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How to recognize a dystopia - Alex Gendler

How to recognize a dystopia - Alex Gendler

Related:  Utopia/ DystopiaClassics, Literary Criticism & DevicesDYSTOPIA/ UTOPIAdystopia

‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ and Ours At the same time, as Emily Nussbaum notes in her New Yorker review of the TV adaptation, Atwood also imagined her religious totalitarians borrowing in certain ways from the feminism of her era — including both the tendency of Reagan-era feminist thinkers to join Christian conservatives in a stinging critique of Penthouse-style smut and the (related) fears about rape and male predation that crested with the era’s crime wave and inspired “Take Back the Night”-type movements in response. In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” even as feminism itself is smashed and females subjugated, those narratives get appropriated and incorporated into Gileadan rhetoric about protecting women and restraining men: It’s “Biblical fascism sold with faux-feminist icing,” as Nussbaum puts it, more effective because it claims to be responsive to its victims’ professed fears.

theconversation Homer’s Iliad is usually thought of as the first work of European literature, and many would say, the greatest. It tells part of the saga of the city of Troy and the war that took place there. In fact the Iliad takes its name from “Ilios”, an ancient Greek word for “Troy”, situated in what is Turkey today. This story had a central place in Greek mythology. Tomorrow's Cities: Dubai and China roll out urban robots Media playback is unsupported on your device It is a terrifying vision of the future - a robot police officer with dark eyes and no discernible mouth that can identify criminals and collect evidence. The robocop, complete with police hat to give it that eerie uncanny valley feel, was shown off outside the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, last June. But since then what has it done? And is Dubai's love affair with robotics any more than just PR for a country desperate to be at the cutting edge of technology?

Our Young-Adult Dystopia Photo I sometimes wonder what Dante or Milton or any of those guys would make of the modern appetite for the young-adult epic. It wasn’t always a lucrative thing, writing grand, sweeping, fantastical stories, you know. It was a job for nose-to-the-grindstone, writing-for-the-ages types, and worldly rewards were low. Dystopian Genre: Why Kids Love Reading About The Bad Place The dystopian genre is hot — particularly for YA readers. In the school media center where I volunteer each week, books like The Hunger Games trilogy fly off the shelves. The waiting list is into the double digits. And students are constantly checking in to see if a copy has been returned early.

A Handmaid’s Tale of Protest Silent, heads bowed, the activists in crimson robes and white bonnets have been appearing at demonstrations against gender discrimination and the infringement of reproductive and civil rights. The outfits are inspired by the characters in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood. The 1985 novel, which was made into a series on Hulu this year, tells the story of a religious coup that gives rise to a theocracy called Gilead, where women are stripped of rights and forced to bear children for the society’s elite. Some have drawn comparisons between the show and the current political climate.

What Makes a Person: The Seven Layers of Identity in Literature and Life “A person’s identity,” Amin Maalouf wrote as he contemplated what he so poetically called the genes of the soul, “is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.” And yet we are increasingly pressured to parcel ourselves out in various social contexts, lacerating the parchment of our identity in the process. As Courtney Martin observed in her insightful On Being conversation with Parker Palmer and Krista Tippett, “It’s never been more asked of us to show up as only slices of ourselves in different places.” Today, as Whitman’s multitudes no longer compose an inner wholeness but are being wrested out of us fragment by fragment, what does it really mean to be a person? And how many types of personhood do we each contain?

Culture - Film review: Fahrenheit 451: a place where books are burned Imagine a future where books aren’t just banned, they’re burned. That’s the dystopian United States described by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, which has been made into a new film directed by Ramin Bahrani. Michael Shannon and Michael B Jordan star as ‘firemen’, who rather than putting out fires, start them, in a war against the written word. But is the new film any good? Watch the video above to hear what BBC Culture’s film critic Nicholas Barber has to say. Veronica Roth – Divergent (Chapter 1) THERE IS ONE mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair. I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind me with the scissors, trimming. The strands fall on the floor in a dull, blond ring.

The Testaments: What does our future look like according to dystopian fiction? The Testaments, the long-awaited sequel to Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, is finally here – and has never been more timely. Set 15 years after the first book, The Testaments once again delves into the world of Gilead – an ultra-conservative, Christian fundamentalist United States of America, where women’s rights have been stamped out, rebellion is dealt with in brutal fashion, but where life can be good… so long as you’re a straight, white male. There has been renewed interest in The Handmaid’s Tale since the TV adaptation and expansion of the novel, which recently concluded its third series on Channel 4. Since Donald Trump took office, many people have suggested his divisive policies are eerie reflections of what Atwood presented 34 years ago – so much so that protesters against Trump’s administration have adopted the red cloak and white bonnet uniform of the handmaids in Atwood’s vision.

‘Hostile Architecture’: How Public Spaces Keep the Public Out Strips of sharp metal teeth run alongside a low garden wall on East 96th Street. Metal bars divide a public bench on East 47th Street. Ugly bolts line the ledges at a public plaza on East 56th Street. These are all ways of saying “don’t make yourself at home” in public. Historically, men translated the Odyssey. Here’s what happened when a woman took the job. The Odyssey is about a man. It says so right at the beginning — in Robert Fagles’s 1996 translation, for example, the poem opens with the line, “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns.” In the course of the poem, that man plots his return home after fighting the Trojan War, slaughters the suitors vying to marry his wife Penelope, and reestablishes himself as the head of his household. But the Odyssey is also about other people: Penelope, the nymph Calypso, the witch Circe, the princess Nausicaa; Odysseus’s many shipmates who died before they could make it home; the countless slaves in Odysseus’s house, many of whom are never named. Emily Wilson, the first woman to translate the Odyssey into English, is as concerned with these surrounding characters as she is with Odysseus himself. Why it matters for a woman to translate the Odyssey

Culture - Why Orwell’s 1984 could be about now Reading 1984, George Orwell’s claustrophobic fable of totalitarianism, is still a shock. First comes the start of recognition: we recognise what he describes. Doublethink (holding two contradictory thoughts at the same time), Newspeak, the Thought Police, the Ministry of Love that deals in pain, despair and annihilates any dissident, the Ministry of Peace that wages war, the novel-writing machines that pump out pornography to buy off the masses: Orwell opened our eyes to how regimes worked. Today it is social media that collects every gesture, purchase, comment we make online

Transcript Have you ever tried to picture an ideal world? One without war, poverty, or crime? If so, you’re not alone. Plato imagined an enlightened republic ruled by philosopher kings, many religions promise bliss in the afterlife and throughout history, various groups have tried to build paradise on Earth. Thomas More’s 1516 book “Utopia” gave this concept a name, Greek for “no place.” Though the name suggested impossibility, modern scientific and political progress raised hopes of these dreams finally becoming reality. But time and time again, they instead turned into nightmares of war, famine, and oppression. And as artists began to question utopian thinking, the genre of dystopia, the not good place, was born. One of the earliest dystopian works is Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” Throughout his journey, Gulliver encounters fictional societies, some of which at first seem impressive, but turn out to be seriously flawed. On the flying island of Laputa, scientists and social planners pursue extravagant and useless schemes while neglecting the practical needs of the people below. And the Houyhnhnm who live in perfectly logical harmony have no tolerance for the imperfections of actual human beings. With his novel, Swift established a blueprint for dystopia, imagining a world where certain trends in contemporary society are taken to extremes, exposing their underlying flaws. And the next few centuries would provide plenty of material. Industrial technology that promised to free laborers imprisoned them in slums and factories, instead, while tycoons grew richer than kings. By the late 1800’s, many feared where such conditions might lead. H. G. Wells’s “The Time Machine” imagined upper classes and workers evolving into separate species, while Jack London’s “The Iron Heel” portrayed a tyrannical oligarchy ruling over impoverished masses. The new century brought more exciting and terrifying changes. Medical advances made it possible to transcend biological limits while mass media allowed instant communication between leaders and the public. In Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, citizens are genetically engineered and conditioned to perform their social roles. While propaganda and drugs keep the society happy, it’s clear some crucial human element is lost. But the best known dystopias were not imaginary at all. As Europe suffered unprecedented industrial warfare, new political movements took power. Some promised to erase all social distinctions, while others sought to unite people around a mythical heritage. The results were real-world dystopias where life passed under the watchful eye of the State and death came with ruthless efficiency to any who didn’t belong. Many writers of the time didn’t just observe these horrors, but lived through them. In his novel “We”, Soviet writer Yevgeny Zamyatin described a future where free will and individuality were eliminated. Banned in the U.S.S.R., the book inspired authors like George Orwell who fought on the front lines against both fascism and communism. While his novel “Animal Farm” directly mocked the Soviet regime, the classic “1984” was a broader critique of totalitarianism, media, and language. And in the U.S.A., Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” envisioned how easily democracy gave way to fascism. In the decades after World War II, writers wondered what new technologies like atomic energy, artificial intelligence, and space travel meant for humanity’s future. Contrasting with popular visions of shining progress, dystopian science fiction expanded to films, comics, and games. Robots turned against their creators while TV screens broadcast deadly mass entertainment. Workers toiled in space colonies above an Earth of depleted resources and overpopulated, crime-plagued cities. Yet politics was never far away. Works like “Dr. Strangelove” and “Watchmen” explored the real threat of nuclear war, while “V for Vendetta” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” warned how easily our rights could disappear in a crisis. And today’s dystopian fiction continues to reflect modern anxieties about inequality, climate change, government power, and global epidemics. So why bother with all this pessimism? Because at their heart, dystopias are cautionary tales, not about some particular government or technology, but the very idea that humanity can be molded into an ideal shape. Think back to the perfect world you imagined. Did you also imagine what it would take to achieve? How would you make people cooperate? And how would you make sure it lasted? Now take another look. Does that world still seem perfect? Source: Ted by happyjoy Nov 9