Tuesday, August 24, 2010

J.C. Hallman

J.C. Hallman's In Utopia is a new book about modern-day utopian projects.

From his Q & A about the book with Thomas Rogers:

Where does the term "utopia" come from?

The term itself comes from Thomas More's book "On Utopia," written in 1516, which describes a perfect society of Godless pagans in the New World. The idea was that it would shame Christian England into governing better than it was: "Look, if these pagans can do better than you, shame on you." It gave birth to an entire genre of literature. Now the term is retroactively applied to everything from constitutions to manifestoes, fiction and nonfiction.

Why the fascination with utopianism?

I grew up on a street called Utopia Road in a master planned community in California. In the same way that utopias tend to slip away from their original visions, so did some of the ideas about suburban planning, and by the time my particular community was born it was much more driven by profit. For me, growing up meant coming to realize that, right or not, the history of utopian thought has something to do with my own personal heritage.

In the book you write about a project called Pleistocene Rewilding, which proposed to reintroduce large animals -- including elephants and lions -- into North America in order to reestablish the ecosystem that existed several thousand years ago. Why didn't that take off?

Science shows that large animals are really...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue