26 September 2023

Griffith Review 73: Hey, Utopia!

Start the conversation

Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Edited by Ashley Hay, Griffith University, $27.99.

It was Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) who made possible the “multitudinous atlas when he created a name for one perfect, unattainable nowhere – Utopia”.

Coined by Sir Thomas More in the 16th century, the word ‘utopia’ is a play on the Greek for no place and good place, but is an ideal society unattainable — or optimal?

Thomas More, an English lawyer, judge, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist, wrote Utopia in 1516, which was the forerunner of the utopian literary genre.

This edition of Griffith Review visits utopias old and new, near and far, to explore the possibilities and pitfalls of imagining a better future. Where will it take us next? Do we even want to go there? You are asked to consider other ways the world can be — through essays, reportage, creative non-fiction, fiction, memoir, visual essays and poetry. It’s a case of reframing the thought experience. As editor Ashley Hay says:

“remaking, transforming, reshaping and interpreting our own worlds, one train of thought at a time”.

“In these pages, alternate histories spring from creative time travel; alternative futures spring from an insistence on radical change – in the evolving, on-the-ground intersections of sports and trans-athletes as much as in policy, law, governance and economics.”

Explore other ways the world can be through the prisms of art, science, creativity, mangroves, pot plants … and time travel. Utopian thinking has long influenced how we see the world. From Plato’s Republic to Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise and the failed countercultural dreams of the 1960s.

What are the dangers of utopianism? What do our visions of utopia look like today? How can we disentangle the practical realities from the pipe dreams? Can imagination save us in the end?

There appears to be a “greater urgency for adaptation, change, evolution. Revolution. Of understanding other ways the world can be”.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.