Where in the World is Utopia?

Perhaps you have heard of Islandia? Ecotopia? Nolandia? Rossum’s Island? Fordlandia? All but one is an imaginary land. But which one?

Have you looked up Islandia on the globe – it’s purported to be a small country surrounded by the Mount Islandia massif, rich in mineral resources, whose history is described in length in Austin Tappan Wright’s 1944 classic Islandia and in Mark Saxton’s The Islar, or Islandia Today. Check out Ecotopia, an experimental ecological community that bloomed in the 1970’s, detailed in Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston. Ever study Nolandia, a 16th century European republic, discussed by Sir Thomas More in his 16th century classic Utopia? Will you take a vacation cruise that passes by Rossum’s Island, off the eastern U.S. coast where the early 20th century physiologist, Rossum studied ocean fauna and robotics (documented in Karel Capek’s R.U.R.). Next time you are in South America, drop by Fordlandia, Henry Ford’s (the Henry Ford) immense rainforest utopian agro-industrial-plantation complex, 16 hours by river boat from the nearest town, in the deep heart of Brazil’s Amazon forest, complete with a golf course, ice cream parlors, hamburgers, and imported Michigan office workers. Fordlandia, twice the size of Delaware would cultivate rubber for the tires of the Model-T.

It’s a hard choice, isn’t it! Well if you guessed, Fordlandia, you are astute. It was a real place and though long deserted, it is not forgotten. For we have two books in our collection that will feed your curiosity. Just off the press is Fordlandia: the rise and fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin, a penetrating, highly entertaining tale of a project that was in Grandin’s words “more Deadwood, than Our Town”, And Fordlandia has inspired the creative juices of other artists.

There is the novel Fordlandia by the Argentine Eduardo Sguiglia that presents Fordlandia through the eyes of Horacio, a Brazilian, hired to recruit native workers for Fordlandia. The Icelandic composer Johann Johannson has an audio cd entitled, Fordlandia inspired by the same tale. While on singer/songwriter Kate Campbell’s album Save the Day, there is a track called Fordlandia, a parable of hubris.

-Karen S.


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