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In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogat In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogates the functions of utopian thinking in a post-Communist age. The relationship between utopia and science fiction is explored through the representations of otherness - alien life and alien worlds - and a study of the works of Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Gibson, Brian Aldiss, Kim Stanley Robinson, and more. Jameson’s essential essays, including “The Desire Called Utopia,” conclude with an examination of the opposing positions on utopia and an assessment of its political value today.


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In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogat In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogates the functions of utopian thinking in a post-Communist age. The relationship between utopia and science fiction is explored through the representations of otherness - alien life and alien worlds - and a study of the works of Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Gibson, Brian Aldiss, Kim Stanley Robinson, and more. Jameson’s essential essays, including “The Desire Called Utopia,” conclude with an examination of the opposing positions on utopia and an assessment of its political value today.

30 review for Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Wingo

    A non-apologist review of the science fiction genre through the eyes of America's leading Postmodernist thinker. You will need to bring your knowledge of the Western Canon and contemporary philosophy with you in order to fully appreciate this text. Its division into books I and II enables regular science fiction readers to access straight forward reviews in Book II. Expect to learn from this book and don't expect him to enshrine SF into the Western Canon but rather to provide you with an understa A non-apologist review of the science fiction genre through the eyes of America's leading Postmodernist thinker. You will need to bring your knowledge of the Western Canon and contemporary philosophy with you in order to fully appreciate this text. Its division into books I and II enables regular science fiction readers to access straight forward reviews in Book II. Expect to learn from this book and don't expect him to enshrine SF into the Western Canon but rather to provide you with an understanding of the zeitgeist of the history of the genre and ourselves. Authors reviewed range from Dick to Robinson, Brunner to Le Guin. With a focus on utopianism and dystopia the subjects covered are sex and society, aliens and psychoanalyst, and the motifs and mechanics of this writing field. Jameson also remarks on the differences between hard science fiction and fantasy. He clearly traces the link between the utopian members of the Western Canon and the rise of science fiction's paraliterature, and the societal needs for these works and their roots in the human collective conscienceness. He also notes the limits of critical literature and the "drift" of high literature into the domain of science fiction in recent years as a result of our Postmodern condition and the limits of critical literature to deal with the disassociative nature of the contemporary experience. The reader will be left with an understanding of the genre, our times, and our historical basis. He or she will also be perplexed as to how science fiction was replaced by fantasy as the popular literature of our times at the same moment it matured as a literary entity. One will also begin to understand how the internal dynamics of science fiction and its authors went from the popularizers of American modernism and imperialism to become the primary opponents of modernism in our times. Be forewarned that Jameson does not see Marxism as a bad word but rather a critical tool for evaluating society.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Bruising hermeneutic Marxism got no answers just diagrams and arrows. Easy to point out limitations of Jameson's approach, still, for someone thinking about the emergence of science fiction out of 17th century utopias and advances in...science,this provides a number of useful generic definitions and distinctions to work with and against. It also provides a defense of utopic literature to supplement Russell Jacoby's intellectually fuzzy one. Holy fuck Steph Curry is killing it. Bruising hermeneutic Marxism got no answers just diagrams and arrows. Easy to point out limitations of Jameson's approach, still, for someone thinking about the emergence of science fiction out of 17th century utopias and advances in...science,this provides a number of useful generic definitions and distinctions to work with and against. It also provides a defense of utopic literature to supplement Russell Jacoby's intellectually fuzzy one. Holy fuck Steph Curry is killing it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    One of the rare books that really merits the "amazing" mark. The book is difficult to read because the ideas are deeply explored, original and counter-intuitive in many cases. Jameson also draws on a huge range of philosophical and literary texts, and actually explains them fairly clearly. Unlike a lot of literary theory that may rely on obscure language to express banal ideas, perform standard or moralistic ideological readings of narratives, /or congratulate itself for radicalism in some way, One of the rare books that really merits the "amazing" mark. The book is difficult to read because the ideas are deeply explored, original and counter-intuitive in many cases. Jameson also draws on a huge range of philosophical and literary texts, and actually explains them fairly clearly. Unlike a lot of literary theory that may rely on obscure language to express banal ideas, perform standard or moralistic ideological readings of narratives, /or congratulate itself for radicalism in some way, this book, like Jameson's earlier _The Political Unconscious_ really offers startling and fresh readings of texts as well as a deep appreciation and consideration of literary forms.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Brilliant novel, but very dense and difficult to follow if you're not plugged into the conversation already. Jameson's book speaks to a very specific audience, and if you are not part of that audience, prepare to be left in the dust. Brilliant novel, but very dense and difficult to follow if you're not plugged into the conversation already. Jameson's book speaks to a very specific audience, and if you are not part of that audience, prepare to be left in the dust.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Buell

    Jameson's book is comparable in stature and ambition to Georg Lukacs's _The Historical Novel_, which Jameson himself has dubbed the most significant volume of dialectical literary criticism. Jameson succeeds in doing for science fiction--particularly in its utopian form--what Lukacs did for the historical novel. _Archaeologies of the Future_ is a major achievement of materialist critique. Jameson's book is comparable in stature and ambition to Georg Lukacs's _The Historical Novel_, which Jameson himself has dubbed the most significant volume of dialectical literary criticism. Jameson succeeds in doing for science fiction--particularly in its utopian form--what Lukacs did for the historical novel. _Archaeologies of the Future_ is a major achievement of materialist critique.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Examines Utopia as a literary form, as a subset (and perhaps earliest example) of science fiction; how science fiction is reflected in Utopian thinking, and vice versa; and the limitations, impossibility of, and absolutely necessary function the concept of Utopia has provided in the modern and postmodern eras. Part one of the book covers my all too brief (and completely lacking in nuance) introduction, and part two is a series of essays Jameson wrote over a period of thirty years in which he deve Examines Utopia as a literary form, as a subset (and perhaps earliest example) of science fiction; how science fiction is reflected in Utopian thinking, and vice versa; and the limitations, impossibility of, and absolutely necessary function the concept of Utopia has provided in the modern and postmodern eras. Part one of the book covers my all too brief (and completely lacking in nuance) introduction, and part two is a series of essays Jameson wrote over a period of thirty years in which he developed the theory in part one (a structure which seems the mirror the original Utopian text: Thomas More's Utopia, whose first part was written later, and develops the theory of that book's part two). Few literary theorists have as much energy and can cover such large distances as Jameson; here he is on P.K. Dick: "Thus, we may suggest that these episodes very much include a meditation on mass culture, a hypothesis reinforced by Cornel West's insistence that religion is also very much a form of American mass culture (whose absence from current Cultural Studies he deplored). Drugs are also, perhaps, a form of American mass culture; and certainly what is feared in all these instances is precisely a certain 'fusion' with the medium and a loss of individual autonomy. Television is in any case another one of those contextual 1950s themes and current-event references which we have observed Dick's work to soak up (as with the dramatization of the then novel Barbie dolls): and it may be suggested that in Dick drugs and schizophrenia are bad, not because they provoke hallucinations, but because those hallucinations are too closely related to television." And through all of his text he remains dedicated to the methodical, such as what I think could be considered his love of Greimas Squares (or semiotic rectangles, if you prefer): "The usefulness of this exercise (which may otherwise strike the reader as mechanical or anti-aesthetic) lies not only in its demonstration of the deeper interrelationship between the various thematic clusters, but also in the way in which it opens up the possibility of an even more ambitious (if speculative) interpretive act. For each side of the rectangle also offers the occasion for the projection of a kind of impossible synthesis, in which contraries or contradictions find some ideal solution: the hypothesis being that it is at that level alone that we will be able to surprise something of the energy and the impulsion of the work itself." (Personally I find the notion or anti-aesthetics intriguing, and perhaps a promising avenue for expanding horizons). Today it is just shy of fifty years since Jameson published his first major work, Marxism and Form, and since he has published something like 27 volumes (the most recent published last year, in 2019). In that period he has been willing out get out in front of every development in cultural theory, every movement in aesthetics, literature, film, society, economics (obviously from a Marxist bent) and no less the grist of the mass market mills. And with each development he adds another dimension to his Marxist-oriented dialectics, which are always ready to expand and take in new developments, always ready for the new sensations and experiences, as any true "theoretical tourist" (as he described himself in, I believe, Postmodernism or the Theory of Late Capitalism) would be. I mean come on: his theories on postmodernism are inescapable for for anyone who is interested in the specificity of our current cultural moment, in seeing what is unique in the problems we face. This facet of his work is certain to make him a figure of history, but also it is also only one of his facets. His production in Archaeologies of the Future is clearly another. If you have any passing interest in Jameson, or in the literature of Utopia, or science fiction in just about any form – this text is not to be missed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Denson

    "The historical opportunities of science fiction as a literary form are intimately related to this paralysis of so-called high literature. The officially 'non-serious' or pulp character of science fiction is an indispensable feature in its capacity to relax that tyrannical 'reality principle' which functions as a crippling censorship over high art, and to allow 'paraliterary' form thereby to inherit the vocation of giving us alternate versions of a world that has elsewhere seemed to resist even "The historical opportunities of science fiction as a literary form are intimately related to this paralysis of so-called high literature. The officially 'non-serious' or pulp character of science fiction is an indispensable feature in its capacity to relax that tyrannical 'reality principle' which functions as a crippling censorship over high art, and to allow 'paraliterary' form thereby to inherit the vocation of giving us alternate versions of a world that has elsewhere seemed to resist even imagined change." "The science fiction writer is obliged to invent an entire universe, an entire ontology, another world altogether — very precisely that system of radical difference with which we associate the imagination of Utopia." Jameson commences with the commonplace observation that utopia is inherently a political matter. This venture of attempting to imagine an idealized world, after all, necessarily entails the selection and prioritization of particular values and beliefs. In this regard of world building, utopianism has naturally found a frequent home in science fiction, whose own principles rely upon attempts to imagine alternatives and stretch the bounds of the reality principle, within which other genres comfortably thrive. What follows in Part One is, then, a wide ranging discussion on the nature of science fiction as genre and as it coincides with utopianism. This includes ruminations on classic utopic works (e.g. More and Skinner), genre boundaries between science fiction and fantasy, conceptions of otherness with constructing aliens in science fiction, and the disruptive quality of imagined futures. Specific utopic qualities of the genre are constantly foregrounded, such as an almost inherently socialistic nature of many idealized futures, generally highlighting that utopianism and science fiction draw upon the same impulses of the human imagination. Part Two consists of a dozen republications of Jameson's previous articles regarding science fiction. The best of these is an essay regarding what Jameson has termed 'world reduction' in Ursula K. Le Guin. He highlights a fascinating and creative tendency in Le Guin's corpus to fashion alternate worlds, not through the addition of elements to our present world (as so much of science fiction does with futuristic technological advances), but rather through subtraction of ordinally banal features, such as sexuality and gender roles. This innovative technique, then, allows for much of Le Guin's work to stand apart from and subtly critique features of the present reality. Another of Jameson's essays regarding reality in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy is also a stand-out work, tracing the complexity of Robinson's characters and the events regarding the literal fashioning of a new world. Overall, Jameson's book is a fascinating read, though, as with most of his work, very dense with theoretical material. Perhaps the only shortcoming is the immense speed at which Jameson flies through an expansive assortment of science fiction works. Combining this with the consistent off-hand references to philosophical and other theoretical works certainly makes it a challenge to keep pace at times, though it is typically worth the effort as Jameson often reaches particularly poignant ideas and connections.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sean Estelle

    I'm feeling positive about this book because the last essay was the real reason I bought the book to begin with - analysis of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. This was definitely above my reading level in many ways - but even with a good amount of 'what is he talking about', I still enjoyed the cross-novel connection building and reflections that Jameson was making! Not for the faint of heart, but overall I'm glad I took the time to read it. I'm feeling positive about this book because the last essay was the real reason I bought the book to begin with - analysis of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. This was definitely above my reading level in many ways - but even with a good amount of 'what is he talking about', I still enjoyed the cross-novel connection building and reflections that Jameson was making! Not for the faint of heart, but overall I'm glad I took the time to read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bayford

    Not for the faint-hearted; essential for anyone in the field.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ػᶈᶏϾӗ

    Fredric Jameson annoys the hell out of me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    AntonytTh.

    Όμορφο ζήτημα. Η πυκνή γραφή θα σας δυσκολέψει

  12. 5 out of 5

    Timbo

    Jameson gambols about on the fringes of utopia.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jesus

    Literary criticism in the form of a collection of essays, this book explores particular aspects of the genre of science fiction: "Religion was perhaps the most ancient organizing concept in the emergence of anthropology as a discipline: the ultimately determining instance for national or racial character, the ultimate source of cultural difference itself, the marker of the individuality of the various peoples in history (a role it still plays in Hegel and whose revival today we can witness in ide Literary criticism in the form of a collection of essays, this book explores particular aspects of the genre of science fiction: "Religion was perhaps the most ancient organizing concept in the emergence of anthropology as a discipline: the ultimately determining instance for national or racial character, the ultimate source of cultural difference itself, the marker of the individuality of the various peoples in history (a role it still plays in Hegel and whose revival today we can witness in ideologues like Samuel Huntington). It can thus provide the most facile solutions for SF, a kind of ready-made thought of the other; and at the same time stage the most interesting conceptual dilemmas and form-problems." (95) Even footnotes are deep: "(1) violence is an ideology, constructed around the structural omission of state power and physical oppression authorized by the 'law'; (2) violence is always initiated by the Right and by conservative or counterrevolutionary repression, to which Left violence is then a response; (3) political violence is self-defeating, and dialectically strengthens its opposite number: thus, US expansionism generates al Qaeda, whose growth then encourages the development of an American police state, which may well in turn susscitate new forms of resistance." (232) Chapter 4 in part 2 is a neat place to begin.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tineke Dijkstra

    Finished the sections of this work that I really wanted to read for now, but I am certainly not done with it and will return to this A LOT. What a great contribution to the secondary literature supporting my PhD research! I disagreed with Jameson on some minor points (which is totally ok) and would've liked him to elaborate on certain issues more. However... Maybe not. That leaves room for me to do so! 4/5 stars because what always confuses me is why cultural theorists feel the need to explain th Finished the sections of this work that I really wanted to read for now, but I am certainly not done with it and will return to this A LOT. What a great contribution to the secondary literature supporting my PhD research! I disagreed with Jameson on some minor points (which is totally ok) and would've liked him to elaborate on certain issues more. However... Maybe not. That leaves room for me to do so! 4/5 stars because what always confuses me is why cultural theorists feel the need to explain things in a style that is harder to read than necessary - unfortunately, Jameson is no exception. Also, I didn't like the fact that he almost entirely left out gender and race issues - which both almost scream to be part of a project such as Jameson's. I found Kyle A. Wiggin's review Futures of Negation: Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future and Utopian Science Fiction very helpful

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.

    Eh. He wanders. A lot. And I guess I should be more accepting of that, but really he's all over the place. And in the context of Utopian studies, I imagine it all kind of makes sense, but the problem is that it really does seem like the science fiction and anti-utopian are just welded on here until the second part which, unfortunately, is mostly just rehashing the same things from earlier in the book. Get Freedman's "Science Fiction and Critical Theory" instead. Eh. He wanders. A lot. And I guess I should be more accepting of that, but really he's all over the place. And in the context of Utopian studies, I imagine it all kind of makes sense, but the problem is that it really does seem like the science fiction and anti-utopian are just welded on here until the second part which, unfortunately, is mostly just rehashing the same things from earlier in the book. Get Freedman's "Science Fiction and Critical Theory" instead.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Atte

    yleishyvää kamaa utopistisen ajattelun teemoista, rajoista ja mahdollisuuksista; tän innoittamana aion lukea VIELÄ ENEMMÄN radikaalia käppäscifiä; tavoitteenani on sellainen tulevaisuus, jossa kaikilla on joku, joka rakastaa heitä yhtä syvästi kuin tämä meidän Reetu rakastaa Greimasin semioottisen neliön käyttöä

  17. 4 out of 5

    flannery

    Super theoretical and dense! But if you can forgive the overuse of German phrases with no English equivalent this serves as a really good primer to some very exciting sci-fi! I can't wait to read (or watch the movie verison of) Solaris! Super theoretical and dense! But if you can forgive the overuse of German phrases with no English equivalent this serves as a really good primer to some very exciting sci-fi! I can't wait to read (or watch the movie verison of) Solaris!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Part 1

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chad Brock

    3.5

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott Neigh

    Read partially for school. May go back and read it more thoroughly at some point, as there were some quite compelling bits, but not for the moment.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity

  22. 5 out of 5

    Florin Marin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Pretty cool.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Rhines

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Ball

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shiua

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janet

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

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