Remember the last time when you said: "I wish things were different." Now, if you explain in detail how exactly different things you want (or even expect) to be, you are on your way of imagining a utopia.
Utopia represents a place that has no problems, where everything is in perfect order, and people live in an environment that is safe and inspiring. Things like social deprivation or injustice do not exist at all, and everyone is living and dreaming freely. Given today's circumstances in the world when it comes to the very question of existence, the call for change inherent in every utopia has maybe never been louder.
Thomas More Wanted More
The situation in 16th century Europe was far from perfect. An English philosopher and humanist, Sir Thomas More, tried to imagine a place that could live in harmony. He called it Utopia. Strictly speaking, if we translate the word directly from Greek, it is a place that is not. Coming from "ou," which means no, and "topos," which stands for a place, the concept of Utopia is a "no-place": an imaginary construct where a perfect society can exist.
For Sir More, Utopia was an island, isolated from everyone and everything, existing in perfection. That is why the idea, or at least the burden of impossibility, is always closely linked to utopia. Imagining such a place is one thing, but actually creating is something completely different.
More's Utopia was, in every sense of the word, an optimistic result of one's imagination. The story behind an island where everyone lives in harmony, no matter how far from the reach of reality it seems, sheds a positive light on the human condition. Therefore, it also affects the way we can think about the future.
Utopia Vs. Dystopia
On the opposite side of things, people can be and are pessimistic. If this kind of emotional perspective prevails, the outcome product is called dystopia, where the prefix '' dys-" means either wrong or abnormal. A dystopian vision of the future is most commonly very dark, and humanity is suffering from different types of post-apocalyptic events caused by catastrophes or resource shortage. The same way people's hopes and dreams can be expressed when creating utopias, so can people's fears shape dystopias.
So, when it comes to what will prevail, it depends - different periods in history raise different social and ethical questions. Creating content and creating narratives, more so in the entertainment industry, is a massive part of how we can even think about the whole world and its well-being. However, the recent trend is that quite a few dystopian visions of the future seem legitimate.
A Dystopian Present?
Although it is hard to question the legitimacy of a utopian/dystopian concept, as it is a place where anything can exist, the sudden emergence of environmentally important questions is definitely present. Climate change, big fires, extensive droughts, devastating floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis - these are all part of our present and part of our future. As such, these occurrences, and the influence humankind has on all of them can serve as an inspiration to create either a Hollywood blockbuster or a call-for-action paper in biology.
You definitely can not blame people for taking the "bad topos," natural disasters that destroy the world, and the very air we breathe sure looks dystopian enough to fuel hundreds of disaster movies.
So, the point with both utopias and dystopias is that they suggest a world that is radically different from the one we live in. Do you want a world that is uniform, transparent, where everyone can live a fulfilled life; or do you want a world devastated by disease, natural disasters, and economic failures? Utopias, and dystopias, unfortunately, are all there to be investigated and imagined. Hopefully, some of them can come back the other way around and cause change where is needed.
What was Utopia for sir Thomas More?
Utopia was an island, isolated from everyone and everything, existing in perfection. That is why the idea, or at least the burden of impossibility, is always closely linked to utopia.
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