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A restless utopia

Posted February. 14, 2022 07:47,   

Updated February. 14, 2022 07:47


The last word Wisdom ever has to say:

He only earns his Freedom and Existence,

Who’s forced to win them freshly every day.

Childhood, manhood, age’s vigorous years,

Surrounded by dangers, they’ll spend here.

I wish to gaze again on such a land,

Free earth: where a free race, in freedom, stand.

Then, to the Moment I’d dare say:

‘Stay a while! You are so lovely!’

-Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One may assume that a professor of German literature may be familiar with Goethe, but to tell the truth, Goethe, as the master of the century, is quite difficult. Nevertheless, this quote, which I encountered during my college years, is still intact in my memory. The story of Faust, who makes various experiments after signing a pact with the devil, reaches its height when he attempts to build a social utopia. The utopia itself, however, is interesting. Instead of a relaxed and easy-going utopia, it is built on a newly reclaimed land and thus needs to be safeguarded from the mighty waves outside the seawalls. Why was the utopia designed as a place difficult to fight for and maintain?  

Today we also find ourselves living in a society where we constantly struggle to maintain everyday living. What we had taken for granted are no longer given, we need to fight for them. Under these circumstances, it is easier to understand why Goethe’s utopia was designed in a realistic way.  

However, there is a twist. Faust passes away listening to the hopeful sounds of building the utopia, but it turned out to be a fantasy. The sounds turned out to be hammering of Faust’s own coffin. Goethe might have sensed the illusion of modern society and its development entering the modern age. Still, the utopian model, which stays put with constant effort, offers console to everyone living in the modern age by letting them know that as long as you endeavor to help keep everyday peace, you deserve to enjoy everyday pleasures of utopia.