Friday 12 May 2017
Utopia and imagination
While it is an error of the first order to suppose that we can make a solid paradise around us during our earthly mortal life; it is also an error of similar magnitude to suppose we can do without an earthly utopia to aim at.
Lacking any reasonably clear and comprehensible notion of what kind of earthly mortal society we want, we become either short-termist/ expedient or demotivated/ suicidal.
My conviction is that none of the past utopias are viable - being either too unbelievable or else too uninspiring - therefore our future utopia must be imaginative.
For example; the 'Shire' like utopia of William Cobbett/ Distributism/ Small is Beautiful/ Self Sufficiency - I mean an agrarian society of free peasants (and no Lords), each with 'three acres and a cow' - has proven itself to be unviable and (in practice) unappealing... insufficiently motivating.
More exactly, it needs to be imagin-ative but not imagin-ary.
I think the creative thinkers, poets, artists and dreamers of the past have already told us what this imaginative utopia should be - in broad brush-strokes.
If we can identify empathically with the visionary mental landscapes of William Blake or Wordsworth, we can get some idea of the glorious scope and depth I am thinking of. Or, more exactly, there is the mindscape of Goethe or his amplifier Rudolf Steiner; or some of Jung's accounts of the Collective Unconscious - with its vivid myths and archetypes...
My contention is that all these are perspectives on the same thing, the same place; a real place - objective, universally accessible and of primary importance and yet/also a country 'of the mind'.
We need to develop that understanding - pioneered by ST Coleridge, and clarified by Owen Barfield - which recognises that we already live in a world co-constructed by our own imagination.
And we have the possibility of first becoming aware of this world of imagination - and dwelling in it; and then, ultimately - and this is the utopia - becoming an active participant in its creative processes.