[LMB] Utopias OT:

Damien Sullivan phoenix at mindstalk.net
Sat Jul 24 21:15:18 BST 2021

On Sat, Jul 24, 2021 at 12:09:07PM -0400, Elizabeth Holden wrote:

> I have noticed that authors and philosophers don't have much of a problem
> depicting dystopias, but have a terrible time imagining utopias - that is,

It's not that hard to imagine something utopia-ish.  The bigger problem
is setting stories in it.  Tolkien said something like this, that what
was pleasant to experience was dully to describe, while stories are a
bunch of bad things happening to other people.  The Culture stories are
mostly set outside the Culture, ditto Star Trek.

There's also where one *stops*.  There's a difference between 'utopia'
where everyone is human and has enough to eat and doesn't live in fear,
and a 'utopia' where everyone is an immortal and omnipotent god within
their private sphere.

For more mortal utopias, Le Guin's "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas"
starts with an implication that most people don't pay attention to: that
people feel a good society is not plausible, that putting having it be
based on a tortured child makes it *more believable*.

Other problems include happiness depending on other people, yet it's not
utopian to require that other people work to make you happy. And that
"no one has to work for a living" feels like an obvious utopian move,
but then conflicts with "well, what's the point of life, what do people
do that doesn't feel shallow?"

-xx- Damien X-)

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