Thursday, November 22, 2007

Utopias big and small

As far as the big literary Utopias go there's nobody better to describe a brief history than Margaret Atwood in her article published this weekend in the London Guardian. In our longing to have everything, and to have it all be perfect, human beings have a strong tendency to build imaginary worlds. It could be argued that most creative activity, albeit some with much more skill than others, is based on our individual visions of a better world. In the article she discusses the diverse possible futures foreseen by two of the 20th centuries better known authors: George Orwell's '1984' and Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Both of them wrote about future Dystopian societies growing out of the industrial and war profiteering cultures that were burgeoning between two world wars. As the Utopian dreams of the 19th century were being made irrelevant there were many who saw limitless expansion as a Utopia yet to come. Orwell and Huxley both provided excellent forewarning of the price to be paid for allowing optimism to overcome understanding.

It's always a little too easy to imagine the past as having been better than the present simply because we can't go there. It's over but since we can look back while wearing any style of rose colored glasses we choose we can make any time period into one that would have suited us, as we know ourselves now, quite admirably. We like to daydream and there's nothing wrong with that but we should keep in mind that life is always imperfect and our real choices are few no matter when or where we live.

So far as small Utopias are concerned this is one we've been enjoying for nearly two years. The story was written by a young Korean and is from one of the game pages my husband frequents. It reminds us that the best presents don't have to be real in the physical sense and that the only true Utopia is the one that feeds your heart.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to come.


fairlane said...

A friend of mine, from Finland, said one of the biggest problems Americans have (And why so many resent, and even dislike us) is that we live in "Fantasy Land."

A magical place where the mythical "One Day" awaits us.

She says we need to lower our expectations, and learn to except life for what it is, and to quit focusing so much on what it "Could be, if only..."

Kris Cahill said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for coming to visit me. I enjoyed the animated story here, how touching!

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.


Scarlet W. Blue said...

I love Margaret Atwood! She is the bestest, and did I mention I LOVE her? Her Oryx and Crake is the best dystopian novel I've read.

That Animal Crossing thing was cool.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. I need to add you to my blogroll so I can quit hunting you up in my comments. I'm way too lazy for that.

Ben said...

That Animal Crossing story was... wow, my eyes are a little moist here.

Happy belated birthday. Could you e-mail me with your number, by the way? I lost it and can't get the digits straight in my head.

Gary said...

Hey, the animal story link doesn't work for me, but I love your post all the same. It's always the same story - if I look at what's going on in human society (and its impact), it's the shits. If I see the glory of the moment (the sun, the face in front of me, the hummingbird on my feeder, the scotch in my in fact... then every now and then I realize what an effing wonder the whole deal is.

Yes, it will end and it will probably hurt, but it's good...

Hey, it's Fairlane's birthday - send him a sarcastic message of love or something.

susan said...

Fairlane, I agree with you that it's time for a little paradigm shift around here.

Kris, Thanks for dropping by again. I'll keep an eye on your work too.

Scarlet, Me too but I also really enjoyed James Morrow (I think that's first name). Good one is called Towing Jehovah.
ps - likewise with the favorites list

Ben, I'll be in touch and thanks for the good wishes :-)

Gary, It takes some focus not to get bogged down in the sad stuff but irresponsible for us to ignore it completely. My belief is we're here to witness, help change what we can and stay clear in our own lives. That's your style too and the reason we're friends.

btw - I had to do the post using a different browser than my usual since it wouldn't run in funky old Safari but Firefox does it all.

and.. I did drop by Jonestown. Thanks for note!

Anonymous said...

lovely reading...I have gone through 1984 & it is such a wonderful piece...wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving & also the holidays to come....stay well!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. you hit the nail on the head with this one.