Utopia No More

21 Feb

If Utopia means “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect,” then this does not fit this Black No More by Schuyler. And if Dystopia means, “a community or society, usually fictional that is in some important way undesirable or frightening” then, Black No More fits this definition. I am trying to see which definition fits Schuyler’s work best because this novel is ironic and could be seen from many different angels. However in general, the society that has been created by almost eliminating one race and makes the world has “almost only” one race is defiantly “a community…that is… undesirable or frightening.” Thus, I can say this is a great and dystopian novel by Schuyler.

Obviously this work by Schuyler is different from the previous works by Gilman and Bellamy, but in what ways? Bellamy’s escaped in time and found his utopian world ready; and his job was only describing how that utopian world is “economically” successful. Gilman, did the same thing, escaped not in time, but in map to find her utopian world ready; and her job was to describe how that utopian world function perfectly without “male” element. However, Schuyler does not escape to find his utopian world ready and describes how it functions without race differences or race discrimination. On the contrary, he invites the reader to the “process of creating utopian world” and sees how that goes. First of all, he assumes that if he was able to make all people have the same race he would find the ultimate solution for this world’s problems. He says that “if one could discover some means of artificially inducing and stimulating this nervous disease, one might possibly solve the American race problem.” And for him the solution for he Black race in Americans is “to either get out, get white or get along” (8). Max Disher agrees with this and thinks that if he could get white, “there would be not more  discrimination” (14). What happens next is that the good news comes and getting white becomes possible, and Max “at last [feels] lime an American citizen” (23). Till this moment, in the reader’s mind utopia is being created. However, as the novel goes on, they discover how complicated is this. 

Again, how this work is different? It is different in the way it takes the readers in a very long tour letting them experiencing the difficulties of reaching the utopia. Moreover, it suggests that every attempt of making the world utopia actually works the opposite way; it makes the world more complicated. Which is to say, Utopia is to leave the world as it is; otherwise we will have dystopia. 

For me, this novel says, there will be never be a utopian world if we keep thinking that utopia is the elimination of the “causes” of our problem. What I mean is that Bellamy eliminated money in order to kill the violence motive and have a better world. And Gilman eliminated males and sex desire to have a better world. And Schuyler tries to eliminate race problems to reach a better world. It indicates that human nature is the basis of the dystopia. The human nature always creates new problems and makes the world even more complicated and that is obvious in the consequences of the Black No More treatment. When all people become white, they looked for another ways to label each other. And a good example of this is the looking for family tree to distinguish between the real white and the newly whitened people. And this is the real problem; it is deep in the human nature. What is the solution and how to reach a real Utopia? I think I will go with Gilman’s idea of EDUCATION and taking care of the FUTURE’s elements: children and environment. 

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2 Responses to “Utopia No More”

  1. Dr Lothian February 21, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    Great point about the problems of thinking that “utopia is the elimination of the “causes” of our problem.”

    I wonder, though, where you might end up if you think about this text as neither utopian nor dystopian, but something else again (or in addition to dystopia). What techniques does Schuyler use to comment on race and society in additon to simply showing us that the result of this particular method of skin-color homogenization would be “undesirable and frightening”?

    • Muhammad February 21, 2013 at 4:31 am #

      Thank you Dr Lothain for your comment.

      I have been reading the previous texts in the same way which is (their utopias is done by the elimination of the bad cause). And I am planning to write the research proposal on this subject. I wanted to make a comparison between the three texts Bellamy, Gilman and Schuyler; and see how this (elimination) exists in all of them. This what I am thinking of my final paper for now unless I change my mind as the semester goes and want to discover something else, which I usually do .

      You asked “where would I end up… and hat techniques does Schuyler use to comment on race and society.” I really don’t know if that answer these questions but: For me, Schuyler did not intend to write this novel as utopian model, not dystopian one. I think he wrote it in critical period of the American history, or what is called the industry grows (1807-1857). Reading his work in a historical context would give us a different reading, or a materialist reading of it. His text has many examples of labors, wages, corporation, money and organizations. Maybe I should have used the Marxist approach to it. but I was thinking of it in terms of science fiction, utopia/dystopia and how it is related to the previous readings.

      The second part of your question, what techniques… I think Schuyler chose not to say his opinion about the racial identity in a direct way. Instead of writing a scientific or philosophical article, he wanted to take the reader in a journey and examine together the racial identity issues by making assumptions realities and discover their consequences. I think his goal of this novel is to say that the American problem is neither the only nor the biggest problem. the problem is the human nature and its desire for labeling each other and its hunger for material life.

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