ANATOMISING DYSTOPIA (2001-06, 12,000 words)

A Little Tractate On Dystopia 2001 is a sequence of “theses,” many of which have one or more appended “glosses,” grouped into sections. The section “Premises” (theses 1-3) leads to “A/ Epistemology and Utopia” (theses 4-13), “B/ Politics and Dystopia” (theses 14-24), and “C/ Ausklang on Agents: Who Are We? Where Are We Going To?” (theses 25-30).
Section A deals with defining, and justifying the definitions of, utopia as either eutopia or dystopia and anti-utopia. It sets up a schematized but historical typology, with many examples. These (sub-)genres are seen as different formal inversions of salient sociopolitical aspects of the writer’s world, which have as purpose the reader’s axiological reorientation. At its end, a supplementary toolkit is proposed consisting of the utopian locus, horizon and orientation, the combinatorics of which gives a second typology of: open-ended or dynamic utopia, closed or static utopia, heterotopia, and abstract or non-narrative utopia/nism.
Section B is subdivided into “B1: Introductory”; “B2: Disneyfication as Dystopia,” which discusses Disneyland as a privileged way of organizing affective investment into commodifying which reduces the mind to infantilism; “B3: Fallible Eu/Dystopia,” new subgenres of Science Fiction in the last 40 years. Section C talks about the agency of intellectuals in dystopian social horizons. Its final thesis concludes that all variants of dystopias and eutopias sketched above pivot on collective self-management enabling and guaranteeing personal freedom.
The essay concludes with a bibliography and a historical Table of Utopian Features ranging through 7 stages from More through Wells to Disneyland.

The Prefatory Reflections on Dystopia 2006 are a retrospect about some aspects of the above Tractate. Part 1 asks “Why talk about dystopia today, here?” and proposes both some first answers and backtracking to Zamyatin’s ancestral masterpiece We for further illumination. This is done in part 2 by positing this text was written inside the centralized State Leviathan while we are today in a dominantly corporative capitalist Leviathan, which uses the State when necessary for internal and external enforcement. Part 3 asks why talk about all such matters under the guise of dystopia rather than in essays or pamphlets. It argues that fiction is not only historically important but has superior cognitive potentialities in its “thick” exploration of possible worlds and their interaction with narrative agents. It also justifies the term dystopia. Part 4 gives suggestions about the proper use of utopia/nism, which is an epistemological procedure for better understanding, not an ontological twin of an existing State or society to be literally instaurated.
A further bibliography accompanies these Reflections.

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