This is a decluttering post to declutter my mind, which is unfocussed today, like a blurry pond that I would swim in if it were not so mucky and bleak.
I dropped my one seminar and, being that it was attended by only me and the prof, it was really a break up, and it happened on Valentine’s day, over email. I feel kind of sad about it and guilty as well, but it was best for both of us. We are splitting up the books and have decided to just be friends. It wasn’t him; it was me.
The hard part was realising just how much of my motivation to stay in that seminar was coming from my wish to take care of someone else, and my belief that even if it didn’t take care of me, it did take care of him. It’s so ridiculous when I put it into words, and so obvious, but wrenching myself from those thoughts into a focussed headspace that allowed me to actually make the decision and then follow through with it was really, really hard. I even called the department and talked to the grad secretary (actually it was the woman who takes care of payroll, who is sitting in for the dragonlady while she’s on vacation). I was worried that me dropping will have some sort of negative impact on the prof, since I’m the only student. Substitute grad secretary is normally just as scary as grad secretary, but she was almost tender-toned telling me, “No no no no no no no, don’t worrrrr-y about Gorrrr-don; you hab to take carre ov yourselv.”
Perhaps it is a bit silly to be at this point in life and still to be learning how to do that.
I went snooping around the web again yesterday with the (lofty?) intention of exhausting Google of good utopia hits, and found The Venus Project (linked in Miscellany). I am interested in how large and ongoing the organisation seems to be, and in their aims and the appealing illustrations that shore up those aims (very sci-fi/fantasy, complete with lots of orblike or otherwise aerodynamically inclined imagery). I’m also interested in how much response and discourse there is online about them. Exploring their site and a few related online resources (including their facebook group, especially its discussion board) further clarified my stance on utopian studies. There are many definitions of utopia and dystopia, any one of which might help to found an organisation like this one. The Venus Project claims not to be a utopian society, based on one such definition of what that is.
Is The Venus Project a Utopian society?
The Venus Project is not a Utopian concept. We do not believe in the erroneous notion of a utopian society. There is no such thing. Societies are always in a state of transition. We propose an alternative direction, which addresses the causes of many of our problems. There are no final frontiers for human and technological achievement – it will always undergo change. Even if we can design a society having all of the modifications to improve the lives of people and protect the environment we will still be at the beginning of the next phase.
It appears that their definition of a utopian society is that such a society has achieved “final frontiers,” and is developmentally perfect. This is one definition, to be sure. Witness that in BNW there is so little emphasis on the past that consideration of history or records, or, especially, family and generations or generativeness, mostly inspire revulsion. TVP proposes instead a seemingly workable relationship with change, evolution, phases, beginnings. So, this seems like a problematic claim to me, because the idea of beginnings–origins–implies a perfect state: the source of things, the almost magically right combination of energies resulting in a spark of life, emitted from that perfect/magical/mysterious place, the elusive place we can only glimpse in longing and dreams, the place where we wish to return–home.
Anyway, they have a plan. One of the essays I read while researching BNW discusses the relationship between the ability to conceive of ideal societies and our inability to delineate how to get there from here. But: TVP claims to have a plan. Some of these organisations do claim to have a plan.
I found some clarity in this, too: At first I found myself really enamoured with, if not a little creeped out by, TVP’s mission. When my beloved somewhat impishly queried whether I had checked out any of the “scam” and “hoax” stuff online about TVP, I immediately felt a little defensive. Then I remembered that my interest in such things is to apprehend the variations, because of the controversies and arguments and other cankerous resonances that emerge from them in all their myriad forms. I remembered that the point is to develop objectivity; it’s also my desire, because objectivity gives me a stronger perception of the utopian experiments (as I perceive them to be) that constitute my own past, my legacy as a child of the counterculture. Objectivity facilitates learning, develops my experience as a thinker, and finally allows me to face those aspects of self that have not always been friendly.
A certain poet friend once told me, before we got to know each other, that I had a wall up around me. He was wearing a crown of tomatoes. It was not the first time someone told me that. My response to that accusation (which pretends to be an observation, a cut-the-bullshit truth-telling, and even a pick-up line–perhaps that is more the point? Not the first time for that trick, either) now would be different from what it was then. Yes, and you might want to step back because now you have stepped a little too close to the wall.
Fun, mischievous, inspiring, boring all at once: poets, poetry readings, poetry books, barely hidden meanings, barely there dedications, shyness, awkwardness, maladjustment
(if not maladjusted, then a slave I think)