Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Utopian imitatios

Doubt not, my dear reader, 'tis here that whoso doth imitate my style may post an imitatio.


  1. Several years after my initial conversation with Raphael Hythloday about the country of Utopia I once again came upon the man who had intrigued me so with his views. He looked as though he had died and was only recently brought back to the land of the living. I confess I barely recognized the man. After feeding him and getting him some drink to restore color in his face he told me about where he had been for the past five years. It was another mysterious country in the west called Dystopia. I listened with rapt attention as he described to me the horrors of that land.

    “When I first arrived at the shores of Dystopia I was filled with hope. The natives said they welcomed all outsiders with open arms. However, things rapidly deteriorated. I learned that though the country claims that it welcomes all immigrants in reality its attitudes can be quite hostile. The level of hostility depends on how much your appearance and culture resembles that of Dystopia. Also your social class in your country of origin is a very important influence on how you will be treated.

    Though the country espouses ideals of equality the disparity of the distribution of wealth rivals that of Britain. The country claims that it believes in the ability of anyone to be able to rise from the lowest ranks of society, it is extremely hard to do so. The poor are given the worst education and often have to resort to crime in order to live. A decent education that will allow for a comfortable life is almost completely unaffordable to the poor. Though the rare occasion does exist where someone does rise up and I will say that is one advantage Dystopia has over Britain.

    The greatest injustice the country of Dystopia does to its citizens is that it gives them the illusion of having power. It calls itself a democracy and everyone over the age of eighteen is able to vote. However due to various systems that are in place, as well as the importance of money within Dystopian politics, the people have very little say about who wields power. Yet most of them believe every word about the so called power they wield. Ignorance be the language of the land.

  2. Oh though it's probably obvious that it's me based on my username just wanted to make sure you know that the above imitatio is from Bryan Bonagura.

  3. Ruthann
    On the Ideal Image of Femininity
    I am ashamed to say, my dear Peter Giles, that our society, being as scholarly as it is, places little confidence in women’s ability to take up the classic arts which are reserved for men. I wish to confide in you, the true confidant that you are, that I have taken up educating my daughters in these arts, for I believe it’s of the utmost importance in their upbringing as women. Do we not expect them to be the ideal mothers, wives, and caretakers? I firmly believe that in order to be the ideal image of anything in society, one must be learned in the classic arts of music, literature, art, science, mathematics, and humanities... Certainly, they must be fit to pass such things on to their children. This knowledge would bring to them ability to make the right decisions with the wisdom of the mistakes of the past. When one has the knowledge of the past, for example, we can learn from the mistakes made by those who came before us.
    What I am getting at, my friend, is that the true image of femininity is based on essential domestic skills, albeit, with other additional talents. Females, like males, should be able to speak eloquently, especially those of the upper classes. It’s quintessential, moreover, for one to be able to entertain her house guests and family as well as provide for their basic needs... Tell me, Peter, would rather have a dumb, rambling, twit of a wife, whom you married for good looks that will eventually spoil with old age, or a companion of sophisticated wit that can hold her own in repartee?...The female is a free agent as much as any man, so it irks me to no end that society does not require them to use the mind which God gave us all...they may not be as physically strong as males, but they are indeed capable of being as mentally strong.
    I believe that they have as much, possibly even more, to contribute to society as their male counterparts do, what with the domestic skills they obtain, as well as education...imagine, Peter, if more women were educated in the arts, humanities, mathematics, and romance languages! Why, that would make them almost superior to men if you include the domestic skills they must acquire...We teach women that they are instruments of the devil, rather than useful individuals in their communities. They are only taught that they are useful for marrying and bearing children for the advance of their families. There are few women, however, that are well known that have been formally educated. One such woman, as I’m sure you know, dear Peter, is Anne Boleyn. She was educated in the French court where they value educated women highly. Women should follow her example for she was sophisticated, witty, humorous, and talented in the arts.
    With very many men being so ignorant of learning, I find myself feeling insulted for women because it is by these very ignorant men that they are restrained. I put myself mentally in their unfortunate positions so as to better understand these beings that we live on earth with. Imagine, Peter, if society functioned the exact opposite from the way it does now...It’s all a matter of empathy, of which is discouraged in men and by men. Men may have knowledge, yet we still lack one essential component; understanding. Understanding allows us to put ourselves, if not literally, then emotionally in one’s position so as to better comprehend the breadth of another’s situation...Women are the victims of this system in which they are constantly dominated by the men in their lives. Are women allowed no freedom to be independent without being labeled outcasts? I despise that such educated men can be so closed- minded.
    At any rate, Peter, I divulge this idea to you as a confidante worthy of my trust and love. I do hope you would consider this idea of mine, for this society needs more men and women who can contribute intellectually. Good-bye my sweetest friend. I must conclude here for I have familial as well as legal matters to attend to.
    Much love,
    Thomas More

  4. Jessica Romano

    I must apologize to you, my dear friend, for not writing you sooner. I realize it has been some time since I sent you my account of Raphael’s trip to Utopia, and I am deeply sorry for not contacting you sooner. Not long after my book was finished, Raphael wrote me with tales of a America, a fascinating, if barbaric place from what I can tell. I was surprised, but quite pleased to hear that some of the more cultured members of society have read my book. It is good to know that even those of other countries can find amusement in my poor attempt at relating Raphael’s tale. I was thinking of writing another book once Raphael returned to England, this time about America. While not as wonderful a place as Utopia, it has its own charm, and perhaps we could learn from their many problems. At the very least, it would prove to be an interesting comparison, a (if I might go so far as to suggest such) distopic land and people to contrast that of Utopia. For now, I would like to discuss just a few things with you about his findings in America, dear Peter, and if you are so inclined, you should write him for more detail. Doubtless, he will be able to relay much more than what my deficient memory might have forgotten to mention.
    It has been brought to my attention that the people of America are for the most part, quite literate, enough so that a few have, as I said earlier, have read my book. I was shocked to find that even though the ability to read is rather common amongst the vast numbers of the American middle class, that only a small fraction of that population is doing any reading, excepting of course, educators and university students who must read in order to further their academic careers. It makes one wonder why writers, especially those more talented than I, bother producing any books at all, if their audience never deigns to bother to turn even one little page, or why teachers bother to teach such ungrateful wretches when their time could be much better spent. The money spent on all this effort could also be spent more wisely, as the country (as I understand it) is deeply in debt. Perhaps they should cut their losses, if their hard work is not bearing fruit. It would be a shame if the hand of the American government were forced so, for I wonder what readers, or even writers might come from this middle class if they had decided to take the opportunity presented to them and tried to create something from it.
    At any rate, dear Peter, I fear I must end my letter here, so that I might do some research of my own in the aforementioned matter. If I am going to write another book, I want to be sure that my facts are as close to the truth as may be, and I have no idea when exactly Raphael will return to tell me the rest. I will do my best to write you more often old friend, and make up for my recent neglect. Please understand that my silence and distance does not mean I love you any less, if anything it is the exact opposite, and my love for you continues to grow. I hope your feelings for me have not changed since we last wrote, and I eagerly hope I shall be hearing from you soon.

  5. Heather's Imitatio

    A lost letter: From Thomas More to Peter Giles
    Date: Unknown
    Found in a trunk of unknown origin, nowhere...

    My dear friend, I fear my time will soon come to an end, not fear but know. First I must tell you, I finally made it to Utopia. With little ease I followed our dear friend’s instructions; find the creature of corruption on its flight around the island. However, the creature came to visit me instead. Corruption came to call, gazing up I watched it glide to its perch atop a tree of crowns and just judge the human subjects below. It is waiting for the next person to succumb to its beautiful sheen, black as an empty soul, once noble. It watched, waited and calculated cocking its head back and forth as if it knew my innermost thoughts...
    Upon arrival, I noticed the Utopians are somewhat resistant to outsiders; I dare say I do not fault them. They are everything we are not, everything we were told about, and everything we were not told about. Money does not corrupt them, yet they use it to corrupt others in an effort to stop war against their friends and themselves. By default does that not corrupt them? They are taught that only fools and children value money, yet they too hold some belief that it is important in avoiding war. I just do not understand my friend. This land is full of contradictions. They see no purpose is the needless slaughter of animals, but at the same time willingly enslave their people. Those that are free and wish to travel face an obstacle. It is quite an affair if a citizen wishes to leave, for without permission one is punished. They are trapped in their isolation, trapped so that corruption does not invade the society. However, has it not already begun to seep into life, as it does so easily? Consciously prisoners of land, but not of body they permit early death. When a diseased individual becomes a trouble to oneself or a burden to others, help is given to free one from this life. Maybe I am too used to our world, to believe such rationality can exist without personal interest.
    Personal interest does not seem to factor into this world as it does ours though. I must tell you, the one thing I find most pleasing about Utopia is that deceit against one another is not permitted as a game of strategy, a game of life. Pleasure is sought from others pleasure, not pain. For this reason, this place has neither the corruption nor our pride that is so deeply institutionalized in societal wealth. In our world pleasure is sought from others downfall, we get the most pleasure when we are king above others. If Utopia has taught me anything my faithful companion, it is that even corruption at it lightest can find itself within a society; there is always room for the evil it inspires. The humans, not the things they possess, cause all the evils in humanity. The ideals of our people are too founded on self-preservation and personal gain to ever have such the simplistic way of the Utopians. Rationality does not always make a better society, perhaps just a more efficient one.
    It did not take me long to figure this out, my stay was short and I soon followed corruption back to home. It was my desire that some practices of the Utopians could be ingrained in this society, but I now realize there is no such hope. I fear no such place can exist, at least not as long as wealth rules. The only thing left for me to do, my most cherished friend, is stop the black temptation from emptying my soul as well. I cannot live with the lies I would have to tell myself, so at the end of the day, I would not detest myself. Self-denial would rule my life; it would have to, so that others and I would believe every single lie I told. That will not be my life. All I beg of you is that you trust in me, as I have you. I trust this letter ill find you long before we shall be reunited. Until then I remain in your honorable service, most ready to be commanded.
    Sir Th. More

  6. I must confess, my dear Thomas More, that your little book has created a delightful vexation in my life, and that, through no fault of your own and much to your credit, I have spent many a night burning the candle until morning creeps into my window. After the thawing of the winter snow, I have made it a habit to leave my dreary, dusk covered library, take in the fresh spring air, and visit friends in the country side. I spent an excellent three months with our mutual friend Peter Giles, and he acquainted me with your book, but I fear I questioned the poor fellow to exhaustion. If any painter needed a model for Atlas, he need look no further than Peter and the weight of the questions he endured for Utopia. A small portion of those discussions I have set down and relay them to you for further comment, for I am so intrigued by these people and their way of life. One occasion we spoke on politics. I began by asking, “How can a people with no king direct a state?”
    “It is really quite simple that a people in a distant land, remember that the island is rather isolated, should develop a commonwealth of agricultural communities. They do not have to contend with the Spanish, the French, the Pope, and all other sorts of people. Being one people with very few enemies the need for a king does not arise.” Peter said. “Do you remember what Thomas said about their warfare?”
    “Of course,” I replied. “They use all the means that we do, but they can pay their mercenaries better since they have no means for gold. The inhabitants train for war and when attacked all of the country participates in the defenses.”
    “Does an army work as a single unit naturally or does it require discipline, and direction? I have never seen an army that did not require a leader of some sort. The general is not required for the daily operations of an army, but the foot soldier performs the actions and stratagems the general decides, the order for attack, withdrawl, the distrubution of soldiers, and the proper ground. Where is the best vantage point for a general to be to determine what is best for the soldiers actions? Should he be in the midst of battle among the foot soldiers, or overlooking the battle field?
    “Over looking gives him a better understanding of the situation because otherwise he is concerned about the welfare of the men around him and his own welfare rather than the army as a whole,” I said, “But how does this parallel with a king and a state?
    “I will get to that shortly,” Peter said, “Should a king be chosen by lots? Is this the best possible way of determining that the proper person for job or should a person that is has experience be chosen.”
    “The person with experience should be chosen, but our king is not chosen from the people.” I replied.
    “No, our lots are not drawn by the people but by a higher power, and one could say that God does not play dice with the world. The person chosen for their role as the king is because of God. Since we have decided that a king is much like a general and since a king must look see a large quantity of people. He must devote all his efforts into the governance of his people; where the Utopians do not require such efforts. Much like a hermit may know how to fight but has little use of it seeing as he is unlikely to be in a brawl. By the very nature and fact that it is Utopia and by the very nature that it is where it is in the world, that it can exist as it does.” Peter pointed out. It was at this time I was going to continue with my questions when my son of eight years broke into our sanctum…