Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age

Picture Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age

by Russell Jacoby


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231128940
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 03/30/2005
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Russell Jacoby is a professor of history and education at UCLA and the author of several books of history, politics, and cultural criticism, including The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in the Age of Apathy, Dogmatic Wisdom: How the Culture Wars Divert Education and Distract America, and The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe. He also reviews books for The Nation, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and other publications.

Read an Excerpt

Utopian thinking consists of more than daydreams and doodles. It emerges out of and returns to contemporary political realities. As I see it, this contradiction defines the utopian project: it partakes at once of the limited choices of the day and the unlimited possibilities of the morrow. It straddles two time zones: the one we inhabit now and the one that might exist in the future. Nor is this unusual in the history of utopianism. At least since More's Utopia, contemporary crises motivate the utopian author who dreams of another world.

Table of Contents

1. An Anarchic Breeze
2. On Anti-Utopianism: More or Less
3. To Shake the World off Its Hinges
4. A Longing That Cannot Be Uttered

What People are Saying About This

James Miller

Like most of Jacoby's work, Picture Imperfect is sui generis. It is an erudite polemic, spirited and consistently engaging. The writing is epigrammatic and the scholarship broad-ranging.

Anson Rabinbach

Russell Jacoby challenges the all too common wisdom that utopian dreams breed dystopian political nightmares. His passionate brief for a distinctively non-totalitarian strand of utopian thought indicts a contemporary failure of imagination. Writing on the sharp edge of the divide between utopians and anti-utopian liberals, he cuts through much of the pretense of a generation of political philosophers who famously regarded passionate hope and totalitarian genocide as issuing from the same source. His spirited, indeed utopian essay, restores the "anarchic breeze" that informed those iconoclastic thinkers for whom neglected, spurned, and new ideas were not anathema.

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