Fuck Utopia

It is only possible to bring up utopia non-critically within two cultures: the academic humanities and the ‘singularitarians.’ Science and philosophy; the two great guardians of mankind.

*

Utopia is polyamorous, it has many lovers. Most do not know with whom they are in love until the moment of betrayal. When utopia ceases to be a realizable goal and migrates further toward fantasy it becomes polysemous, coming to mean not only a paradise on earth (whether as a past golden age or a future destiny) but a dream, the act of dreaming, the ethical act, the truth of art, the mere possibility of imagining a changed world. This moment of separation is also when the thought of utopia finds its proper name, and when its continued pursuit veers into farce.

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400px-utopia.jpg

Utopia – non-place, perfect place — Apocalypse – revelation, the lifting of the veil.

Utopia: perfect, not meant to be found, impossible, hidden, veiled. It is perfect because it is the place where veils are unnecessary. No place for deception when everything is truth. And this is why it must always be displaced — the term ‘non-place’ suggests the absence of something that is always and essentially present to the speaker, the very conditions of speaking. Utopia as double negation, the (necessary) absence of an (impossible) absence.

Apocalypse: the irruption of absolute, immanent truth into the present. The untimely arrival of the future, or the unexpected return of the past. And the erasure of both. The collapse of representation, of the difference between sign and referent. In the apocalypse, truth no longer refers to anything, since everything is present, nothing is hidden, the onset of hyperreality or pure (im)mediacy. The moment of trauma extended. In speaking of a coming apocalypse, we are within the discourse of utopia.

*

So the impossibility of utopia (and apocalypse) must be preserved if it is to continue to exert influence as a dream (or a nightmare), if it is to persist in meaning. Without it there is nothing before which to tremble. And trembling is its principle effect. While indiscreet in most circles to name utopia for reasons already stated, the effects of the utopian/apocalyptic imaginary are still politically useful. There are difficulties, relating mostly to the consequences of capitalist and imperialist expansion. Because there is no longer any hidden (unexploited) space on which to project utopian fantasies, new spaces of ‘indeterminacy’ have to be created. Science fiction and its related genres — contemporary advertising, tech industry forecasts, architecture, futurology, urban planning, etc. — only works on those who are already ‘on the right track,’ or acclimated to modern progress and technocapitalist development. For everyone else, the future, along with the physical, social, and economic environment, has to be remade. Local apocalypse can be produced through special effects, clearing a space for the pursuit of utopia, which of course can never be permanently occupied. ‘Shock and awe,’ then ‘rebuilding.’ Bulldozing, then development. Mass layoffs, then corporate restructuring. Environmental ruin, then ‘green business.’ Economic ‘shock therapy.’ This is how the script goes: hell is inflicted, and only afterward, by a kind of dumb reflex, comes hope.

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Perhaps what differentiates these utopian-themed productions from the old 18th-century rationalist utopias is that the planning is largely private, internal, secret. Why did the U.S. attack Iraq? Is it going to attack Iran? Why did I get fired? Why can’t I get health care? Most of us only experience effects, and do not have adequate knowledge of the system in which they make sense. The very idea of ‘us’ engaging in long-term planning is ludicrous. We can’t afford it in our day-to-day lives, the rhetoric goes, how could ‘we’ hope to do it for our communities, nations, etc.? As if it needed to be said, this sort of confusion births superstitions of all kinds, including the belief that planning and systematic thought itself is superstitious, paranoid if about ‘them’ or ‘utopian’ in the derisive sense if about ‘us.’ But planning happens all the time, despite the world’s complexity and despite the freedom of markets. It is just out of ‘our’ hands, outsourced into ‘theirs.’

At any rate, the essence of utopia has nothing to do with planning. It is a perfect place which for that reason exists nowhere. It is therefore, if we take ‘meaning’ to imply some degree of concrete specificity, not a meaningful concept; it is a useful concept. But useful for whom?

*

It was argued a couple comment threads ago that today’s prophecies of capitalism’s end are no more valid than those of the ’70s and ’80s. But they trace back to the same environmental threats — global warming and peak oil, which have only been getting worse (if you’re confused by all the links, start with this one). If for the moment we limit the definition of ‘hope’ to an improbable longing, a type of desire for utopia, than in light of the facts it is difficult to see who can really benefit from this hope aside from those who work to bring the world closer to hell. What is there to hope for? New fuel-saving technologies? Socialist revolution? A truly free global market? Consumer society for all? Every one of these dreams rests on the perpetuation of the very system that has produced them as our necessary salvation. Every one rests on deus ex machina, on some force external to our lives swooping in and saving us all at the last minute. Hope is an emotion of the powerless, directed at gods.

*

At the beginning of the year, one corner of the humanities blogosphere threw a pity party for the end of the world. As one might expect, their musings primarily took place within the empyrean realm of the aesthetic. Endings, more so than beginnings in this secular age, are perhaps the privileged objects of contemplation; the idea that one can behold the truth of a thing’s existence at the moment of its extinction. And afterward the numb, nauseating junkie shiver that comes from total immersion in the spectacle of one’s extended demise. In endings inheres both the melancholia of loss and the playful irony of the thought experiment, the many pleasures available to our detached observer completed in an apotheosis of delicious (delirious?) languor.

But a pretense of relevance demands the abandonment of all other pretenses. If some sort of grand catastrophe is coming, it will only be beautiful for a very select few. For most it will be ugly, violent, and humiliating. As the world is now. The suffering of billions is an awfully high price to pay for renewed hope. And the now-widespread assurance that something is coming did not itself come from any sort of original insight, any ‘thinking beyond the possible,’ but from a gradual, difficult spread and internalization of accumulated knowledge. ‘Our’ pitifully limited definition of the possible was expanded without any exercise of genius or creativity. If a ‘better world’ is ever built it will be out of necessity, not idealism. This necessity, of course, first has to be recognized.

*

So give up utopia, give up hope. Give up the gods, finally. What then? I submit the following declaration, appropriately vulgar:

We Are Fucked.

Fucked: there will not be flying cars and foie gras for everyone. Fucked: the revolution will always take place somewhere else. Fucked: even self-righteous victimhood is incoherent, because there is always someone more fucked than you, and your pet suffering innocents. Fucked: death is unavoidable, and you are not going to heaven for ‘saving’ future generations. They too are fucked. The ‘we,’ used without reservation, without respect to race, age, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation, unites us all.

Fucked: a nice word, panicky and reassuring at the same time; post-pornographic, in the sense that the shock of revelation is past, no urgent reason to dwell on it now just prepare for the next one. Fucked, always and forever. Passive and past tense, so that there is no opportunity for heroism, which we’ve had more than enough of, no reaching for the stars when there is life to be lived on Earth (it’s also rigorously material), no special value given to brilliant deeds and pivotal events, so perhaps a little less credulity when they happen anyway. No gods, who can only materially exist on the backs of a mob whose faces are ground into the dirt. No worship of human genius means no hatred of it either, so that we are never so proud as to give up its fruits when we don’t need to. In every circumstance, the world demands sobriety first, ingenuity second. Only for gods is the order reversed. Why should it be so controversial to say that survival is every human’s first concern, followed (maybe) by peace? It’s like we haven’t even learned how to walk yet.

Is this vision of abject humility too spiritual? Utopian, even? But there is no reason to wait, nowhere to go, all the hard work — and all the play — comes afterward. We can all be fucked right now.

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21 Responses to “Fuck Utopia”

  1. Excellent article, Traxus, even as it ends in your branded nihilism ™ as usual which you fail to realize is just as much an opium for yourself as religion is an opium for the masses.

    Then, what about a ”dynamic” vision of utopia, such as you have it in Orthodox Christianity, where the Apocalypse comes as a state of perpetual becoming? This version of the utopia agrees much more with your Buddhism and Taoism, than the Western one.

    The biggest problem with the conclusion in that the world has so far followed the Christian cock (the one that brings the sword into the world and the one which operates behind capitalism’s expansionist nature) rather than Buddhist sobriety & tranquility. You may whine all you want about that, but it won’t stop the aggressive march of the technofascists. It is in this light that I said I believe the Deus this time round is IN MACHINA rather than EX MACHINA. If there is any hope, then it will in some way involve technology: a machine that sustains itself, perhaps. A corporeal evolution as predicted in science fiction, perhaps. I don’t foresee a major shift in attitudes per se.

    Is it really so controversial to say that survival is every human’s first concern, followed (maybe) by peace?

    But isn’t this the rationalist-utopian thought par excellence (defined negatively, as at the beginning of your text)? Hasn’t history been showing repeatedly that neither survival nor peace ARE actually humanity’s first concerns, but desire, drive, fantasy…

  2. Hasn’t history been showing repeatedly that neither survival nor peace ARE actually humanity’s first concerns, but desire, drive, fantasy…

    (I mean isn’t capitalism itself evidence for this; there’s enough for everybody on Earth, but people have embraced a system that creates scarcity… and so on)

  3. Or have you fallen so far down the snake pit Traxus that you’re now proposing some kind of a vulgar-Marxist solution? ”Let us return to the concrete historic conditions…” Please clarify.

  4. I wrote a series of semi-rhetorical questions on my own blog prompted by this post, but I think my concerns about the reactionary implications of this sort of resignation/nihilism is expressed by your own closing thought: “Is it really so controversial to say that survival is every human’s first concern, followed (maybe) by peace?” Don’t you think this mode of thinking opens a door to Hell? We need an Imaginary to even have the chance to be excellent to one another; fuck Utopia means fuck everyone (else).

  5. To put it another way, I guess I’m not persuaded that Utopia is a failed striving. The striving is the point. What else is there? This is what being human means. Back to parodycenter’s point about desire, drive, fantasy…

  6. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks everyone —

    i made a little change to the ‘survival’ line to acknowledge that there is a controversy about this topic.

    “Then, what about a ”dynamic” vision of utopia, such “as you have it in Orthodox Christianity, where the Apocalypse comes as a state of perpetual becoming?”

    i view this as the kind of utopia that capitalism is best equipped to offer us. constant striving for something that is always just out of reach, learning over time to value the process more than the goal (the stance of affirmation-in-striving that does seem to be the most effective psychological way to handle capitalism’s many stresses — this is maybe the one thing that self-help books and lacan agree on).

    “I believe the Deus this time round is IN MACHINA rather than EX MACHINA.”

    based on what i’ve been able to read about the issue, it just doesn’t seem probable to me anymore. i agree that it is the hope with the most promise, but how can you really change your behavior to actively prepare for it? it seems to me all you can do is read about technological developments in the paper and then fantasize. you have no say over what technologies get implemented, and you have little ability to predict what will be fruitful until it’s been tested. the whole political and technical process of technology (at least at the expensive, high-profile level of a new fuel source) is for the most part out of our hands.

    “But isn’t this the rationalist-utopian thought par excellence (defined negatively, as at the beginning of your text)? Hasn’t history been showing repeatedly that neither survival nor peace ARE actually humanity’s first concerns, but desire, drive, fantasy…”

    it might be. but all i’m really pontificating about here is an attitude shift. i don’t expect wishful thinking to stop all of a sudden. i just don’t understand how it’s helpful. and which humanity are you talking about? i meant first merely in terms of sequence, not ‘truest,’ ‘best,’ ‘most meaningful.’ a person has to keep living in order to do anything else.

    “Or have you fallen so far down the snake pit Traxus that you’re now proposing some kind of a vulgar-Marxist solution?”

    i don’t think marxism offers any grand solutions either. some useful methods and analytical tools, but then a lot of other things do too.

    a big reason why i keep mentioning marxism is because i’m reading a lot of it right now and working through it. i’m finding it convincing, but i’ll let you know when i’ve officially joined The Party.

  7. traxus4420 Says:

    “Don’t you think this mode of thinking opens a door to Hell? We need an Imaginary to even have the chance to be excellent to one another; fuck Utopia means fuck everyone (else).”

    part of where i’m trying to go with this is to separate out the idea of a world with complex, interlinked problems that nevertheless have practical solutions from the idea of a fantasy world, a place we acknowledge from the outset doesn’t exist. because the world IS connected; our survival depends on this acknowledgment. i want to distance myself from the lacanian notion of imaginary which is intrinsically narcissistic, a fantasy union of a split that is considered a priori unreconcilable. utopia/dystopia are only different in terms of content (a utopia can become dystopic with a change in perspective and vice versa); what they have in common is that they represent a unity – a whole world – that is then contrasted with ‘our’ fractured world.

    i want to say that we are already in the space of utopia/dystopia — we are in one world, not in every sense but in what i would say is the most fundamental sense, that relating to our physical survival — and we’ve reached the point where we may HAVE to ‘be excellent to each other’ (or something like that) in order to continue existing — there just isn’t much of a choice.

    maybe sometime i’ll come back and grieve about my problems with agamben, whose critiques relating to ‘survival’ are probably causing a lot of the distrust people may have about the term.

  8. traxus4420 Says:

    fundamental = again, not metaphysically or morally, but materially

  9. traxus4420 Says:

    i don’t see the position i’m flirting with here as pessimistic. i think of it more like a possible alternative to nietzsche’s affirmative nihilism. a realist nihilism, maybe.

    i also don’t see it as apathetic (that’s what i was criticizing in the blogging that went on about this topic in january) — striving can’t be given up without suicide, it’s just not an option for the living, thought it appears so if one is used to living and thinking like a god.

  10. (the stance of affirmation-in-striving that does seem to be the most effective psychological way to handle capitalism’s many stresses

    well yes you can draw a formal parallel, but since the Orthodox Apocalypse has nothing to do with making money, it’s a different plane. i wanted to stress its ”transcendentally materialist” aspect: the idea of parallel, ever-expanding levels of (corporeal) reality, namely. this is vastly different from the western catholic understanding of the Apocalypse!

    — this is maybe the one thing that self-help books and lacan agree on).

    no, lacan tells you the opposite – the affirmation-in-striving is just a useless identification with a sequence of images. furthermore his ”burgeois-individualist” pessimism is pitted against capitalist realism and optimism et cetera. you can never adapt, but you can survive with the awareness that it’s all a mindfuck game – something like that.

  11. ”the world is connected” please provide some argument for this bold and courageous statement; in my view, the world has never been more fragmented and compartmentalized than before despite globalist propaganda. entire continents are separating into blocks, opening the view towards a multipolar balance, sort of like the Cold War quadrupled.

  12. traxus4420 Says:

    “parallel, ever-expanding levels of (corporeal) reality, namely. this is vastly different from the western catholic understanding of the Apocalypse!”

    that sounds interesting actually, i’ll have to look it up sometime. at any rate, capitalist utopia is usually described as without finality, just an endless series of ‘worlds’ spinning off from the same basic set of functions. maybe it’s just more depressing in the UK, but k-punk’s descriptions of capitalist affect seemed to be missing the irrational excitement that accompanies propaganda in the U.S., even in the TINA (there is no alternative) days.

    “you can never adapt, but you can survive with the awareness that it’s all a mindfuck game”

    isn’t this the best kind of adaptation available? at any rate this is what i meant — affirmation of a striving that one already accepts as impossible, a ‘mindfuck game.’ the self-help comparison was too much, you’re right. lacan is much more morose.

    “in my view, the world has never been more fragmented and compartmentalized”

    that’s partially right, but being fucked by peak oil and global warming is like a new internationalism — it’s going to suck for everyone, and for the same reasons. and of course the multinational corporations are controlled in a few places while the consequences are felt everywhere. maybe fragmenting and modernizing states give the impression of multipolar balance but economic and military power remains both concentrated and globally effective (still the U.S. in other words). so there are Many Worlds, but they are by no means autonomous.

  13. Provocative thoughts beautifully presented, Traxus. My responses are varied and not fully formed, but since I’ve been thinking (again) about Biblical interpretation the last couple days, and since Dejan introduced Orthodox versus Catholic utopiansim, that’s the direction I find myself going.

    America was founded by utopian Protestant collectives and fortune hunters, which in combination became the American Dream. When the collective is comprised of individuals who prize the same virtues and aspirations, then utopia can emerge from within our midst. Even competition works only when the competitors are playing the same game. It’s the end of history, baby.

    The Christian heritage sets the table for most Western utopian strivings. Judaism presents an ethos in which communal justice is grounded in individual ethics; the Greeks imagined an ideal realm that transcends the material; Christianity pulled the two together. But there’s also a dialectic always in play: in Judaism it’s us versus them, good versus evil; for the Greeks it’s ideal versus actual, perfect versus imperfect. Even within the New Testament the tension persists regarding how the actual will become the perfect. Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is already among you, while Paul talks about the gradual perfection both of individual believers and of the church. This gradualist utopianism is always juxtaposed with the impending crisis: the clash between the Kingdom of God and the World, the inevitability of a final showdown, the coming dystopia that ushers in the utopian end of history to follow.

    Among the Protestant Reformers Luther in particular held these two visions in tension: bread and wine AND body and blood of Christ, sanctified AND sinner, already AND not yet, immanence AND transcendence, transformation AND confrontation, emergence AND crisis. Hegel grew up in Lutheran Germany and went to school at a Lutheran seminary. Marx too grew up in Lutheran Germany; his father converted from Judaism to Lutheranism. Arguably then, Marxist revolutionary ideology represents a secularized Lutheran apocalyptic vision, just as Anglo-American capitalistic ideology is a secularized Puritan vision of the emerging Kingdom.

  14. Unlike the West, Christian consciousness in the East admits the opportunity to be saved not only for those who believe during their lifetime, but also those who were not given to believe yet pleased God with their good works. The idea that salvation was not only for those who in life confessed the right faith, not only for the Old Testament righteous, but also those heathens who distinguished themselves by a lofty morality, is developed in one of the hymns of John Damascene:

    Some say that [Christ delivered from hell] only those who believed[68],
    such as fathers and prophets,
    judges and together with them kings, local rulers
    and some others from the Hebrew people,
    not numerous and known to all.
    But we shall reply to those who think so
    that there is nothing undeserved,
    nothing miraculous and nothing strange
    in that Christ should save those who believed[69],
    for He remains only the fair Judge,
    and every one who believes in Him will not perish.
    So they all ought to have been saved
    and delivered from the bonds of hell
    by the descent of God and Master —
    that same happened by His Disposition.
    Whereas those who were saved only through [God’s] love of men
    were, as I think, all those
    who had the purest life
    and did all kinds of good works,
    living in modesty, temperance and virtue,
    but the pure and divine faith
    they did not conceive because they were not instructed in it
    and remained altogether unlearnt.
    They were those whom the Steward and Master of all
    drew, captured in the divine nets
    and persuaded to believe in Him,
    illuminating them with the divine rays
    and showing them the true light[70] .

    This approach renders the descent into Hades exceptional in its soteriological implications. According to Damascene, those who were not taught the true faith during their lifetime can come to believe when in hell. By their good works, abstention and chastity they prepared themselves for the encounter with Christ. These are that same people about whom St. Paul says that having no law they ‘do by nature things contained in the law’, for ‘the work of the law is written in their hearts’[71]. Those who live by the law of natural morality but do not share the true faith can hope by virtue of their righteousness that in a face-to-face encounter with God they will recognize in Him the One they ‘ignorantly worshipped’[72] .

    Has this anything to do with those who died outside Christian faith after the descent of Christ into Hades? No, if we accept the Western teaching that the descent into Hades was a ‘one-time’ event and that the recollection of Christ did not survive in hell. Yes, if we proceed from the assumption that after Christ hell was no longer like the Old Testament sheol, but it became a place of the divine presence. In addition, as Archpriest Serge Bulgakov writes, ‘all events in the life of Christ, which happen in time, have timeless, abiding significance. Therefore,

    the so-called ‘preaching in hell’, which is the faith of the Church, is a revelation of Christ to those who in their earthly life could not see or know Christ. There are no grounds for limiting this event… to the Old Testament saints alone, as Catholic theology does. Rather, the power of this preaching should be extended to all time for those who during their life on earth did not and could not know Christ but meet Him in the afterlife[73].

    According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, all the dead, whether believers or non-believers, appear before God. Therefore, even for those who did not believe during their lifetime, there is hope that they will recognize God as their Saviour and Redeemer if their previous life on earth led them to this recognition.

    The above hymn of John Damascene clearly states that the virtuous heathens were not ‘taught’ the true faith. This is a clear allusion to the words of Christ: ‘Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’[74]; and ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but that believeth not shall be damned’[75]. The damnation is extended only to those who were taught Christian faith but did not believe. But if a person was not taught, if he in his real life did not encounter the preaching of the gospel and did not have an opportunity to respond to it, can he be damned for it? We come back to the question that had disturbed such ancient authors as Clement of Alexandria.

    Is it possible at all that the fate of a person can be changed after his death? Is death that border beyond which some unchangeable static existence comes? Does the development of the human person not stop after death?

    On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics. On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime.

    * * *

  15. traxus the comments don’t seem to be wurking?

  16. Here I am cutting and pasting the crucial part of the article but it’s useful to read the rest as well:

    http://handmaidleah.wordpress.com/category/russian-orthodox/

    On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values. One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] . Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics. On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime. (inland empire)

    * * *

  17. “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free” — this is Nikos Kazantzakis’s epitaph. Death is the end of hope, so if you abandon all hope have you entered into the tomb world, into the afterlife? It’s often expressed that the person who doesn’t fear death is the most formidable of champions because s/he lives as though already dead.

    I’ve been trying to persuade myself to live without hope, but it’s difficult to make myself do anything if I don’t expect it to accomplish what I intended. I suppose one must attempts to live for the process rather than the outcome, to go with one’s promptings to act and react without expecting the actions to “land,” to complete themselves in the world. Or maybe the thing is to act intentionally, as an agent, but without commitment to the expected results of one’s actions. This is like the pursuit of virtue or morality or excellence as its own reward, rather than as a form of instrumental rationality to attain hoped-for ends. But this isn’t a solipsistic path, since actions do have consequences — it’s just that the consequences are emergent rather than engineered.

    I find that abandoning hope doesn’t let me escape fear. Even if I don’t hope for more or different, I could always wind up losing what I already have. That seems like the worst possible combination, doesn’t it, to be hopeless AND fearful? Lives of quiet desperation, do I dare to eat a peach, and all that. If hope is tyranny of the possible future, then fear is the tyranny of the actual present.

    I suppose fear means that you regard the actual present as something better than intolerable — otherwise, without hope, you’d be better off killing yourself. If you can persuade yourself that you’re living in a dystopia, a hell on earth — that the reality you live in would be better off destroyed, that you’d be no worse off than you are now if you lost everything — then maybe you can abandon fear. That’s always been the appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction: no fears, no hopes, you’re free. Dystopia = utopia.

    So I guess I’m theoretically ready to get aboard the “we’re fucked” train. But the hope/fear motivational apparatus is hard to abandon just through force of intellect or will. It feels instinctive. Certainly it’s built on instinct — flee the predator; try someplace else when the water hole dries up.

    And I’m not persuaded about necessity being the possible mother of a better world. There are other vectors, refined or sublimated instincts that can etch unexpected new pathways. It’s a Deleuzian thing.

  18. This is quite beautiful, seductive even – but I have to say I do agree with Gerry, “We need an Imaginary to even have the chance to be excellent to one another; fuck Utopia means fuck everyone (else).” I understand your concerns re: the Lacanian imaginary, but when Gerry uses the term ‘Imaginary’ I’m not so sure how viable or productive it is to interpret his invocation of its notion as strictly Lacanian – though such a reading could also be very interesting. Please expand on this, I know you did here:
    “I want to distance myself from the lacanian notion of imaginary which is intrinsically narcissistic, a fantasy union of a split that is considered a priori unreconcilable. utopia/dystopia are only different in terms of content (a utopia can become dystopic with a change in perspective and vice versa); what they have in common is that they represent a unity – a whole world – that is then contrasted with ‘our’ fractured world.”
    Maybe I just take issue with the general appropriation and application within theory of its term, and not with the logic of anything you have said per se. But, if I may, ‘narcissism’ does not seem to be so much of an affront to your project – ‘realist nihilism.’

  19. traxus4420 Says:

    i’m going to post about this again, maybe tomorrow, in response to some of these comments as well as my own differences with myself.

  20. […] back over what I wrote, it occurred to me that my frustration with the use of the term ‘utopia’ in […]

  21. I like this quote from Mary Parker Follett (American, 1868-1933) who said in the New State (1918)

    However various the reasons given for the non-success of Brook Fram, Certain religious associations, and certain artistic and literary groups who have tried to live together, the truth is that most of them have died simply of non-nutrition. The bond created had not within it the variety which the human soul needs for its nourishment. (page 39)

    She also said, “All polishing is done by friction,” in her talks to businessmen during the mid-twenties, when she called for integration of interests, rather than domination or compromise.

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