Utopic themes for political/news burnout?


#1

Apropos of nothing in particular I thought it might be nice to share things (fictional media, history, theory, writing, ideas, etc - anything, really!) that make you feel like a better, maybe even Good world is possible.

This Ursula K. Le Guin quote gives me a lot of strength when I’m feeling down about the state of the world and the possibility of change:

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”

I read Rosa Luxemburg’s Order Prevails in Berlin earlier this year at the behest of a friend who’s kind of helping me do the Marxist self-education thing and its hopefulness knocked me on my ass – Luxemburg wrote it in prison hours before being executed, knowing she was probably about to die and it’s still such a forcefully determined piece of writing.

Friends at the Table’s COUNTER/weight season was also a big help uhhh, I guess a couple years ago now when I listened to it. I love optimistic fiction that shows how much work is involved in change and also destroying horrifying monstrous metaphors for capitalism and exploitation.

What about other folks? What’s helped you when you were feeling hopeless? What do you turn to when news and politics leave you feeling tired and burnt out?


#2

An early episode of the most recent season of Friends at the Table describes what incarceration could be like in a utopia. I know that’s an ugly subject to turn to for an uplifting emotional experience, but the passage is thoughtful, compassionate, and just brims with kindness. I found it incredibly affecting, and my mind continues to return to these few minutes of exposition months later.

Many of the early Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes also fit this bill for me. While there are many capital-P Problematic things in that series, I think the creators made an earnest and mostly successful attempt to depict a world in which humanity had grown out of cycles of hatred, violence, and oppression. One of the things that still strikes me when I watch the show today is the tremendous degree of empathy and respect that the Enterprise crew shows one another and nearly everyone they meet. It is, again, a depiction of a world that has chosen to become far kinder than our own.


#3

You might have encountered this already since it was pretty big last year when it came out, but for me it’s gotta be 17776. I don’t know if this particular piece makes me feel like a Good world is possible, but it’s probably the only time I’ve ever read about a vision of the future that could really be called utopian, and it presents this fascinating meditation on what people might end up trying do with their lives in an otherwise perfect world. Manages to address things like the meaning and value of play and stories in a way that feels intimate and heartfelt.

Also yes, it looks like an article on a sports news site. It is not.


#4

Great suggestion. 17776 is one of my favorite things I’ve “read” in a long time. And I didn’t think about it at the time, but on reflection it was kinda optimistic about the future.

Also, Jon Bois might be a genius. I devour everything he creates.


#5

I feel similarly, and I’d extend this to the later episodes, as well–while they did grow more comfortable with the idea of conflict amongst the crew as the series progressed, I genuinely never felt like they lost that spirit of kindness and empathy. Indeed, I actually found that, as the show went along, the crew developed a greater intimacy and warmth with one another–culminating, of course, in ‘the sky’s the limit’, a scene that never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

(I also love that the TNG cast remain, to this day, a big goofy family. I know conflating actors and characters is something to be wary of, but it’s still incredibly heartwarming to see pictures of them hanging out with one-another, decades later, still clearly the best of friends.)


#6

I’m watching TNG now for the first time as an adult (watched a bit as a kid but don’t remember much) and I completely agree. My favorite part so far is probably the season one finale where the thawed cryonically-frozen capitalist asks Riker for a copy of the Wall Street Journal and Riker just stares at him like I can’t believe this dude thinks the stock market is still a thing.


#7

This really makes me want to watch TNG from the beginning. I’ve seen several episodes, but that was mostly when I was 8-10 years old and thought it was “boring.” I’m sure now that I’m older I’d appreciate the show’s themes and point of view a lot more.


#8

I’ve been dealing with burnout by playing Burnout! Paradise that is! All cars, no humans*. If that’s not a utopia, I don’t know what is.

But seriously, Burnout Paradise has been helping me work through some shit.

*The bike riders are androids. Don’t @ me.


#9

Ftfy :grimacing:

But related to the question, I think @ncortes and @diglett are right on the money, but I’ve recently started watching… um - this probably isn’t what op was looking for - The Great British Bakeoff. Okay, hear me out. It doesn’t portray a utopian future by any means, but I feel its approach to covering a competition is refreshingly pleasant and celebratory? Like, so much of the language we use in our society is competitively coded (ESPECIALLY in work environments) and I feel it leads to this layer of toxicity to everything. To see a competitive show that isn’t toxic, that’s constructive and doesn’t punch down at those who lose, but celebrates their accomplishments, and focuses much more on growth of the competitors than the actual winning feels weirdly forward thinking in some ways. Or maybe I’m just looking too deeply into a very mild baking competition show :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

fwiw i think you’re on the money

like… i like your cutthroat kitchens too but they’re often about ratcheting up drama and Careful Editing to make people Look Like Pricks

GBBO is just. very chill. i dimly remember reading that the hosts would start cursing if someone got really upset on camera so that the footage would have to be cut which i thought was kinda cute


#11

the great british bake off basically saved my partner’s life.