April 15th, 2005


P2P Utopia

Since the BBC is pondering using P2P networks to distribute its whole archive over the internet, I thought I'd start the ball rolling by offering you an mp3 of a recent In Our Time about Modernist Utopias. I thought this was a terrific discussion. Like most weekly BBC shows, though, it only stayed on the BBC's site until it was replaced by the next edition. So I'm hosting it, and I'm the only place it'll be hosted, at least until that truly utopian moment when the BBC makes its entire archive available. (Personally I'm looking forward to hearing Denis Donoghue's 1982 Reith Lectures The Arts Without Mystery again. Oh, and all the Radio 3 artist documentary features produced by Piers Plowright, with their BBC Radiophonic Workshop scores. Klee, Picasso, Valery, all rendered in sound by Malcolm Clarke.)

Anyway, here's the BBC's blurb about the Modernist Utopias edition of "In Our Time":

"I want to gather together about twenty souls," wrote D H Lawrence in 1915, "and sail away from this world of war and squalor and find a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as necessaries of life go, and some real decency". Utopias were in the air in the first decades of the twentieth century and the literature of the period abounds with worlds of imagined escape, feminist utopias, technological nightmares and rich imaginings of the world as it could or should become. Many of the societies that writers like H G Wells created were meant seriously, as signposts to a future that would seem horrific to us now, where the weak are eradicated and the strong prosper and procreate. What was it about that era that brought forward so many imagined futures? How did utopias become the dystopias of Brave New World and 1984, and why are writers so much less likely to create a Utopia now?"

Contributors: John Carey, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and editor of The Faber Book of Utopias. Steve Connor, Professor of Modern Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. Laura Marcus, Professor of English at the University of Sussex.

And here's the file. Modernist Utopias (mp3 file, 12MB)