Utopia Nostalgia

Ontology is the luxury of the landed. Let's pretend you 'had' a land. Then you 'lost' it. Now fondly describe it. That is pastoral. Consider your homeland, like all utopias, obsolete. Your pining rhetoric points to obsolescence. The garden gate shuts firmly. Yet Liberty must remain enthroned in her posh gazebo. What can the poor Lady do? Beauty, Pride, Envy, the Bounteous Land, The Romance of Citizenship: these mawkish paradigms flesh out the nation, fard its empty gaze. What if, for your new suit, you chose to parade obsolescence? Make a parallel nation, an anagram of the Land? Annex Liberty, absorb her and recode her: infuse her with your nasty optics. The anagram will surpass and delete the first world, yet, in all its elements, remain identical. Who can afford sincerity? It's an expensive monocle.

from the prologue of XEclogue by Lisa Robertson, Tsunami Editions, Vancouver

Utopias are often futuristic societies constructed from new ideals and a distillation of ideals from the past. Sometimes we ache for the simplicity and innocence of our past. If only that could be brought with us into our new utopia. We want to create an new land, but we ache for the "motherland".

I n order to create utopia, one uses the wisdom gained from past experience, but there is a temporary suspension of disbelief of some of the frailties in human nature. Artists work on their own create utopian visions based on their version of individualism. We have the sad knowledge that once brought into the collective, the visions will have to be modified and maybe ultimately fail. However, working in laboratories that are distinct, we are content to accept our shortcomings and accept the byproducts of the protopic process, the artist's leftovers, (dross, slag,) as our reward.

I think women often take up space in a different way from men. Women take in space, take it inside, change it, file it in a private room, they make space rather than take space. It is not a frontier where they stake their claim, but a magic hive that grows larger inside itself. The goal is to become more self-sufficient, self-satisfying, making space for others to do the same. It's a mitzvah, a good deed that brings good upon the person that performed the deed. It's a reflexive space. It allows you to reflect on how you want to adjust yourself to take this space in and respond to it.

Perhaps another solution is to rethink the word frontier, traditionally meaning borders of civilization, scientific knowledge, etc. We all contain frontiers within ourselves, wild territories inside which require the most delicate kind of exploration. Once explored, we can reinvent them, and they become a tabula rasa on which to explore again. There is plenty to explore in the imaginative space around us. We've already been to the moon, and there's no utopia there.

When I awake I find myself in a new world. The buildings, the clothes, the trees are no more or less coy than they were, yet I had been so intent on the dense, lush words that I had not realized a world could be subtracted from her fruiting skin. The old locutions could only lose themselves in that longed -for landscape; but now I pluck for myself "peace in our own time" and the desuetude of nostalgia. It's as if suddenly a pitcher of slim flowers needled that monumental absence of regret. So elegant, so precise, so evil, all the pleasures have become my own.

Ibid., Lisa Robertson

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