Utopia: stories of the days to come

Utopia is not exactly the same as the Messianic Kingdom where the wolf dwells with the lamb and the leopard lies down with the kid. Its peaceable, but only through divine intervention. The other Utopia, the secular one, is a creation of people, somewhere on the map of human imagination, a realm of Nowhere for a vision of the future not to be confused with Arcadia or Golden Ages; rather, our masteries of science have left us, to use Aldous Huxley’s phrase, towards a situation where “Life is marching toward utopias ….and the cultured classes will dram about means of evading utopia and of returning to non-utopian society, less perfect, but freer.” We can scarcely manage this world and our utopias are bleak and dark. Nightmarish. As Huxley said, ” transformed these ideal states into negative utopias which, in spite of their authors’ underlying good will and sporadic good sense, are potentially as horribly inhuman as Orwell’s 1984.” …

---Unlike, the The Incredible Shrinking Man however I can still recommend The Invisible Man – Wells is the master of Science Fiction. In The Invisible Man he takes a fatally flawed concept, invisibility, and writes the shit out of it. When Griffin, the scientist and anti-hero of the title goes about explaining his methodological reasoning in a Socratic dialogue, he is fully persuasive. Check this passage out: “Phew!” said Kemp. “That’s odd! But still I don’t see quite … I can understand that thereby you could spoil a valuable stone, but personal invisibility is a far cry.”---Read More:http://www.sffaudio.com/?tag=biology

H.G. Well’s Platonic guardians called samurai, are a large, voluntary, ruling aristocracy subject to a rigid code of behavior. They are forbidden games, alcohol, tobacco, servants, and dramatic religion- the faith of Utopia being a kind of syncretism the basis of which is the absence of original sin. The samurai must avoid anything that accustoms the mind to applause, and once a year they must spend a week in the wilderness , without books, money, or other amenities, in order to meditate. Altogether, Huxley may have been a trifle harsh when he remarked that the Wellsian samurai “think, feel and behave like a cross between the Boy Scouts and the Society of Jesus.”

Huxley obviously would have preferred the earlier, or non Boy Scout, Wells, In the last decade of the nineteenth century Wells took several bone chilling looks into the future that add up to a formidably negative utopia, in sharp contrast to the urbane and engaging commonwealth he put together later. In The Time Machine he forecast a distant scene not by a race of supermen but by a tribe of childlike, soft creatures, the Eloi, descendents of our ruling classes whose vigor declined when the need for effort vanished.

--- THINGS TO COME? H.G. Wells, in his pre-war fantasy, "The War in the Air," proved himself an astonishing prophet, a fact that makes these "stills" from his film "Things to Come," depicting an air raid in the next war, as disturbing to consider as they are terrible to look upon.---Read More:http://airminded.org/2012/01/25/death-from-the-skies/

Underground, in the bowels of the earth, live the Morlocks, descendents of our proletariat, who from ancient habit run the machines needed for the comfort of the privileged, but who feed on the flesh of the Eloi whom they serve. Yet another vision of the future is “A Story of Days to Come,” which anticipates Huxley’s own anti-utopia by several decades. In this brave new Wellsian world, advertising is bawled everywhere from loudspeakers, deviates have their antisocial traits removed by hypnosis, dreams can be obtained to order, education is offered by telephone, food is rendered synthetic and eaten in automats, “face molders” correct asymmetrical features, and in the end there is the Euthanasia Company always ready to be of service.

In Men Like Gods, written more than two decades later, Wells went to the opposite extreme and created a distinctly optimistic utopia, more or less based on evolution, which of course itself is one vast, biological utopia. In this positive mood Wells sees mankind as beginning to evolve toward a “nobler humanity, different in kind.” While reading Men Like Gods, whose optimism revolted him thoroughly, Aldous Huxley decided to write a “derisive parody,” a piece of “cynical anti-idealism” that eventually grew into Brave New World.

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