Tag Archives: dystopia

My 8-Year-Old Daughter Defines “Utopia”

LostHorizon1937_thumb2For the most part, I make a big effort not to tell “cute things my daughter said” stories to anyone but the grandparents. I have a list of topics that are often boring to other people, and this subject definitely has a place there.

But I simply can’t resist telling these two connected stories.

Every Sunday night, we have “Movie Night,” when we watch a family movie. A few weeks ago, I chose the 1937 movie “Lost Horizon” (a great movie if you haven’t seen it).

My eight-year-old daughter was so delighted with the movie and the idea of Shangri-La that she was inspired to write  a sequel, about what happens when Robert Conway returns to that magical land. “I’m going to call it ‘Lost Horizon: Everyday Life in Utopia,’” she told me. Everyday life in Utopia! I love that phrase so much. It’s my new motto for my happiness projects.

I’d told her about the word “utopia” and what it meant. Some days later, I was reading aloud to her from Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I explained that Camazotz, in the book,  was a “dystopia,” and gave a little lecture about how that was the opposite of a utopia. My daughter listened patiently.

About a week later, as we continued with A Wrinkle in Time, I asked in a teacherly voice, “Now do you remember the word for the opposite of utopia?”

“Metopia,” she said, without missing a beat. It took me a moment to get the joke.

Everyday life in Utopia and Metopia!

* * *

Are you reading Happier at Home or The Happiness Project in a book group? Email me if you’d like the one-page discussion guide. Or if you’re reading it in a spirituality book club, a Bible study group, or the like, email me for the spirituality one-page discussion guide.

A World without Nature: Lessons Learned from “In Memory of Central Park”

cover of Queenelle Minet\'s novel In Memory of Central Park

This post was orginally published on sustainablog on December 4, 2008.

Despite having agreed to review Queenelle Minet’s In Memory of Central Park: 1853 – 2022, I really wasn’t that excited about reading it. Described as "a thought-provoking work combining insight into the mind of a therapist, a poignant love story, and a commentary on both right-wing politics and our troubled environment" in press materials accompanying the book, I thought "Oh, no — fiction with an agenda. That almost never works."

I was wrong.

In Memory of Central Park follows in the tradition of the great works of dystopian fiction: Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. Set in New York City in 2050, the novel’s protagonist and narrator Noah is a psychotherapist with plenty of issues of his own. He’s in love with his brother’s wife Margaret. He struggles with unresolved resentment about his relationship with his deceased father. And he, along with the other characters, live in a city that’s not only seceded from the United States, but has also encapsulated itself in a huge dome in order to protect itself from terrorism and other outside threats.

As you might imagine in this environment, Noah stays pretty busy with his psychotherapy practice. Though skilled at helping other resolve some of their own emotional problems, he’s distant from those around him. His eventual affair with Margaret fails because he’s unwilling to allow her to leave Adam, her successful and politically-connected husband, and move in with him (Noah, like many of the residents of the city, lives in a single room). He’s frustrated because, despite his best efforts, he can’t seem to help a difficult patient who’s obviously dying. And he just doesn’t get the ideas underlying "clown show" performances by an underground street theater group that seems to pop up everywhere. Continue reading

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...