(Singapore) With Indian, Malay, and Chinese influences, the island nation of Singapore has a unique culture that is easily revealed by exploring its various ethnic neighborhoods and exotic local cuisine. This spring, Semester at Sea will be in Singapore during the Chinese New Year and students will be able to observe and participate in the cultural celebrations.
Cicero's De republica (54–52 B.C.) is largely indebted to Plato, not only to the Republic but also to several other Platonic dialogues. Cicero discusses the attributes of various types of government — monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, and dictatorship — but without committing himself to a preference. One point, however, is clear. His concept of an ideal state is one based on reason and justice, where those who possess natural superiority rule over the inferiors.
Samuel Butler, Erewhon. This hugely inventive 1872 satire by the author of the anti-Victorian novel The Way of All Flesh is perhaps more accurately described as ‘anti-utopian’, though it follows the utopian narrative structure. The fictional land of Erewhon – almost ‘nowhere’ backwards – is the setting for this novel. Among the things satirised by Butler in this book is the rise of the machines, which Butler argues will evolve at an ever-faster rate – along the lines of Darwinian evolution – until the machines eventually overtake humans.
The planning of their extensive program of amusements has two main purposes. First, it is intended to stimulate the economy. The games and feelies all require expensive equipment; that means more factories and also more opportunities for people to distribute their pay checks. Second, the government is concerned to keep everybody busy during waking hours to leave them no odd moments for thinking.
Gattaca is a science fiction film directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law. It depicts the life in the futuristic dystopian Earth society, in which quality genetic makeup controls the destiny of every person. The main protagonist Vincent was born in an old-fashioned way. He is seen as genetically inferior and is doomed to a life of servitude. He tries to change his destiny by buying identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow, a potential swimming star whose career ended in a car accident.
Journey is a wordless story told through gameplay and visual-only cutscenes. The player's character begins on a sand dune in a vast desert. In the far distance looms a large, mysterious mountain with a glowing crevice that splits its peak. As the character approaches the mountain, they find remnants of a once-thriving civilization, eroded by sand over time. Scattered throughout the ruins at the end of each area are stones where the traveler rests and has visions of meeting a large, white-robed figure in a circular room. Art adorns the walls, describing the rise and fall of the player character's civilization, which also mirrors the player's journey. The player must also contend with roaming, ancient automatons left over from a war that ended the civilization.
The reports of the above books must not be regarded as reviews of them as literary works. They are all cast in novel form with a plot line and cast of characters. Our study is concerned only with those aspects that throw light on the concepts of society reshaped. In each case it is fair to say that the author has concentrated more attention on the "brave new world" concept than on the accompanying romantic fiction.
Radical changes have transformed England both in appearance and in its social patterns. The new society is structured according to the pattern of ideal communism: no money, no private property, perfect equality for every citizen. Labor is shared by every member of the community. These are all familiar attributes of utopian societies. One of the distinctive features of Morris's plan is that labor is regarded as a pleasure rather than a necessary chore, the reason being that everyone works at a task that he can do best and consequently takes pride in the product of his labor. This essentially Medieval attitude toward the achievement of the workman turns production into something of an art, whether the product is a dish, a meal, a doorknob, or a bridge. The revival of that ancient pattern of individual workmanship has been made possible by the elimination of all but the simplest machinery. Factories have all been destroyed, and the former pattern of urban industrial crowding and squalor has disappeared. Where London used to be there is a collection of scattered villages. The age is described as post-industrial.
(Kobe) The second and third stops on our itinerary bring us to another Pacific archipelago, and the ports of Yokohama and Kobe, Japan. With its blend of modern industry amidst preserved ancient culture, Japan presents a variety of options for experiential learning. Students often enjoy getting a glimpse into traditional Geisha culture, taking a train to Tokyo, or exploring the many options for top-notch Japanese cuisine in Yokohama’s Minato Marai 21 neighborhood or the Harborland district in Kobe.
Other significant innovations of Utopia include: a welfare state with free hospitals, euthanasia permissible by the state, priests being allowed to marry, divorce permitted, premarital sex punished by a lifetime of enforced celibacy and adultery being punished by enslavement. Meals are taken in community dining halls and the job of feeding the population is given to a different household in turn. Although all are fed the same, Raphael explains that the old and the administrators are given the best of the food. Travel on the island is only permitted with an internal passport and any people found without a passport are, on a first occasion, returned in disgrace, but after a second offence they are placed in slavery. In addition, there are no lawyers and the law is made deliberately simple, as all should understand it and not leave people in any doubt of what is right and wrong.
The text of Utopia is in two books. Book 1 was written after Book 2. It is in Book 2 that the society of the place named `Utopia' is described by a traveler, Raphael Hythloday, who through his travels had lived there for a time and has returned to England to report on what he learned. Book 1 is a lead-in to Book 2 and was probably intended to establish interest in the subject of Book 2. The narrative form of Book 1 is a conversation of Hythloday with Thomas More and Peter Giles, and of Book 2 the form is a monologue by Hythloday.
There is, of course, nothing new in all of this program, nothing fantastic such as Huxley's "Hatchery and Conditioning Centre." The reader, while he cringes at the horror, keeps repeating to himself, "It can't happen here." Nevertheless, Orwell compels us to recognize not only Nazi devices but also certain telltale symptoms in our own social and political practices that cannot help but undermine our complacency.
Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed. Published in 1974 when the Cold War had become established as a leading theme of much speculative and science fiction, The Dispossessed is a utopian novel about two worlds: one essentially a 1970s United States replete with capitalism and greed, and the other an anarchist society where the concept of personal property is alien to the people. One of the finest examples of the utopian novel produced in the last fifty years.
The extraordinary efficiency of the entire business structure is explained in part by superior management, as has been said, but also partly because they have eliminated several costly and time-consuming activities, freeing the citizens for more productive work. There is no army, no navy, no police force; there are no lawyers, bankers, or salesmen.
The book itself is a social commentary on the excesses of 16th Century Europe. Often viewed as one of the first communist treatises, Utopia represents both More's personal opinion, as well as devil's advocacy on topics such as religious tolerance, capital punishment, labor and industry as well as social and political topics. More's genius and foresight are evident 500 years later, as many of the elements of Utopia have come to pass in the 20th and 21st Centuries - with mixed results.
Minority Report is a movie about a dystopian society in the year of 2054 in Washington D.C. The story is about a "Pre-Crime" police force unit, which revolves around three psychics, "Pre-Cogs", with special power to see into the future and predict crimes. Police manipulates these visions and arrest criminals before the offenses are even committed. Main protagonist, "Pre-Crime" Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has the tables turned on him when he is accused of murder in the future. He must find a way to prove his innocence, for the thing he has yet to do.