End Of Before and Everything After:
The Legend Of U-Town
Preface - The Case for Utopia
Well, maybe I should start saying that it is not quite true that there actually was one day on which "before" was banned. That´s one of the myths our "town", which is not actually a town either, is built upon. It is probably true that it was forbidden to mention the word "before" when this place, some say: This world, was founded. That was because "before" must have been really horrible. "Before", that is, before our town, U-Town, came about. "Before", that means: Before the catastrophe happened.
What it was exactly that had happened to make everything that had existed before to fall into pieces, nobody knows. "The Catastrophe", as people call the end of "before" up to today, has also become a myth no one knows anything specific about. Even the people who survived what had happened couldn´t remember. So it must have been truly horrible. At least, that´s what I think. Sometimes it happens that something is so bad people actually forget about it. Well, nothing like that has ever happened to me so far. But I´m only gonna be twelve next month, so maybe I´m a bit too young. But I read about it in books. So I also know that it is not quite possible to really forget about things. And, of course, some of what had happened occurred to the people, who survived it, in nightmares - but it was never a complete picture of the ghastly event, that arose out of the many mosaics of what had happened to make a whole world crumble, which people saw in front of them when they woke up in the middle of the night, sheer insanity in their eyes. Well, at least that´s how I imagine it to be, waking from a nightmare like that.
But I want to talk
about the book I´ve just started to read. This book explains how
U-Town became to be U-Town. It´s a very huge book and very old.
But I don´t care. I like reading books. In fact, that´s what
I like to do most of all things. My brother calls me smart-arse all the
time because of it, but I don´t care. He hates books and has probably
never read one in his entire life. But that´s ok. No one is forced
to do things here. He´s building tree houses all the time since
he´s old enough to hold a hammer. I don´t know what for, but
he likes to sit in a tree and smoke his cigarettes which don´t smell
at all like the cigarettes my mum is smoking. They smell in fact quite
different, but that´s ok. My brother likes them. Once he built a
tree house only for me, and that´s where I sit and read all the
time. That was quite nice of him, so he´s allowed to call me smart-arse.
Maybe he´s right, but the thing is that I just want to know about
things. And now I want to know how everything started.
Les arbres du Soleil et de la Lune
The people who survived what had happened, wanted to create something completely new (well, they didn´t have a choice anyway, as there there was nothing left from the old world ) and not make the same mistakes again, that had led to the catastrophe. So it was, as is claimed in the book, even forbidden to mention the word "before". That seems quite plausible to me. Maybe I should mention that this was the only thing which was ever forbidden in U-Town. But only for a short while: Because soon the people realized, that it might actually be very dangerous to not talk about how it had been (or rather, about the very few, but probably important things they remembered from those days). Maybe, and that seems also quite plausible, you are more inclined to make mistakes when you don´t know about them - or rather about how things had turned out when people had made certain mistakes in the past. So they decided to build a museum.
In this place they put all the items they had brought with them (out of whatever reason) and combined them with explanations of concepts from "before" they believed to be in some way or another responsible for how everything turned out in the end. I have been there once and I must say that most of the things shown don´t make much sense to me. I have, for example, no idea what these weird round and flat things made of iron are for, it says "money" on the sign next to it. Sounds quite stupid. I didn´t understand either what the words "property", "nation" and "war" mean. Maybe I didn´t listen properly when it was explained to me. Anyway, we don´t have these words in our language, so it is really not easy to figure out what they mean. That´s the funny thing with language: Things which don´t have words don´t really exist - at least, you can never be sure about it.
However, the strangest thing they have in this museum is a little round clock on a shelf in a corner which is called "alarmclock". It has some bell-device, and when you put one of the arms of the clock to the current hour, it makes the most awful noise I have heard in my entire life. On the sign next to it it says that the people in the old world were unable to wake up in the morning by themselves and needed to be forced by this thing to leave their bed. Well, that´s really scary! How completely and entirely unfree and unhappy they must have been. Here, in U-Town, alarm bells ring when some catastrophe has happened, when a fire breaks out or something like that. But for the people who had lived "before", every single day of their lives apparently began with a small catastrophe. They really must have hated their lives.
No wonder the big
catastrophe happened one day.
La Cité de Dieu
du Rhône ou Languedoc,
Les manuscrits latins de la Cité de Dieu ne présentent en général aucune décoration figurée. Le manuscrit latin 2060 fait exception à cette règle, encore que la cité de Dieu qui en orne le frontispice soit réduite aux seuls éléments architecturaux tels qu'arcs et colonnes. Pour autant, le jeu subtil des couleurs, l'ampleur de la construction à pleine page, l'élégance du titre en capitales enclavées inscrites en réserve sur un fond violacé en font un chef-d'?uvre, dont la simplicité conceptuelle évoque d'autant mieux le génie de la pensée de saint Augustin et la gloire de cette cité fondée sur l'amour de Dieu.
Well, I must say I quite like to live in U-Town and I don´t need awful noises in the morning to tell me that my sad life is not yet finished and instead another ghastly day of drudgery awaits me when I leave bed. I quite like to wake up when I see the light outside my window. Especially today. I sit in my tree house, I smell my brother`s cigarettes from the oak tree behind me, the birds are singing and the sun is rising. One of our two moons is still visible on the horizon, and just now I see a cloud that looks like a penguin. My brother sees these sorts of things all the time.
I got up so early
because I am quite curious about the book. The first chapter is called
"How everything began". It´s quite scary. At least, that´s
what I think. The book is told by a woman called Vanja, but maybe she
was invented afterwards. You never know. Anyway, it starts when she wakes
from a long unconsciousness on some meadow
precisely where the museum with the money
and the alarmclock
is situated today. That's where U-Town was founded. Well,
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
Darkness. I don´t know how I came here. Darkness all around me. I have no clothes on my body. I don´t know if I had been walking. If I had been running. If I had been crawling. If I had been flying. If I had been swimming. I just know that I´m here now. Here in the darkness. Lying on the grass. Unburnt grass. I don´t know if it´s green. It´s so dark all around me. Where am I? Do they have green grass here? That is the first thought that crosses my mind. The human mind is a strange thing. Grass. Darkness. It´s so dark. Maybe I have turned blind. No! There is a moon in the sky. No! Two moons. Two? Doesn´t matter. I have experienced far worse things than suddenly seeing two moons in the sky. They can light three if they want to. Four. I don´t care. At least I´m not blind. That´s for sure. I don´t know how long I´ve been lying here. It´s so dark. There was so much light where I came from. There was so much light people got insane from looking into it. Everyone was screaming. I closed my eyes. It has been dark since then.
Thank God they have only one sun. One of the moons is still visible. My eyes are hurting. My new world is, well, blurry. But the grass is green. That´s for sure. At least. And yes, there are trees. Well, it looks like it. A small lake. I blink. A surface like a mirror. Not so good. My body looks horrible: Bruises, scars. Thank god I´m alone and no one sees me right now. But what´s that? My body dissolves, the water is moving. Something comes swimming towards me .some-one, in fact. I scream. He screams. I move backwards. Suddenly the air is full of screaming voices. I am definitely not alone anymore. Now I realize: The meadow is full of people, no one looking any better than I am.
at least something. A group has gathered below a huge oak tree. I try
to walk there. The swimmer is crawling out of the water, he´s burnt
all over and rolling towards me. I drag him to the tree. His face is swollen
and not recognizable anymore. People are talking. Trying to talk. Someone
has lit a fire. Someone is smoking a cigarette. Strange, what can remain
in peoples´ pockets after a whole world is torn into pieces. A girl
stares at an old alarmclock she´s holding in her right hand. "Before"
had ended twelve minutes past eight.
What was it that had
happened? The guy with the cigarette seems to read my face. "Don´t
ask, no one of us has any idea what has been going on. No one knows how
any of us got here. But we´re here now. We´re alive. We need
to do something." Sounds good. How many are we? A hundred, two hundred?
Well, it goes on and on like that for many more pages, but I decided to skip them. Maybe I´ll read the rest later.
The world as we know
it has been stamped out of existence. It`s gone. We are starting to come
to terms with that. It will take some time. We still don´t know
what happened. It had to do with lots of light. We agreed on that. We
are 382. Women, men, children. We have survived the first bad rain, we
have shared what has been left of our clothes, we have built shelters,
we have plucked mushrooms and berries, we have grilled insects on the
fire, found very ugly looking animals in the shallow water at the lakeside
and eaten them. "We have to build a new world", someone says.
Sounds good. "We have to make it better than before", adds the
guy who finished his packet of cigarettes long ago. Better than
How was "before"? No one really remembers, but we agree that
something must have gone seriously wrong, so we have to do everything
differently. Well, there´s definitely a point to that.
But, we have a very
serious problem: It has turned out that most of us don´t really
like each other. Nevertheless, it seems that we will have to live together
for a very long time to come. That´s for sure. And maybe it´s
not the worst pre-condition ever to built up a completely new society
if the others are not exactly your best friends.
Well, in fact, that´s the normal thing.
Tract de Mai 68
utopies des années 60 se dessinent à travers les tracts
de mai 68 conservés à la Bibliothèque nationale
No one exactly thought
that our task was gonna be an easy one, but I for myself didn´t
expect it to be that complicated. It all began with the guy who had been
in a bad mood ever since he had smoked his last cigarette. "When
I look at all you people I am starting to think that one world is not
really enough. We are so different, and I personally don´t want
to share it with most of you. Why not do it properly from the very beginning
and design many `perfect worlds` so that all of us are happy?" He
got lots of applause, standing ovations in fact. But I was not so sure
about it. "The Perfect Society" (we had agreed before that nothing
less than that was our goal) - doesn´t that mean, that it should
be possible for all of us to be happy there? Isn´t that the real
We didn´t settle this issue for the time being. But we agreed to do it like that: We would form 20 discussion forums with about twenty of us in each group to debate important issues for the constitution of our future society, or, societies. Each group would have to present arguments, and than we were going to decide. Soon we had one group A, one group B, one group C and so on until group T. They gathered in different shelters round the lake, the whole process was supposed to last no longer than 30 days. But, of course, it took much, much longer. After all, we wanted to create The Perfect World. Things like that take time. We agreed to focus on five main issues: "The State", "Property", "Education", "Work and Development" and "Living Together". After 62 days the first group, F, declared to have its concept ready for presentation. The last group finished its debate two weeks later.
One perfect world
or many perfect ones? Perfect it has to be, we had agreed on that earlier.
We had also somewhat agreed on what that basically means: Each and everyone
should have everything he or she needed, no one should be forced to live
a live he or she did not want to live, everyone should be free and happy.
Quite blurry, I agree, but better than nothing. It was especially group
R who fervently argued for the Many-Worlds-Framework to realize an overall
"Perfect Society". They were strongly against any state that
dictated how people had to live, against a state that artificially produced
equality by taking from those who have a lot in favour of those who, out
of whatever reason, are poor. "I want the state to leave me alone,
to let me keep what´s mine and not to force me to live together
with people whose values I don`t share", said the guy, who now tried
to grow and dry some herbs to make cigarettes out of them, over and over
again. "We are different", he repeated and his group-colleagues
applauded him whenever he opened his mouth. "The only thing a state
should be doing is to protect peoples´ property", he said.
Standing ovations by his fans.
Group B, G and S had
been silent so far, but now started to present their argument concerning
the matter. "Well, to start with", one young girl began, "we
have to decide if we are going to have a thing as private property, and
whether these `Many Worlds` you want don´t resemble our old nations
too much to endanger our new society to be fighting wars once again some
time in the future".
This statement caused some unrest among the 382 members-to-be of the new world. Words like "nations" and "wars" called back terrible memories in many of them. At first we had decided to not talk about anything that had existed before, our first unofficial law was to make it illegal to even mention the word "before", to ban it out of our collective memory.
This day, the day
on which we banned "before", is an important one in our short
history - because, to my mind, it illustrates the seriousness which we
were prepared to invest to make everything better, perfect. Although we
changed our strategy soon: "We have to talk about the bad things
to never let them happen again", someone said, and that sounded plausible
to all of us. And we agreed to never have nations again which could fight
each other in wars. So instead of banning the word "before"
and our feeble memory of how it was (anyway, no law ever can be so strong
to ban memories), we tried to ban certain concepts from the old world
we swore never to apply again.
The girl went on in
her speech: "We are different, but not that different", she
said in the direction of group R, "look at us: No one owns anything
so far, we are all equal and I think it´s not asking to much to
say it should stay that way. We all might prefer different food, different
clothes or hairstyles, but to start with, we all need the same things:
A warm house, clothes, food and a society that permits us to endulge in
the things we like - as long as they are not hurting others. So why not
take up the challenge to create ONE society that both supports everyone
with what he or she needs and lets them lead their private lives as individually
as possible?" That sort of settled the matter. "Let´s
take up this challenge!" a guy who looked a bit stupid and was always
a bit too loud shouted, but this time many voices joined him. Even group
R grudgingly agreed. In fact, we all were too much dependent on each other
to risk any serious quarrels.
The result of the
following referendum settled the matter for good: 382 votes for the One-World-Concept.
So instead of having an A-Town, a B-Town, a C-Town and, last but not least
a T-Town to built up their own societies, everyone agreed to built one
single U - TOWN instead, in order to combine concepts about all the six
issues that were debated in the 19 groups - to have the twentieth letter
of the alphabet as a summary of the 19 previous ones. Not very creative,
I agree, but I think we were all still too traumatised and tired to be
We agreed on calling our world "U-Town" - instead of "U-Land" or something like that - (although it was obvious that it was going to develop into many towns and regions in the future), to make a clear, verbal distinction to the old concept of countries and nations who fought each other: We were only going to have one "town", one world, and as it was going to be the only one we had, we had to be careful with it and protect anyone living in it - and not sell it down the river again to "settle" any matters on behalf of one nation or another.
Le Livre de la Cité des dames
Christine de Pisan
Célèbre, Christine de Pisan (ou Pizan) l'est avant tout parce qu'elle fut la première femme à vivre de sa plume en Occident. Christine fut en quelque sorte l'éditeur de ses ouvres, travaillant en liaison étroite avec un enlumineur parisien de renom auquel on a précisément donné le nom de "maître de la Cité des dames" car quatre exemplaires de ce texte sortis simultanément de son atelier nous sont parvenus, dont deux offerts aux ducs de Berry et de Bourgogne. La double image qui introduit ici le manuscrit, s'avère une traduction quasi littérale des débuts de l'ouvrage. Désolée à la lecture de tant de médisances tenues à propos des femmes par "les hommes clercs et autres", Christine voit lui apparaître "trois dames couronnées de très haute dignité" : Dame Raison, munie d'un miroir où chacun peut se voir "en son âme et conscience" ; Droiture, pourvue de "la droite règle départageant le bien du mal et le juste de l'injuste" ; enfin Justice, qui tient à la main droite "une coupe d'or fin qui ressemble à une mesure de bonne taille", destinée à "rendre à chacun son dû". Elles invitent l'auteur à édifier "une citadelle hautement fortifiée", afin que désormais les femmes méritantes puissent avoir une "place forte où se retirer et se défendre". Avec l'aide de Raison qui lui fournit "un mortier résistant et incorruptible", Christine entreprend de jeter les fondations de sa ville métaphorique faite de "grands murs hauts et épais, avec leurs hautes tours larges et grandes". L'invention du monde passe ici par la parole et la main des femmes.
Yes, it takes time to built the Perfect Society. But on day two hundred and seventy-four (thank god we had this practical guy with us who scratched a sign into a tree every day after The Catastrophe, as we had started to call the brutal end of our old world, had brought us to this place) the constitution for our new world was finally completed. It had taken us countless nights without sleep, countless battles, fervent verbal fights, several people becoming enemies to each other probably till the end of their lives - but, finally, everything was over and done with: The constitution of U-Town was complete, U-Town had finally come into existence. After that, we all slept for three days, than we celebrated for three weeks. The birthday of U-Town: A day to remember, hopefully for generations to come.
Yes: The 274th day of our year, which starts in the middle of spring, the time the first people arrived on the place that was to become U-Town, is our greatest day of celebration. People don´t celebrate for three weeks, as they do in the legend, but the feast usually lasts for several days.
To make it short, I will start now with declaring how our final positions on the various issues turned out to be. I will start with describing how our state is going to look like, than go on with the issues of property, work and development, education and how people are going to live together.
Well, I am certainly only going to read some of it, because it is an awful lot of text, several hundred pages in fact, but the most important things are mentioned at the beginning of each chapter, so I´ll skip the rest.
Tahiti, l'île de l'amour
de la Nouvelle Cÿthère découverte par M. de Bougainville
Dessin à la plume aquarellé
Paris, BNF, Cartes et Plans
The State in which
we are going to govern U-Town is supposed to represent all the people
who are living in it. All the people, that means: All women, all men and
all children. Everybody in U-Town is equal, all inhabitants have equal
rights to lead their lives as they wish to and carry equal political responsibility.
That sounds quite obvious, but we all agreed that it has to be mentioned
here. It´s the most important issue of our constitution which we
hope is going to lead the lives of all generations of U-Towners to come.
So there should be no confusion about it.
Up to now it´s
easy: We are 384 people (two children have been born last month), so we
decide on all matters in one big assembly. This is going to be difficult
in the future, so there has to be some representative system. As soon
as children reach the age of ten, they are included in all decision processes.
There are going to be many cities and regions in the future, so we will
need a large number of councils in addition to the main senate. To make
sure that it´s not just people who out of whatever reason like the
idea of power and decide to run for a political office because of that
(and might misuse their power), politics should be open for each and every
U-Towner older than nine years of age. We believe that common sense is
the most important pre-condition of being able to govern, and we are so
optimistic to believe that in our society people grow up to acquire it
very soon. We don´t believe that there are people who are more apt
to this task than others due to their intelligence or rhetoric skills.
We believe that this system comes closest to our ideal of everyone deciding
upon any issue, which we are able to practise so far.
After many, many discussions on the issue we decided to have a sort of lottery system, combined with a rotation system. Every three years 300 U-Towners (the number might vary in the future due to population growth) are going to be chosen by chance to take up the honourable task (we strongly believe that it´s an honourable one!) to decide upon matters concerning our people in the senate.
Today it´s 1720, I know that because my brother used to be one of them. He was very proud of his "political task" and got on everybodys nerves - for three years
The same system is to be applied for the regional councils, whose representatives (also chosen by chance) meet every month to discuss regional matters with members of the senate. The politically active people (who are only allowed to be a member of a parliament once in their lives) are to be chosen according to a representative system: All ages, men, women and children are to be represented in an equal way, to make sure that all implications of all decisions are thoroughly discussed. This constitution is to be the base of all new decisions, everything that is to be decided from now on will be put in amendments.
What follows is a very long and complicated description of how the lottery system is supposed to work practically, what they do if a chosen person is ill or dies during his or her three years of office, but I´ll skip that. It goes too much into detail for now.
The same system is
going to be applied for our courts of justice. So far there have been
no crimes happening here, but we all think it is an illusion to assume
that it is going to stay like that in the future. We believe that common
sense is the best judge, that our constitution is a good base even for
our judges. The only difference between the people being chosen to be
judges and those being active in politics is that the judges keep their
office for five years - as it takes much longer to get into the matter,
we believe. There are courts in every city in addition to a main one for
whole U-Town, in which the more serious issues are going to be dealt with.
We believe that this is the fairest way to deal with the question of the state. We had a very heated debate at the beginning whether to have a state at all or not. We finally decided to have one - but there should always be the possibility to abolish it one day, if U-Town should prove to function without it. In fact, that´s the long-term goal. After all, the main reason we think we need one is for administrative reasons, to plan the demand for certain economical goods and so on.
Projet d'assemblée locale
Élévation principale du Monument. Intérieur du lieu des Assemblées
Dessin aquarellé (plume et lavis), 
Projet d'assemblée locale
Monument destiné à l'exercice de la Souveraineté du Peuple en Assemblées primaires
aquarellé (plume et lavis), 24 juin 1793
Paris, BNF, Estampes
We believe that there
is not much to say on the issue of property in U-Town. U-Town belongs
to all the people living in it at present just as well as to the generations
who are going to live there in the future. Private property of land or
houses or companies simply does not exist. It also means that no generation
has the right to exploit our natural resources and consume more of them
than necessary. For the economy that means: Permanence is important, no
generation is allowed to use natural resources excessively so that there
is nothing left for the future population, who, so the idea, already owns
the ground we stand on now.
We had debated the
issue of private property for a very, very long time, but concluded that
its existence leads to the existence of inequality, it would probably
mean that we were going to have poverty and a hierarchy between people
who own and people who work for them. EVERYONE IN U-TOWN IS EQUAL, no
one is supposed to possess more goods or more rights than anyone else.
This is important to remember in this respect.
There is not going to be money in U-Town. We agreed that we were not going to need it. There must be a more simple way to produce goods for everyone and divide them equally. If nobody owns more than everyone else does, the existence of money, which can be accumulated on a bank account, doesn´t make sense. So far that´s of course no problem at all, as we are still a very small community. But we are optimistic and hope that people in the future will keep this principle and find a way to realize it even if U-Town grows to consist of many cities and regions.
Well, I suppose we succeeded quite well in this respect. We don´t have "money" (outside the museum). Frankly, I still don´t quite get what had been the point of it in the past. In U-Town everything works fine the way it is. At least, that´s what I think.
Too much work
is bad for you: That was one of the things we agreed on much quicker than
on any issue we had discussed before. People should have as much free
time as possible to develop their individuality and simply to enjoy that
they´re alive, to be with their children, to dance, to make love
or just to lie on the grass watching butterflies and clouds in the sky.
We believe that having as much time as possible to do these sorts of things
is the key to a peaceful society. Somehow it seems to us that maybe if
people would have spent more time simply enjoying their lives and appreciating
their surroundings before, everything might have turned out quite differently.
Maybe "The Catastrophe" could have been avoided, if people would
not have been so stressed and frustrated all the time.
Working a few hours in the morning, maybe plucking flowers or catching fish in the afternoon and writing a novel or just watching the telly in the evening (well, if there is going to be something like television in U-Town one day) - this could be how a typical day for a U-Towner in the future might look like.
development, most of us agreed on that, was going to be a minor issue
in U-Town out of the reasons mentioned above. We believe that there are
very few things people actually need, and we also believe that the companies,
where these things are produced, should be commonly owned - as well as
that there should be some economic plan to figure out how much of everything
we are going to need. Just imagine we accidentally work too much and have
It also seems important
to us that people, in the few hours they work each day, should be able
to identify with what they are doing and not just stupidly press some
button or turn some screw the whole time. This alienates people from their
work, which is even worse than someone accidentally working too much.
As people are creative,
the technology to produce necessary goods like food, clothes, bricks to
build houses etc. is probably going to be quite advanced one day, so that
the U-Towners have to work less and less in the future. In fact, this
is supposed to be the long term goal of any technological development.
Just inventing and producing technologies with nothing more in mind than
to find out what is theoretically possible will hopefully be unknown of.
Having as much free time as possible - nothing more and nothing less -
is the goal we strive for.
Everybody is supposed
to work a few hours a day for the common good (in a profession he or she
chooses), the rest of the time is, as I said before, reserved for individual
Cités du futur
Les théories futuristes, suprématistes et constructivistes russes sont bien présentes dans l'oeuvre du très prolifique architecte Iakov Tchernikhov, qui, avec quelque 17 000 dessins, lui evalu le surnom de "Piranèse russe". Ses trois publications les plus importantes ont paru quelques années après le plein essor de ces mouvements : Osnovy sovremennoï arkhitektury en 1930 [Les Bases de l'architecture contemporaine], Konstruktsii arkhitekturnykh i machinnykh form en 1931 [La Construction de formes pour l'architecture et les machines] et Arkhitekturniye fantazii [Fantaisies d'architecture] en 1933. Travaillant à partir des formes géométriques de base que sont le carré, le cercle et le rectangle, il projette, dans son Arkhitekturniye fantazii, toute une série de constructions à la fois typiques et idéales comme des gratte-ciel, des usines ou bien des villes. La forte emprise de la machine - Tchernikhov voyait en elle le symbole du dynamisme du XXe siècle - se ressent non seulement dans le mouvement que suggè rent ses dessins, mais surtout dans les modèles types qu'il cherche à identifier.
need no education
" one guy started to sing when we discussed
the issue after a great meal of fish someone had managed to catch in the
lake. The tune sounded somehow familiar to me, strange, when memories
suddenly start to creep back into the mind
Well, I must say that I think this is a very good idea. Voluntary learning centers still exist in U-Town today, and I sometimes like to go there. I don´t like to deal with numbers much, but I like writing and especially reading. I have hardly done anything else since I have been learning the alphabet. They have lots of books in the center, and the public library is just next door. Maybe I am going to write books when I´m older, or teach children how to read. My brother is quite different. As I mentioned before, he hates reading , but he´s good with numbers. But most of all things he likes to build tree houses, which our next-door-neighbour taught him many years ago. He knows a lot about which branches of a tree are able to carry his houses, how heavy the logs must be and so on. He wants to build real houses when he gets older. I think he´s going to be good at it. But he should smoke a little less of his cigarettes then
We all agreed that this was the best way to show our children what an exciting and enjoyable place the world around them is, and to encourage them in their natural curiosity to know about how everything works. Just let them try to find out for themselves! This certainly helps them to also feel responsible for their surroundings, to be self-confident and proud about the things they are good at - no matter what it is.
Commune members Laura and Paul Foster's wedding at the Hog Farm's summer solstice celebration
Meadows, New Mexico, 1968
by Lisa Law
Museum of American History,
New Buffalo Commune
Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, 1967
Photograph by Lisa Law
Museum of American History,
We had decided to
discuss "Living Together" as one of the issues for our future
society, although it is quite clear that no inhabitant of U-Town is ever
going to be forced to live a life he or she does not want to live. We
just thought it might be important to talk about it, as it was, especially
in the first weeks and months after our "arrival", the biggest
issue for us.
Of course, after some
time of sharing the experience of building up U-Town with each other,
sex started to become important again for most of us. Some changed their
partners quite often, others fell more deeply in love and started to build
shelters for two. But most of the couples did not mind to live in larger
communities with other couples and Singles, some of whom had children
, while others were satisfied with having other peoples´ kids around.
Anybody, also children, were, of course, allowed to leave households if
they wished to.
We believe that just as the care of children should be a common responsibility in U-Town, everyone should feel responsible for old or disabled people. No one should live on their own unvoluntarily. Apart from that, the freedom to choose is to be the highest priority when it comes to the issue of living together in present and future U-Town.
I´m tired now. The penguin cloud has dissolved long ago and the moons are getting brighter and brighter in the sky. I think I know enough for today. I am going to spent the night in my tree house. My parents are getting on my nerves again and other grown-ups are no better. Maybe I will read the rest of the book tomorrow. Maybe not. My brother has joined me, smoking his last cigarette before going to sleep. I like the smell. It is quite nice to live in U-Town. At least, that´s what I think.
by Gene Anthony
What´s the point? Pushing a stone up a hill while having fairly good reasons to suggest that it will roll down again as soon as it reaches the top, because it has done so every single time before, seems to be a seriously pointless task. However, that didn´t stop Sisyphus from trying to push the stone up to the top again and again each time it reached the bottom of the hill - instead of just leaving it there and going home. Maybe he decided to do it because life seems even more pointless without a stone and without a hill and without the hope that the stone will one day, against all previous experiences, stay at the hilltop for good.
Just as Sisyphus needs
his stone to be able to exist, the existence of Utopia - somewhere in
the minds of those thinking about how to make the world a more pleasant
place to live in - seems to be the necessary precondition for any political
theory. What´s the point in even starting to think about how society
could be better than it is without having an idea of Utopia that would,
should it become true, settle the matter of a perfect world for good?
Without wanting it to stay at the hilltop there would be no point in moving
the stone at all. And without having at least an idea of the Perfect World,
improving society within the framework of reality would be a rather uninspiring
I am aware of the fact that any Utopia can be torn into pieces by bringing up the matter of "Human Nature". If there actually is such a thing as a "human nature" unconnected to the society which people live in, if crime, rivalry between human beings and nations and the need for patriotism were somehow rooted in the genes of people, it would be entirely useless to even think about Utopia. But if, as I am convinced of, there is no such thing as a "good" or "bad" human nature and that it is society that shapes people (and not, on the contrary, that it´s the people who get the society they deserve), then there is a very strong need to closely consider the matter of Utopia. Maybe I am an hopeless optimist in this sense, but so were the people who founded U-Town. They just had to be optimistic to take up the challenge of creating a new, better society, as close to perfect as possible. And, in many respect, their optimism proved to be not the worst pre-condition ever to built up a society from scratch.
Asked whether they think they live in a "perfect" world, the people of U-Town would probably not be able to tell. Apart from some blurry vision of a world before that had been rubbed out of existence by its own inhabitants, they don´t have any different world to compare their own to. So it´s up to anyone reading their story to decide how close (or not) their society comes to being "perfect". Anyway, it certainly could be worse