Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Yet utopia—a word that has come to represent a hope that the future could surpass the present—persists. "As long as necessity is socially dreamed," Guy Debord says in his 1973 film The Society of the Spectacle, "dreaming will remain a social necessity." Debord meant that in conditions of inequality and injustice, people will always imagine a better place. What constitutes "better" is, however, a matter of much dispute. We dream our fears as well as hopes, reflecting all the agonies and contradictions of the waking world; in dreams, demons rise from our darkest places. This is the dangerous element in utopian aspiration, the monster behind the smiling face. Utopias can embody the highest hopes of humankind and frameworks for continuous evolution, but they can also reflect our worst fears and sickest appetites—not to mention a mania for power and control that is latent in every person. "What a strange scene you describe and what strange prisoners," says Glaucon, Socrates' disciple, in Plato's Republic, the template for the stupid utopia. "They are just like us," answers the master. Read more...

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