Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World
The ideal society is just that, an ideal; Utopia can never be achieved.
The notion of an ideal society has been a staple element in human experience through all of recorded history.
This exhibition traces how folks of Western society, imagined, depicted, described, and created new versions of ideal societies.
This is the result of a collaborative effort between two of the world's great libraries, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and The New York Public Library - it includes all of their research on Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World.
Although the history of utopias proper begins with Thomas More's famous work of 1516, the Search for Ideal Society in the Western World has been a part of human existence since the beginning of recorded history. Before More coined the word, these places went by names as varied as Paradise, the Garden of Eden, the New Jerusalem, the Promised Land, Prester John's Kingdom, the Island of Saint Brendan, the City of God, the City of Ladies, and the Land of Cockaigne.
Early ideal places such as the Garden of Eden, Heaven, the City of Ladies, and Prester John's kingdom were inhabited by a select population of the just, the blessed, or the exceptionally virtuous, and to
arrive at any of them required a metaphysical transformation from one's flawed, human self into a being worthy of inclusion in these special places. For many reasons when entering cyberspace, Internet users may choose to transform themselves into alternate personalities by inventing new names and identities for themselves.
Have you ever used an alternate identity for yourself online?