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The Similarities and Differences of Utopia and Dystopia

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In every second of our life, we need to decide between action and inaction. These pull us towards one of two future, a heavenly and other is more hellish. Other is more utopian versus one that is more dystopian. It’s our human nature to dream about utopia, a place better than our current word. We dream about a better life or how life could be better.

To provoke a definition of ‘utopia’ is challenging as the breadth of the genre is large, encompassing positive ideals or negative satirical opposites called anti-utopias (dystopias), some called ‘paradise’ and others called ‘unfortunate paradise’. As the title suggests, this essay is based on establishments of a point of view of the term Utopia is indeed a Dystopia. But what is Dystopia mean in literature? Is it only mean the opposite of the perfect word? Or world better in Dystopia rather in Utopia?

In general utopia idealized as a vision of paradise fills with perfect and ideal society, politics, laws, custom, and conditions. Where information, independent thought, and freedom are promoted, a harmonious state of citizenships, bringing the citizens and society together as a whole, natural world and peace is embraced. Utopias usually found in fiction which is science fiction, where the authors and writers explore what a perfect society would be and how will problems might be created in such an ideal society. This essay will discuss their broad concept like social, religious and scientific. Portraying artwork by a British artist Paul Noble, an unnamed North Korean artist, and an Indonesian artist Maryanto. Approaching the ideal truth or lies in the past & future and how we conceive of this ideal.

The tendency to conceive of utopia in unified terms still shapes much of the current learned literature on utopia. Utopia in literature often assumed as a good place that is ‘no place’. The dream of a perfect society still to come. As a result, utopia is frequently associated with a particular essence, for instance, utopian imagination, mentality, impulse, state of mind or a specific form of social consciousness. This essence identifies as the desire for a different, better way of being. This way of approach created the label of “utopian” offering social-historical and identification in the form of disparity between socially experienced need and socially constructed means for their satisfaction. While emphasizing the considerable importance of the ‘function’ for utopian to achieve ‘a better life’.

Is Utopia a dangerous ideal? As the idea of the perfect movement simultaneously exhilarating and addictive, leading to a selfish, greedy and eager society to the world of Dystopia. A world opposite of Utopia, where there is injustice and chaos hold sway. Example of the creator of utopia first book, Thomas More version of an ideal of utopia but still consists of slavery, lifetime leader and war. The term is subjective and no perfect refinement, only some insight. In Thomas More’s most known book ‘Utopia’ in 1516, he disputes the prevailing view of his youthful spirit to reform the ideal reform for a better word. His book consists of a map, letter, poem, the alphabet of utopian language and letter that verified the existence of utopia. Written detailed a perfect society how the world will be function, the map of the utopia shape of a crescent with a diameter of 160miles or 257km, with 54 cities, 6000 households Each household has around 10-16 people and ahead of the house called Syphograntus. Syphograntus himself then vote for the king, who is the leader of the city for their entire life. The population is controlled by the leader to another household. Each member of the city must farm for two years, and having a job is necessary. More vision also every person needs to worn the same attire. And slavery is required, each household consists of two slaves. Slaves are either criminals or people from different countries and nationalities. All religion is tolerated except for atheism, this is due to they may break the system with radical thinking and ideas, saying what is lacking and what is not. And slaves carrying chains of gold and war are complicated written in the book. Even though utopian themselves dislikes war, but they know in that year of era it was needed in an occasion. Overall, the story of utopia written by Thomas is over 500 years does show an age but it was influenced, drives us back to the main point. Communal living, slavery and lifetime leader is an ideal of future dystopian work. Yet it was the basis of the ideal of the utopian. That how the future of utopia is losing individuality or technological advancement.

Summary from Thomas More book, saying a beautiful and peaceful utopian world. But lifetime slavery and kings are consisting. A perfect world should be having an equal society where voice matter, rather than being ruled by the king or the syphograntus themselves. There is a point maybe for communal people is fine, but how about the slave. Isn’t this utopia being their dystopia? The king ruled for a lifetime, what if the king himself that never show mercy, empower others and biased? Then the utopian will be living their lifetime nightmare. For the reason, the king should be qualified as a great leader in the qualities not over royal blood, etc.

One example of associate artist from North Korean artist who is, unfortunately, ‘unknown’ by because it was a commission work by two Beijing based British ex-pats. Nick Bonner and Dominic Johnson-Hill as the project entitled ‘The Beautiful Future’ completed in 2013. Two of the display and sketch out of Beijing capitalism and allow them to produce a painting of a country that they never visualized before. And the results quite shocking.

The painting showing a figure of Red Guards in a stunning view golden glow cornfield while waving their flags at the harvest, while on the back a figure of a couple of farmers picking up perfectly plump red apples with such delighted face expression. In the center of the visual of the famous China Central Television headquarters and the city of china surrounding it, the building act as a gateway to a ‘promised land of socialism with the Chinese association’. It was the only example view of china that North Korean citizens seen in the news and books because the government itself limits the source of knowledge of the outside world. “The artist himself is in the situation where they are painting things they’ve never seen before” as the result gives an unrealistic and dreamlike quality. The artist tries to depict a utopia based on what he/she vision of what the Chinese modernity might be like and the land that they will never know. It’s interesting how an act of Utopia can be included in ‘Propaganda’ pieces. How the billboard and visual a happily obscure of the people with full of happiness and saturated bright color is a lie? The actual world masked with the reality of mass population, abuses, migrant labor and starvation. Is this how the artist currently seeing a Utopia but it’s actually in a Dystopia.

It’s very interesting how the vision of an individual can change a view of others. Reflect to the government of North Korea that is under the communist party, they limited and restricted several political liberties of the citizens including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion. The government uses the law of punishment and arrest of custody, executions and forced labor to maintain control in the country. The government leader himself, the current leader is chosen because of blood relations from the previous head of the country. The government itself so focused on the military strength until the citizens themselves suffered in freedom of voice. Being tied up in the rulers of the country. Continuously the people try to break free and seek for their utopia. This case of issue is similar to some point from Thomas More Utopia book. The prejudiced of a ruler, lack of freedom of voice and slavery (executions, forced labor, etc). The government seeks for a utopia of his country meanwhile the citizens living in a dystopia.

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As Utopia is a Dystopia, on behalf of there is no perfect society in life. There will always problems in the future all the dystopian fiction is far more common of what we have gone through than Utopia. It is reasonable to suggest that the age of the unrestrained pursuit of happiness, defined in terms of egotistical consumption, has now passed. In this era of the 21st century, many concerns with utopia and dystopia are shifting in an increasingly ecological direction, as evidence mounts swiftly of the potential catastrophe facing the planet.

An example of the current country of Indonesia is always known as a living paradise. Tropical nature and land that filled with stunning mountain fire, colorful marine treasures, magnificent white sandy beach, warm inviting water, and the world’s best biodiversity of forest consist of a home of thousands of animals and plants. An ideal utopia that has been illustrated in many genres from the classical, revolutionary, enlightenment until the current age. The concept of utopia often has some bearing on how we conceive it.

However, from Maryanto Utopia’s perspective, an Indonesian artist from Yogyakarta. Maryanto’s work mostly serves a form of storytelling with the impression of landscape and theatrical stage. With the combination of historical research, stories and myth combined with his artistic practices to imagine and construct the form of it. The result of his work is usually dramatic and tense with the color of mainly black and white installation using the methods of paintings, etchings, rich charcoal drawing provoking the stories and environment of nature and politics in Indonesia.

Why I included Maryanto himself, is to relate myself to his utopia of Indonesia. The mural artwork ‘Pandora Box’ 2013 installation art that talks about a once-beautiful landscape has been ravaged by the industry and politics. In light of this, reasoning destroyed the rainforest in Indonesia by polluted oil mining in East Java. The result of final charred, blackened earth, bearing the testament to the rapaciousness of humankind. His work narrative takes nature as the provider of economic resources and humanity’s collection and appropriation. But from a modernist perspective, the changing of nature lead to destruction and pollution is the price to pay for economics and future asset. The side effect is the nature as the objective entity. Then he translated into a visual representation of landscape painting and constructed from a society perspective in social, economic and cultural values. Addressing the nature of the human binary and visualize it through his artistic language. He observed that the rich-resources country of Indonesia is a Pandora box that this gift can often be a curse to Dystopia. How the over-exploitation of natural resources has stripped the land bare resulted in natural disasters in recent years. As the forsaken Eden, a paradise lost to ambition and greed.

Alike in the ideal utopian appearance, will always create an ambition of greed in people to wanting more. The delusional and deluded idea and somehow penetrated sub-conscious. As greed itself is one of the most destructive things in the entire world. In other words, the more they get, the more they want and more in denial they become. From Maryanto’s work proven the society and government ego on how rainforest fire is not only happened once’s in East Java, but also happen several times in other parts of the world each year. Most rainforest fire is caused by human activity, “Humans are driving these fires, either in a very direct sense or a global sense by changing ecosystem so much” said Ruth DeFries, an ecology professor at Columbia University. As humankind nature, we ruined our own Utopia into Dystopia. The prospectus inside of this utopia of Indonesia is a dystopia striving to get out. We living in dystopia because we live in a difficult era, rampant economic inequality, dreadful resurgence of fascist filth and climate change consuming forests and glaciers. Civilization is staggering on the edge of a precipice.

Greed is the main source of utopian vision. One of the artist links of the theme itself is, Paul Noble. A British visual artist well known for his grey-scale phenomenal with practices that construct a figurative functional aspect of the utopia. With the sequence of numerous shapes, spatial differentiation and architectural layout of landscapes as his concepts. He created two artworks depicting the perfect image of heaven and hell from his own imagined visual. His elements of ‘Hell’ are so delicate contain beautiful immensely detailed filled with light, rhythm, transparency, and space. And the word ‘Heaven’ consists of a rectangular wall with high brooding walls without an entrance or exit. With broken glass on the top wall which is particularly bizarre.

It looks like the elements of each work are inverted where Heaven looks like Hell and so on. As is this the way how he sees these two worlds. It is for him the holiest place that supposes filled with paradise visual claim to be such simple work. And the place called the “low places” is depicting such goodness visual. As in a fact, heaven and hell are believed by himself as a Christian. It’s reflected in the story of the myth creation of humans, Adam and Eve. According to the book of genesis, the pair of first humans who created by God to be stewards over everything else that he made. Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat a forbidden fruit at Adam Garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, Eve is deceived by a serpent and eat one of the fruits and conjure negative and destructive concepts such as shame and evil. Later on, God punished them and banished from the garden of eve. The point to follow is how they have been living in a beautiful and peaceful life of utopia, but just a single forbidden fruit and their ego & greed. This is how in every utopia; greed will be born. That’s how heaven represents the dystopia and hell is the utopia. Likely how bad a place will be, there is still exceptional acceptance to be face. And how every fine good-looking world will be unflavoured in negativity.

However, our future is necessarily composed of two parts. The brief span of earthly existence and the other is the long span of eternity. We would like to be as satisfactory as possible, but the two paths of pilgrims of the lost paradise. One is redemption, salvation and the promise of eternal life and the guest of utopia for a good time and life. The old ideal worlds can lend us inspiration, hope and a sense of what we need to avoid. As our ideal world mostly create by our creation, and a serious reckoning with the fate to be faced.

There are no such things as a perfect world, if the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be. It’s the imperfections of life that make life worth living in. Humans are born in and molded with conflict and problems. For me, utopia is not a world or a genre, rather than a state of mind of a person. We living in a world where experience possible, the experience of joy and pain. A universal utopia is not possible as well. The perfect utopia doesn’t have the freedom of voice, it’s all regulated by rules that must be followed. As every single person has their role to play, no more no less. Utopia itself is a self-defeating and self-annihilating concept that never be achieved. “No place” also means it can’t exist. It’s like removing chaos from the universe, however, utopia is not a system of creating happiness or peace. More likely people who live in Utopia requires being controlled, and too much control created protest and activists. Society always think utopia as a positive and good concept by the surface, but once we realize what it takes to build a utopia, the positive are outweighed by the negatives. In the world we live in, we have our idea, freedom of thoughts and progress to life. Progress toward knowledge of knowledge, biology, morality, etc. In philosophy is more emotionally sensationalized combined.

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The Similarities and Differences of Utopia and Dystopia. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
“The Similarities and Differences of Utopia and Dystopia.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
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