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Utopian Communes in the British Isles

Utopia Britannica is a collection of stories and a gazetter about utopian communes in the British Isles from the 14th Century up until the end of World War II. There are some incredible tales in here, such as 'Free Love' in 19th Century Somerset, St. Kilda, Death of an Island Republic, Percy Bysshe Shelley's attempted communes, Augustus John, the King of Bohemia and many more.
posted by Kattullus on Sep 25, 2009 - 10 comments

 

Thomas Pynchon is 71 years old.

"To make off with hubby's fortune, yea, I think I heard of that happenin' once or twice around L.A. And… you want me to do what exactly?" He found the paper bag he'd brought his supper home in and got busy pretending to scribble notes on it, because straight-chick uniform, makeup supposed to look like no makeup or whatever, here came that old well-known hard-on Shasta was always good for sooner or later. Does it ever end, he wondered. Of course it does. It did. Thomas Pynchon's next novel, the 416-page Inherent Vice, is described by Penguin Press as "part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon — private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog." While we wait for its August 4 publication, we can read an essay on the dystopian musical he co-wrote at Cornell or watch a clip of that movie they made of Gravity's Rainbow. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Feb 6, 2009 - 76 comments

Free Loving Hippies in the 19th Century

The Oneida Community was a Christian commune. Their practices included free love - "complex marriage", eugenics - "stirpiculture", an interesting form of birth control only effective due to their unique social structures - "male continence", and "mutual criticism." They did all this for over 30 years in the middle of the 19th century. The site is now run as a museum / apartments / bed and breakfast, and was visited by a descendant writing for the NY Times. The silverware company Oneida Limited was formed to maintain their productive enterprises after the end of the communal experiment. A former member wrote "A Record of an Attempt to Carry Out the Principles of Christian Unselfishness and Scientific Race-Improvement."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sep 9, 2007 - 64 comments

Love the one you're with.

Libertines (NSFW) would frown on the idea of Valentine's Day and devoting yourself to your one true love; they were all about fun, all the time. Think free love (or polyamorism as current practitioners would call it) is a product of the swingin' 70s? No way. The libertine philosophy has been around since at least the 17th century. Notable practitioners include John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, who wrote some juicy poetry on the topic; Choderlos de Laclos of Les Liaisons dangereuses fame; the Marquis de Sade; the fictional Don Juan; and the poster boy for libertinism, Charles II of England. In fact Rochester once had to flee court for making fun of Charles's appetites (though Rochester was no angel himself).

Fast forward to the current day, when Johnny Depp is starring in a new movie, "The Libertine," in which he portrays Rochester to some critical acclaim. Is Rochester simply a sad, sorry sort who justified a lifestyle that some see as immoral, and got his just deserts when he died of syphilis? Or was he caught up in a way of life that he alternately enjoyed and despised, finding that "Old age and Experience, hand in hand / Lead him to Death, and make him understand, / After a Search so painful and so long, / That all his Life he has been in the wrong." Maybe there's something to be said for abstinence, after all.
posted by MiHail on Feb 14, 2005 - 18 comments

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