Zamyatin: We, Records 1-11
Gottlieb: “Dystopia East, Dystopia West,” pp. 4-8
notes & response:
-You will subjugate the unknown beings on other planets, who may still be living in the primitive condition of freedom, to the beneficent yoke of reason. If they fail to understand that we bring them mathematically infallible happiness, it will be our duty to compel them to be happy. But before resorting to arms, we shall try the power of words.
-I shall merely attempt to record what I see and think, or, to be more exact, what we think (precisely so—we, and let this We be the title of my record). But since this record will be a derivative of our life, of the mathematically perfect life of the One State, will it not be, of itself, and regardless of my will or skill, a poem? It will. I believe, I know it.
-The flow of logical thought and how a man or woman can interfere
-Beauty that lies within absolute, esthetic subordination, in ideal unfreedom
-“I saw everything as though for the first time in my life.”—what a beautiful notion
-No being is capable of explaining emotion logically, regardless of their composition
-It is clear that the entire history of mankind, insofar as we know it, is the history of transition from nomadic to increasingly settled forms of existence. And does it not follow that the most settled form (ours) is at the same time the most perfect (ours) ?
-Even we have not yet found an absolute, precise solution to the problem of happiness
-The inevitability of uncertainty and how it may appear to mock the understanding of logic as the audience questions the joking nature but the “joker” is afraid
-“Love and hunger [envy] rule the world.”
-Is it not clear, however, that bliss and envy are the numerator and denominator of the fraction called happiness?
-Are you really free, or do you too live within a glass shell?
-“Walls are the foundation of all human…”
-Everything new in the birth of steel
-So save me of this fleeting feeling as I write merely just to feel again
-Dystopia as the antithesis of the term utopia, which is an understood perfect and ideal, good place
-There are historical phenomena that create societies that should be described as dystopic, societies where the literary imagination refuses to envisage a world worse than the existing world of reality
-Human animals, born free like you and I, end up living lives according to timetables
-All 24 hours of the day utterly administered so that we can guarantee nothing will ever happen
-Zamyatin writing as a warning for the future or just an epic?
-i# as an individual pronoun or irrational, as in the square root of 1
-Some way to eliminate mammalian disruption—the female body/mind and its concept of love, devotion, and time commited (birth and child bearing) comparing to that of a male body/mind
-“Having poetry in one’s midst is repressive sublimation”
-A dreamer as a form of mental illness or epilepsy
-“Artists are the antennae of the race.”—Ezra Pound
-Lips as the emblem of sexuality; reading lips
Is it dystopian to attempt to explain the boundaries of the mind and its emotions in some sort of logical state? Perhaps it is in itself utopian simply because in order to do so, one must attempt to achieve the unachievable—the ideal. Although no man may be capable of finding the solution for happiness, we strive to do just that through invention. But is any invention of the mind capable of fathoming what it means to attach logic to something that we feel with the senses? I think not. However, one can strive to do so in hopes of creating some sort of poetic meaning out of the decay of situations. This, to me, seems to be why we design against or around dystopian situations or regimes. So whether the situation be political or self-referential, why not struggle with the understanding of replacing that which is the current reality—possibly one of unhappiness and unwillingness to change? Design itself has a utopic forefront when looked at from this perspective. One can hope that any creation will stand the test of time but the truth is it cannot. Logically, this becomes feasible and we understand that everything must come and go as times sees fit. However, we struggle with the fear of the joke that becomes the ever increasing, unchanging state of the world. And to this logic of a world that lacks, we push forward with the goal to achieve perfection based on an understanding of what we feel rather than what we know, because we know that there is no perfection in sight.