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Dystopia

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Dystopia

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:42 pm

• dystopia •


Pronunciation: dis-top-i-yê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: An imaginary place in which conditions are disastrous.

Notes: Dystopia has been around long enough to have picked up a couple of relatives. Dystopian is the adjective and the personal noun with the sense "one who advocates or describes a dystopia". Dystopianism "the quality of (a) dystopia" has been used at least once according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

In Play: Dystopia is a good word to use for most of the movies emerging from Hollywood these days: "In the movie, The Book of Eli, Denzel Washington plays a man of superhuman principles living in a dystopia that resulted from a worldwide nuclear catastrophe." Unfortunately, real dystopias exist even today: "The people of Syria are living in a hellish dystopia in 2013."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a coinage by a writer based on the coinage of another writer. As noted in Hansard, the official record of the British House of Commons debates, John Stuart Mill coined this word in 1868. Mill obviously created the word from dys- "bad" + utopia "(place of) perfect living conditions". Modern Latin utopia, literally "nowhere", in its turn, was coined for title of a book by Thomas More, first published in 1516. The book told of an imaginary island where life was perfect in every respect. Although More adapted the word to Latin, it originates from Greek ou "not" + topos "place". Topos is found also in toponymy "the study of place names" and topography "a detailed description of a place". The meaning of utopia was extended to "a place of perfect living conditions" in the 1610s. (We hope that Paul Stayert will find this note of our gratitude for suggesting today's Good Word a lenient assuasive.)
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Re: Dystopia

Postby wurdpurrson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:02 am

Unfortunately, there is a very real place that borders on the verge of dystopianism (is that a word?) - our entire planet, if one can believe half of the news heard daily. Our elected legislative bodies run a close second. Any more, politics by its very nature could be a synonym for dystopia. I sometimes wish it all WAS imaginary. . .
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Re: Dystopia

Postby dougsmit » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:24 am

How do we determine that utopia is derived from ou = not rather than eu = good (as in euphemism, eugenics and eulogy)? If the word was made up in modern times I'd prefer a perfect concoction to retain the diphthong (eutopia) which would not change the pronunciation and mean 'perfect place' rather than 'no place'. What am I missing that demonstrates what was in the mind of the word's creator?
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Re: Dystopia

Postby MTC » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:09 am

If I understand dougsmit's question correctly, the etymology of utopia on Etymonline.com should provide an answer:

utopia (n.) Look up utopia at Dictionary.com
1550s, from Modern Latin Utopia, literally "nowhere," coined by Thomas More (and used as title of his book, 1516, about an imaginary island enjoying perfect legal, social, and political systems), from Greek ou "not" + topos "place" (see topos). Extended to "any perfect place," 1610s.

Actually, this etymology merely repeats that given by Dr. Goodword.

P.S. Dystopia leaves me dyspeptic.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:56 am

wurdpurrson wrote:Unfortunately, there is a very real place that borders on the verge of dystopianism (is that a word?) - our entire planet, if one can believe half of the news heard daily. Our elected legislative bodies run a close second. Any more, politics by its very nature could be a synonym for dystopia. I sometimes wish it all WAS imaginary. . .



The question I always have is that our elected legislative
bodies run a close second, why do we keep electing them?
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Dystopia

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:18 pm

Louisiana is the mother of all American dystopias. (We can't compete with many of the mideastern countries, nor North Korea.) We once had a runoff for governor where our only choices were a crook and a klansman. We elected the crook, who just now got out of jail in his 80's. Note we had a primary election in which the people elevated these two above the others. We live in a country where many don't watch or read the news because it's bad and choose candidates by soundbites. I keep remembering Churchill's comment about how bad democracy is apart from being better than all the others.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby wurdpurrson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:52 pm

The question I always have is that our elected legislative
bodies run a close second, why do we keep electing them?
[quote="LukeJavan8"]

Ah. The question of the ages, Luke, probably unanswerable, except that lazy voters might figure prominently. Sound bytes are easier to latch onto than doing real research into who and what a candidate really is. I, alas, am one of those compulsive souls who studies issues and tries to be both realistic and altruistic (for the greater good) in my voting. I often am on the losing side. But I keep trying.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:07 pm

Count me in on your campaign. Senators who serve
20 terms, representatives with 30 or more, first elected
at age 35 and still 'serving' (themselves) at age 93.
I am definitely in favor of term limits.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby wurdpurrson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:06 pm

In my long work life, I've never had a job where, if I didn't actually do the job I was assigned, I could keep the position, get paid too well, have multiple perks and side benefits, take prolonged vacations after months of non-productive blathering, and either die in the traces or retire (from what? Inactivity?) with cushy guarantees. I once years ago thought about running for a fairly local political office, but realized that I wasn't that good at compromising my civic morality enough to sell myself to the highest bidder.
I know, I know. Don't hold it in . . .
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Re: Dystopia

Postby MTC » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:24 pm

"Dystopia" is in the eye of the beholder. What one person considers a "dystopia," another may consider a "utopia," or at least a very desirable place. Take the country where I live at present, the Peoples Republic of China ("PRC"). Despite the Communist Party's claims, most Westerners and some Chinese consider it a political and environmental dystopia. The central government punishes dissent and despoils the environment on a grand scale. Louisiana almost appears a "utopia" in comparison, despite the failings Perry describes. Residents of North Korea, on the other hand, consider China "The Promised Land", escaping across the Yalu river against great peril at every opportunity. And if China is "The Promised Land" to these tormented souls, America--even Louisiana--is Seventh Heaven. If the Citizens of Planet Earth were polled, there would be no unanimity about what constitutes a "dystopia."

If "dystopia" ever had an exact meaning, it has been stretched to cover governments and societies we consider merely dysfunctional. It has become a whip we flog ourselves with for human failures at governance. It has become a label, a Scarlet D.
Last edited by MTC on Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby wurdpurrson » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:17 am

Everything is relative. Your commentary illustrates that, MTC. All we mortal fools can do is to do the best that we can, be kind, daily tell those we love that we do love them, and try to teach our children and children's children the honor and dignity of treating others well and taking care of each other and our lovely but struggling planet home. Wearing the Scarlet D should not be even an abstract option. (The operative words there are "should not")
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Re: Dystopia

Postby Slava » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:17 am

dougsmit wrote:How do we determine that utopia is derived from ou = not rather than eu = good (as in euphemism, eugenics and eulogy)? If the word was made up in modern times I'd prefer a perfect concoction to retain the diphthong (eutopia) which would not change the pronunciation and mean 'perfect place' rather than 'no place'. What am I missing that demonstrates what was in the mind of the word's creator?

I would say that the answer to your question is in the eu- words you used. If Thomas More had wanted Utopia to be a true perfect place, I'm quite sure he would have used Eu-.

Plus, the book was written in Latin, not Greek.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:51 am

Perry's gubernatorial choice between a crook and a clansman reminds me of a presidential election of several years back. In my mind we had a choice between a Republican and a crazy man. I chose the Republican and he turned out to be a crook. That was my one and only foray into the right wing, and I learned my lesson. I was too scared to vote for years afterward.

It is hard to beat Louisiana for inept politicians. But Texas runs a close second.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:15 pm

Would they were inept. They are very capable, merely selfish and/or corrupt.
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Re: Dystopia

Postby Slava » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:58 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:Would they were inept. They are very capable, merely selfish and/or corrupt.

Try snollygoster out on them. :twisted: My definition, that is.
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