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September 2, 2006 3:02 PM   Subscribe

The Ten Stupidest Utopias. The Ten Best Dystopias. The Most Appealing Utopias and the Most Unpleasant Dystopias.
posted by Falconetti (82 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
From The Ten Best Dystopias Link:

10) Shelbyville from The Simpsons
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 3:14 PM on September 2, 2006


I would have thought to see dystopias from any ten Phillip K. Dick stories, but was glad to see at least one made it in there.

Overlooked was the dystopia from Back to the Future, Part II.

Was Shelbyville the dystopia? I always kind of thought Springfield was the dystopia, and Shelbyville was somewhat nicer.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 3:27 PM on September 2, 2006


Well, it would be if you had a good relationship with your cousins....
posted by knapah at 3:31 PM on September 2, 2006


Thank you, Falconetti. The NYPL Utopia links and bibliography pages are excellent.
posted by xod at 3:35 PM on September 2, 2006


It seems to me that it is the individual who determines if his society is dystopian, utopian, or neither. After all, Planet of the Apes wasn't that much of a dystopia to the apes, was it?
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:47 PM on September 2, 2006


Exactly CP, it is mostly a matter of perspective. When I think of the dystopian world of 28 Days Later, while it largely seemed like it sucked for everyone (zombies included), the gung ho military crowd (as embodied by the Christopher Eccleston character) seemed to enjoy it somewhat.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2006


The Ten Stupidest Utopias missed John Galt's fantasy getaway from "Atlas Shrugged."
posted by justkevin at 4:18 PM on September 2, 2006


They also missed the cruncy granola goofiness that was Ectopia, written of so earnestly by Ernest Callenbach.

So many choices. How can you possibly pick?
posted by Alwin at 4:38 PM on September 2, 2006


It seems it is both the greatest human goal and the greatest human folly to imagine perfecting this world.
posted by Falconetti at 4:42 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


the gung ho military crowd (as embodied by the Christopher Eccleston character) seemed to enjoy it somewhat

Wow. You must've seen a different movie than I did. Because the one I saw had soldiers driven so insane by the idea that they would be the only ones left alive, that their leader hatched a plan to lure non-zombiefied women to the one safe zone they had. The leader did this so as to keep the platoon cohesive enough to outlast the zombies, who could not feed themselves.

Gung-ho? Hardly.
posted by frogan at 4:45 PM on September 2, 2006


Fishman wasn't literally describing suburbs as utopian in Bourgeois Utopia - it's not a celebration by any means.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:49 PM on September 2, 2006


Well, admittedly, it was a bit of a stretch, Frogan.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 4:59 PM on September 2, 2006


The Ten Stupidest Utopias missed John Galt's fantasy getaway from "Atlas Shrugged."

But that did free up a spot for L. Neil Smith's Pallas, which is even more wretched, if much less influencial. Top moment is Smith's way of dealing with energy issues: turns out petrochemicals aren't really petrochemicals at all and you can find 'em in asteroids!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:02 PM on September 2, 2006


After all, Planet of the Apes wasn't that much of a dystopia to the apes, was it?

Their society was a theocratic military dictatorship empire with strong tensions against the educated class. They also, you know, threw poop around when they got angry.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:10 PM on September 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


[this is good]
posted by killdevil at 5:12 PM on September 2, 2006


The sad truth of the misguided philosophies behind "the worst utopias" was pretty depressing. The stupidity of the Wired article was equally so.
posted by blacklite at 5:12 PM on September 2, 2006


Falconetti, if we ever did get it perfect, we'd promptly screw it up again, just to have something to do.
posted by Malor at 5:29 PM on September 2, 2006


I enjoyed that Jeremy Adam Smith piece (first link) a lot.

Plato could not escape the trap into which any utopian can fall: he didn't believe enough in his own fallibility.


Believing in your own fallibility is probably the most important intellectual leap that needs to be made in order to be a worthwhile thinker. Without that, you're just a despot in waiting.

Smith is like most American libertarian sci-fi writers in that he's essentially a small-town boy trapped in a big world populated by people and ideas he doesn't understand...


That's absolutely perfect.
posted by languagehat at 5:36 PM on September 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


The best dystopia in the Simpsons isn't Shelbyville but Scorpio's company town. A dystopia with a hammock district? Sign me up.
posted by I Foody at 5:38 PM on September 2, 2006


Oh God, I hated, HATED Herland. I read it in a women's lit class in college and was absolutely irritated by the whole thing. Everything was just so marvelous all the time with all these women acting in perfect harmony and no one ever getting jealous, or horny. Blech. I read another book a few years later by Sherri Tepper, I think, that took place in a smiliar utopia that was revealed to be something more sinister as the story went on...ah ha, it was The Gate to Women's Country. Read them together fo an interesting contrast.
posted by Biblio at 5:45 PM on September 2, 2006


Don't forget Ned Flander's Utopia, Humbleton, PA
posted by Tenuki at 5:53 PM on September 2, 2006


I kinda liked Ecotopia, despite its goofiness. Glad someone mentioned it.

I think the dytopian future in The Cloud Atlas was pretty terrifying. But it owed a lot to Huxley and Gibson.

The female-dominant planet in LeGuin's story The Matter of Seddri was a dystopia for the men, precisely because it was set up to assume they needed nothing but sex and sports all the time--they were allowed no learning, no freedom, and had no value as anything but sex object/sperm provider. A feminist story that was full of compassion towards men.
posted by emjaybee at 6:03 PM on September 2, 2006


The part of More's Utopia that most deeply impressed my mind, was when he said that lovers should be required to see each other naked before they married.
posted by matkline at 6:08 PM on September 2, 2006


Seddri=Seggri. oopsie
posted by emjaybee at 6:14 PM on September 2, 2006


Metafilter - nothing to sully the cigarette-smoking perfection of its Parisian ideal.
posted by lalochezia at 6:20 PM on September 2, 2006


William Gibson's dystopian futures, particularly the near future in Available Light, scare me more than the classic dystopias because they seem utterly inevitable. The world has changed since Orwell wrote 1984 and a future without email and cell phones seems comfortably impossible. But Gibson is writing in our times and extrapolates the current fault lines into a future that seems terrifyingly probable.

Every time I take the streetcar under the Bay Bridge I look up and imagine it condemned and taken over by squatters. That's how vivid and convincing Gibson's future is - it sticks in my mind because it seems like there's just no other way for the future to go. He's writing the history of tomorrow, and it's bleak.
posted by Quietgal at 6:21 PM on September 2, 2006


shelbyville doesn't beat springfield regularly in sports matches either...

"Sounds like Springfield's got a discipline problem."
"Ha, maybe that's why we beat them at footbal nearly half the time, huh?"
-Drunks at Shelbyville Gas Station in the episode "Lemon of Troy"
posted by MonkNoiz at 6:36 PM on September 2, 2006


Quietgal, that's exactly what people thought of Orwell in the fifties.
posted by Ndwright at 6:50 PM on September 2, 2006


Citizen Premier : "It seems to me that it is the individual who determines if his society is dystopian, utopian, or neither."

Well, that's exactly the point of all the articles. That places described as utopias by their respective original authors are seen as dystopias by the author of the article. That places described as dystopias by their respective original authors are seen as utopias by the author of the article.
posted by Bugbread at 6:55 PM on September 2, 2006


Quietgal : "William Gibson's dystopian futures, particularly the near future in Available Light, scare me more than the classic dystopias because they seem utterly inevitable. The world has changed since Orwell wrote 1984 and a future without email and cell phones seems comfortably impossible. But Gibson is writing in our times and extrapolates the current fault lines into a future that seems terrifyingly probable."

Consider, though, that a person in each of those dystopian writers' times would likely have said that their dystopian future scared them more than older classic dystopias because it seemed utterly inevitable, that the dystopian author of their time was writing in his times and extrapolating the current fault lines into a future that seemed terrifyingly probable.

So if all dystopian authors of the past seem like they were totally off the mark, but modern ones seem like their dystopias are inevitable, it's probably a good sign that in time people will look back on folks like Gibson and say the same things: "times have changed since Gibson, but XR-ZL7B is writing in our times and extrapolates the current fault lines into a future that seems terrifyingly probable."
posted by Bugbread at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2006


Whoops, shoulda previewed. What Ndwright said, far more succinctly.
posted by Bugbread at 7:01 PM on September 2, 2006


This guy considers Neuromancer a Utopia? Has he read the thing?
posted by delmoi at 7:07 PM on September 2, 2006


delmoi : "This guy considers Neuromancer a Utopia? Has he read the thing?"

No. First: he's saying that places that other people consider utopias he considers dystopias. Second: He's talking about the cyberspace part of the world of Neuromancer. My memory is weak, but from what I can remember, the real world in Neuromancer is a dystopia, but cyberspace is, if not a utopia, at least a pretty decent place.
posted by Bugbread at 7:13 PM on September 2, 2006


Thinking about which of the posited futures were most likely to come about, I found it interesting that nobody mentioned Margaret Atwood's Gideon: an American theocracy seems more plausible today than when she wrote her Tale twenty years ago. On further thought, however, I wouldn't be surprised if one aspect of the Federation in Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers (1960) came to pass. When a dwindling coalition wages war on an abstract concept that will always be present, but at the same time is loath to institute a draft, warm bodies have to be found somewhere. It may only be a matter of time before someone proposes enlistment as a means of obtaining citizenship. Recruiting offices on the Rio Grande offering a choice of arrest or military service plus a green card? It may not be so farfetched.
posted by rob511 at 7:40 PM on September 2, 2006


My memory is weak, but from what I can remember, the real world in Neuromancer is a dystopia, but cyberspace is, if not a utopia, at least a pretty decent place.

Not from what I remember. Cyberspace in the sprawl series is not a 'communal' space; it's just an interface. No more good or bad then the desktop in a GUI. It's just kind of 'there.' Cyberspace is a way to get things done, and accessible for a handful of elites.
posted by delmoi at 7:49 PM on September 2, 2006


Small correction: the Le Guin story emjaybee mentioned was The Matter of Seggri.

Otherwise, [this is neat].
posted by teferi at 8:08 PM on September 2, 2006


Damn. Serves me right for not previewing.
posted by teferi at 8:08 PM on September 2, 2006


Any catalogs of anti-utopias and anti-dystopias? By which I mean, the kind of Pangloss world in which the world we inhabit is the best possible.

'Cause it seems to me that attitude is widespread.
posted by Ritchie at 8:39 PM on September 2, 2006


Delmoi: Now that you mention it, you're right, I think I have been mixing my cyberspaces. The more I think of the one in Neuromancer, the more I just remember descriptions of big green cubes and pink octagons.

So, yes, he was probably wrong in describing Neuromancer's cyberspace as a utopia. But his last paragraph was about the Internet; the Neuromancer bit was just a bad lead-in to the main topic.
posted by Bugbread at 8:39 PM on September 2, 2006


What, no mention of the Utopia of MetaFilter?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:57 PM on September 2, 2006


No, it's not that the older dystopias were totally off the mark, it's just that it's easy to dismiss them because the things that are missing, like email and cell phones, are such a huge part of life today. Any future that's missing them seems so implausible, you can comfortably reject it. (Along with the real message, but such is the tendency towards complacency.)

Also, I think some of the older dystopias were written as cautionary tales of futures that could be avoided, if only we can muster the courage and wisdom to not go down that path. I don't think there was a sense that 1984, for example, was inevitable. At least when I read it in 1973 or so, I didn't think I was seeing the future. Maybe that's simply because the distance from 1949 to 1973 was already too great for accurate extrapolation, but I felt that 1984 was more of a warning than an outright prediction.

Perhaps current authors have given up any hope of collective wisdom or courage, and just foretell it like they see it. Why bother to write warnings for a society that's known for at least 30 years that oil reserves will run out someday yet continues to drive ever more cars to ever-more-distant suburbs? We seem terminally stuck in complacency and warnings simply don't register - it's so much easier to believe that "CO2 is life!" and we can grow enough corn to make biodiesel fuel forever, etc.

So current dystopias seem to me like Cassandra's predictions. I don't get a sense of "Warning: this is how things might be", but rather a sense of "We're fucked and this is how it's gonna be, even though you refuse to believe it".
posted by Quietgal at 8:58 PM on September 2, 2006


I perhaps have an unorthodox reading of The Republic, but I don't believe we're supposed to take Socrates' seriously, but that's just me.

I'm sure he could have picked a better example than Neuromancer for the stupid internet utopia. Gibson's Cyberspace is as nasty as the meatspace around it.
posted by wobh at 9:13 PM on September 2, 2006


Socrates' Republic, I mean.

My rationale is complicated and relies the other dialogs I've read. But consider, Socrates talks about the states because he wants to examine psychology of individuals and the state of the republic is the analogy through which he does this. Also, consider his dual audience here, but whatever. It's probably just me.
posted by wobh at 9:18 PM on September 2, 2006


I perhaps have an unorthodox reading of The Republic, but I don't believe we're supposed to take Socrates' seriously, but that's just me.

Don't you mean Plato's republic? In Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy Russell says it was probably meant to be taken seriously, and actually implemented as the government of a new city that the Greeks were founding everywhere.
posted by delmoi at 9:41 PM on September 2, 2006


"Exactly how stupid is Plato's Republic, and who am I to call one of history's greatest philosophers 'stupid'?"

Who are you, indeed. Plato's Republic will still be read and debated 100 years from now (if we're still around). Nobody will remember Jeremy Adam Smith 100 years from now.
posted by blucevalo at 11:12 PM on September 2, 2006


I'm partial to Goldfrapp's Utopia.
posted by borborygmi at 11:19 PM on September 2, 2006


blucevalo : "Who are you, indeed. Plato's Republic will still be read and debated 100 years from now (if we're still around). Nobody will remember Jeremy Adam Smith 100 years from now."

Well, that's an argument in favor of fame, not stupidity/intelligence. Plato's Republic will always be more famous than the writings of Jeremy Adam Smith. This may well be because of Plato's Republic being more intelligent than what Jeremy Adam Smith writes, but it may also be because for whatever reason Plato's Republic has gained fame out of measure with its intelligence, or because Jeremy Adam Smith, while more intelligent than Plato, doesn't put that intelligence on paper (or on the net). That is, it's circumstantial evidence at best.
posted by Bugbread at 11:23 PM on September 2, 2006


The worst part of Herland was their monopoly on avocados. Of course, I never read the novelization.
posted by dgbellak at 1:22 AM on September 3, 2006


Quietgal: Available Light = Virtual Light?
posted by armoured-ant at 2:22 AM on September 3, 2006


I always kind of thought Springfield was the dystopia, and Shelbyville was somewhat nicer.

Well, except for having to drink turnip juice instead of lemonade, sure.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:22 AM on September 3, 2006


Do Kim Stanley Robinson's Pacific Edge and Blue Mars count as utopias?
posted by markdj at 3:16 AM on September 3, 2006


You also missed The Ten Sexiest Dystopias, also by Jeremy Smith in Strange Horizons.
posted by kniedzw at 6:13 AM on September 3, 2006


No mention of The Domination of the Draka?
posted by paddbear at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2006


fun link. Two words: 'I, robot'. Also: The best, futuristic dystopia I have seen is the foundation novels by Asimov, which include multi-planetary exploration. The political effect of humans being defined by their home planet is dramatic and compelling - especially in the future when that may change their classification as a species.
posted by uni verse at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2006


Who are you, indeed. Plato's Republic will still be read and debated 100 years from now (if we're still around). Nobody will remember Jeremy Adam Smith 100 years from now.

Oh for Christ's sake. So none of us are allowed to discuss Plato except in reverent tones because he'll be remembered in a hundred years and we won't? Please. Plato was a great philosopher and wrote wonderful Greek; he was also a complacent elitist many of whose arguments don't hold up under even the slightest examination. His Republic, in particular, is repellent and, yes, stupid, no matter how much light it sheds on his thought and the political institutions of his day.
posted by languagehat at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2006


IMHO, the most beautifully rendered dystopia came at the end of Jim Thompson's The Getaway, when the pair finally escapes and lands in a surreal Latin American country where the only currency is betrayal.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:51 AM on September 3, 2006


The world has changed since Orwell wrote 1984 and a future without email and cell phones seems comfortably impossible.

Dismissing Nineteen Eighty-Four because of technological details (or because the year 1984 has passed) is missing the point.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:03 AM on September 3, 2006


I think the best dystopia is described in the new york times.
posted by I Foody at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2006


I think the best dystopia is described in the new york times.
posted by I Foody at 8:08 AM PST


That would be the one where there is $40 per barrel oil in 2006, Iraq had WMD and the arriving troops would find 'em, and the economy is doing fine?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2006


kirkaracha writes "Dismissing Nineteen Eighty-Four because of technological details (or because the year 1984 has passed) is missing the point."

I think you missed Quietgal's point (I did too), which is just that in her opinion, 1984 seems like a parable of the kind of thing, in a generalized sense, that may happen if we don't stop it. In contrast, more modern dystopias seem, to Quietgal, less like parables or generalized abstracted depictions of possibilities, but like straightforward descriptions of the future. So she's getting the point of 1984, but her comment isn't about the point of 1984, it's about the difference between "abstracted dystopia" versus "realistic dystopia", and the fact that it causes a different visceral reaction. I don't personally agree with her, but I think she gets the point of 1984, and is just saying that, for her, a dystopia which requires no mental revision has a greater impact than a dystopia where you have to adjust a lot of things to account for historical changes.
posted by Bugbread at 9:12 AM on September 3, 2006


It's just kind of 'there.' Cyberspace is a way to get things done, and accessible for a handful of elites.
posted by delmoi


But remember: there's no 'there' there.

I totally agree with Huxley's London of Brave New World being included in the best dystopias list. I remember reading that book in high school and thinking it sounded like a fun place to visit.
posted by bouncebounce at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2006


Interesting that Battle Royale made the list of best dystopias. Book version or movie version? The book scarred me for life, but the movie (Hong Kong version) was a total popcorn popper.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2006


Worst Dystopias: North Korea..
posted by heylight at 9:58 AM on September 3, 2006


Utopia-wise, I find Chesterton's Napoleon of Notting Hill one of the wisest and the most compelling (though I'm not a Christian).

Brief outline of the plot:
It's the year 1984 (coincidence). London still has gaslights and hansom cabs. The populace is far too dull and apathetic to participate in politics, so the new British political system is an all-powerful king who is chosen randomly like a juror. One day, a practical joker is chosen king, and on a lark, he makes up fake "glorious histories" for a bunch of shitty London suburbs and commands them to be obeyed medieval-style (for instance, every town is ordered to maintain a corps of halberdiers dressed in heraldic colors). What he doesn't reckon upon is that there's someone there that takes it seriously...

What Chesterton understands and the vast majority of utopianists do not is that a community is not just a commune. There can't be a functioning society whose members are not in some way patriotic; I don't mean the fake papier-mache bald eagle style we have in the US, but a genuine pride in the history and origins of the community. (not that dissent is in any way immoral or unpatriotic).
posted by nasreddin at 10:52 AM on September 3, 2006


The world has changed since Orwell wrote 1984 and a future without email and cell phones seems comfortably impossible

The Emergency from Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky has some similarities to what Ingsoc of 2200 might look like.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:34 AM on September 3, 2006


Hell's not a dystopia. A dystopia is by definition a utopia gone wrong.
posted by Football Bat at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2006


Oh, yeah, and what about Zamyatin's We? Come on...
posted by Football Bat at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2006


I think the most plausible dystopia would be some combination of Brave New World and 1984.

Let's see... Total surveillance + political powerlessness meets consumerism + hedonism.... Hmmm... Sound familiar to anybody?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:18 PM on September 3, 2006


No, Afroblanco, I have no idea what you're talking about. Are you seriously implying that we live in a mixture of BNW and 1984? That's a ridiculous statement. The fact that you can sit at home and masturbate without anyone except Ceiling Cat watching you, or attend anti-Bush rallies, or watch Stephen Colbert, or move to Idaho and start a white-supremacist cult, is in itself enough to prove the opposite. As for political powerlessness, sure, but we aren't any more or less powerless than we were 100, 500, 1000 years ago. Hedonism and consumerism? They only rule us to the extent that we want them to, which was as true for ancient Greece as it is for our society.
posted by nasreddin at 12:25 PM on September 3, 2006


nasreddin - I'm not saying that we're already there. I'm not even saying that we will eventually get there. I'm saying that, given what I see around me, a combination of BNW and 1984 seems like the most plausible dystopia.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:36 PM on September 3, 2006


"To the rich.

May you be damned; for you, having beans, dried figs, water, and clothes from Megara, still embark on long voyages, farm your fields, engage in betrayals, murders, and tyranny, though you should be living without vanity. Freed by Diogenes, we live in complete contentment, far away from any evil. We have everything, though we possess nothing, while you, possessing everything, are always in need, torn by competition, jealousy, fear, and the desire for empty fame."

(from the letters of Crates the Cynic, b. ca. 290 BCE)
posted by nasreddin at 12:38 PM on September 3, 2006


Don't you mean Plato's republic?

Socrates is the character in Plato's dialogue who describes the ideal Republic. whether a)the character socrates or b)the author plato, meant to suggest that this would actually be a good idea is a common source of debate. but plato was writing at a time when all variety of governments were being tried out, and due to the small size of the communities and the centrality of cultural identity, it's not ridiculous to consider it was put out there as sincere suggestion, rather than the ironic commentary on human nature many modern readers see in it. (sparta would be considered horrific fascism if implemented in our day but was considered almost as monument to human capacity by many contemporaries and historians)
posted by mdn at 1:17 PM on September 3, 2006


You do notice that there are never motion pictures which depict true Utopias. That would be two hours of this:

Bill: Hey George.
George: Hiya Bill.
Bill: Didja come by to see the sunset?
George: Yeah. Never miss it.
Bill: Here. Have another brewski.
George: Thanks but a twelve pack just fell out of the sky a few hours ago. I'm still polishing it off.
Bill: That's great! You're really lucky.
George: So are you Bill. I notice that a couple more beautiful women just walked up to you.
Bill: You want one of them?
George: No thanks. I'm in the mood for a redhead.
Bill: Well what do ya know? There's a redhead right over there?
George: Yeah but I'm suddenly in the mood to turn gay.
Bill: Well what do you know? She just took off her blouse. Turns out she's really a transvestite.
George: Well that just makes my day.
Bill: You know what? I'm suddenly in the mood for ice cream.
George: It's a good thing we're in an ice cream parlor then.
Bill: Y'know watching the sunset on top of gorgeous women in an ice cream parlor just never gets old, does it George?
George: You're absolutely right Bill. It never does. In fact I think I'm gonna just ascend to a higher state of being and become one with the universe.
[George disappears]
Bill: George? Where'd ya go?
[George reappears]
George: I was just kiddin'.
[Bill laughs]
George: I was just pullin' your leg.
[George laughs]
Bill: That was a good one, George.
George: I was just havin' one on.
Bill: So how's your redhead comin' along?
George: Oh I've moved on. Now I'm more interested in rock climbing than sex. You wanna join me? I'm thinking of climbing to the top, jumping off, dying a glorious death, and then magically resurrecting so that passersby will worship me like a god.
Bill: Naw. I did that last week. Later on I think I'm gonna catch some massive orgies, then maybe a pina colada, then I'll try to get myself caught in the rain.
George: Maybe try some yoga.
Bill: That sounds like a great idea, George.
George: Yep. Well. See ya later Bill.
Bill: Take care of yourself!
George: Why?
[Bill and George laugh]
Bill: That's a good one, George!
posted by ZachsMind at 1:47 PM on September 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind wins the thread.
posted by nasreddin at 1:55 PM on September 3, 2006


Oh, yeah, and what about Zamyatin's We? Come on...

Try reading all the links before complaining. It's mentioned in the last link.
posted by Falconetti at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2006


A dystopia is by definition a utopia gone wrong.

I don't think that is correct. A dystopia is a society gone horribly awry or the antonym of utopia. Neither dictionary.com nor Wikipedia agrees with your narrow definition. I think your understanding of what dystopia means is idiosyncratic.
posted by Falconetti at 2:04 PM on September 3, 2006


Not to say that a utopia gone wrong wouldn't also be a dystopia, just that my understanding of dystopia is that it is more inclusive than just that.
posted by Falconetti at 2:05 PM on September 3, 2006


When I think of utopia, I recall Mark Twain's comment at the end of The Diary of Adam and Eve: "At Eve's grave: 'Wherever she was, there was Eden.'"

Maybe if you want a utopia, you have to think small.
posted by SPrintF at 4:56 PM on September 3, 2006


Maybe if you want a utopia, you have to not be human.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:17 PM on September 3, 2006


armored-ant, you're right - my bad.

bugbread, that's exactly what I was trying to say.

languagehat, thanks for that comment. When I read some of Plato's Republic in high school I hated it for many reasons (not all of them related to being an adolescent twirp), and thought Plato was a real prick. Of course, I didn't say anything since adolescent twirps don't badmouth the likes of Plato, but it's nice to hear I'm not the only one who thought his Republic would be an appalling place to live.

Falconetti, thanks for an interesting post and discussion!
posted by Quietgal at 8:44 PM on September 3, 2006


I especially like the "post-war American suburb" part.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 8:09 PM on September 4, 2006


nifty
posted by Smedleyman at 10:17 AM on September 5, 2006


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