Monday, July 21, 2008

Dystopian Thoughts

According to my Wordweb

noun: dystopia
1. State in which the conditions of life are extremely bad as from deprivation or oppression or terror.

2. A work of fiction describing an maginary place where life is extremely bad because of deprivation or oppression.

Interesting via wiktionary

3. [Medical] Anatomical tissue that is not found in its usual place.
example - The patient suffers from adrenal dystopia

The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory had no entry for Dystopia instead referring the reader to the entry... Utopia. Ironic?

When talking about his new novel, Little Brother, as a dystopian vision, Cory Doctorow said "A dystopian novel, I think, is a novel characterized by hopelessness, and that's not this book at all...This is a book about having hope about changing the system. ... By default, most systems are broken--either in big ways or small ways--and the idea that they can't be fixed is a pretty depressing one."

So, here's a question... when you think about seeing or participating in such a venture, are you dissuaded at all by the notion of the narrative being "hopeless"? Do you have trouble committing energy to a tale that some might think can't even be cautionary? Can a story about an imaginary place similar to the world we live in or might progress towards have no cautionary ability if the spectator feels the protagonist has no avenue for hope or betterment?

i.e. if you knew the ending to Terry Gilliam's Brazil before watching it, would you watch it?

Does a movie like V for Vendetta count as dystopia if their is a hopeful resolution?


Travis Bedard said...

I have no problem with a resolution with no hope, so long as the arc of the characters still includes hope.

In short I gues I haveno problem with the protegonist and friends losing, so long as there's a chance they can win.

downtown guy said...

Sure, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, some hope on the horizon. I feel like it's more a matter of the situation as we come into it, as readers, being hopeless. Not that the end results will be.