"ou tópos" is a book in which I collected, categorized and illustrated utopian and dystopian ideas. The ideas are taken from novels such as "Brave New World", "1984", "The Handmaid's Tale", "Herland", "Island"...
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
is a feminist dystopian novel. It’s mainly about Offred, one of a class
of individuals kept as concubines (“handmaids”) for reproductive
purposes by the ruling class in an era of declining births.
“Above me, towards the head of the bed, Serena Joy is arranged,
outspread. Her legs are apart, I lie between them, my head on her
stomach, her pubic bone under the base of my skull, her thighs on either
side of me. She too is fully clothed.
My arms are raised; she holds my hands, each of mine in each of
hers. This is supposed to signify that we are one flesh, one being. What
it really means is that she is in control, of the process and thus of
the product. If any. The rings of her left hand cut into my fingers. It
may or may not be revenge.My red skirt is hitched up to my waist, though no higher. Below
it the Commander is f**king. What he is f**king is the lower part of my
body. I do not say making love, because this is not what he’s doing.
Copulating too would be inaccurate, because it would imply two people
and only one is involved. Nor does rape cover it: nothing is going on
here that I haven’t signed up for. There wasn’t a lot of choice but
there was some, and this is what I chose.”
The illustration is about religion in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland.
The religion of Herland reveres a “Loving Power,” who is a benevolent
mother. The Western God represents what governs the society: males,
forceful and unchanging. Herland’s great mother represents the
deification of motherhood, a reoccurring symbol throughout the novella.
„Botany and self-knowledge — how do you build that bridge?“
really quite simple,“ Mrs. Narayan assured him. „Each of the children
is given a common flower — a hibiscus, for example, or better still
(because the hibiscus has no scent) a gardenia. Scientifically speaking,
what is a gardenia? What does it consist of? Petals, stamens, pistil,
ovary, and all the rest of it. The children are asked to write a full
analytical description of the flower, illustrated by an accurate
drawing. When that‘s done there‘s a short rest period, at the close of
which the Mahakasyapa story is read to them and they’re asked to think
about it. Was Buddha giving a lesson in botany? Or was he teaching his
disciples something else? And, if so, what?“
of course, as the story makes clear, there‘s no answer that can be put
into words. So we tell the boys and girls to stop thinking and just
look. ‚But don‘t look analytically,‘ we tell them, ‚don‘t look as
scientists, even as gardeners. Liberate yourselves from everything you
know and look with complete innocence at this infinitely improbable
thing before you. Look at it as though you‘d never seen anything of the
kind before, as though it had no name and belonged to no recognizable
class. Look at it alertly but passively, receptively, without labeling
or judging or comparing. And as you look at it, inhale its mystery,
breathe in the spirit of sense, the smell of the wisdom of the Other
Shore.’„ Island, Aldous Huxley
"Now let’s play some pretending games. Shut your eyes and pretend
you’re looking at that poor old mynah bird with one leg that comes to
school every day to be fed. Can you see him?”(…)
one-legged mynah birds at the four corners of a square, and a fifth one
in the middle. And let’s make them change their color. They’re white
now. Five white mynah birds with yellow heads and one orange leg. And
now the heads are blue. Bright blue—-and the rest of the bird is pink.
Five pink birds with blue heads. And they keep changing. They’re purple
now. Five purple birds with white heads and each of them has one pale
green leg. Goodness, what’s happening? There aren’t five of them; there
are ten. No, twenty, fifty, a hundred. Hundreds and hundreds. Can you
see them?” Some of them could—-without the slightest difficulty; and for
those who couldn’t go the whole hog, Susila proposed more modest goals.
“What’s the point of it all?” Will asked when the children had run off to play and Mrs. Narayan had returned to her office.
point,” Susila answered, “is to get people to understand that we’re not
completely at the mercy of our memory and our phantasies. If we’re
disturbed by what’s going on inside our heads, we can do something about
it. (…)” Island, Aldous Huxley
In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Ministry of Truth is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. The word “truth” in the title Ministry of Truth warns
that its function is to put the administration’s best face forward,
even if the ministry willfully fools posterity by altering official,
historical archives which show, in fact, what “really” happens. As well
as the archive, the administration enforces a
new tongue-in-cheek language for themselves called Newspeak, in which
the word “truth” is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants.
In Island Huxley drafts the idea that all criminal energy is based on two specific types of people. One of them is the Peter Pan type:
“I’m trying to think,” said Will, “of a good historical example of a delinquent Peter Pan.” “You don’t have to go far afield. The most recent, as well as the best and biggest, was Adolf Hitler.” (…)“A
Peter Pan if ever there was one. Hopeless at school. Incapable either
of competing or co-operating. Envying all the normally successful
boys-and, because he envied, hating them and, to make himself feel
better, despising them as inferior beings.”
So in Pala the most important way of preventing crime is to check if
children belong to the Peter Pan category and treat them early enough:
“Between four and a half and five all our children get a thorough
examination. Blood tests, psychological tests, somatotyping; then we X
ray their wrists and give them an EEC. All the cute little Peter Pans
are spotted without fail, and appropriate treatment is started
In Aldous Huxleys Island
the Lord Shiva is described as a man-made image. Everyone is taught
that worshipping symbols will not get prayers answered. The Old Raja
wanted children to understand that Gods are all homemade, and that it’s
people who pull their strings and thus give them the power to pull ours.
To demonstrate this idea, the scarecrows in the fields are images of
Buddha and the Christian God the Father. If prayers are answered, it is
because in this “odd and psychological world, ideas have a tendency if you concentrate your mind on them to get realized.”
30 years after Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World got published, he wrote Island.
This time he invented a real utopia, his idea of a perfect society. One
of the many unusual features of Pala are specially trained birds -
mynah birds - whose sole function is to loudly screech out “Here and
now! Here and now!” at random intervals. The mynah birds are whimsical
devices to help bring people back to the present moment - which is the
only place we can make constructive changes in our lives.
“One egg, one embryo, one adult -
normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will
divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a
perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult.
Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before.
Progress.” Brave new world, Aldous Huxley
This illustration is dealing with the subject of producing babies described in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Huxley’s Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms.
This is one of the rooms in which the babies of Huxley’s Brave New World get conditioned by hypnopaedia.
The rakunk is a fictional animal invented by Margaret Atwood. It appeared in her dystopian novel “Oryx & Crake”:
The rakunks had begun as an after-hours hobby on the part of the OrganInc biolab hotspots. (…)
(…)”No smell to it, not like a skunk,”
said Jimmy’s father. “It’s a clean animal, with a nice disposition.
Placid. Racoons never made good pets once they grown up, they got
crabby, they’d tear your houses to pieces. This thing is supposed to be
“The goal of the pigoon project was to grow an
assortment of foolproof human tissue organs in a transgenic knockout pig
host - organs that would transplant smoothly and avoid rejection, but
would also be able to fend off attacks by opportunistic microbes and
viruses, of which there were more strains every year. A rapid-maturity
gene was spliced in so the pigoon kidneys and livers and hearts would be
ready sooner, and now they were perfecting a pigoon that could grow
five or six kidneys at a time.” Oryx & Crake, Margaret Atwood
“Defragmenting the Brain”
Horrible memories next to good means the two often commingle.
You wish to remember a nice moment, but get that uneasy tingle.
Pleasant nostalgia ruined by things with wished you could erase.
Forgetting is usually impossible, but brains have a lot of open space.
Simply defragment your brain, store the dark memories to the side,
In the empty unused portions of the mind, you put them to hide.
There they can’t bug you, or infest what you wish to recall,
No more pausing on past regrets, slowing your brain to a crawl.
You’ll live happier not remembering anything that made you sad.
Filled with confidence knowing that you never did anything bad.
While over time that data may leak out, and flashes break through,
Just defragment your brain again, and you’ll never have to be you.
by David Michael Chandler
In Jewgenij Samjatins WE having a soul or vivid imagination means to be seriously sick. Everybody who is diagnosed as suffering from a soul, is required to undergo the “Great Operation”. This operation removes the imagination and each kind of emotion.