Monday, June 24, 2002

I kept very busy today @ work. Only now @ the end of the day do I have the time to go to my Web class & type a little in here. Kinda funny how one project took up so much time, & it isn't totally done, either!

Must. . .Finish. . .Thesis

Got an e-mail from a friend who has recently finished their thesis & graduated. Suffice to say, it acts as another impetus to motivate me to work on my thesis.

I finally understand the difference b/w a formal utopia & an informal utopia! Or maybe I should say that I finally agree w/ the "definition" that someone has given to utopia. I got the really good explanation from the book by Krishan Kumar called Utopia & Anti-Utopia in Modern Times, wh/ so far proves an excellent book, even though I've only read 3/4 of the first chapter!

In this definition of Utopia, the differentiation b/w the concepts of informal & formal actually feels a bit counter intuitive. I'll start w/ the examples given by the book. Informal utopia: Plato's The Republic. Formal utopia: Thomas More's Utopia. Honestly, I might have chosen the wrong word when I used "informal," but it will do for now. Essentially the difference b/w a formal utopia & an infomal utopia lies in the fact that it gets practiced somehow, whether in reality or as a kind of literature or mind exercise. And I don't mean put into practice as in putting down on paper blueprints or coming up w/ some kind of model in the mind. When I say "put into practice," I mean making it concrete to a certain level, at least providing some kind of simulation in wh/ something as close to a living, sentient being as possible (including an imaginary one) actually experiences life in that model or blueprint. This experience happens, to some extent, in More's Utopia whereas in Plato's Republic, a model gets created from first principles w/o any sentient being experiencing it.

& for anyone who knows the etymological definition of utopia, the differentation provided above real becomes kinda funny. When Thomas More titled Utopia, he combined two latin words. I don't want to bother putting down the particular words. One of these words means "a good place," wh/ we all pretty much understand utopia to mean. The funny part comes in w/ the other word. It means "nowhere."

Aft a little bit of thought, though, it becomes more sad than funny, or maybe just an utter realization. I guess when I first think of "nowhere" in the context of utopia, I think that the utopia can't exist, but I do th/ by making the "nowhere" transcendent & eternal. If I use the definition in a more historical, temporal, however, it allows for some hope in the sense that if enough people want to do it, it can happen. Hope lives. At the same time, though, it all depends on people's willingness for it to happen. They must want the particular utopia to happen, & if it's a real good utopia & hasn't happened yet even if we have the technology & the means to make it happens, its lack of actuality feels a bit sad, as it destroys at least my own faith in human nature.

Later in the Night as I Work on the Thesis. . .

I want to come back to The Dispossessed. I left off on fear. I want to get away from the concrete for a bit here -- don't think about the discourse above abt the blueprint vs. the concrete/practice discourse up above. At the moment, I want to make the connection b/w the fears I've mentioned as I've addressed The Dispossessed

I've started to see th/ the masses on Anarres fear to grow, have individuality, & "actualize" themselves. They like their stability. They could even come up w/ the argument th/ if people individualized, they would suffer b/c they need cooperation to survive on Anarres. W/o at least some degree of cooperation, they won't get what they need to survive from the barren, desolateness of Anarres. Either die physically alone or live physically but sacrifice your soul to the social animal. The issue comes when Shevek & his friends say that another way can exist. They don't what shape in wh/ it will come, but it is possible. & near the end, Shevek believes that it can come in the form of both giving toil & work to society but also the people in the society have the ability to have projects of their own & to actualize themselves.

Then comes Sabul who acts as a sort of analgous individual of the populace of Anarres, arguing against a form of physics b/c it doesn't have a practicality to it. In the meanwhile, he also acts a propertarian somewhat by putting his name on the genius th/ Shevek. Even though Sabul believes in the practicality of things, he also has a sort of vanity & pride when it comes to competing against the scientists on Urras. Sabul fears breaking the mold, but he does desire praise.

Um. . .I've lost my track of thought. Something abt those in power on Urras losing themselves in power, pride, material things. They have so much, they drown & don't know what they have, but they want all the more for themselves even as they oppress the oppressed majority. The ol' contradiction of animals sharing when the commons don't provide but horde when the commons can provide for them all. It can easily get sd th/ all the "bad" characters get stuck in the patterns of their "social classes". And as such, they all fall into the trap of emphasizing too much of a part of society, wh/ pushes it to a new lvl perversion; the people of Anarres destroying the individual b/c they believe the struggle for survival supercedes everything else, even when they can survive just fine on what they have at the moment, & the powerful minority of Urras destroying the chances of much of the majority to actualize themselves so as to benefit from not having to toil, themselves. Both groups don't have much empathy for others, & even know what they do sometimes, esp. in the case of the powerful minority of Urras; yet they vie to become something even more powerful, thus not taking the time to appreciate the things and the people that they do have around them and losing out on all that these things can bring them.

Damn. . .I have no idea where I'm going here. . .. It just doesn't feel as if I've got a solid grounding in the themes th/ get touched upon. I feel the need to get deeper, but I don't know where to go. Crap.

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