In the 1940’s Aldous Huxley had already published and become known for his book, Brave New World. He was then living in Hollywood and “Jacob’s Hands” came about as he collaborated with Christopher Isherwood, who also wanted to make the book into a screen play. The play was not produced, but Isherwood narrated the story as it was presented on CBS Radio Workshop. Both British authors had been fascinated with the fame and fortune found in America, and Isherwood’s strong interest in Hinduism and faith healing, was something that attracted Huxley.
The story is about Jacob Ericson, a humble, simple man who works for Professor Carter and his crippled daughter, as a ranch hand in the Mojave Desert. Jacob is an honorable and good man and he is first noticed by his employer when he heals a dying calf with his hands. Jacob can sense the real feelings of others and can also can heal people with his hands.
He heals his employers young crippled daughter, Sharon, who he is infatuated with and he then follows her to Los Angeles where she pursues a career as an entertainer. He felt they loved each other but she betrays him, and their relationship does not continue. Jacob’s is sought out by a minister of the Church of the Primitive Pentecostal Brotherhood, then with some promoters who want to make him into a vaudeville show.
He is compromised both ethically and financially by his promoters and it forces his to deep introspection. With those challenges and things not working out with Sharon, Jacob goes back to the desert.
Huxley lived in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. His approach to Brave New World and other successes shows him as a hedonist seeking control through using pleasure. His time in LA show him as a critic of social mores, norms and ideals. He wrote about spiritual subjects and philosophical mysticism and was well known intellectual of his time.
Christopher Isherwood Quotes
“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.” (Goodbye to Berlin)
If it’s going to be a world with no time for sentiment, it’s not a world that I want to live in"
“Never mind. Never mind. In this brief life, one cannot always be counting the cost.”
“Most of the time, thank goodness, we suffer quite stupidly and unreflectingly, like the animals.”
"California is a tragic country – like Palestine, like every Promised Land."
"I'll bet Shakespeare compromised himself a lot; anybody who's in the entertainment industry does to some extent."