Sunday, 7 February 2016

Eutopia, Westfall And America

Poul Anderson,"Eutopia" IN Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984), pp.112-141.

Cross-time traveler Iason Philippou:

lives on a continent called "Eutopia";
is currently visiting a timeline where that continent is called "Westfall";
remembers visiting yet another timeline where it was called "America."

A region that is preserved as a wilderness for hunting on Westfall is, on Eutopia, groves, gardens, aesthetically designed villages and athletic fields. Because dielectric motors have not yet spread this far north on Westfall, Iason smells gasoline fumes and:

"He had thought that stench one of the worst abominations in America - that hogpen they called Los Angeles!..." (p. 118)

We are still rereading SM Stirling's Conquistador in which New Virginians unfavorably compare FirstSide, including LA, with their own unpolluted North American environment.

Iason mentally reviews the history of the American timeline:

Alexander the Great died from the fever that he had contracted in Babylon;
wars of succession destroyed his empire;
"Hellas and the Orient broke apart" (p. 125);
early science degenerated into metaphysics, then mysticism;
cold, cruel, uncreative Romans, claiming the Greek heritage while destroying Corinth, took over;
men despairing of life adopted a mystery cult founded by a heretical Jewish prophet;
this intolerant cult denied all but one way of seeing the God;
its priests cut down the holy groves, destroyed idols, martyred free men and kept their grip for nearly two thousand years;
after that, it became possible for science to be reborn;
however, the idea of conformity in belief remained;
hence, totalitarianism and the threat of nuclear war;
that history is filthy, wasteful, ugly, restricted, hypocritical and insane;
pretending to be an American was Iason's hardest task.

5 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Needless to say, I say Iason Philippou is biased and one sided! A few thoughts comes to mind.

    I deny Christianity arose and spread because men had despaired of life. That totally ignores the positive reaons why so many became Christians.

    And I see NOTHING holy in mere trees and idols of false, non existent gods. And exactly WHO were those "free men" martyred by Christians?

    And it was BECAUSE of Christianity that a true science eventually arose on our Earth. See my quote from "Delenda est" in the combox of your "Relearning History" piece.

    And the origins of totalitarian "conformity of belief" has its origins in MARXISM, or if you like, the fanatical Jacobins of the French Revolution, not Christianity.

    Iason is certainly right to criticize our Earth for being so often filthy, wasteful, ugly, restricted, hypocritical and insane. No argument there! BUT, at the very end of "Eutopia" the mask is stripped away and we see how those those things can be found in his "Good Place." One ugly thing being institutionalized child abuse.

    In fact, Anderson obviously meant "Eutopia," meaning "good place," to be an ironic play on St. Thomas Mores "Utopia," meaning "no place." Meaning the "good place" did not exist!

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sean,
    I think that uniformity of belief began at least with the Council of Nicaea?
    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I am a Catholic, I believe God REVEALED many things to us in both the OT and NT and the Tradition of the Church. And that God prevents the Church from teaching errors in matters of faith and morals. I fail to see why uniformity or certainty of belief in what has been divinely revealed is somehow supposed to be bad.

      Sean

      Delete
  3. Sean,
    Two issues, though. Imposition of uniform belief, whether good or bad, started then, if not earlier. 2nd, how were heretics treated? Arius was exiled.
    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kaor, Paul!

      And I see NOTHING wrong in the Church defining, guided by our Lord the Spirit, what is true and false in matters of faith and morals. After all, Christ promised He would always be with the Church, which has to logically meaning as well preventing her from teaching error.

      And I certainly agree it's wrong to use the coercive powers of the state to exile or otherwise penalize theological or philosophical opponents (the Athenian condemnation of Socrates comes to mind).

      Sean

      Delete