Back to Dystopia
Lexi Mize
The author does a sweeping job of collecting dystopian references, but just one or two notes on /why/ humanity spends so much time and effort imagining the Apocalypse: 1) it’s easier to envision destruction than slow, methodical change. 2) we’d rather the world end with us than continue on without us (what will we miss?)

My personal favorite (not mentioned) is that the act (and art) of survival has been lost on us. Your book The Knowledge is a perfect example of this. Without the need to struggle to survive, we’re left to ponder the why of existence.

Let’s face it, surviving in the first world is not much of a challenge. In other lands, sure, the everyday acquisition of food, water, safety, shelter are struggles. They’re living in a dystopia — today. We facebook meanderers probably worry about other more mundane or trivial aspects of modern life. Worries that we know have no consequence.

Envisioning the End allows us to, for a time, picture and dream of a time when our every step, our every decision might result in tragedy or triumph. Being forced to live in such a precarious world would imbue an edge of excitement, stir our basic evolutionary skills at surviving, expose that frisson of living that our mundane lives fail to provide.



One response to “Back to Dystopia

  • Anony Mole

    Jill Lepore, I’m afraid, misses the point with the intent of most dystopian fiction. She paints the genre with a pale brush of pessimism; all is woe, doom be upon us. What she misses is that in most stories that depict the decline, desiccation, eventual demise or utter destruction of society what the characters are forced to do is return to their humanity. Return to their roots as surviving creatures. Return to a time when a person’s decisions meant something. When your next meal, your next safe place to sleep, your next survivable moment hinges on your decision — well, you begin to treat life as precious and precarious. Life today, in the 1st world is not precious and can most easily be described as mundane and pointless. Progress? So I can buy the next iPhone, or VR system, or designer drug, or microhome, or… blah! Where’s the life affirming risk in that? We crave meaning — staying alive in a cruel and decaying world — is meaning aplenty!

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