Monday, June 17, 2013

Dystopia as a Glace Reflection

Dystopian Future?
I came across an article this week called "Searching for Shadowman." The author of the article, Ned Vizzini, talks about a dystopian book he read as a teenager that was not widely circulated, but that had a huge impact on him. His favorite character was a very imperfect teenaged boy named Morrison. Then Vizzini says something interesting: "Morrison was the first male I encountered in literature who seemed to understand his own unattractiveness."

It occurs to me that this may be true of dystopias in general. Perhaps they help us see the unattractiveness of our own society, and how bad things might become if we let them.

After all, ours is a society where the intolerant preach absolute tolerance, where 90-pound movie stars preach loving one's body, no matter the size, and where headlines  like "Eating Boogers May be Good for Your Health" actually make it into newspapers. (How long do you think we have before the gorillas get the better of us?)

Perhaps we are drawn to flawed societies in the same way we are drawn to flawed characters: because we identify with them; because we can get behind them and root for their victory; because they feel so real that we can't ignore them.

No one would argue that our society doesn't have problems. We all know tragedy exists in the world, but it's hard for us to do anything that feels really meaningful to help. We get overwhelmed just thinking about it. Taken to extremes, these problems will lead to our society's destruction, and we're all aware of that fact. 

We humans are capable of great feats, but we are also prone to fall into idleness. Perhaps dystopias strike such a chord with us because they remind us of our society's own ugliness, which in turn spurs us on to try and live our lives to make things better. It's human psychology at its best. Or weirdest. 

What do you think of this theory? 
Persistence of Vision, Book 1 of Interchron available now from Amazon.

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