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What marvellous books there are about me here - and only partly read. But the parts I have read ... have indeed made life for me... more than I could imagine without them. I feel now as if, while reading, I left this room and circumstance to inhabit the world of Michael: the shepherd, his wife, their son who went away, and the sheepfold that he was building in old age but never finished. A story of simplicity and sadness in an ordinary life, seen as heroic.
And then I asked myself if utopian fictions make this connection while omitting the social reality, so called? I saw immediately that William Morris's News from Nowhere** does not. It is not a new vision of industrial life - it's a humane but economically impossible version. And then I asked myself if Yevgeny Zamyatin's We*** is a new vision of life as we know it? I realised that it too (and perhaps all such fantasies) are impossible versions of things as they are or were - they are not social inventions. They do not question or rethink the social form itself, the rigidity of hierarchy and specialisation and all that, the daftness of the wheel and its inhuman consequences. These famous utopias and dystopias (I thought to myself) are just silly extensions or extrapolations of life as it is, they are not serious attempts to improve it.
Encouraged by this designerly thought I asked myself if the fiction I seek to write isa serious attempt and, yes, I think it is (ifI can write it).
Yes, this is a critical moment in what I am about.
My thoughts return to social fantasies. I suppose the whole of so-called social reality of industrially organised human life (outside the life of tribal people) is 'silly' also - in that, if I knew all the factors that have formed it, I would reshape it very differently (assuming that I am able to interpret social influences and technical forces free of the economic and social self-interest that I think distorts them?).
As I returned to pond 1 there were two boys imitating ancient warriors with sticks for spears which they threw towards the pond with 'terrible shouts' while the woman who was with them smiled at what they were doing. 'Boys!' I said as I passed her - and she laughed... Further on a man and a woman were fooling about, mock fighting, as if they too were imitating something... No, I think they were just interacting, physically, in a way that is slightly outside the social norm but is clearly harmless - and affectionate!
** William Morris, News from Nowhere, or an epoch of rest, being some chapters from a utopian romance, edited by James Redmond, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London and Boston (Mass.) 1970.
*** Yevgeny Zamyatin, We, Translated by Guilbert Guerney, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1972.
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