chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

ByClint Jones, Cameron Ellis

A specter is haunting utopia … the specter of the individual. This allusion to The Communist Manifesto (1848) serves to contextualize the historical relevance, social significance, and personal meaning of our present volume, The Individual and Utopia, in three ways corresponding to the three meanings applicable to the idea of “specter”: apparition, ghost, phantom, revenant; danger, menace, threat, worry; anticipation, opportunity, possibility, risk. As with any volume of this kind the focal point, even when made clear, may not be so easy to nail down-just as a specter may be multiple things so the individual in utopia. This volume takes as its focal point the individual in, and individual experiences of, utopias. Each chapter included in this volume deals with individual experiences of utopia and, to some extent, the darker side of utopian dreaming, dystopias. For the purposes of this volume we have not held a strict line between the two recognizing that, for instance, in Orwell’s Oceania, for the citizens that enjoy life there, it is-or was at least planned as-a utopia. Because of this, and the fact that the individual has been too often and too easily lost in utopian studies, we treat each individual experience as worthy of study and as a possible point of entry for a better understanding of the utopian impulse.