Today I’d like to discuss a theme that has run through the writing prompts this month. Can you envision a perfect world, what we typically call a Utopia, that is not born from the ashes of a dead or dying society?
I apologize for getting to you a little late this week. But I’ve had a few things going on this morning and didn’t want to write today’s chatter while distracted. You see, when we offered the month’s theme of Utopia, I had visions of vast expanses of blue sky, amber waves of grain, maybe a few violet mountains lookin’ all majestic…instead our writer’s described bleak futures of tight societal controls born of unspoken disaster.
Where are the chocolate waterfalls? Why do the unicorns not frolic with maidens?
I did a little digging on the net for answers and came across this article.
The author posits that a book or story about a true Eutopia, or “good place”, would simply read as a travel brochure or someone describing a beautiful vista. Because in a perfect world, there is only peace and tranquility which does not provide a story with appropriate conflict to build a plot around. He further goes on to say that Dystopian saga’s draw readers because they have more entertainment value – more meat, conflicts to resolve, something for heroes and anti-heroes to do besides drink tea and relate.
There are lists of books, some I’ve heard of, read, or seen the cinema version of and being shown those references I could relate to his point. Luckily, there have been a few skilled authors who have made the attempt to study Utopian societies from the juxtaposition of an outsider unfamiliar with such peace, beauty, and bliss.
It would seem Utopias or Eutopias are only appreciated by poets and dreamers who have no desire to take the red pill – who would never find discontent in a perfect place where all your dreams come true and nothing bad ever happens; the happy batteries of the Matrix.
Can this be true? Do we need the full-blown conflict of martial law or alien invasion to be interested in a story? Do we need a broken thing to fix instead of skating through the happily ever after?
Then I wonder, how long would I even be interested in writing about braiding wildflower crowns beside the babbling brook while some bare-chested man in a kilt sings in a resonant baritone about how perfect the world is? I have to admit, it would not be long before the aliens showed up and started vaporizing chipmunks with their laser guns. Or begging for shelter from a predatory race that has dogged them across three galaxies. Or the zombie squirrels went on a rampage for peanut butter slathered brains.
Can you imagine then, one day in a place that was perfect? Not necessarily Disney perfect, but whatever perfection means to you. You stumble through a wormhole into your personally designed Eutopia and you have 24 hours until the remote opens a new wormhole that might be your last train home. What do you experience in that 24-hour window?
Talk to me about any or all of this – Dystopian vs. Utopian, your thoughts on perfection, bare-chested men in kilts…. It’s your call.
Be sure to read and vote on the entries for Utopia: Tradition and Ritual. Voting ends tomorrow.
Please join in on the dialog workshop to hone that craft.
Lastly, our week four Utopian project is still in the works. Share you final vision in Utopia: Search For Meaning.
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