Saturday, 6 February 2010

Books we've read/Films we've seen

Ok, this was an idea I had after the first couple of seminars, but completely forgot to post it, (due to the joys of dissertation draft deadlines).
Anyway, I just thought we could perhaps use the blog as a way of kind of pooling our knowledge of wider reading that may not be on the reading list?
For example, we could all share with each other any books we've read, films we've seen ect that could be compared with others in the sense of utopian ideals? - like what we did in the first seminar, in pairs?
I was thinking this could be a good idea, as it could give others ideas of what could be useful to throw into a comparative study??
So yeh, post away any ideas!!

A couple of things I've read/seen that could be thrown into comparisons are, (im possibly in danger of being really flippant with these comparisons though - so please comment if I'm talking complete rubbish):

The Beach - idea of a perfect society existing although only capable through exclusion of outsiders, and when that 'barrier' of exclusion is breached, it turns into a 'dystopia'?

Kazuo Ishiguro, 'Never Let Me Go' - although I'm only a bit of the way through it, (up to page something like 50/60), I've started to see links to the idea of an emphasis on the 'Arts and Craft' utopia and also the idea that control seemingly creates a utopia, but is in fact a dystopia.?

Life On Mars, (TV series) - Sam Tyler 'travels back in time', and discovers a completely different way of policing than his own, but starts to believe it is in fact better? - i dont really want to say too much and spoil the ending for those of you who haven't seen it, but those of you who have might be able to see what I'm getting at - tell me if I'm looking too much into it haha!

These are just a couple of random ideas I've had and wanted to find out what others thought?


Dave H.B said...

Also, I was just thinking about how we can think about the idea of utopia?
Does a utopian idea have to be about a society or a country or a block of people, or can we have 'personal utopias' as it were?
For example, if we could consider 'personal utopias' in a comparative study, we could use books such as Oscar Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray' - in terms of the fact that Gray's 'personal utopia' is to stay young and youthful, yet this 'seeking of a utopia' soon turns into a 'personal dystopia' of sorts, (a theme which came out of the 1st weeks reading on the definition of 'utopia').
However, I'm not sure if this is feesable as an idea, so yeh, just wanted to share it...?

Sarah Rees Jones said...

Dave - thanks for doing this. You have to read Never Let Me Die - to let it affect you - and I don't want to give away the plot - so I am going to hold off commenting there.

But I think what a lot of these have in common is a consideration of 'means' and 'ends'. Does the end justify the means? Are utopias too focussed on ends, and not aware of the corrupting potential of the means taken to reach them.

For a modern novel which (I think) explores the problems of a society with no ends, only means - J.G. Ballard's Cocaine Nights - which I am pretty sure is a deliberate pun on the land of Cockaigne - is an equally moving (grim?) read.

Olly Fayers said...

I think it's an interesting idea to bring in Dorian Gray (due to the striking contrast between the pleasure he seeks and the toll it takes on his soul/portrait).

That said, I think a 'personal utopia' might be a contradiction - a utopia being about a perfect existence for a whole society, and a 'personal utopia' simply being about one person's perfect life without considering those of others.

In the case of Gray, his hedonism brings him short-lived euphoric joy but negatively affects his acquaintances, and ultimately, himself.