Dystopian Utopias

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It’s a mad, bad, dangerous world. People are violent, unpredictable and remarkably prone to unhappiness considering the opportunities available to us for material comfort.

One might observe that if madness and the other sources of discomfort were removed, one would be left with sanity and happiness. But at what cost?

I’m watching a movie called Equals at the moment. I just broke off to type this. It’s about a future world in which emotions have been ‘cured’. It’s also a study of what happens when two people fall in love within such a regime. Perhaps predictably, what was intended as a utopia, quickly turns into personal dystopia.

I’m also reading a book called Intrusion by Ken McLeod. It’s about a future world in which genetic defects have been removed. It’s also a study of what happens when two people refuse the ‘fix’ for their unborn child within such a system. Again, what was intended as a utopia, fast becomes a personal dystopia.

I’m experiencing a life of personal comfort at the moment. I eat comfortably, work comfortably, sleep comfortably and write these little messages comfortably. You could say that I’m living in my own personal utopia. So tell me this – why am I so soddin’ bored?

(image source: http://isleofholland.com/read/street-art/laser-3-14-interview)

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36 thoughts on “Dystopian Utopias

  1. I agree with Miriam. A little danger, a little challenge is good. But sometimes I think we have to accept that life waxes and wanes — is that a good metaphor? You know, just like in relationships, it’s not always the same level of excitement. Maybe I’m just tired and I have no idea what I’m saying 🙂

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  2. I remember an episode of Star Trek (the original series) in which there was a planet where all war and strife had ceased, and everybody lived in peace and harmony. But on examination, this so-called utopia had caused society to stagnate to the extent that the race in question was in danger of dying out. I wish I could remember the name of episode. It has always stuck in my mind.
    It seems to me that the whole of the universe is a perfect balance between order and chaos, and both are necessary for it to function. So you’re bored, because there’s not enough chaos in your life!

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      • Well, I’m taking a combination Bach Flower Remedy at the moment, called “Concentration Remedy”, so that I am a little less chaotic and more focused. Last year, I was a grasshopper, jumping between this and that and achieving very little. This year, I have goals and deadlines, but won’t say that too loudly, in case the chaos gremlins hear me and get disruptive. My goal at the moment is to finish editing and polishing my speculative fiction novel, in order to start the submission process in May, so we’ll see how I go.

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      • I find that chocolate makes me lazy, sugar makes me bounce off the ceiling, oranges disturb my ability to concentrate and nuts calm my mind so that I can write more easily. Not tried the Bach Flower Remedy for writing, but have just remembered that I have some upstairs. Right, let me check that out. 🙂
        Good energy to you for the editing and submitting, Sarah.
        Kindness – Robert.

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      • Nuts calm me, too. I have walnuts and ground almonds on my porridge in the morning. Refined sugar and refined flour are a problem to me. I can eat a small amount of raw honey, and I’m okay with homemade cake. Same with homemade bread. As for oranges, they’re a complete no-no. Any citrus fruit gives me mouth ulcers and if I drink concentrated fruit juice, I get the most awful shakes. The same with coffee and chocolate D: Added to this, I have to drink goat’s milk, as cow’s milk upsets my singing voice. Some people seem to get away with eating and drinking any old rubbish. My granny lived to the grand age of 98 and had a seriously rubbish diet, lucky lady. Latterly, she lived off coffee (as strong as the Turks drink it), with about 4 heaped teaspoons of sugar, plus cream cakes from Forfars! Needless to say, she was so hyperactive. Even in her last few years, she used to run for buses and crazy stuff like that. She wrote great poetry, though, so I’m guessing she sometimes sat still. She loved reading, too, and got through about 4 books a week from the library.
        Good luck with the Bach Flower Remedy.
        Best — Sarah

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      • The flower remedy must have done me some good (or maybe it was the nuts) because I did some work on my MA for the first time in a week and a half. 🙂
        Your granny sounds like a character. Have you inherited any of her traits? Maybe not running for the bus, but I notice you can trot out poems and haikus with aplomb. You even extend you alliteration to prose comments (lucky lady. Latterly, she lived), so that rhetorical style must be deeply embedded in you. 🙂
        I was just about to tell you that vinegar dissolves the lining of my mouth and comment that it’s a shame I like Salt & Vinegar crisps so much, but it sound too gross even to my ears and so I persuaded myself not to say it. Aren’t you glad my internal censor works so well! 🙂
        Keep eating the nuts.
        Kindness – Robert.

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      • Yes, I have inherited some of my Granny’s traits, although not her energy. Poetry runs in my family on both sides, although I’m the first one to fall in love with Japanese poetic forms.
        As for salt and vinegar crisps, I gave those up long ago, as they were the number one offender re my dental problems. I once went to a dental conference and saw this slide show of an experiment carried out on teeth soaked in various substances (extracted ones, of course). The idea was to assess the amount of enamel dissolved overnight. The worst offenders were polo mints, coca cola, vinegar, and citrus fruits. You would have been horrified if you’d seen the damage caused. Think paint-stripper, and you’ll visualise how much enamel was left. So there you are, no more salt and vinegar crisps means less dental bills. …Now don’t tell me that you have perfect teeth, or I will scream with the injustice of it all! As for dissolved linings of mouths, I’ve read enough zombie novels to deal with that vision.
        Anyway, onward now, as I mean to ban myself from the internet after lunch, so that I can do 2 hours of editing this afternoon.
        Well done, doing some work on your MA. I got turned down for an MA about 10 years ago, probably because there was too much science fiction and fantasy in my sample portfolio at the time. In my latest novel, I’m sliding subtly into the realms of speculative literary-lite, and seeing where that takes me.
        Best — Sarah

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      • You made me smile when you say that you have not inherited your gran’s energy when I see that you have cut me a nice chunky slice of comment cake and posted it off. It might be a different kind of energy you have, Sarah, but you certainly have it aplenty. 🙂
        What you say about the effects of certain foods on enamel is certainly worth me thinking about. I haven’t had a Polo Mint in decades, but vinegar (crisps) and oranges are a part of my daily diet. Funnily enough, my teeth seem to be okay. Not perfect, but certainly not imperfect. The one thing that I’ve found to have a deleterious effect on my enamel is apples. They set my teeth hurting straight away and make them sensitive when I brush them. Maybe it’s something to do with the acid in them. Probably everyone has a slightly different environment in their mouth and this makes each one of us prone to different things.
        If you still have the studying bug you should totally get on the Open Uni MA. The entry criteria seems to be just a 2:2 on any undergraduate degree (mine was Computing with Psychological Studies) and you don’t have to submit a portfolio. I don’t have any other writing qualification, and I’m doing okay. 🙂
        Are either of your novels science? That’s my genre of choice (for reading, not writing). Although, actually – speculative literary-lite sounds rather intriguing.
        Hope you managed to get your editing done and you’re enjoying this bright new day.
        Kindness – Robert.

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      • I have the same problem as you, if I eat an apple on its own, but if I eat sliced with banana, then the banana seems to nullify the acid. I can’t eat any sharp fruit, unless it’s with banana (even strawberries) or my gums start zinging. Some varieties of apples are less acidic, too. Gala or cox are best. Also, my dentist says to never brush your teeth immediately after eating fruit, but leave it at least half an hour. So you see, you might still be able to eat apples.
        I don’t have the money to have the studying bug anymore, so I’m just “doing” writing these days and learning by trial and error what works and doesn’t work. The indie publishing thing has taught me a lot — mostly how not to do things, such as attempting to market novels that cross-genre too wildly. I just had to prove to myself that the literary agents and publishers were right when they turned me down for this reason [quote] “You write beautifully but we don’t have a clear idea of how to market your novel”. Well, nor do I, it seems D: So it’s back to the drawing board. Neither of my indie novels are science — just a mishmash of various genres with science fiction and fantasy thrown in. My YA novel “Desiccation” is meant to be a bit of a joke and akin to a 1960’s sci-fi B-movie. “Noah Padgett and the Dog-People” is just plain quirky, the boy equivalent of Alice through the Looking Glass, but through a computer screen instead in a dimension where Canis sapiens is the predominate species. I’ve been told by people who have a quirky sense of humour, that both novels are very funny in places. My speculative lit-lite novel is more serious, although it has its moments. …Oh, and I don’t have a University degree but am a trained psychiatric nurse, plus I have a Certificate in Higher Education in Theology, and a Grade A in AS English, so the portfolio was necessary for an MA application.
        PS I haven’t got any editing done today, due to outside influences, but yesterday I did more editing than I’d intended, so everything is still good.
        Best — Sarah

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      • Apple slices inserted into a banana, deep fried in batter – hmm, I’m started to get an idea of what to have for pudding (so nice to talk to someone who knows what a pudding is) this evening. 🙂 About that brushing the teeth thang – I’m not sure whether that’s not some passing fad. Let’s see.
        Money. Hmm. I guess what you need is a quick money spinner. Have you ever considered writing in one of the genres that sell, like horror or erotica (or even erotic horror I guess)? Then you could use the huge profits as a slush fund for Uni or Marketing. Imagine a full-page ad in a national newspaper. That might bring in some buyers. Or actually, have you just thought of putting a small ad in a specialist mag like Dog Owners Monthly or … hmm, I can’t think of a suitable title for Dessication.
        Editing is not my favourite task. I don’t suppose you want to edit my 2 novels do you?
        Kindness – Robert.

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      • I once tried writing an erotic novel for Black Lace, but only got as far as the first two chapters and then got bored D: I’ve thought of writing a crime novel and do have an idea for one. So maybe.
        I’m a qualified proofreader, but not copy editor, although I do have quite an eagle eye. I’ve been considering getting some work in, to help finance my literary ventures. At the moment, I’m working towards my goal of getting my latest novel ready for submission, but after that — say the end of May/beginning of June, I might be able to do something, but would need some remuneration (special rate for fellow bloggers, of course). I’m not sure what else you do, other than your MA. You might be as poor as church mouse, like me. I do enjoy proofreading, as it’s a bit like being a word detective, hunting down the blighters and sorting them out.
        Best – Sarah

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      • You seem like a rather talented person, Sarah. 🙂
        To be honest, I was only joking about the editing. I need to find the discipline to do it myself and with the stuff I’m learning with the Open Uni I’m quite capable of doing it. I just need to get around to it.
        I’m a Software Designer and Developer and so, whilst not being rich by any stretch of the imagination, we get by.
        Do you have another source of income, other thab writing?
        Kindness – Robert.

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      • I’m a mezzo soprano who sometimes get paid for singing at weddings and funerals. Not big money, but it helps 🙂 I used to get much more solo work when I lived in Brighton, but not so much where I live now. I haven’t done a recital for about 5 years, although used to do those, too, but mostly to raise money for some cause or other.
        Best – Sarah

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