It finally seems as if the social criticism is less genuine than it appears; that it is rather a kind of tactic for making the Utopist's social arrangements more attractive. Again, though, it does not seem plausible to deny More's, or later official Utopists', good intentions; it's just that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Brave New World Theme Essay
The static character of More's Utopia , and the bulk of subsequent official Utopias, may also be understood as an indirect consequence of monologism, insofar as both the "guided tour" device and extreme "attention to detail" naturally do not permit a great deal of narrative dynamism. The narrative movement from scene to scene is very placid and within each scene the explanations of the tour guide take precedence over the activities witnessed.
This static quality, in fact, would seem to be a carryover from the discussion and debate of Book One as a kind of symposium without food , which belies a certain intellectual movement, but precious little physical. Again, this may be understood as a consequence of More's solution to the literary problem of depicting an entire world-society.
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The famous map of Utopia that More provides as a frontispiece to his book, a device that has since become de rigeur in the fantasy genre, exemplifies the official Utopia's tendency toward static states. In the genre of the "map," all time is suspended; Utopia becomes static as well as permanent and world-scale and objectified in the most literal way.
With the device of the "guided tour," which similarly relies on an acutely necessary objectification, time is no longer wholly suspended, but remains thoroughly subordinated to space. Since More wants us to see everything, nothing can happen off-stage while we are not looking; hence, his narrative bears a similarity to those science fiction narratives in which a protagonist moves amongst the inhabitants of a world who have somehow become frozen in time. In a sense, then, More's guided tour of Utopia takes place in a single moment of time; that is, by affecting a "unity of time," with its consequential staticness, More becomes able to realize the ideal space of his Utopia.
By contrast, the unofficial Utopia of Arcadia had to solve a different literary problem: the depiction of time--specifically, pastoral-idyllic time.
Under idyllic time, as characterized by Bakhtin, life is "severely limited to a few Love, birth, death, marriage, labor, food and drink, stages of growth" The Dialogic Imagination that all occur within, and are inseparable from, a "unity of place"; the "familiar territory with all its nooks and crannies, its familiar mountains, valleys, fields, rivers and one's own home This "unity of place," then, allows the depiction of generations time , less as a biographical progression than as the simultaneous being together of children and the aged, and the middle-aged, who are at once both parents and children.
Bakhtin further asserts that the mixing together of these age categories thereby engenders that "cyclic rhythmicalness of time so characteristic of the idyll" As such, the unofficial Utopia of Arcadia reflects a dynamic quality, a rhythmicalness that is tied as well to the rhythms of Nature, quite distinct from the official static Utopia. Arcadia is not precisely contemporary with More's Utopia.
In fact, as part of the pastoral tradition, it has a very ancient lineage, which Northrop Frye conveniently summaries in Anatomy of Criticism:. We think first of the pastoral's descent from Theocritus, where the pastoral elegy first appears as a literary adaptation of the ritual of the Adonis lament, and through Theocritus to Virgil and the whole pastoral tradition to The Shepeardes Calendar and beyond to Lycidas itself.
Then we think of the intricate pastoral symbolism of the bible and the Christian Church, of Abel and the twenty-third Psalm and Christ the Good Shepherd, of the ecclesiastical overtones of "pastor" and "flock," and of the link between the Classical and Christian traditions in Virgil's Messianic Eclogue.
Then we think of the extensions of pastoral symbolism into Sidney's Arcadia , The Faerie Queene , Shakespeare's forest comedies, and the like The close association of pastoral-idyllic literature with Nature would probably already have alerted the literary historian to its links with folk culture; that its roots may be found in the Adonis lament make the links obvious, insofar as Adonis is one of the dismembered-regenerating vegetation figures of mythology.
It is significant as well that the pastoral-idyllic tradition is inaugurated as a literary adaptation of an actual ritual. This is precisely the same kind of development I cited in the transformation of myth into Scripture or the archaic into the literary Utopia. Consequently, one would therefore expect to find recontextualized and revalued folk culture in Arcadia. This in fact proves to be the case, as may be somewhat sardonically demonstrated by noting the transformation of people into sheep in the Christian pastoral tradition.
A remark by Bakhtin further suggests this recontextualization and revaluation, in less insulting terms. He notes that all the basic life-realities of the idyll are not presented "in their naked realistic aspect as in Petronius but in a softened and to a certain extent sublimated form. Thus sexuality is almost always incorporated into the idyll only in sublimated form" The Dialogic Imagination This sublimation is indicative of a refining or civilizing modification to the otherwise typically frank i.
Although the formulation of Arcadia, as part of the much longer pastoral-idyllic tradition, is not strictly contemporaneous with More's Utopia , the milieu of the Renaissance, with its strongly court-centered and urban culture, would have almost automatically prompted a renewed interest in, and significance for, the Nature of Arcadia. Moreover, the disintegrating social conditions Utopia criticizes such as urban crime and poverty, partly as a result of the economic displacement of peasants into the city due to the onset of the assault on the land that would later manifest fully as the enclosure movement , generally suggests two solutions: better cities Utopia , or a return to the land Arcadia.
Northrop Frye reaches a similar conclusion, though he disallows that Arcadia is "strictly utopian" "Varieties" Nevertheless, he admits that the Arcadian ideal reflects simplicity, equality--"a society of shepherds without distinction of class" 41 --peace and leisure; the arts appear "spontaneously, as these shepherds were assumed to have natural musical and poetic gifts" And, by contrast to the sexual taboos of Utopia, in Arcadia "making love is a major occupation, requiring much more time and attention than the sheep" Arcadia also reflects two ideals almost wholly unknown to the official Utopia.
Frye asserts that the pastoral is a type of "romantic comedy" Anatomy 43 , and that "the theme of the comic is the integration of society" As such, the pastoral and hence, Arcadia may be described as "reality-integrating. The utopia is a city, and it expresses rather the human ascendancy over nature, the domination of the environment by abstract and conceptual mental patterns.
In the pastoral, man is at peace with nature, which implies that he is also at peace with his own nature, the reasonable and the natural being associated In the second place, the pastoral, by simplifying human desires, throws more stress on the satisfaction of such desires as remain, especially, of course, sexual desire.
Brave New World as a Dystopia Essay
Thus it can accommodate, as the typical utopia cannot, something of that outlawed and furtive social ideal known as the Land of Cockayne, the fairyland where all desires can be instantly gratified "Varieties" The seeming identification here between Cockayne and Arcadia, as well as Frye's disavowal of Arcadia's utopian nature noted above, must be taken issue with. Of course, if one defines Utopia as Frye does, as a "city," then obviously Arcadia cannot be Utopia, but such a definition is too limited, and causes Frye to accept the official urban Utopia of More as definitive, and to overlook the unofficial rural-arboreal Utopia of Arcadia.
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With regard to Cockayne, Bakhtin notes, "There was a popular cycle of legends about the utopian land of gluttony and idleness for instance, the fabliau of the pays de Cocagne " Rabelais Not only does this brief remark emphasize a utopian element, the popular nature of Cockayne should also caution one against its automatic identification with the literary Arcadia; the link between the two, rather, must be recognized in the recontextualization of the former in accordance with the literate values of the latter.
Having thus clarified the nature of Arcadia, further aspects may now be explored. For one, Arcadia may be distinguished from Utopia as a "generic setting," usable by any number of poets or later novelists; it is, in a fairly concrete sense, "communally owned. As a generic setting, then, Arcadia reflects a multi-voicedness not found in the official Utopia. This relatively greater degree of polylogism is expressed, not only at the structural level of genre, but also at the level of representation within the text. Insofar as Arcadia typically depicts generations of people, this multi-voicedness is self-evident, but there is also a comparatively greater degree of equality of speech, compared to the unequal distribution of authority and speaking power reflected in the "guided tour" device of the official Utopia.
This greater equality may be readily discerned in the playful and variously ribald encounters between any number of 17th century Stellas and Astrophels; George Williamson, in fact, notes precisely a "casuistic dialogue on love" Seventeenth Century Contexts 64 as the distinguishing feature of such encounters. Without a presumed equality of speech, of course, such a dialogue would become quite pointless, and lose all of its charm.
Neither can the importance of the theme of "love" as the sublimation of sexuality in Arcadia be underestimated, as it signifies the unofficial Utopia's counterdiscourse to the sexual prohibitions of the official Utopia. In this at least minimal way, Arcadia may be said to advocate individual desires over against the social desires advocated by the official Utopia. Despite the relatively polylogic generic setting and quality of romantic encounter in Arcadia, the authorial treatment of individual texts nevertheless remains strictly conventional, such that monologism remains wholly in effect.
Insofar as poetry aspires to the condition of a "unity of voice," such monologism cannot necessarily be deemed a demerit in Arcadian poetry. In tracing the development of the "casuistic dialogue on love" from Sidney to Donne's The Extasie , Williamson cites one interpretation of Donne's poem that indicates the most complete realization of such authorial monologism as poetic unity ; "In Donne's poem by a characteristic subtlety the dialogue is reduced to a monologue spoken by the undistinguished soul of the two lovers" To expect a plurality of voices in Arcadian poetry or any poetry is generally hopeless, and indicates why Bakhtin and I after him would seek it instead in the novel.
Consequently, Bakhtin ascribes considerable significance to the idyll and idyllic time hence, Arcadia in later developments of the novel, in either a positive and direct sense as incorporated into the Sentimental, family-generational and provincial novel genres , or in a negative and indirect sense as a kind of time to be superceded, principally in the Bildungsroman.
This, because idyllic time as the officially revalued version of folk time may be described as "circular," and hence "closed. Eliade traces the origins of this latter "progressive" view of time to Christian eschatology, which waged an ongoing battle with the cyclical nature of folk time It should be clear that "cyclical" is not identical to "circular"; specifically, the cyclical nature of folk time and the archaic mentality that perceives it is not "closed. Precisely what has been lost in this shift of conceptions is the regenerating aspect of cyclical time. In spite of this misconception, Arcadia nevertheless affects a realization of ideal time that parallels the official Utopia's realization of ideal space.
As such, both represent culminations or milestones in the genre of the literary Utopia that like all milestones both implicitly and explicitly point the way to new literary directions; milestones, moreover, that entailed both positive and negative consequences. On the negative side, insofar as time is viewed as circular in Arcadia and static in Utopia, the images of time we have inherited in literature especially as stripped of its regenerating capacity are patently inadequate.
Time thus viewed becomes an inescapable trap, and its tone as in all official culture becomes deadly serious.
‘Brave New World’ (chapters ) | Utopias & Dystopias
Laughter can only become ironic or cynical under such conditions; pleasure begins to take on that sadomasochistic quality so evident in the Romantics. At the end of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris , published in , one character aptly summarizes all of these "modern" themes:. We all know that we are material creatures, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and not even the power of all our feelings combined can defeat those laws.
All we can do is detest them. The age-old faith of lovers and poets in the power of love, stronger than death, that finis vitae sed non amoris , is a lie, useless and not even funny. So must one be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going?
Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relives ancient torments, which are all the more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox This should not be taken as the final word in Lem's novel, as the question marks and final ellipsis suggest; Lem rarely, if ever, provides a final word in any case. Eliade might add that the closed or static impression of time engendered by Utopia and Arcadia, insofar as they present "negative examples" usable to argue in favor of linear time, thereby helped to condemn humanity to the terror of history, to the irreversibility of historical time in its progressive linear conception; that Utopia and Arcadia helped to make time into "history," which subsequently became Joyce's nightmare.
As I have sketched it here, Eliade's contention might seem like a bare assertion; a fuller exposition, which would be out of place here, may be found in the last chapter of The Myth of the Eternal Return For now, I will simply note that the official distinction between the circular and the linear views of time as opposed to the more accurate distinction between the cyclical and the linear conceptions Eliade presents is somewhat fatuous.
In the same way that official culture stripped folk laughter of its profoundly significant regenerating aspect thus rendering it merely frivolous or destructive , a similar stripping was performed on folk time thus rendering it "stagnant" or "indolent". It has only been in this century that a more accurate conception of folk time as cyclical, not circular, has been rediscovered by the Western intelligentsia; in the interim, we have been struggling with only half of the equation a linear, irreversible time at our disposal.
On the positive side, the realizations of ideal space and time affected by Utopia and Arcadia, respectively, realized also a set of literary conventions as exemplary models to be explored and exploited by later generations. As Bakhtin notes, the love idyll "was able to serve as the foundation for various types of novels, and could enter as a component into other novels for example, those of Rousseau " The Dialogic Imagination , as well as the family idyll and the provincial novel. Utopia's "guided tour," on the other hand, provided a basis for the innumerable memoirs and first-hand accounts written by explorers during a particularly exploratory age.
As such, the realized ideals of Utopia and Arcadia became the idealized realities of actually explored land and personally experienced time. In both cases, consciousness personality begins to infiltrate the official and unofficial branches of literary Utopias. This shift is especially obvious in later titles of Utopias. This shift is less obvious in the Arcadian branch of literary Utopias, but may still be sensed, insofar as the focus of the novel becomes centered on an individual consciousness e.
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In general, this shift from realized ideals to idealized realities seems to vindicate Mannheim's conception of Utopia as situationally transcendent relative to the present but realizable in the future. As previously noted, however, an implemented Utopia is no longer Utopia, but becomes rather the "operating order of life," the very status quo that Utopia is supposed to situationally transcend.