LITR 5439 Literary & Historical Utopias

Lecture Notes

 

1. How does Ecotopia immediately connect to our other utopian texts as a representative of the genre?

2. How to define the literary genre of “utopias?” What conventions repeatedly appear? What audiences are involved or excluded?

3. What genres join with or branch from utopia? Examples: dystopia, ecotopia, Socratic dialogue, science fiction, fantasy, novel / romance, adventure / travel narrative, journalism, tract, propaganda, satire. Others?

4. In the entertainment / instruction balance, how well does Ecotopia work as entertaining fiction as opposed to didactic literature?

 

 

 

1 cf. More’s Utopia, frontier of fact and fiction, journalistic development

1 secession, independence

1 unofficial figure

2 heal the fratricidal breach that rent the nation—so the continent can stand united against rising tides of starvation and revolution.

2 Hawks > retake “lost lands of the west”

2 Ecotopian ideas are seeping over the border, detoxified

2 Can things really be as weird there as they sound?

2 nuclear mines

2 political organization, led by damned women

2 got control of the armories and the Guard.

2 stand-off, helped by national economic crisis

3 being totally out of touch, no phone service, wire service indirect, uncanny isolation

3 Government’s control over population seems to be primitive compared to ours. Americans are heartily hated.

 

William Weston on his Journey to Ecotopia

3 Reno, last American city before Sierra Nevada

3-4 cf. Biafra, Bangladesh, Belgium, Quebec: “devolution” a worldwide phenomenon

4 counterdevelopment: union of Scandinavian countries

4 terrible shortages

4 Washington, Oregon, and Northern California

4 nagging challenge to the underlying national philosophy of America: ever-continuing progress, the fruits of industrialization for all, a rising Gross National Product

4 no more deaths from air and chemical pollution. Our own death rate has declined

5 [shift to diary entry]

5 cowboys, “cannibals”

 

CROSSING THE ECOTOPIAN BORDER

6 [news report?]

6 prohibits international flights, air and noise pollution

6 special dispensation to allow an internal combustion engine

6 keep everything except .45, standard garb in NY

7 small booklet, Ecotopia Explains

7 soft, almost insinuatingly friendly tone . . . national trait

7 found a smile on my face as well

7 trains, skiers; train more like a wingless airplane, no seats

8 marijuana

8 hanging ferns and small plants, botanical names with assurance

8 “recycle bins”—no embarrassment, rigid practices of recycling and re-use

8 magnetic suspension and propulsion

8 long-range economic policies, diversification and decentralization of production in each city and region

9 total social cost per person

9 use of metric system universal

9 dressed in raggedy attire, secondhand-looking fur jackets

9 pointed out changes in the fields and forests

10 breast-shaped green hills

10 allergic to paint, build with rock , adobe, weathered boards, lack the aesthetic sense, rather cover a house with bines or bushes

10 look like oldtime westerners, theatrical freakiness, but not crazy or sordid like 60s hippies

10 manners unsettling, women stare me directly in eyes

11 as if they had endless time on their hands

11 none of the implicit threat of open criminal violence that pervades our public places, but an awful lot of strong emotion, willfully expressed! . . . curiosity . . . lost sense of anonymity

11 [cf. Looking Backward] can’t approach an Ecotopian functionary as we do, deal with him as a real person

 

THE STREETS OF ECOTOPIA’S CAPITAL

11 San Francisco, fire and earthquake [apocalypse?]

12 strange hush over everything

12 boulevard > mall, trees, electric vehicles, bicycle lanes, fountains, sculptures, kiosks, gardens

12 no fare on buses < general tax fares, collecting fares cost more than fares could produce

13 like many ecotopians, he tended to babble

13 bucolic atmosphere, creeks, little falls

13 street musicians playing Bach

13 clothes loose with bright colors, denim common

14 children miniature versions

14 bicycles available to all, night crews, cheaper to lose a few bicycles

14 spout statistics, “social costs” (cf. social capital, human capital)

14 abolition of cars

14 skyscrapers > apartments

15 small signs

15 hotel room full of contradictions

15 Despite their aversion to many modern devices, the Ecotopians have some that are even better than ours.

16 Minister of Food, “stable-state” ecological systems

16 dog not needed for company

16 hunters hunting just outside town, deer numerous

16 streets pitch dark at night > crime panic?

17 see stars even in the city

17 Ecotopians don’t pick flowers

17 new wardrobe

17 x-synthetics, lecture, x-recycled

17 Both fabrics and garments all domestic-made—and the prices seem sky-high

 

FOOD, SEWAGE, AND “STABLE STATES”

18 Assistant Minister in work overalls outfit . . . like many Ecotopians, unnervingly relaxed

18 not agriculture but sewage, food production cycle, compostable and recyclable categories, x-“disposal” system, wasteful and unnatural

19 accused of “sewer socialism,” like our Milwaukee predecessors

19 farm animals not kept in close confinement

19 considerable cheaper, if we add in all the costs

19 workable political terms—especially since our country is relatively sensible in scale

20 Of course the Ecotopian situation has allowed their government to take actions that would be impossible under the checks and balances of our kind of democracy

20 returned western agriculture to the dark ages, and cooks to their chopping blocks and hot stoves (microwave ovens being illegal in Etotopia)

20 our problem was how to shrink our agricultural output drastically

20 reduced the normal work week to about 20 hours

20 [contrast Looking Backward] economies in food distribution. As your grocery executives know, a store handling a thousand items is far less difficult and expensive to operating than one handling five thousand or more, as yours do.

20 x-processed and packaged foods, outlawed on health grounds or put on Bad Practice lists

21 totalitarian rat?

21 not enforced > mechanism of moral persuasion, purely informal, demand drops

21 scientists forbidden to accept payments or favors from either state or private enterprises for any consultation or advice they offer

all your oil experts, agricultural experts in pay of oil and agribusiness

21 Ecotopians eat better food than any nation on earth, because we grow it to be nutritious and taste good, not look good or pack efficiently

22 pamphlets, depressing because of moralizing tone, humorless approach, soda as plot against mankind, relentless tendency to fix responsibility on producers

22 room: trio of recycle chutes

23 almost nothing painted

23 horribly over-emotional

24 [couple fight] theatrical, cf. Italy

24 Evidently restraints on interpersonal behavior have been very much relaxed here, and extreme hostility can be accepted as normal behavior

24 x-appetite for sugarless Ecotopian food

24 missing years with Pat and kids

25 wire office, couldn’t help smiling back

 

CAR-LESS LIVING IN ECOTOPIA’S NEW TOWNS

26 strange new minicities, decentralized society

26 Individually owned vehicles were prohibited in “car-free” zones soon after Independence > minibus service

26 Alviso: cluttered collection of buildings with trees everywhere . . . all jumbled amid apartment buildings [cf New Urbanism]

26 built almost entirely of wood, reforestation program

26 apartments very large by our standards, 10 or 15 rooms to accommodate communal living groups

27 streets cf. medieval cities

27 groceries home in string bags or bicycle baskets

27 supplies for shops, like most goods, moved in containers, electric trucks

27 entire population w/in half mile of transit station, many small park-like places, no large paved areas exposed to sun

28 factory x-assembly line, quiet and pleasant, extreme simplification of ecotopian vehicles

28 “do it yourself” > parts of vehicles > own design

29 primitive and underpowered x urge for speed and freedom

29 a girl’s hair blowing in the wind

29 lunch with wine, soups, sandwiches

30 existing cities razed, preserved as living museum displays (of “our barbarian past”), land returned to grassland, forest, orchards, or gardens

30 reversion process, signs of a once busy civilization obliterated, sobering

30-1 something peculiar going on, reminding me of something, confronted with some fine personal opportunity, as if I was a child

31 or throwback, or skip ahead, so American

31 stuck on vacation in the country

31 in surprisingly good touch with the rest of the world

31 more attention to sunrise, sunset, tides than to actual hour time: “never catch an Indian wearing a watch.” Many Ecotopians sentimental about Indians, envy lost natural place in American wilderness

32 references to what Indians would or wouldn’t do . . . Who would use an earth-mover on his own mother?

32 “Franklin’s Cove,” press commune

32 no electric typewriters, but video recorders

32 secure sense of themselves as animals, like a bunch of cats

33 kind of leisurely talk I associate with college days

33 politics and science writer (not an odd combination here) . . . surprisingly skeptical about U. S. science . . . bureaucratically constipated and wasteful . . . mainly young and untrustworthy scientists who get important new ideas

33 “Doesn’t this stable-state business get awfully static?” . . . “system provides stability, and we can be erratic within it”

33 x-progress? . . . in practice there’s no stable point

33-4 quarrelsome, can afford to be because of root agreement [cf. Americans polite because armed]

35 x-commitment as going off by yourselves, just two of you

35 American strategy in Brazil

35-6 women totally escaped dependent roles . . . above all, no need to manipulate men, x-loading on sex roles, people as people

36 technology and social structure at service of mankind, instead of other way around

36 sisterly, x-touch, hung up on my own patterns

 

THE UNSPORTING LIFE OF ECOTOPIA

37 no baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey

Sports pages: oddball individual sports: skiing, esp. cross-country, hiking, camping, swimming, sailing, gymnastics, ping-pong, tennis, chess.

Set up purely for benefit of participants

> Ecotopian citizens remarkably healthy-looking

walk everywhere, carry backpacks, groceries, higher level of physical activity

women esp. look healthy, x-standards of style

fat and broken-down street people absent

“nature has equipped us well”

38 network of unobtrusive physical activities, almost Spartan in intensity

volleyball

38 Ecotopian schools, looser scheduling, higher levels of physical activity, expeditions

38 wild game returned to reforested areas

38 hunting usu. With bows and arrows; shotguns in living units

39 expropriation law made all waterfront properties into “water parks.” [property!]

39 dynamite dams, interfered with salmon runs

39 school construction projects

39 excitement of major sports diverted to “the war games”—never described in print

40 bloody rituals, hundreds of youths perish every year

40 President Allwen, dedication of solar energy plant, rather plain but strong unidentified woman who’s chatting and laughing with them

41 warmth + menace, no us-against-them gambit

41 maybe as much of a religious leader as a politician? Head of the state ecological church, chief priestess?

 

ECOTOPIAN TELEVISION AND ITS WARES

42 employ video devices more extensively; seldom travel on business > picturephones, same cable as television (cf. web?)

42 no rule of objectivity, “bourgeois fetish”

43 commercials awkwardly bunched between shows

43-4 x-variety in department stores, bath towels

44 Ecotopians repair own things, no guarantees, but must pass repair review

45 cooperative criticism (cf. Oneida)

46 little emotional dramas, embarrassing and low-class but delightful, energizing

 

THE ECOTOPIAN ECONOMY: FRUIT OF CRISIS

46 20-hour work week, revision of Protestant work ethic upon which America built

46 forced to isolate its economy from the competition of harder-working peoples

46 mankind not meant for production > modest place in seamless, stable-state web of living organisms, disturbing web as little as possible

46 sacrifice of present consumption

46 almost religious objective, perhaps akin to earlier doctrines of “salvation”

47 economic disaster not identical with survival disaster for persons, deliberately engineered

47 forced consolidation of retail chains

48 out of work > construction of train network & sewage & recycling facilities > stable-state life systems

49 20-hour work week doubled number of jobs

50 basic biological survival unifying force, generosity with food

51 cf. Indians, treat technology and materials in spirit of respect, comradeship

52 collaborating with wood in shaping a building (x-resistance)

52 gruff-sounding man, pleased to hear of my visit, surprise . . . businessmen of some kind: the Opposition!

52 okay ecological reforms, but stifle spirit of enterprise

53 let the managers manage

53 Progressive Party? . . . Survivalists.

53 asking for explosives, guns? . . . journalist, not CIA

54 Marissa Brightcloud. A self-adopted Indian-inspired name . . . many Ecotopians use them.

54 forest camp

55 our chimp ancestors

55 ceremonial bath

55-6 buy lumber, care for forest

59 whole American psychodrama of mutual suspicion between the sexes, demands and counterdemands and our desperate working at sex like a problem to be solve, has left my head. Everything comes from our feelings.

59 won’t let me use my mouth on her breasts. “You’re not a baby”

59 children have many others besides their parents to love them. . . . “If I was doing it again I wouldn’t leave.”

 

IN ECOTOPIA’S BIG WOODS

60 deep and lasting interest in wood, outdated material . . . no clear cutting

60 tree worship, fierce looking totem poles

61 “tree service” cf. ballet

62 leaves topsoil intact, cuts down erosion, and preserves fish

62 boards sold in county-sized area around mill

62 debate in progress over diesel trucks > electric vehicles

63 occupation of cowboy has come back

65 economy of ecological abundance > generosity

65 Ecotopian counter-intelligence; your government’s clandestine operations

 

 

DECLINE WITHOUT FALL? THE ECOTOPIAN POPULATION CHALLENGE

66 popn slowly declining for 15 years . .  . abortion and infanticide? . . . humane measures

66 industrialized society: increased number of children outweighs benefits of family

67 lessen pressure on resources and other species

67 3-stage program: massive educational and medical campaign; abortion upon demand; counterbalance still growing longevity

second stage: radical decentralization, dismantled national tax and spending system > local communities, collective lives

68 medical services dispersed

68 commune and extended-family farms encouraged

68 substantial annual surplus per capita

69 number of Indians who inhabited territory?

69 nuclear family rapidly disappearing

70 “families”

70 right to select fathers of children

71 solstice and equinox holidays, sexual promiscuity

71 old people seldom alone, early childhood education

71 x-eugenics, cloning

73 x-get job done with > worth doing, should be enjoyable

74 immediate consciousness

77 eye contact

 

SAVAGERY RESTORED: ECOTOPIA’S DARK SIDE

77 Ritual War Games: first American ever to witness chilling spectacle

77 small homemade shrines

78 war chant cf. athletic cheers

79 body arranged crucifix-like . . . think of our family: I bear wounds for them . . . It is finished . . . signal for women to leave

79 I feel like a man . . . Once more I have survived

80 test ourselves . . . how good it feels to be frightened and come through

80 photography dark-magic side: freeze time, cheat biology, defy change and death

80 regard anthropology as field with great practical importance

80 essential to develop some kind of open civic expression for the physical competitiveness that seemed to be inherent in man’s biological programming—and otherwise came out in perverse forms, like war

81 America, accomplish same objectives with wars and automobiles, pro football only spectator sport

81 few fatalities, 50 die a year cf. highway toll of 75,000 and war dead average to 5k a year

81 focus women’s competitiveness in other ways: contests for political leadership, organizing work, rivalry over men to father children

81 cf. high school athletic contests but on even smaller scale

81 cross and Judeo-Christian heritage . . . We make the best of it.

82 the raising

82 dream about . . . myself all painted up, women smile, I want to make love

 

THEIR PLASTICS AND OURS

83 huge amounts of plastics, but derived from living biological sources (plants) rather than from fossilized ones (petroleum and coal) . . . make them all biodegradable [84 “dying”], returned to fields as fertilizer > new plastics

83 almost religious fervor, a “stable-state system”

84 OK to litter

84 entirely scrap-based metals industry

84 built into molecules “keyholes,” opened only by soil micro-organisms

85 purists live only in wood houses, etc., future may belong, strong trend to abandon fruits of all modern technology

85 collective work? X competitive and detached

86 [children] What would their lives be like if they had been born Ecotopian kids? No ballet classes, station wagons, shopping expeditions to department stores. They’d do actual hard adult work in gardens and shops and schools, live in welter of dozen or more people . . . scares me (want them protected)

87 wet-suit-like garments, “bird-suits,” story confused, alleged properties quite magical

87 bicycles as “preventive transportation”

88 chemistry > biology

88 American + curious French influence, severe systematization

88 Money

89 x-sense of privacy . . . . I see myself through them as well as through myself

90 close touch with land, shrines

 

WOMEN IN POWER: POLITICIANS, SEX AND LAW IN ECOTOPIA

91 Survivalist Party woman-dominated; cooperative- and biology-oriented policies < female attitudes and interests

Progressive Party = male attitudes to individualism, production

92 greatly extended powers of local governments

92-3 political meetings: ventilation > consensus + enjoy meetings

93 Bill of Rights, lawyers, courts

x-victimless crimes

but gentlemen’s crimes, x-anonymity

94 flight of capital

95 waterways transportation

97 sex cf. eating, walking, x-heavy emotional expectations

 

WORKERS’ CONTROL, TAXES & JOBS IN ECOTOPIA

97 socialist? Mixed economy but different balance

98 massive flight of capital cf. Cuba

chaotic but not anarchic > local governments and courts

99 no inheritance

tax loopholes > corporate / production taxes

workers = partners

land tax > compactness

100 no super-rich

x-direct absentee investment

101 national bank

“small is beautiful”

lower profit and wage levels > comfortable pace, relations

101 draconian tariffs keep out sweat-shop products from Asia

101 arms establishment is small

101 many functions of government which for us are very costly (such as education) are organized, strangely enough, on free-market principles

101 relative total tax burden is much lower than ours

102 lifetime guarantee of minimal levels of food, housing, and medical care

103 I don’t seem to have an attitude to write from anymore; all I can do is call the individual separate shots as I see them. Is that losing my objectivity?

105 license no behavior-control drugs at all

105 adapt schools to children

105 guiding genius Archibald Fir, an architect

106 attack on megastructures

 

RACE IN ECOTOPIA: APARTHEID OR EQUALITY

107 black population control own territory, Soul City

107 intermarriage frequent

108 black architects bred in ghetto: people-centered rather than car-centered

108 curbing of heroin traffic by taking over as government monopoly

108 severity of current sentences for violent crime

108-9 prisoners dispersed in small institutions

109 Swahili in the schools, many black youngsters already bilingual

109-110 cf. South Africa; apartheid voluntary

 

ENERGY FROM SUN AND SEA

111 massive thermal-gradient power plant

111 watching atomic fusion energy, but something unnatural in processes that concentrate gigantic quantities of energy at any one point . . . generating energy near where it is needed

111 historic tendency for energy-rich cultures to conquer or dominate energy-poor ones

114 fanciful people, Ecotopian “family,” radio powered by a waterwheel

115 in tune with her own biological being, contagion

116 changing my whole idea of what men and women are like together

118 x-guilt

 

COMMUNICATIONS IN ECOTOPIA: PRESS, TELEVISION, AND PUBLISHING

119 laws were passed [passive!] broke up existing media corporations

119 one operation in each city

119 now six daily papers in SF

120 newspapers sold through electronic print-outs at kiosks

121 enormous national library at Berkeley

121 devoted to fine eating, links to French

122 Helicopter War? . . . most serious suppressed story since Independence

125 detonate mines in American cities?

 

ECOTOPIAN EDUCATION’S SURPRISES

126 schools cf. farms; age of biology x physics-dominated

126 only hour or so daily in actual class work > “projects”

127 two hours actually working

127 work normal part of every person’s life, no “bosses” in shop

129 schools collectively but personally owned by teachers who run them

129 national examinations

129 brisk competition among schools, children switch around

129 greater ability doesn’t seem so invidious as with us, where it is really valued because it brings rewards of money and power.

131 hundreds of wrecked U. S. Army helicopters

131 War Ministry, militia system, guerrilla bands

 

LIVING IN PLASTIC TUBING

133 oval-cross-section tubing, about 13 feet wide and 10 feet high

133 plastic derived from cotton

134 truly industrial continuous-process basis, instead of by handwork

134 “integrated systems,” devices that cater to several of their ecological fetishes at once

135 avoid florescent tubes

137-8 [love talk b/w Will and Marissa leads to theme]

138 rootless x Ecotopian who always has a strong collective base to return to

 

SEPARATION OF FUNCTIONS: RESEARCH AND TEACHING IN ECOTOPIA

139 proliferation of small research institutes

139 Mt. Hamilton telescopes once again usable due to drop in air pollution and city illumination levels

139 playful, coffee or tea or marijuana

141 political science, sociology and psychology x-scientific standing

History has blossomed

141 universities broken up into colleges

143 graduate instruction > apprenticeship programs

 

ECOTOPIAN MUSIC, DANCE, OTHER ARTS

145 little distinction b/w professional and amateur

147 like the Balinese, no art, just do everything as well as we can

148 cf. high school football games of my youth

153 people recover best if they’re happy. We don’t separate medicine and life

 

HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CARE: THE ECOTOPIAN WAY

154 compare in sophistication, contrast in scale

154 nurses longer hours and vacations (cf. Looking Backward)

155 personal presence and care of nurse, recuperative specialties, esp. massage.

155 authority of doctor diluted, conversations livelier

155 x-import foreign-trained doctors, med schools doubled

156 babies delivered at home by midwives

156 hard-hearted / fatalistic attitude toward death, also prefer at home, cf. Indians preparing for death

156 ecological religion: recycled

156 mental illness in decline

156-7 security and confidence, never being alone

157 opposite-sex nurses

157 Do you think I’m your slave or something?

158 Ecotopian novels . .    . security, almost like 19c English novels; world is decent, satisfactory, sustaining despite some difficulties . . . . At first the stories seemed puzzlingly vapid to me. I couldn’t figure out why anybody would find them interesting . . . x-exciting nightmare quality

Ø  Come to think of it, Ecotopia itself is beginning to feel a good deal more reassuring: when I needed care, I was taken care of.

158 This country has certainly taught me to cry

160  Vera Allwen powerful as a person, not as a bureaucrat or head of institution. Cf. some of the old-time communist leaders, Ho Chi Minh and Mao Tse-tung

160 cf. outclassed in chess

160 unrest already generated by Ecotopian ideas among our youth, secessionist movements in Great Lakes region and Southeast

161 on every major social index Ecotopia would lose by reunification

161 problem is how the US can follow Ecotopia’s lead, not vice versa

161 “You are not as personal in your columns as our journalists tend to be, so we have not been able to judge if you have had good experiences among us.”

162 Even the president wants to mess with your soul

162-3 [disorienting conclusion to interview with president]

 

ECOTOPIA: CHALLENGE OR ILLUSION?

164 secessions within Ecotopia: Spanish-speaking and Japanese communities of San Francisco; Jewish, American Indian and other minorities militants desire greater autonomy

165 after failure of integrationist campaign of 60s, ever more segregated—though somewhat less unequal

165 balkanized continent, separatism, quietism, a reversion toward the two-bit principalities of medieval Europe

166 kidnapped, conversation about “vibrations

170 “It all concerns us.”

170 It isn’t real, it just isn’t real.”

“It’s real for us—you’re not letting it be real for you.”

171 “Why job? Also adventure.”

172 [end of chapter sets up next and final chapter]

 

WORK AND PLAY AMONG THE ECOTOPIANS

172 can’t even tell when an Ecotopian is at work or leisure

173 intellectual people part of factory and farm work force

173 x-jobs as separate from “real life”

174 propensity to touch one another

175 looseness in personal contact may be a result of widespread marijuana usage

175 most smoke with considerable discretion, large source of tax revenue

177 [cf. Looking Backward] Dream: I am at home . . . .

178 mirror scene [cf. Anthem?]

179 “Good place to conceive a child.”

180 this new me

181 I’ve decided not to come back

181 It let me home.