Book Review: The Impossibility of Perfection

IN UTOPIA: Six Kinds of Eden and the Search for a Better Paradise by J.C. Hallman (St. Martin’s Press)
by David Doody
November-December 2010
Add to My MSN

Content Tools

In this collection of essays, J.C. Hallman sets off on a quest for utopia that takes him to such divergent places as a ship that continuously circumnavigates the globe and a community of gun owners. He begins with the Pleistocene Rewilders, a group of scientists who believe that reintroducing the lost megafauna of North America would be good for the continent’s ecosystem. It is, he writes, “an impossibly positive action that stood in stark contrast to the dastardly suburban sales pitch” he’d grown up with.

Hallman shows us through the canon of utopian literature that there is no idea of perfection today—from a floating city to peaceful living through the threat of violence—that has not been written about or tried before. And though there are times he thinks he may have found it, in the end Hallman concludes that it is the very idea of utopia that is important, even when it doesn’t work in practice. “The failure of good intentions should not be met with inaction, but with further good intentions, with better intentions,” because, Hallman writes, the “truth was, dystopia came first—it was civilization.”



















Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here