And they were turning into butterflies

11 06 2013

1. Politics is anti-utopian; utopia is anti-politics.

We spent this evening’s class going over Bernard Crick’s “A defence of politics against technology” and talking about scientism and technocracy and George Packer’s May 27th New Yorker piece on Silicon Valley and the dream of the frictionless and I, as ever, joined Crick in defending politics against against the plans of the smooth and predictable, against that frictionless dream of techno-utopia.

What would we do, a student asked? I noted we should be so lucky to have such problems as utopia, then shrugged and quoted David Byrne that Heaven is a place. . . where nothing ever happens and let it hang as we packed to leave.

I am political, not utopian.

2. Dreams of utopia are lovely and heartbreaking in ways dreams of politics never will be.

Once home I listened to Jian Ghomeshi’s wonderfully strange and spiky interview with the wonderfully strange and spiky Joni Mitchell as I played spider solitaire on my computer. In the intro to the segment on Mitchell’s recollection of missing Woodstuck, Ghomeshi played her slow, thoughtful lament on what might have been.

And sitting here alone I paused in my solitaire as my throat closed and eyes teared as she sidled her way through the opening lyrics.

What was that? Why did this happen? How could that song do that to me?

Mitchell noted that had she actually gone to Woodstock she couldn’t have written the song, that the bullshit and backbiting of what really was would have torn up an undreamt garden.

I am anti-utopian because utopias are not possible; if I thought they were possible, would I be utopian? Could we really have a dreamt-of garden?

. . . and thus the lovely heartbreak.

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12 06 2013
13 06 2013

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