NedMortimer

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Why is Utopian literature less popular than Dystopian literature?

    An article exploring the development and effect of significant pieces of Utopian literature and why Dystopian literature is more popular and widespread than its positive cousin. Is there something in our modern day psychological make-up that makes us define the ideal world negatively rather than positively?

    • Good topic! One thing to touch on is the overlap between the Utopian & dystopian; most dystopias are the final evolution of a preconceived utopia that has invariably warped over time. – majorlariviere 9 months ago
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    • I think we are, socially and individually, more curious in dystopia; more interested in the 'bad' re imaginings of the world rather than the 'good.' With the peak of technology, we are constantly wondering 'what could go wrong?". I remember one of the screenwriters for Black Mirror was saying that the inspiration for one of the episodes was the assemblage of the 'robot dog' and 'what if that was chasing me?' I think that dystopia serves as a kind of a reminder, to us, especially in a world where we have become more lazy than ever, that not everything that is beneficial is 'good.' – SpookyDuet 9 months ago
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    • I don't think it's the dystopia we are interested in as much as the evolution of the dystopia. We like seeing a dystopia transform into a utopia, its more relatable. No one lives a perfect life and therefore utopias are not relatable. On the other hand, a dystopia is, and it is our constant yearning to make our lives better that makes us relate to the evolution of dystopian fantasy. – promptlyby12 8 months ago
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    • Possibly because, with human nature, utopia is impossible while dystopia is inevitable and that makes it familiar and therefore, more popular. Narratives set in a “perfect world” tend to feature protagonists that seek and promote imperfection because human nature is flawed and readers identify with those traits of individuality. Plus, dystopian literature makes a more adventurous plot. – lykacali 5 months ago
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    • The interesting part of dystopias and utopias is the thin line between both, usually having something to do with wealth or free will. Can you have a utopia if the free will to hurt others is still there? Can you have a utopia if there is still poverty in the world? – kerrybaps 5 months ago
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    • The interesting thing about dystopias in my opinion is the tangible possibilities that certain things begin to apply in our daily reality and we feel that in some way, what they showed us was a recipe to be followed by governments, for example, that they see effectiveness in those methods. I think for example about China's social credit and I see a positive control to negative possibilities – Saikon 5 months ago
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    • This is a wonderful topic! I agree that Utopias tend to somehow become dystopias because "Utopia" is impossible in human nature and thus something in our human nature is removed or distorted. Dystopia is always something that gets the audience to ponder and think. It reminds the audience of true humanity and the pain felt when it is removed. I think Utopia does a similar effect, but is harder to craft in a way. I agree to other people's comments that Utopia is harder to relate to. We all can relate to pains shown in dystopias. I think in a way Utopia can be just as scary because with out hardships and sadness, how can we truly appreciate joy and happiness. What is perfection if there is nothing to compare it to? – birdienumnum17 5 months ago
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    • Ooooh interesting I have written a little bit about this in my most recent article A Life measured: The parasitic nature of capitalist dystopia. It's close to being published here.I think it's a really interesting topic and one that resides in our understanding of dystopia as we live it everyday. There is a really interesting article in National Geographic this month too, which depicts the world 70 years from now, the dystopia and utopia. I think as long as we live in this capitalist state of servitude there will always be dystopias. Lets hope the best thing to come out of our present dystopia (Covid-19) will be a cleaner environment and better distribution of wealth where key workers are respected and paid a respectable wage for what they do. This is one id really like to take if I had a tiny bit more time, if it's still floating around next month il snap it up. :-D – Lousands 5 months ago
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    • Something that might factor into why utopias are less common in storytelling than dystopias may be that stories are built on conflict and utopias, by their nature, have no conflict, while dystopias are defined by conflict. – JosephB 5 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    “It’s all about emotion and an individualized response.”

    From a musical point of view, I am someone who loves showing close friends my favourite songs and asking what they think – so often, people are intent on labelling: ‘doesn’t this song make you feel depressed’ etc. Even with songs with lyrics bearing a seemingly explicit message, I can take something totally different because of the mood of the music those lyrics are set against…

    My bandmate/co-songwriter always refused to reveals his interpretations behind song lyrics and I am increasingly understanding why… this need to allow for an individualised response.

    However I sometimes struggle to square this with the ‘function of Art’ – coming from another Artifice article about the importance of creative writers describing their ideals societies.

    Perhaps there is a spectrum of Art between restricted vs open interpretability; it depends on the intention of the Artist and how much they dial up the obviousness of their work… and abstract painters will necessarily fall on the Open end of the spectrum.

    Understanding Abstract Art

    I love this and fully agree with the sentiment. Writers have a privileged position in that, unlike composers and painters and the like, they communicate in the same manner as humans communicate day-to-day; it is thus far easier for a writer to relate without ambiguity their version of an ideal world. As an aside, it’s interesting to note how dystopian literature is much more prevalent that Utopian literature… it seems we enjoy discussing what we do NOT want to see than what we want.

    Creative Writing is the Sincerest Form of Reality

    A very good account. I think sometimes you have to separate the original iterations of the art from the work that comes afterwards, almost franchise-like, to cash in on characters or story themes that were gripping when they first came out but become tired and overused after e.g. several seasons. This is probably a phenomenon distinctive to TV with its different writers for the same shows, but I also think of Muse and their first 5 albums vs their later music which, to someone who has loved their music from the beginning, feels to have lost its gloss. Or the ‘champagne & limousine’ conundrums that some stand-ups face when they become famous and lose their access to relatable life experiences as a source for their materials.

    The Legendary and Cautionary Tale of The Simpsons