Why Utopia Will Forever Elude Us


Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Why Utopia Will Forever Elude Us

  1. #1

    Why Utopia Will Forever Elude Us

    Although the guises may differ, people who study history are no less doomed to repeat it than those who don’t. The reason for this circumstance is not so mystifying once we are prepared to acknowledge that the apprehension of death, and the necessity to mitigate that apprehension, always has and always will prompt and shape virtually every human activity. If our responses to the prospect of death can, for sure, be benign and creative—can, for example, result in works of art that will survive our demise—they are, as often as not, malignant. And this is a grim reality that despite lessons from the past we are compelled to perpetuate.
    Let me try to explain.

    When F. Scott Fitzgerald remarked that ”In [the] dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning,” he was talking about the fundamental burden of human existence, of the terror that inhabits a life that is aware of its fate. To live with just a modicum of equanimity that terror has to be managed, and what we do to this end is we bury it. We repress it. But notwithstanding our success at repressing an all consuming death dread—even to the point of becoming apparently heedless of death’s inevitability—our trepidation never entirely disappears. Indeed, it remains subconsciously constant and dynamic and, however incognizant we may be of its processes and consequences, it is the determining force behind all manner of destructive behavior.

    Simply put, beings who know they will die cannot withstand extended periods of amity. Unable to confront the ultimate evil of death directly, it’s essential to have enemies, enemies that can be confronted. We require, that is, human surrogates for evil who are at the very least potentially vanquishable. Persons of races, cultures, religions, nationalities and sexual orientations different from ours serve this purpose well. Through our hostile engagement with these designated embodiments of evil, we simulate what constitute symbolic struggles with death. Absorbed and preoccupied by these struggles, they allow us, when we win, to experience the pleasure of securing what feels like a victory over death. Pleasure, as Epicurus noted, is the absence of pain, and pain is definable not merely as physical suffering but also as fear and anxiety. The eradication of manufactured adversaries affords us the sensation of killing our own death.

    Of course, since the basic problem still exists, our elation in these contrived instances is transitory. It wears off. We are forced then to make new enemies. (When we lose we may feel as good as dead, may enter a profound depression that will not lift until we identify fresh villains with whom to do combat. And while I’m in the aside of a parentheses, I don’t think it’s farfetched to suggest that what we really mean by the “social contract” is the unspoken agreement to supply one another with antagonists for the battle with mortality.)

    Born in 1939, only a couple of decades after the “war to end all wars,” I’ve been a witness to World War Two, the Holocaust, the dropping of the atom bomb, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam, not to mention 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, genocides, assassinations and countless mass murders. All of these travesties were intended to enable their perpetrators to deny their abominable destinies. The Donald Trump administration is among the most current of such travesties. Should I last a little longer I’m quite likely to attend the disintegration of democracy itself.

    In the case of Trump, and following what I’ve attempted to describe, we can clearly see why he ascended to the presidency in 2016 and why (barring genuinely intolerable investigative revelations—I write this in early spring of 2019) he may yet win again in 2020.

    What Trump did was address our very deepest need, the need to mollify the anticipation of extinction. He accomplished this by providing scapegoats for our untenable predicament. Mexicans, Muslims and an “illegitimate” black president were responsible for the jeopardy in which we find ourselves. His posture in this respect was, I’d argue, more crucial to his election than his promises of jobs and economic security. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, offered programs and policies that, devoid of monsters posing existential threats, were limited to the wholly rational. Contrary to how it may often appear, people do vote in their best interest. Hillary failed to recognize what, at bottom, we truly want.

    I don’t know what man-made horrors await the planet in the coming years. I do know they’ll be impervious to history and abundant and that the unacceptability of death will be at their root.

  2. #2
    I think the general exploration worked, and gave the impression of an academically honest and open discussion.
    Near the end, you add your personal experiences witnessing the events of the latter half of the 20th Century. This works as well to illustrate your point. The whole concept of how far we have moved from the technological level we were pre WWII, to the point we are today is staggering. It is humbling how little we have progressed socially and morally during that same time. And disconcerting how we continue to fight our mortality by embracing death.
    I just don't see how the segway into Trump-bashing helps illustrate your point. To transition from the genocides of Stalin, Hitler and Mao to the pitiful shenanigans of Trump (and the ineffectiveness of Obama and Clinton) just smacks of bitter angst and has a tint of hyperbole.
    Better current examples of the genocidal / controlling behavior could have been used (Assad in Syria, Kim Jong Un in North Korea). Defaulting to a stock straw-man that everyone knows and dislikes was just a tad lazy.

    "Now let's all agree, never to be creative again."




  3. #3
    I quite liked this piece and I think your example serves to illustrate your argument as a concise whole. All politics aside, it is a good piece of writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertLevin219 View Post
    Unable to confront the ultimate evil of death directly, it’s essential to have enemies, enemies that can be confronted. We require, that is, human surrogates for evil who are at the very least potentially vanquishable. Persons of races, cultures, religions, nationalities and sexual orientations different from ours serve this purpose well. Through our hostile engagement with these designated embodiments of evil, we simulate what constitute symbolic struggles with death. Absorbed and preoccupied by these struggles, they allow us, when we win, to experience the pleasure of securing what feels like a victory over death. Pleasure, as Epicurus noted, is the absence of pain, and pain is definable not merely as physical suffering but also as fear and anxiety. The eradication of manufactured adversaries affords us the sensation of killing our own death.
    This was my favorite part-- and I think the core of your piece. It's some great writing and it's sections like this that I've seen through various non-fiction that inspire me to want to move in that direction.

    Great work!

  4. #4
    A great deal of thoughts you've put into this! Good job

  5. #5

    Amazingly written!

    A proper speculation of how fear and anxiety is slowly killing the next generation is amazingly done.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by RobertLevin219 View Post
    Although the guises may differ, people who study history are no less doomed to repeat it than those who don’t.
    <snip>
    I don’t know what man-made horrors await the planet in the coming years. I do know they’ll be impervious to history and abundant and that the unacceptability of death will be at their root.
    context<-clicky

    paragraphs 6 and 7, study history (two suns in the rearview)

    paragraph 5 cohort experience.

    why utopia will forever elude us:

    mutually beneficial solutions AS focal point
    instead of refinement of bifurcation

    redefining utopia

    vs

    "the need to mollify the anticipation of extinction"

    the percentage of population
    rapidly succumbing
    to personal physical extinction (aging out)
    combined with those cohort definition(s)
    of utopia
    may be difficult to disentangle
    from subsequent cohort groups.
    (retrospective, prospective)

    this will surely be an <emotionally> challenging time for many.
    button, button, who has the button?

  7. #7
    I am of the Mark Twain persuasion, "Never use a ten cent word when a five cent one will do. Your first paragraph took me a couple of reads, and then I found myself paraphrasing it to get the sense from it. Basically you seem to make two assertions; that everybody is destined to repeat history; and that this is because of a universal fear of death.

    When I got it my immediate thought was of the SAS man who swung into the Iranian Embassy to take on the terrorists, interviewed on TV twenty years later he was asked if he was not afraid, he replied "No, I was young and immortal'. I reckon I could make just as good an argument that wars occur because they are fought by young people who have not learned to be afraid of death yet.

    Making assertions requires one to provide proof of them in my book, not to 'Try to explain', and I would look for some better references than Scott Fitzgerald and Erasmus. Mentioning the 'subconscious' obliquely references Freud, but he is very old hat and largely discredited, I consider 'subconscious' a very doubtful concept in terms of present understanding.

    I found it over written, under referenced, and dubious in its assertions and conclusions, but I am happy for you that I am such a lone voice.
    Visit my website to read and connect to my 'soundcloud', where you can listen to stories songs and more
    Hidden Content

    A thread of links useful to writers wishing to learn
    Piglet's picks. Hidden Content

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
This website uses cookies
We use cookies to store session information to facilitate remembering your login information, to allow you to save website preferences, to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.