Undeniably, failure is unwanted, prompting emotions that include disappointment, defeat, and destruction; however, despite the magnitude of failures plaguing utopian implementations both inside and outside of literature, the genre continues to live on. Utopian creation not only exists in spite of these failures, but thrives off of them. naturally, this is an odd concept, where failure, particularly historical failures, encourages utopian thought, and actually makes it seem more plausible. In response to this, I aim to answer the overarching question of: Without history proving human failure in properly organizing society, would utopian literature be as realistic/probable?
Alongside analysis of many sources, the answer to this question becomes clear, resulting in my thesis: In the absence of history providing these human failures, utopian literature would not only be less rational, but it would not even exist; utopian literature utilizes history to project the past onto fictional societies, root commentary in the social conditions of the time, and supply the desire for enhanced life through failure. It can be seen, then, that failure is, in this case, beneficial. Some of the positive aspects of failure are explained by the article hyperlinked below.
For example, in response to any kind of revolution, movement, or protest, development of radical ideas embeds itself within utopian literature, constantly reinterpreting what constitutes the “perfect society”. Through this, historical failures essentially cage in utopian thought, adding a border to constraint them within the realm of probability, via the three reasons outlined in my thesis statement. Utopian literature relies heavily on prior events, allowing the dreamer to mold the building blocks of the past together in an unfamiliar way, uncovering a new concept by way of the old. These new concepts are then inherently established by the time period, and the issues and failures that accompany it; this process can be explained as adding fuel to the fire, letting the presence of failure cause desire for change and improvement. In response to the Soviet regime, utopian dreams and thought flourished, taking all the parts of society that had gone awry and redirecting them to plan for novel ideas, including that of air flight to escape ones current situation. Air flight became of particular interest at this time since it developed into an objective that seemed reasonable, even prompting a blueprint for attachable wings, named the “Flying Tatlin”, as pictured below.
The relationship of utopian literature to history, specifically in regard to its failures, is inevitable; the past knowledge and experiences allow the human race to progress, stimulating thought and ideas for how society should, and should not, change. Due to this, utopian literature is able to deliver a broader, more believable purpose, inciting both a call for action and a call for reflection through historical comparisons.
Furry, Constance. “Utopian History.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, Vol. 20 Issue 4, 2008, pp. 385-398. EBSCO Host, web.a.ebscohost.com.
Vujosevic, Tijana. “The Flying Proletarian: Soviet Citizens at the Thresholds of Utopia.” Grey Room, Issue 59, 2015, pp. 78-101. EBSCO Host, web.a.ebscohost.com.
“Discovering the Positive Benefits of Failure.” Ladylux, 23 Mar. 2016, www. ladylux.com/articles/the-positive-benefits-of-failure.