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Tag: lorecore

Life in Utopia

Real life in Utopia is never quite like it’s depicted in the brochures.

Thomas More’s original Utopia was based on slavery. Oops. But at least the betrothed could see each other naked… though women also had to confess their sins to their husbands.

Bacon’s New Atlantis features a weird call-out of the “good Jew” Joabin, of the city of Bensalem. Strangely, here the betrothed had to send one of their friends to see the betrothed naked as a stand-in…

Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia includes a number of creepy sexual incidents, and proposes basically autonomous ethno-states for minority groups. Umm.

Each of these books gets a number of things very very wrong. Some perhaps intentionally so, to drive a particular point or theme home. Most though, the greater social-political context has changed irrevocably. Thus, making things which once seemed progressive and liberal in an impossibly restrictive regime of the time period, now seem just impossibly weird and wrong.

Why read utopias then? Why engage in this specific type of idiotic fantasy behavior? If we know so much of it to be baloney?

It’s cliche to say utopia & dystopia are two sides of the same coin. But it’s not even just that. It’s that it’s both extremes at once. You can’t always/often tell when an author was saying something satirically as commentary, or actually thought that. It’s hard to decode the thinking of writers sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t matter. It’s the impact that matters.

I posted something recently on my Subreddit that related to Huxley’s book, The Island (which I haven’t read yet), and someone took the liberty to highlight a few of the bad things that the story included, and then to declare (paraphrasing) that “Yeah, but you know Huxley was actually into that shit.”

I submit that it’s not that simple, and the skein of Utopias is infinitely more tangled than these kinds of simplistic interpretations. I’m reminded of an excellent passage in a recent Slate article about the utopian community of Auroville in India, and some tragic events that unfolded there.

It’s very easy to say, “Oh, come on. All these promises made, all these ideals, and it’s just a morass of humanity that just has not lived up to it in any ways…”

On the other hand, you can also look at these places and say, “Look at what they have achieved and look at what they have tried.” You could ask yourself, “Well, if a community sets itself lofty goals, and, let’s say, it achieves only 30 percent or even 40 percent of those goals, do we denigrate them for the 60 percent that they failed? Or do we praise them and admire them for the 30 percent they’ve achieved?”

Really, when it comes to the non-fictional attempts at instantiating a utopia, it depends what those 60% failures consist of. Does it involve needless human suffering and tragedy, and the abrogation of rights? If so, then we might do well to condemn it in the strongest of terms.

When it comes to books though, I propose that one viable approach could also be that we just “take a chill pill” and not get so bent out of shape about works of fiction, which reflected mores of the times they arose in and which have since moved on. It might be that the conflict between the good, the bad, the universal and specific, the ideal and the rea,l is exactly what drives this genre, and its entire utility in the first place.

Going back to that Grist piece for a second, there’s one other tangent of criticism in it that characters in Ecotopia “…display an eerie sameness that makes all human interaction in the book seem unsettlingly artificial…” If this were another genre apart from a traveler’s tale of a voyage to a Utopia – a tried and true format – then I would have more sympathy for that kind of critique (though, honestly, I have very little sympathy for most critiques – the ones I dish out especially).

As it stands though, one of the things I actually heartily enjoy about utopian fiction and utopian satires is specifically that the narrative and the characters are so so very thin. They are, in essence, lorecore. They are 98% exposition. They read like textbooks. The dramatic elements are so so. The drama instead is in the notion that this *could be* a real place – if we decided to make it so. That is, if we just re-jigger parts of our society and our world, we could have something not unlike the experiments described in this genre of books. They might turn out to be “true” utopias, or true dystopias, but they would at the very least be a try at something new, different, and perhaps unique. And that possibility is something worth preserving and exploring. In the process, it just might be possible we use that same faculty of dreaming and actualization to change the world.

Lorecore x Borecore x Snorecore

Forgive me, oh blogging Muses, it has been too long since my last proper confession. In the intervening years, how I have wandered… over hill and dale, and been lost for many a long age in the dark jungles of “social media.” I can only say I’ve regretted every minute of it (well, nearly). Oh, how I’ve longed to sit by your cool dark stream of consciousness again, and just let er rip. So please accept this humble offering…

What were we talking about again? Oh right, Lorecore, or as I also like to call it Borecore or Snorecore. Have I lost you yet? Are you already ZZZ emoji? Good, because that is the essence of Lorecore. The essence of Lorecore is lulling the reader to sleep with an avalanche of exposition, examining the world, or a given domain, down to tiny excruciating detail. And once they’ve fallen asleep, they dream in that world, and move about in it. Tolkien’s “subcreation.”

There’s a Thoreau quote I’ve always carried with me (in paraphrase at least) since reading it a decade or two back, which equally applies to the diatribe at hand:

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”


This has long stood out as an ideal for me with creating art or narrative as well. That we can pick it up, and look extremely closely, and change our perspective and whole way of looking, and still see deep and freshly in it again, just like in Nature.

Nature, in fact, is completely made up of Lorecore. Each bird or beast or fish or plant has its own ways, its own knowledge and experience, histories and relationships, its own deep lore. Ecosystems and biomes are the interpenetrating lived compendium of that lore. To me, that idea is endlessly fascinating that we could zoom up or down at any scale of a narrative and find another narrative hidden within (and another and another…), which ultimately adds up to more than the sum of its parts in the Great Tapestry of Story & of Being: The Great River, in Quatrian terms.

I see Lorecore also as something like an Open World game, but for books, or for trans-media story-telling more broadly, where the narrative is distributed among many artifacts, voices, channels, etc. The “player” is the reader/experiencer who may or may not know or care about backstory, but who has landed somehow or other on an intriguing artifact.

See also: Networked narrative

A networked narrative, also known as a network narrative or distributed narrative, is a narrative partitioned across a network of interconnected authors, access points, and/or discrete threads. It is not driven by the specificity of details; rather, details emerge through a co-construction of the ultimate story by the various participants or elements.

Networked narratives can be seen as being defined by their rejection of narrative unity. As a consequence, such narratives escape the constraints of centralized authorship, distribution, and storytelling.

Wikipedia: networked narrative

Here’s a related quote from Henry Jenkins on Transmedia storytelling:

Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers. We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp.  […]

Transmedia storytelling expands what can be known about a particular fictional world while dispersing that information, insuring that no one consumer knows everything and insure that they must talk about the series with others (see, for example, the hundreds of different species featured in Pokemon or Yu-Gi-O). Consumers become hunters and gatherers moving back across the various narratives trying to stitch together a coherent picture from the dispersed information.

Henry Jenkins

Are you with me still? Have I lost you yet? Have you closed out this tab and clicked to another one, searching for the next marginal online thrill? Good, I hope so. Because Lorecore is Borecore is Snorecore, and that is the power of it. To the outsider, who has not ears to hear, these words will be a bore. But to those touched by the gods of Lore, nothing could give them more pleasure.

One last quote before I end this awkward blog post that had no arc in an ending that yields no resolution:

Lorecore is also the realm of hyperreality, and is the world we’re increasingly heading into technologically.

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI).

Wikipedia: Hyperreality

If this doesn’t just describe it to a tee, I don’t know what does!

To be continued, as I plan to keep flogging this topic til it drops all its jewels on the cold wet earth, and its seeds take flight…

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