Dystopias, Pumpkins, Movie Posters, Writers, and Guy Fawkes

So, a few things have been on my mind over the course of the past week. And I know what you are going to say: Emily, aren’t you supposed to be writing a novel or something? Why yes, yes I am. That’s going fairly well, I assure you, and there will be more on that to come.
But for now, a list of things that have been on my mind. And you should be proud because I’m taking a step away from the bulleted lists that I so desperately cling to during blog posts. I’m growing up, I know.
So here we go.

I don’t think the word “dystopia” should exist
Let me explain. The word “utopia” was created by author Sir Thomas More for his novel of the same name. It was created using Greek terms. The word translates to mean “no place.” A homophone in English makes the first part of this word sound like the word for “good,” which creates a double meaning.
But the point of the double meaning: the perfect place (or society) does not exist.
Today, the word “utopia” has become synonymous with the perfect society, even though this was not exactly More’s original intention when creating the word. In fact, if one reads Utopia, it is clear that although the society seems perfect, it is still flawed. The book is even listed as number 58 on Goodread’s list of most popular dystopian fiction.
Now, let’s take a look at the word “dystopia.” The word was created to be the complete opposite of the modern concept of “utopia.” That is, a dystopia is a society that is deeply flawed, but one that often has the appearance of a perfect place. Popular literary dystopias can be found in The Hunger Games, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Divergent, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Matrix, etc. It’s a genre that has become increasingly popular in recent years, so I’m sure that all of you have some idea about what it’s all about.
My problem: the “dystopia” classification is redundant and unnecessary because the original intent of the meaning of “utopia” was that the perfect society does not exist.
Let me repeat that: utopia, or “the perfect society,” does not exist; therefore, dystopia cannot exist as its counterpart.
The solution? There isn’t one. The word “utopia” has shifted meanings over time and it would be foolish and probably impossible to reverse the last couple hundred years of the word’s usage. And since people think that utopia means the perfect society, they will use dystopia to mean an imperfect society. That’s just how the language has developed and there is no stopping it now.
So I will go on using dystopia just like everyone else, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
 
PS. There are some really interesting infographics of the Dystopian-genre boom here.

Pumpkin artists amaze me
Aang PumpkinOkay, I stole this picture from Pinterest because all the pumpkin photos in my Facebook/Instagram feed happend last week, but I’m not even talking about professional pumpkin artists, though those are pretty amazing, too. But even just people I know from school or whatever. This time of year, they start carving pumpkins. And posting photos of their carved pumpkins. And they are all freakishly amazing.
Like, they only get to carve pumpkins once a year. How do they get so good at it? Do they secretly practice on other fruit year-round? (Yes, they are fruit. Just like tomatoes. And cucumbers. And anything else with seeds.)
I know they have stencils and things like that to help you with your design, but even so, carving a pumpkin is not an easy task. I have not done it often in my life, but Deacon and I did try last year and it was a little disastrous.
 
Is there some secret that I’m missing? And how long does it take to do some of those designs?
 
This post on Buzzfeed blew my mind
One word: animated movie posters.
I know that was actually three words. But one concept.
Anyway.
 
 17 Movie Posters Improved With Animation 17 Movie Posters Improved With Animation
 
Aren’t these movie posters just wonderful?
They’re a little like those VHS covers that changes the picture depending on the angle you look at it from. You know, the ones that made cool noises when you scratched your nails across them?
Does anyone know what I’m talking about, or do I sound like a crazy person again?
 We had one for The Lost World.
 
 
 

Writers are mediums
I’m trying to remember where I was coming from in this thought. I think it stemmed from the thought that writers don’t create the story–they uncover it. They allow it to be communicated through them so that others can access it. So in a way, they’re like mediums. You see a lot of reality TV shows and movies where people seek to communicate with spirits or whatever, and to do so, they have to call in a psychic and communicate through them.
Well, that’s kind of what writers are. The more I develop the stories, the more I realize that I don’t develop them at all. They exist by themselves; I’m just the one who is able to write it down. 
Think of the Harry Potter series. It’s a huge world and there are all sorts of characters and back-stories and history, a lot of which is never even discussed within the seven books. And after fans finish the books, they might still have questions about what Ron’s great-aunt’s cat’s name is. So they go to J. K. Rowling, who more often than not has an answer. 
To me, her role as writer shifts, then. Instead, she is the holder of information, she is the one that knows the realm of the story and everything in it. And it is through her that the fans and readers can access the same world. To them, it is not a figment of someone’s imagination. It is a real thing, a realm that exists but which they cannot explore on their own.

I know this is a strange thought, and I doubt I’m getting it out right. I should have written it down as soon as it came across my mind. Maybe I’ll think it through more and come back to it at a later date.

 
November 5th is in commemoration of the failed gunpowder plot, not in celebration of Guy Fawkes.
V for Vendetta - 2005

I’ll be honest here. I’m American. I am the stereotypical American white girl. I know very little about other countries and cultures and the history of them. In fact, I know very little about American history. So please excuse me if I’m not 100% accurate on the following details.
I did learn about the Gunpowder Plot in my English LIfe & Lit class during my undergrad studies, though. And Guy Fawkes was not a hero. He wanted to blow up the house of Parliament and kill King James (you know, from the King James Bible?). Why? Because Guy Fawkes and the other members of the plot were Catholic, which was not something the king supported. So they wanted to kill the king and replace him with a Catholic.
But ever since the popularity of V for Vendetta, the image of Guy Fawkes has changed a bit. He’s now seen as a symbol for anarchy, as the one that stands up against a flawed government. (which goes back to our dystopia discussion) 
Here’s a somewhat educational video that explains why November the 5th is celebrated:
 
 
Now, back to noveling!
–Emily
currently listening to: I Wish You Would by Taylor Swift

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Sus
    November 6, 2014

    I enjoyed your piece about dystopia, because it has annoyed me ever since I took European History last year and learned the true meaning of Thomas More's "Utopia". Ah, but that is our language for you! Always evolving, morphing, and borrowing from others. I might almost make the argument that in a language like English, with a history of being open to growth and change, the modern usage or understanding IS the correct definition. However, because I'm still not quite sure I approve of this whole dystopian craze thing, I will restrain myself. : )

    Oh, and your writers as mediums piece, WHEW! It is certainly an interesting (and rather empowering, I like feeling powerful) way to look at writers.

    Interesting thoughts and a lovely post! I hope your writing is going well. Good luck with NANO!

    Reply

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