the one and only truly amazing katster (katster) wrote,
the one and only truly amazing katster
katster

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out in the country...

Whenever I need to leave it all behind
Or feel the need to get away
I find a quiet place
Far from the human race
Out in the country...


What a strange little book.

I'm speaking of Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach, a book I first came to hear about trolling around political blog sites after the Great Defeat (an event which I believe earns the capitals, because it was mighty in its implications, and because I am the sort who likes capitalizing events). Of course, in those early days after Election Day became Black Tuesday for many of my fellow Dems, seperatism was talked about as if it was a legitimate possibility, and of course, this novel got thrown around. I admit to some taste in dystopias, I'm not sure my taste extends as much to utopian ideals. Keep that in mind as I ramble here.

Also, keep in mind that while I am a born Reddinger, raised in a part of California that is as bright red as the deep South, my heart is in San Francisco, and the great formative period for my ideals came while I was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. That and my parents are Dems, between the two, I somehow became a blue-stater, if it can be said that there are two different types of people simply by voting habits. Some say yes, some say no, but this is a digression from my rambles and thus I shalln't pursue it here.

Anyway, soon after I stumbled across the reference, shrouded in mystery, I happened to be trolling the used bookstores in town for copies of the Turtledove series Zibb had recommended. (It's one of the few things that recommends Redding -- we've only got three that I know of in terms of used bookstores -- and only one new bookstore, a chain at that, but alas -- but all three used bookstores are great and wonderful places that I love checking out if I get a chance.) Anyway, as I'm stumbling and bumbling around the scifi section in one of them, I stumbled across this book, and since I had seen it recommended, I figured I would pick it up and read it. It was cheap enough.

It is definitely utopian in nature. Maybe I'm more of a cynic than I thought, having a bigger taste in dystopia, and I am well aware that Sir Thomas More deliberately called his perfect society 'Nowhere', but I had some troubles just *believing* in such a place that was being described. That, and since I'm a native Northern California, I am perfectly aware that there is a part of Northern California/Southern Oregon that is glossed over by my counterparts in the Bay Area -- so noticed by them that they formed their breakaway state of Jefferson, and sent a petition to the Congress to become free of Oregon and California, but alas, great events overtook them and I am not sure that those here ever forgave the rest of the US for forgetting -- that is redder than red, if that is possible, which doesn't fit very well with the whole ultra-blue mentality of the Ecotopians. And since the state of Jefferson is right in the middle of the land claimed, I was curious as to how the author would deal with it. Not at all, seems to be the answer. I don't know if I can blame them -- I have a bad habit of wanting more details than authors think to provide, which drives certain people crazy.

As for the society described, would i like to live in it? I am not sure. I know that several of my acquantances in the circle I was on the fringe of in the bay area -- I never quite fit, but that was probably because I was a very busy college student, and very depressive in nature, which made me somewhat anti-social -- that would be quite at home in Ecotopia. They pretty much live that life, as best I can see, right now. Or at least they live it as best they can in the society in which they live. Modern society definitely has its ills, there is the pressure towards conformity, and I ache to see that I have friends that hate their jobs because they're nothing better than a pair of hands with no brains -- but would I trade that for the society deliniated in Ecotopia? That is a question I am not sure I can answer at the moment. Maybe I need to stew on it a bit more.

I did like the freedom to be free, if that makes sense, to say what you're thinking without fear of hurting others, to keep from bottling up crap inside, and to keep the fizzy bubbles from building up, but I'm not sure that freedom would cause an amazing end to all the mental illness that plagues society -- and I definitely don't see how the crime rate stays down. But that's perhaps my modern mind at work attempting to rationalize the odd society within the book. I don't know. I think it's definitely a stew-worthy problem.

Anybody read the book that can comment on what they thought? Maybe that would help organize my thoughts a bit more.

before the breathing air is gone
before the sun
is just a bright spot in the night-time
out where the rivers like to run
i stand alone
and take that something worth remembering
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