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Between light and darkness: Earthsea and the name of utopia

Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Andreas (2005) Between light and darkness: Earthsea and the name of utopia. Contemporary Justice Review, 8 (1). pp. 45-57. ISSN 1028-2580

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10282580500044077

Abstract

In Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet, knowledge of the name of a thing or person guarantees control over their destiny. In a world where light and darkness co-exist and where dragons are an extension of humans, a name is the means with which one can achieve one's vision of the world. If utopia is the individual projection of a supposedly collective ideal, then knowledge of names is the vehicle for the realization of one's own utopia, which may well come into conflict with the utopias of others. However, Earthsea is not simply a series of battles between individual utopists. Earthsea itself constitutes a precarious and non-traditional utopia, where antithetical sides co-exist and neither prevails forever. As its name denotes, “earth” and “sea,” darkness and light, tombs and open seas, tiny islands and eternal journeys operate together to produce the setting for the novels and enable the chase of an ever-elusive knowledge. For as the utopists in Earthsea find out, knowledge can only be complete if it also comprises its Jungian opposite, namely ignorance. In an attempt to explore the relation between utopia, knowledge, and ignorance, this article employs psychology and linguistics, and constructs a description of a “just” world which remains necessarily utopian.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Online ISSN 1477-2248
Research Community:University of Westminster > Law, School of
ID Code:2100
Deposited On:19 Jun 2006
Last Modified:21 Oct 2009 12:54

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