking his permission to include a quote, and to my absolute delight received a friendly letter of consent in return.
Think of it. A real letter from Aldous Huxley!