Monday, February 06, 2006

Brainstorming Utopianism -- an e-mail excerpt (or the ravings of a mad man?)

I'm still in the mess of moving to another city and the job search.

Tragically, I'm mainly getting to your e-mail as a way to sort through my e-mails for my job search rather than getting a better grip on my time management skills. I find it somewhat ironic though that I have to return to what's REALLY important to me to deal with more "immediate" survival needs.

But anyway. . .even though I was ready to "refute" your hypothesis when I first read it, think you're right on except like you said about the hypothesis I sent to you, I think you're selling utopianism short, too. Better put, I think you're providing an example of utopia but one that grabs the term by the jugular.

Hard to figure out where to start --

Overdetermined text: exposition, contracts, etc. etc.

Indeterminate texts: literature (unfamiliar then becomes familiar when indeterminacy removed, making the text part of you. . .room for interpretation)

Indeterminate experience: Muddling through reality with challenge, duress, unease or possibly some kind of existential unease or terror (?)

Experience with (existential) indeterminacy removed: Accepting reality, moments in the "flow" (eg getting so into something that time "disappears" or everything just fits -- Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone -- me right now, conceptualizing all of this). . .utopia?

Overdetermined experience: Dystopia

So I would reach a conclusion that you're describing a cycle between indeterminacy to indeterminacy removed then back to indeterminacy then back to indeterminacy removed with an occasional foray into overdetermination (McCarthyism, the Third Reich, Stalinism and I'm sure we can think of plenty of examples. . .and I guess it's possible to even say too much indeterminism become overdeterministic until someone steps in to remove the indeterminism like I wish I could do in the Middle East, most importantly, Palestine and Israel). Of course, there's the element of perspective when determining indeterminism, indeterminism removed and overdeterminism, but I guess that's half the fun.

(This one took me about an hour of research to recall. . .) I think my main issue with your conception of "indeterminacy" to utopianism back to indeterminacy then back to utopianism as a form of social progress is that it feels too linear. It pulses, but history doesn't pulse backward. . .only forward.

I like to think of history more as a spiral shape that moves toward the center (possibly up or down, too), but it moves through different directions of progress. . .time moves forward but human progress doesn't move with it. Unfortunately, we might be dead before the spiral reaches the center.

Many scholars like to think of utopia as something outside of history, but I really like my conception of indeterminacy, indeterminacy removed and overdetermined. It allows for it all to be located in history, but more as a reflection of an individual's or group's relation to a situation or text.

Just as an aside, I guess overdetermined/dystopia can be seen as an unsupportive indeterminacy removed that requires a radical leap into indeterminacy or the creation of a supportive indeterminacy removed.

Right now, I'm thinking of the novel that I'm writing as a criticism of unquestioning allegiance to a form of indetermination removed to such an extent that it becomes overdetermined because indetermination causes over exaggerated reactions to indetermination (another aspect?: negentropy -- increasing orderly tendencies, entropy -- increasing disorderly tendencies, syntrophy -- vacillations between the two that lead to synthesis and growth).

I'm throwing around ideas and it's getting late. . .

As "anarchy utopia concepts" -- (1) Man born good and society hinders the goodness so get rid of society, and you have a good man rather than man born with original sin and selfish and society is there to allow for men to live together with some degree of order. (2) Organic society based more on individuals creating relationships rather than having a society based on institutional relations. (3) Seeking moments of indeterminism removed then seek to solely extend those moments into eternity, if that makes sense.

This is all feels rather indeterminate. Any thoughts, comments, feedback on my random brainstorming?

And. . .thanks. :-)

Bibliography for organization

- Ernst Breisach, HISTORIOGRAPHY: ANCIENT, MEDIEVAL & MODERN

- Joshua Glenn, "Back to Utopia: Can the antidote to today's neoliberal triumphalism be found in the pages of far-out science fiction?" a review of Fredric Jameson's POSTMODERNISM, OR, THE CULTURE LOGIC OF LATE CAPITALISM and Russell Jacoby's THE END OF UTOPIA and PICTURE IMPERFECT: UTOPIAN THOUGHT FOR AN ANTI-UTOPIAN AGE as printed in the Boston Globe.

- Wolfgang Iser, THE ACT OF READING: A THEORY OF AESTHETIC RESPONSE.

- Wolfgang Iser, PROSPECTING: FROM READER RESPONSE TO LITERARY ANTHROPOLOGY.

- Fredric Jameson, "If I find one good city I will spare the man': Realism and Utopia in Kim Stanley Robinson's MARS Trilogy, an essay in LEARNING FROM OTHER WORLDS: ESTRANGEMENT, COGNITION AND THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND UTOPIA ed. by Patrick Parrinder.

- THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS (a collection of essays) ed. by Perry Miller

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