14 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2021
    1. Context: Sonia was watching Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: Season 3: "Episode 1" and had previously been watching a documentary One of Us about people who had left oppressive seeming Hassidic Jewish communities.

      I can't help but that that every culture could be considered a "cult" in which some percentage of people are trapped with comparison to all other cultures on Earth. Based on one's upbringing and personal compass, perhaps living and submitting to one's culture can become oppressive and may seem particularly unfair given power structures and the insidiousness of hypocrisy.

      Given this, could there logically be a utopian society in which everyone lives freely?

      Even within the United States there are smaller sub-cultures withiin which people feel trapped and which have the features of cults, but which are so large as to not be considered such. Even the space in which I freely live might be considered a cult by others who don't agree with it. It's only the vast size of the power of the group which prevents the majority who comfortably live within it from viewing it as a bad thing.

      A Democrat may view the Republican Party as a cult and vice versa, something which becomes more apparent when one polarizes these communities toward the edges rather than allowing them to drift into each other in a consensus.

      An African American may think they're stuck in a broader American cult which marginalizes them.

      A Hassidic Jew may feel they're stuck in a cult (of religious restrictions) with respect to the perceived freedoms of broader American Culture. Some may feel more comfortable within these strictures than others.


      A gender non-comforming person living in the deep South of the United States surrounded by the Southern Baptist Convention may feel they're stuck in a cult based on social norms of one culture versus what they experience personally.


      What are the roots of something being a cult? Could it be hypocrisy? A person or a broader group feeling as if they know "best" and creating a rule structure by which others are forced to follow, but from which they themselves are exempt? This also seems to be the way in which authoritarian rules arise when privileging one group above another based solely on (perceived) power.


      Another potential thing at play here may be the lack of diversity within a community. The level of cult within a society may be related to the shape of the bell curve of that society with respect to how large the center is with respect to the tails. Those who are most likely to feel they're within a "cult" (using the broader definition) are those three or more standard deviations from the center. In non-diverse communities only those within a standard deviation of the norm are likely to feel comfortable and accepted and those two deviations away will feel very uncomfortable while those who are farther away will be shunned and pushed beyond the pale.


      How can we help create more diverse and broadly accepting communities? We're all just people, aren't we? How can we design communities and governments to be accepting of even the most marginalized? In a heavily connected world, even the oddball teenager in a small community can now manage to find their own sub-community using the internet. (Even child pornographers manage to find their community online.)

      The opposite of this is at what point do we circumscribe the norms of the community? Take the idea of "Your freedom to strike me ends at my nose." Perhaps we only shun those extreme instances like murder and pornography, and other actions which take extreme advantage of others' freedoms? [This needs to be heavily expanded and contemplated...] What about the over-financialization of the economy which takes advantage of the unprivileged who don't know that system and are uncapable of the mathematics and computation to succeed. Similarly hucksters and snake oil salesmen who take advantage of their targets' weaknesses and lack of knowledge and sophistication. Or the unregulated vitamin industry taking rents from millions for their superstitions? How do we regulate these to allow "cultural freedom" or "religious freedom" without them taking mass-scale advantage of their targets? (Or are some of these acculturated examples simply inequalities institutionally built into societies and cultures as a means of extracting power and rents from the larger system by those in power?)


      Compare with Hester Prynne and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.


  2. Oct 2021
    1. Because at the end of the day, all structures are, in some ways, ideology made manifest.

      Avery Trufelman ends her podcast series, Nice Try! with these words in an episode entitled, Germania: Architecture in a Fascist Utopia.

      One person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia.

      The structure of the mind becomes the architecture of our reality. This thought became the foundation for a mental model for human experience, since these architectural plans for utopia seem like good ideas on paper, but when we live inside these structure in our daily reality, we realize that we have constructed our own mental prisons, the iron cage envisioned by Max Weber.

    2. It spells out so clearly that Nazi Germany’s worst atrocities and many atrocities the world over were not only the ideas of singular evil men. They were supported and enacted by systems, by groups of people who woke up in the morning and went to offices to work on it.

      Avery Trufelman ends her podcast series, Nice Try! with these words in an episode entitled, Germania: Architecture in a Fascist Utopia.

  3. Sep 2021
  4. Mar 2021
    1. For us, Zygmunt Bauman captures the value of utopian thinking perfectly: “To measure the life “as it is” by a life as it should be (that is, a life imagined to be different from the life known, and particularly a life that is better and would be preferable to the life known) is a defining, constitutive feature of humanity.”1

      the defense of utopian ideals

  5. Oct 2020
    1. Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought

      This is the second time her impression of the workers has made me really laugh. This story so far feels like it takes place in some strange utopia, I guess Laura and her family are very rich, but it seems much stranger than just that--the rose bushes are visited by "archangels", Jose is a "butterfly". and 'workers' are practically alien. Laura seems as taken with the beauty around her as if she is seeing it only for the first few times. This story has a very dreamy feel, maybe even a dystopian quality.

  6. Sep 2019
    1. Otlet’s ambition of recording and indexing all human actions, all natural phenomenons, all that is possible for us to perceive according to the five senses and beyond (including the imperceptible and the irrational)

      utopia, for documentators

      … but is it really desirable?

  7. Apr 2019
  8. Feb 2019
    1. The Blazing World

      from wikipedia: "Blazing World is a fanciful depiction of a satirical, utopian kingdom in another world (with different stars in the sky) that can be reached via the North Pole."

      Already sold.

  9. Jan 2019
    1. I want to plea for monistic affirmativepolitics grounded on immanent inter-connections and generative differ-ence

      This strikes me as a key distinction between postmodernism and posthumanism. Postmodernism can be thought of as post-utopian, while posthumanism works toward an affirmative, generative future. I don't know if posthumanism is utopian, per se, but it doesn't seem to be dystopic in the way that postmodernism often is.

  10. Nov 2018
    1. One way of being anti-anti-utopian is to be utopian. It’s crucial to keep imagining that things could get better, and furthermore to imagine how they might get better. Here no doubt one has to avoid Berlant’s “cruel optimism,” which is perhaps thinking and saying that things will get better without doing the work of imagining how. In avoiding that, it may be best to recall the Romain Rolland quote so often attributed to Gramsci, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” Or maybe we should just give up entirely on optimism or pessimism—we have to do this work no matter how we feel about it. So by force of will or the sheer default of emergency we make ourselves have utopian thoughts and ideas.
    2. These days I tend to think of dystopias as being fashionable, perhaps lazy, maybe even complacent, because one pleasure of reading them is cozying into the feeling that however bad our present moment is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the ones these poor characters are suffering through. Vicarious thrill of comfort as we witness/imagine/experience the heroic struggles of our afflicted protagonists—rinse and repeat. Is this catharsis? Possibly more like indulgence, and creation of a sense of comparative safety. A kind of late-capitalist, advanced-nation schadenfreude about those unfortunate fictional citizens whose lives have been trashed by our own political inaction. If this is right, dystopia is part of our all-encompassing hopelessness. On the other hand, there is a real feeling being expressed in them, a real sense of fear. Some speak of a “crisis of representation” in the world today, having to do with governments—that no one anywhere feels properly represented by their government, no matter which style of government it is. Dystopia is surely one expression of that feeling of detachment and helplessness. Since nothing seems to work now, why not blow things up and start over? This would imply that dystopia is some kind of call for revolutionary change. There may be something to that. At the least dystopia is saying, even if repetitiously and unimaginatively, and perhaps salaciously, Something’s wrong. Things are bad.
  11. Jan 2017