All posts by Peace

About Peace


Quotes: Food For Thought

“I suppose the truth is that when it comes to
believing things without actual evidence,
we all incline to what we find most attractive.”

— Conway to Mallinson, Lost Horizon

“[Ralph] gave himself up to them now for the first time on the island; great shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body…with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of  the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

— Lord of the Flies

“There were two in paradise and the choice was offered to them: happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness. No other choice…
They, fools that they were, chose freedom.”

— R-13 to D-503, We

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin…Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat;…the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.”

— Savage to Mustapha Mond, Brave New World

The Magical Plant

The Magical Plant
By Peace Chung

Lola spent much of her free time swimming through schools of fish. The physical contact tickled her all over, and she constantly counted to see how long she could endure the tickling. Many times, she would giggle until her stomach and tail cramped because she would intentionally leave plankton on her body, causing passing fish to linger as they fed. Different species of fish would kiss her glittering periwinkle and lavender scales and get lost in her silky, electric-blue hair. Her cheerful and inviting giggles radiated throughout the water that, many times, dolphin pods would follow her voice and join in on the playful fun. Although momentarily interrupted, each school of fish always formed back into an organized group as they swam away.

One day, Lola had been playing in this field of seaweed—on the northern edge of Melloasis territory—for so many hours that she had forgotten to eat. Starving, she decided to pick out some seaweed before heading back to the communal caves.

She had only swum a few hundred meters when the water suddenly became dark. Looking up towards the water’s surface, Lola could tell a storm was brewing. Now, with only the bioluminescent plankton on the ocean floor’s rocks lighting her path, Lola continued to swim towards the community center. The water quickly became colder and rougher. The waves started to push Lola’s 100-pound body side by side—a whirlpool was forming.

All of a sudden, Lola felt a heavy force twist her body around and her hair blew over her face. Her hair covered her eyes, and she found herself being pulled apart in complete darkness and terrifying silence. A large piece of driftwood, pulled into the same unfortunately fate, hit Lola in the back of her head. Although her body kept twisting and turning, her mind succumbed to a dangerous stillness.


Lola began to stir, feeling like her body had been hit with a ton of coral. Her limbs felt cramped and sore; her closed eyes winced at the sunlight that still managed to pierce through her eyelids. Slowly adjusting to the bright light, Lola opened her eyes through a series of blinks. The strange sight of a dirty, brick wall surprised Lola to raise her eyebrows and fully open her eyes in shock. Alarmed, strange sounds became to accompany her sight—monotone beeping and honking, chirping and buzzing, and words that were not in Mermish.

With her eyes fully adjusted to the light now, Lola saw that she was no longer underwater. More shockingly, her tail was gone. She had a pair of legs covered in a stiff, blue material with front and back pockets. She had a pair of feet covered in sturdy black gear with white decorative swooshes or wings on either side. Wings? Could she fly?

Lola found her upper body covered in a light coral, loose-fitting garment. Her shoulders were covered but the rest of her arms were bare, and her neck was still exposed. She peeked under her shirt and discovered that her beloved starfish trinket, which covered her left peck, was replaced by some black ink outline that was permanently etched into her skin.

Looking around, she found herself to be in between two very tall brick buildings—in a small street that did not lead to anywhere else. She saw ladders attached to the sides of these buildings, much like ones she has seen aboard sunken, shipwrecked boats. She started crawling around the small, dirty space and learned that a nearby green box held stinky waste. For the first time, she was able to smell. Lola had only heard of the ability to smell—when the Elders back home narrated the old legends of human beings. But oh (mer)man, smelling was indescribable! It was like tasting without putting anything in her mouth. It was…absolutely horrendous. And, humans? Has she turned into a human? Her new bodily form resembled worn out, framed illustrations of unmoving humans that she’s seen in shipwrecked sites– “pickures” that Elder Core has explained to her once or twice before.

Before Lola’s thoughts had an opportunity to panic, she saw something move in the corner of her eye. At the entranceway of this dead-end road, she saw someone walk by, but she only moved with her two feet. Taking cue, Lola stopped crawling on all fours.

Surprisingly, Lola found it very easy to stand up on her feet and balance upright without having to hold unto anything. She also found it strange that she knew how to move her feet in a mobile manner. She was “walting”– she thinks that’s the term Elder Sage uses in her tales. She walted towards the area she saw her first real human, and was surprised to see a larger road littered with more humans, even taller buildings, and alien machines that zipped by quickly.

Yet, still thrilled with her newfound ability to smell, Lola’s nose became distracted by something that smelled so indescribably pleasant. She walted towards a human who was roasting something small in his cart—a sign with the words “peanuts $1.50” was printed against the sneeze-guard glass, but Lola was unable to read. There was no such thing as reading and writing back home. Instead, everyone interacted with each other through speech—and information was preserved orally.

Lola remembered how hungry she was and reached for a small bag of peanuts. The human behind the cart slapped her hand, and Lola, shocked, withdrew her pale hands. She did not know why the human would not share his food—back in Melloasis, everyone freely shared their food. Another human approached the cart, gave a green piece of paper and two silver circles, and was granted one bag. Realizing something had to be traded, Lola walked away saddened that she no longer had her starfish trinket to exchange with.

Walking down a long street, she passed by tens of humans who all looked very different. The only common characteristic that they all seemed to have was a body and covering garments. However, they also had different builds and chest sizes. The ones with smaller builds had larger chest sizes and longer hair, while the ones with bigger builds generally had smaller chest sizes and more facial hairs. There was definitely a divide, Lola decided—humen and humaids. In Melloasis, everyone usually had long hairs on their heads and no facial hairs. The only different major difference between mermen and mermaids were in their reproductive roles (fertilizing or egg laying, respectively).

She was wondering how humans reproduced when she saw a humaid walking towards her direction—and she had the same electric-blue hair as Lola. She excitedly beamed at this human, giggling the same giggles that invite dolphin pods to her presence, and she waved her hand hello with upmost glee.

This humaid was dressed head-to-toe in shiny, black garments with spiky, silver decorations on her shoulder pads and belt. The humaid made eye contact with Lola but did not smile. In fact, her eyes were outlined with a heavy black coating and they seemed to be piercing through Lola’s blissful aura. Now close enough for physical contact, the humaid did not stop to interact but continued to walk past Lola, shoving her shoulder against Lola’s. The decorative spikes dug into Lola’s skin and her smile quickly turned into a frown of painful rejection. This hurtful feeling was new to Lola, who hardly experienced any negative personalities and situations back at home. These humans were indifferent and hard to connect with.

Lola continued to walk down this long avenue when she came to a some kind of open entrance. She saw luscious and green fields, polished shrubs situated along a metal fence, and large trees speckled within this green space. These must be breathing greens that survive on land, seeing as they look so similar to aquatic trees and and sea plants. But why are they trapped in this enclosed space? Why don’t they exist among the tall buildings?

Somewhat relieved by the presence of nature, Lola entered the green space with a renewed, optimistic energy. She copied other humans and stretched out on a small, green hill. Running her fingers through the blades of grass reminded her of swimming through school of fish and fields of seaweed. Slightly ticklish but pleasurable, Lola smiled at the familiarity.

A group of human children who seemed to be around her age walted by her and tossed some red metal cans towards a circular bin. Some missed, though, and three cans lay abandoned a few feet away. Curious, Lola got up and walted towards the bin. Her nose wrinkled at the similar, foul smell she experienced earlier. It must be some type of waste collection storage, she thought. But why didn’t those humans properly place the cans into the bin? And what materials are these things? Can they even decompose in the land or water?

Suddenly, Lola saw something sticking out of the trash that resonated with her—a six-ring, plastic object with holes. Lola’s friend had once found one while exploring a sunken yacht. Elder Sage told them that those rings are harmful to nature, especially to marine life, and immediately had it ripped up into smaller pieces and buried under a large rock.

Do these cans belong in these holes? Why are humans not taking care of their environment? Why are there so many waste-collecting bins throughout this land, overflowing with trash? Lola began to recall similar stories narrated by her fellow mer-people—fables and tales of the destruction of nature brought upon by the human species. Because of humans, the sea temperatures rose a few degrees, ice glaciers melted, hundreds of animal and plant species were destroyed, and the air became heavily polluted. Were these stories real? They couldn’t be. How can one species influence nature to a colossal degree?

Lola thought back to her earlier years. She spent her days happily exploring her colorfully vibrant environment underwater. She engaged with other marine life that was never harmful. She never created waste that could not be recycled into the ecosystem. She never behaved in a way that created damaging consequences to mother nature. That’s how she was raised.

Her community never intentionally drove a fish population into extinction, or created waste that negatively impacted their world. Mer-people were considerate, positive mermen and mermaids who thrived when their environment thrived and suffered when their environment suffered. Did humans not have the same relationship with nature? Disheartened, Lola started to miss home.

I have to get back. How do I get back? How did I even get here? When will I get to return and enjoy my life as a mermaid, again? These thoughts bounced inside Lola’s head and she looked for a water source.

Walting throughout the park, she came across a body of water, filled with small toy boats and real, life-size rowboats. Her excitement quickly turned into distress when she realized that this body of water was enclosed—it was a lake. How could she return home from here?

Thinking of Melloasis made Lola crave the water. She knelt by the lake’s edge and dipped her hands into the water. The water felt slimy, and there was a weird smell radiating from it. Lola immediately took out her hands after realizing the water itself was a dark green-grey color and obviously contaminated. Traumatized, she met the glares of equally traumatized bystanders who witnessed her bizarre act.

Lola quickly stood up and determined that she must find a larger body of water, something connected to the ocean. She longed for home. She used the sun as her compass and wran westward– “wran” like humans in a race, as Elder Sage once mentioned in a story about marathons–at least, she thinks that was the word. She exited the park and found herself back on hard black and grey streets, surrounded by tall and artificial buildings. With the sun beginning to set, these structures began to look ominous and cold. Shadows raced to grab Lola’s feet as she continued to run westward, dodging weird cars and leashed animals and more weird smells. After a few blocks, Lola realized that the smell came from her hands—she was filthy and tainted. She wran faster, towards the sun until she reached the Hudson River.

The water seemed to glow orange from the setting sun, and provided a rather warm and familiar invitation. Without thinking, Lola climbed over the rails and jumped into the river.

But the water was not warm and inviting. It was colder than what Lola had ever experienced, and she could not see beyond six inches in front of her underwater. The murky water did not house fish and coral reefs, but garbage and rusty metals. When Lola tried to breath underwater, her nose tried to smell the water instead. She began choking on the toxic water, and her feet would not function as a tail. Lola did not know how to swim. During brief, sporadic moments, her head resurfaced and she let out distressed sounds. Yet she was unable to be heard above the noises of construction noise and aggravated traffic.

Lola’s head bobbed above the water’s surface less and less, and her body became heavier in weight. As the last bit of water filled her lungs, Lola’s body started sinking towards the ocean floor. Stillness took over her mind and body. Above ground, hundreds of city humans nonchalantly passed by.


Lola jolted up in panic.

The first thing she saw was her glittering periwinkle and lavender scales. Her silky, smooth, electric-blue hair tickled her torso, and she looked down at her pecks and saw her treasured starfish trinket still on her body. Her feet were gone, her garments were gone, and her ink drawing was gone. She took deep breaths and realized that she was able to breath underwater again. Where was she?

She was back in her communal cave at Melloasis. She was greeted with the clarity and pureness of the ocean water, and the overwhelming sensation of feeling clean again. The water felt warm, and the familiarity was extremely comforting.

Her caretaker entered the cave, and looked relieved to see Lola awake.

Excited, Lola began to share her story without pauses in her sentences.

“I was human! I had feet and I could smell, and it was exciting at first…but it was so terrifying! There was no community, and nature was mistreated. The legends are real, I’m telling you! They’re real!”

“Lola, why did you eat the seaweed? Good thing a hunter saw you and brought you back here.”

Confused, Lola stopped her racing thoughts. In the midst of her hunger, she had forgotten that Elder Sage had warned her and the other mer-children that the seaweed in this playing field was laced with ciguatoxin—a tasteless and odorless poison often found in tropical waters.

“You were hallucinating,” she was told.

But she was able to breathe. And smell. And walt. And she wran. No. It was real. It was all too real!

A few moments later, Elders entered the cave. Lola’s caretaker immediately exited the cave, leaving Lola alone with the wisest mer-people of Melloasis. Surprised to see all five Elders at once, Lola trembled at the possibly of being exiled out of Melloasis– a decision that requires every Elder in presence when announced. Was her action harmful to nature? Did she cause harm to other marine life? Will she be the first one in the past 1200 years to be exiled from Melloasis? Her heart began to beat quickly, and the surrounding water pressure magnified the beating sounds from her chest.

“Lola, were you not warned to eat the seaweed in that area?” asked Elder Core, gently.

“I was not thinking, Elder Core,” Lola responded as she bowed her head in shame. She spoke with such softness, in a melancholic melody. “I was hungry and had forgotten what Elder Sage had told me and the other mer-children.”

“At least you have not caused harm to yourself, others, and our environment,” responded Elder Core in his steady, sophisticated voice. His words were calming yet sophisticated, and it began to warm up Lola’s mood.

Elder Sage spoke, “You have discovered our key to wisdom, Lola.”

Confused, Lola responded, “What do you mean?”

“The plant is magical, Lola. It scans our unconscious  and conscious curiosities and sends us on a unique journey to experience and understand our questions. Sometimes it’ll bring one of us to a human world, where we can learn about this environmentally destructive and now-extinct species; other times it’ll allow us to consume foreign aquatic plants and fish so we know which ones are safe to eat,” continued Elder Sage.

“I was a human, I was a human!” exclaimed Lola. “It was real, it was real!”

“Yes, it was real in the sense that the plant never lies,” answered Elder Sage, “but your body remains in this world and to others, it just looks like you’re in a deep slumber– experiencing a vivid dream or hallucination.”

“Then why can’t we all gain wisdom? Why are we cautioned to stay away from consuming this magical plant?” questioned Lola.

“Because too much wisdom gets confused for power, and too many powers in one place encourages conflict…” began Elder Sage.

“…and too much conflict will disrupt the equilibrium!” injected Lola.

The Elders smiled at young Lola’s revelation. “That is correct,” spoke Elder Core. “It is important that you must refrain from eating again from the plant, Lola. You mustn’t even tell others about the magical plant. Or else Melloasis will become a dangerous place.”

Lola internally sighed with relief knowing that she was not being exiled out of Melloasis. She knew this was a big responsibility to keep the Elders’ secret of gaining wisdom– but it was one she knew she would have no problem keeping. She loved Melloasis so much that the mere thought of her society becoming as destructive, dangerous, and unfriendly as the human world terrified her. Her worry was a comforting sign of honor towards nature, and the Elders were wise enough to know that they could trust her.

Monsanto House of the Future (1957)


This House of the Future was founded in 1957 as an attraction site in Disneyland (Anaheim, California), built by the Monsanto Company, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Walt Disney Imagineering. It was closed in 1967. Within its ten year period, approximately 20 million people have visited this attraction.

Monsanto Company
The Monsanto Company, heavily involved with chemicals, desired to expand its presence in the home construction industry. For this attraction, their goal was to design a home that explored the optimized utilization of plastics as a building material. They pushed plastics as a new and creative candidate for building materials. Today, the company is best known for producing genetically modified seeds and other agricultural solutions.

Blueprint of the rooms inside the house; outside view of the house. This house was built for a nuclear family (2 parents and 2 children), with no pets.
Inside kitchen and living rooms. The bottom right photo is the living room that was “updated” in 1960.
Bedrooms, sneak peek of the master bathroom, and the kitchen.

House Description
This walkthrough attraction featured a home set in the year 1986 (three decades into the future), highlighting futuristic materials, styles, and household appliances. The future was depicted as an absence of traditional furniture styles and natural elements, and an embracement of ultra-modern synthetics—mainly, plastic. However, one key aspect still seen as contemporary (at least, to our current standards) was the color scheme of the furniture and décor—it was all very 1950s.

The house, with four wings extending from a center, “floated” on a pedestal above a modern landscape. It was approximately 1300 square feet, with each wing measured at 8’ H x 16’ W x 16’ L. It included a family and living room, kitchen, dining room, master bedroom, master bathroom, two children’s bedrooms (one for each gender), and a shared kids’ bathroom.

The builders designed a home using wings, or cubes—straying away from the usual square exterior—to maximize access to daylight for each room and add privacy for various activities. This design could also be implemented into any location—whether a rocky mountain or steep hill, the pedestal would turn any bad location into a workable one. The structure on top of the pedestal could even be rotated to change the views.

Governing Philosophy & Rules
This utopia indicated no information about the future state of government, laws and politics, and human rights/rules. There is no federal, state, or local government designation.

Science & Technology
The Monsanto Company and its collaborators studied how plastics were being used in construction in the 1950s, and they experimented how its particular properties could be practically applied in the future. The exterior consisted of 16 “molded polyester-urethane” layers, while the interior consisted of “reinforced epoxy support columns, laminated wood beams, and laminated safety glass” ( All of the structural properties were made to last in outstanding condition. In fact, the demolition crew’s wrecking balls bounced off the structure after the site was closed down. Ultimately, they had to resort to choker chains to break up the plastics into manageable, smaller pieces. This house demonstrated an increased acceptance of plastic as an exploitable material for the construction industry.

One of the major revolutionary indicators was the kitchen. Inside this home, household appliances either hung from ceiling cabinets or popped up out of the counter. A smaller microwave oven (they were inconveniently large at the time) was a prophetic indicator of the evolving appliance. Today’s modern fridge drawers mimic the home’s “cold zone” units that fit inside several cabinets.

There were other “revolutionary” features inside the house that accurately reflect our society today. Some items include the electric toothbrush, built-in stereo system, wall-mounted televisions, and security screens to see who is at the front door. Dimmable ceiling lights found inside the house back then are also a common element found in homes and other buildings today. The push-button speakerphone with preset dialing, installed by Bell Telephone, is echoed today via speed dial buttons on mobile machines.

Plastic does seems to be a bigger part of our lives today—hello, Ikea furniture—but it is not everything. While we do incorporate plasticware and plastic furniture, today’s society does not find plastic particularly elegant or classy. In today’s time, people look to other elements (steels, woods, bricks, ceramics) as higher quality materials.

1967, Closed
This attraction was closed down in 1967 to make way for another attraction, Adventure Thru Inner Space, which was also sponsored by the Monsanto Company.


Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 8.04.14 AM
Inside the Innovations Dream Home– the Magic Mirror.

2008, Innoventions Dream Home
Disney announced that it would bring back the attraction in a renovated form, renamed as the Innoventions Dream Home, with a more modern and accessible interior. In collaboration with Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Lifeware, it was a house focused more on modern technology rather than foundational material.

2014, Today
Although the attraction is now closed, the reinforced concrete foundation still exists in its original location. It is currently being used as a planter in a garden space within the park—hiding in plain sight!

–   Three years after it’s opening, the house underwent a major update because many of the things that seemed “futuristic” in 1957, became contemporary in 1960. It underwent another major update before it was closed.
–   In 1956, 15% of plastics made in the U.S. was allocated to construction, compared to 23% today

A Utopian Society: Melloasis


Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 12.04.07 PM


*While each mer-person understands the constitution, it is not a formalized, legalized document. Rather, it is something that can be orally recited and referred to through song. While it is recorded below in English (human form), it only exists in Mermish as a beautiful melody. Often times, you will hear bits and pieces of this beautiful song throughout the villages as a constant reminder and celebration of the mer-people’s unified endeavor to be in tune with nature.

We, the citizens of Melloasis, hereby declare ourselves to always strive to be harmonious with nature, maintaining the equilibrium between our society and our surrounding environment.

Article 1: MELLOASIS
This utopia is officially known as Melloasis, a combination of “mellow” and “oasis”. 

Melloasis is founded on the principles of respect for nature, the preservation of ecological harmony,  the communal bond, and the pursuit of nondestructive happiness.

The reasoning behind the mer-people’s passionate respect of nature dates back to an old fable concerning a land-species, named humans, who destroyed its mother nature over the course of thousands of years, Eventually, humans’ actions and behaviors brought about disturbances in the global climate, sea levels and water temperatures, the atmosphere’s chemical makeup, and were directly held responsible for the unnatural extinction of many animals and plant species. Therefore, the forefathers of this society determined that a peaceful co-existence with nature was a crucial necessity for their species’ long-term survival.

Melloasis shall be an oligarchy of five Elders, composed of the oldest (and therefore, wisest) merman or mermaid from each of the five villages.

Article 4: LANGUAGE
The mer-people of Melloasis shall communicate in their original language, Mermish. This language consists of squeaking and squealing intonations, similar to that of dolphins, as well as beautiful song, similar to that of humpback whales–but in their distinctive Mermish dialect.

Melloasis encourages an atmosphere of free-will, in which individuals have the right to be relaxed and in a blissful state of mind, as long as equilibrium with nature is not affected. Although there are no written, strict laws and rules of conduct, cheerfulness and productivity is highly encouraged. Thankfully, in this society, most members are naturally inclined to behave and perform in this manner, and a pessimistic or dangerous character is rarely found.

All mermen and mermaids are equal before the law. There is never any negative discrimination concerning gender, age, nor status. Elders are looked upon in a slightly more favorable light, however, because society relies on them to peacefully exist in equilibrium with nature.

There are five Elders who work to preserve harmony in this utopia with nature; they are the most wise mer-people in society at any given time. One’s wisdom is measured solely by age, and Elders often live up to 200 years old. The oldest mer-person in each village holds this position for life. Once an Elder passes, the now (new) oldest member in that village becomes the Elder.

The Elders do not create solid, strict rules, but there are certain types of behavior that are celebrated. It is easy for them to encourage a harmonious relationship with nature, both individually and communally, because the mer-people of this society are already predisposed to behave in this way.

Because they are the most wise mer-people of this society, each Elder is trusted with the task of making decisions that affect each mer-person. Whether it is deciding to pause hunting on a specific species of fish, or exiling a rare rogue member out of society (which happens once in a blue moon), they always work to maintain a balance with nature.

Article 9: ECONOMICS
Mer-people specialize in roles such as fish hunting and gathering, medical assistance, and reproduction caretaking. However, these roles are not set jobs that are worked on the daily for a specific number of hours. For example, while a certain group of mer-people may be great hunters, this does not restrict others from hunting on their own free will. These skillful hunters, also, are not obligated with the responsibility of feeding their entire village.

Their roles can also easily change depending on the situation. If there is not enough food for everyone in this society, everyone (who is able) will focus on hunting to feed themselves and other members.

Everyone in each village will share the food and other goods, either obtained through earning, gifting, or bartering. There will be no form of money.

Fire and electricity do not exist in this underwater world. Their technology depends on the natural behavior of the sun/sunlight, water and waves, and the surrounding species with special characteristics. Most importantly, the water functions as a medium for communication. Sound travels father in water than in air, and about six times more effectively. The mer-people communicate while hunting, mating and reproducing, trading, and playing.

Because their technology is limited by water, the mer-people use surrounding materials to benefit their lives. They use things they can discard back into their environment, always in a way that is not harmful to nature.

Article 11: ECOLOGY
Melloasis’ ultimate goal is to maintain harmony with nature. With every action completed with careful and thoughtful consideration, the inseparable bond with nature always strives to be kept at equilibrium. Therefore, it is this society’s responsibility to maintain harmony with nature by not doing anything beyond natural preservation.

Article 12: RELIGION
Members of this society do not practice any religion that idolizes objects or unseen gods, mainly because “religion” is a human concept. The only omnipresent force they believe exists is nature– but they understand that they cannot influence it with prayers and incantations. They do not worship nature, but are often in awe of it. They admire the natural beauty of their environment, and are thankful to be living as witnesses to it—such as the stillness of the deep, blue sea; the colorful illustration marked on sea creatures and marine life; and the natural wonders of whirlpools.

There is no discrimination based on gender, and gender roles are nonexistent. Any merman and mermaid can specialize in any role depending on their availability, capability, and aspirations. A mermaid may be an excellent hunter or a respected Elder, while a merman may be a wonderful nurturer and caretaker.

The distinction between a merman and mermaid is simply based on their role in the mating and reproductive process. The mermaid carries and lays the eggs, and the mermen fertilizes them.

There may also some physical differences, in which mermen are inclined to expose their bare torso, while mermaids favor placing some kind of ornaments on their torso (such as a starfish).

Mermen and Mermaids choose multiple partners for reproduction (approximately between 3-5 in their lifetime), usually based on genetic compatibility. Love is not an important factor in mating.

Most mermaids lay an average of five eggs, via external insemination, per each successful mating. Not all eggs are guaranteed to hatch, because of accidents, predators, and by chance. The eggs are cared for by the entire community, with extra attention given by the specialized nurturers, and once born, the mer-children are raised communally as well. Furthermore, the mer-people live communally in underwater caves and are not organized into nuclear families.

Article 15: ETHICS AND LAW
Mer-people are instinctively inclined to understand and appreciate nature; everyone automatically behaves appropriately—in a way that is positively helpful and valuable to nature. In this society, everyone puts in an equal effort to sustain harmony with nature.

Punishment does not exist in this society because: 1) no one is intentionally bad, and 2) there is absolutely no good that punishment would bring to nature. If problems arise, the mer-people work together to re-establish the peace, and continually encourage a sense of community through expressive and meaningful interactions.

Expanded Information:

Physical Setting
Melloasis exists somewhere off the coast of an area that echoes Hawaii. Thriving in warm-water temperatures, the mer-people live near the surface of the water, up to 200 meters (656 feet) below the surface—which is known as the euphotic or “sunlight” zone. Melloasis approximately spans a territory of a comfortable seven cubic miles, they rest in underwater caves, which are found in sporadic clusters. These underwater caves are categorized into five different villages, with 100 mer-people belonging to each village. They live in peaceful co-existence to other marine life within this territory.

Physical Appearance
Adult mermen and mermaids both range in height from 5’4” to 5’10.”  A typical weight for them ranges from 120 lbs to 180 lbs.  There are no malnourished or overweight mer-people, but each merman and mermaid has its own individual body shape and size (they are not cookie-cutter or cloned-looking creatures).  On the whole, mermen are slightly larger than mermaids but only by an inch or two at the most and ten pounds to twenty pounds heavier.  There are no appreciable differences between the sexes in terms of strength that would affect the types of jobs they can do.  Neither sex has nipples nor belly buttons, and they gestate their young externally like sea horses.  Both sexes are human from the waist up and fish from the waist down (with legs-length tails, covered in scales).

The scales are the same colors as the particular mer-person’s hair, which typically vary from different hues of blue, indigo, and coral.  This is a genetic occurrence that happens naturally. Because of this natural, geneticoccurrence, if some mer-people choose to dye their hair in a different color, they will most likely dye their individual scales into a similar color as well, to keep their head-to-tail appearance consistent.  Some mer-people like to have different color patterns on their scales such as a striped black-white pattern to show their personality and individuality (their hair will mostly likely be some sort of incorporation of both black and white/blond as well).

The dye is an oil that is excreted from the leaves of the Sea Cress plant.  The plant grows plentifully on the sea floor outside their caves.  The Sea Cress Plant come in shades of red, orange, yellow, green, brown, and purple.  One application of the oil into a mer-person’s hair or scales will dye them the color of the oil and a second application of the same oil will wash it out.  Because the dye is oil based, the ocean water will not wash out the dye though the color will fade slightly over time.

Mer-people live to the advanced age of 200, they age a bit slower than humans.  Mer-children reach physical and mental maturity at the age of 25 instead of 18.  Their correspondent growth as children is slower in proportion to this fact.

Melloasis is divided into five villages with roughly 100 members each. Each of the five villages has one Elder who is the oldest in his or her village. The Elder’s age ranges from 150 to 200 years old and holds the position for life. Once a mer-person reaches the age of 150, he or she is qualified to be an Elder if there isn’t already an Elder in place. As a mer-person ages, their wisdom also grows with them so it would only make sense that the oldest mer-people are the Elders and they are in charge of their villages.

The Elders do not create absolute, strict rules, but there are certain types of behavior that are celebrated. For example, being idle is not looked down upon, but being productive is celebrated. The mer-people are free to explore their territory and be playful, while being generally productive. Being productive is considered hunting for fish, swimming around finding trinkets or shells to collect, observing other maritime species, exploring the territory, taking care of and feeding the young, and grooming themselves.

There are mer-people who specialize in roles such as fish hunter/gatherer, doctors, caretakers, etc. but their roles can be easily changed depending on the situation. For example, if by chance a shark enters their territory and some of the mer-people are hurt. There are mer-people who are doctors but that may not be enough to help these injured individuals. At this point an announcement will be made and caretakers and fish hunters will come and help out the doctors. Another example is if a hunter is injured or deceased. In this society everyone is free to find their own food but the hunter is their main source of food. Since the hunters are very efficient fish hunters within the society, the absence of one hunter can largely affect the food supply. In this case the mer-people will automatically chip in help lend additional support.

As a mer-child grows up he or she shadows or is an apprentice to an expert in the field of his or her choice. This is to prepare the mer-child for adulthood. The Elders delegate the responsibility of having an apprentice to the experts. When a mer-child reaches the age range of 18-25, he/she has a meeting with the Elder to discuss entering adulthood and the specialized role he/she may possibly fulfill. The specialized roles are ultimately chosen by the Elders because they are the most wise, but if a mer-person dislikes the role, he/she is allowed to suggest a different role to fulfill and explore other options.

Everyone in the village shares the food and other goods will be obtained by bartering with other members. Different levels of value are not placed on traded goods/services. Rather, whatever a mer-person needs/wants and does not need/want at a particular moment dictates what they trade. For example, a mermaid may trade a fish (when they are not hungry) for a coral “hairbrush” because their desire for smoother hair is higher than their current appetite level. Once her hair is smooth, however, she may later trade it for bunch of seaweed because her hunger has grown.

There is no form of money. The mer-people do not have many personal belongings because that would crowd up their caves. They are allowed to keep maybe one or two trinkets such as pretty, shiny objects like pearls, or shells. These items should be able to be found naturally in the sea. A mer-person should not be keeping anything that is foreign or human made. If an individual desires an object that another mer-person has, the individual can offer to trade an object for the desired object. Each item in the trade must be considered equal or around equal value just to make sure it is a fair trade.

Fire and man-made electricity do not exist in this underwater world. Their technology depends on the natural behavior of the sun/sunlight, water and waves, and surrounding species with special characteristics.

The sun/sunlight gives natural lighting to their environment and gives an indication of the time of day. They spend most of their day performing activities while the sun is out, and they usually spend the night resting or sleeping after the sun has set. The water offers hydration and sustainable life to the ecosystem’s species and food sources. The characteristics of the waves offer indication of the weather of the current and surrounding environments (e.g. hurricanes). The water also functions as the mer-people’s medium for communication. Sound travels farther in water than air (and about six times more effectively). The mer-people are able to communicate with each other while they hunt, mate, and play—through cheerful squeaks that are similar to dolphins and in beautiful song that is similar to whales.

Other underwater creatures inherently offer help to the mer-people. Bioluminescent marine life, such as plankton and small fish, offer lighting underwater. This is particularly useful to the mer-people on cloudy days where sunlight is unable to penetrate through the water’s surface. This also enables the mer-people to continue tasks and explore their environment even after the sun has set—they do not necessarily have to go to sleep right away.

Because their technology is limited by water, the merpeople use surrounding materials to benefit their lives. Driftwood becomes a hunting spear and seaweed becomes a temporary net—things they can discard back into their environment in a way that is not dangerous to nature. With careful and constant observation of their environment, however, they are able to enhance some of their daily activities. They pick up seashells from the sand and use them as megaphones—they are able to project their sounds not only from a farther distance, but also at a greater volume. They also use coral to comb their hair and smooth out their scales.

This utopia’s ultimate goal is to maintain harmony with nature. With every action completed with careful and thoughtful consideration, the inseparable bond with nature always strives to be kept at equilibrium.

The underwater world is a place for all maritime creatures. Nature has its ways for recycling and reusing natural waste, therefore, preserving life. Nothing supplementary is needed to sustain the beauty of marine life. Therefore, it is this society’s responsibility to maintain harmony with nature by not doing anything beyond preservation.

At times, the mer-people are very interested in observing their environment, discovering new species, and gaining stronger understandings of marine life—but it is always in a way that does not disrupt nature. Anything “(mer)man-made” does not cause permanent damage to nature, always considering environmentally-friendly values. The reasoning behind their passionate respect to nature dates back to an old fable concerning a land-species, named humans, who destroyed its mother nature over the course of thousands of years. Slowly, and then all at once, humans’ actions and behaviors brought about disturbances to the global climate, sea levels and water temperatures, the atmosphere’s chemical makeup, and were to blame for the extinction of many animals and plant species. Their destruction ultimately made earth an un-livable planet for the humans, and they eventually sought refuge on other planets within the Solar System. Therefore, the forefathers of this Melloasis determined that a peaceful co-existence with nature was a crucial necessity for their species’ long-term survival.

The mer-people’s population is controlled by predators (larger fish, sharks, whales), accidents, and natural occurrences (death by old age), and they, in turn, keep other species’ populations in check—it’s the natural circle of life. Also, unlike similarly-intelligible humans, the mer-people do not domesticate animals nor enjoy ownership of pets.

While mer-people may hide from (in caves or seaweed fields), swim out of reach of, or use distraction techniques against predators, they do not set up physically dangerous traps of any kind because it is not natural– they are not the predator. Their village is not an optimal swimming location for their predators (mainly due to insignificant sea level for whales, or unsatisfying food options for sharks who prefer seals), but predators will occasionally cross borders since there aren’t any definite “fences” of any kind. Moreover, any mer-person who swims outside of Melloasis also risks being in an area where predators are more likely to be around.

Mer-people never developed a religion in the sense of believing in a god or gods. This is an abstract idea to these creatures because religion is a concept developed by humans.  They don’t need to rely on idols or gods because the only power underwater is nature– a natural force that cannot be swayed through faith. They are not spiritual and see no need to create blessings or prayers.

They do, however, have an awe of and appreciation for nature.  They are also very observant of their surrounding environment– understanding the circle of life, the food chain, and existing predators. Because of this, they appreciate nature in the sense that they recognize the full worth of the fish they eat, the sharks they fear, and their own part in the larger whole.  They accept that each part is vital and necessary to the health of the whole. They show this by taking great care in their hunting to keep the food chain in balance and being very concerned with the ecology of their environment in the whole.

They also find joy appreciating the natural beauty of their world– from naturally occurring whirlpools, the presence of colorful coral reefs, and the hypnotizing way the sunlight reflects off certain objects.

The Relationship between the Sexes
Mermaids and mermen do not have defined gender roles.  Since mermaids and mermen are physically very similar; the main difference being an inch or so of height and only a few pounds in weight, there are no jobs that physically, only mermen or only mermaids can do.  Also, since mermaids to do not gestate their young internally or breastfeed, care of mer-children from conception can be done by either sex.         Because there are no gender roles, there is no discrimination based on gender either.  Any mer-person can have any job specialization they want including Elder once they hit 150 years of age.

There are minor physical and role differences when it specifically comes to reproduction; the mermaid lays eggs and the merman fertilizes them.  However, since mating is only for survival of the species and both mermaids and mermen have multiple partners in order to maximize egg hatching potential, there is no jealousy or other negative relationship-based problems among the sexes.

Sexual Reproduction
All mer-people start reproducing when they hit the age of sexual and physical/mental maturity at 25 and have started their adult lives.  They have a natural urge to mate when spring starts and the weather gets warmer because the changes in the temperature of the ocean affect their hormones.

Since there are only 100 mer-people in each village and mer-people can reproduce from the ages of 25-55, only about about 20-30 mer-people are fertile and able to mate each year.  In order for the best chances of the eggs to hatch, mermaids and mermen choose multiple partners based on which physical and mental characteristics that they have and which characteristics a genetically compatible partner would have to have in order to produce viable children.   In order to have the best chance of viable eggs, merpeople will conceive with all available genetically compatible partners within their village.  The relationships between one mer-person’s choices of partners and other mer-people’s choices of partners will intertwine to form a spider’s web.  Because of this and the small selection from which they have to choose from, each mer-person will average between 3-5 different partners.

By the end of spring, most mermaids have produced an average of five fertilized eggs via external insemination.  Because not all eggs hatch, and mer-children are raised communally, birth control is not practiced and most mermaids will produce approximately 30 fertilized eggs over the course of their lifetime.  The eggs are kept in special incubator rooms in the childcare cave which is a specific complex within each village of 100 merpeople.  Approximately one to two eggs hatch from each mermaid’s conception for a total of about 15-20 new mer-children a year.  About the same number of merpeople die from old age or accidents per year so the communities even out in terms of population numbers.

The reasons not all eggs hatch are infertility/egg/sperm problems in a particular mer-person, various genetic defects in the fertilized eggs that make them non-viable so they never hatch, improper handling by the childcare workers in charge of the eggs that would cause them to break or become damaged, environmental problems in the ocean that would affect all the eggs for that year, predators managing to swim into the childcare center and eat the eggs, or just plain bad luck.

Family and Reproduction
Mer-people are a hybrid of different species of fish that have slowly developed intelligible thoughts and behaviors similar to human intelligence. Through millions of years of evolution, mermen and mermaids have come to exhibit mental abilities (e.g. emotions) that differentiate them from most simple marine life.

Mermaids and mermen both have the same degree of emotional attachment with their children, which, since they are produced and gestated externally, are weaker than human bonds.  Therefore, they have no problem swimming over to the childcare center in early May with their freshly fertilized eggs for them to be raised communally by other mer-people.  Some mermaids and merman are born with stronger bonds to children so it is their calling to work in the childcare center and communally raise all the children of their particular village.

Because mer-people are a hybrid of fish (simple animals that gestate very quickly), and humans are much more complex (and therefore take nine months to gestate), it takes on average between 2-5 months for fertilized eggs to hatch. Mer-children are born similar to infant humans (being a small, naive form of adults that undergoes much development with time) but instead of needing breastmilk, they eat plankton and other small fish that don’t require chewing. They are already born able to swim as it is an innate necessity (like sharks).

They grow up in the childcare center and stay there while they prepare for adulthood by shadowing or being an apprentice to an adult mer-person who has a job they might want.  After the mer-child reaches the age range of 18-25 and met with an Elder to discuss their specialization, they are allowed to move into the communal adult cave system.   Each village of 100 mer-people live communally as a whole since they are not organized into individual families (in multiple clusters of caves, not just one cave).  Mer-people do not have individual homes but will sleep in whichever cave in the village they want and may change caves as often as they like.

Mer-People Rights
In Melloasis, it is ideal that everyone contributes to the society, but that is not always the case. There may be one mer-person who has been influenced in a certain way that what he or she does in his or her daily life will negatively impact the community. If any of the mer-people suspect another mer-person to be adversely affecting the village, a report should be made to the Elder. The Elder will have a personal conversation with the said mer-person and if the suspicions are deemed true, the Elder will have the power to exile him/her from society. However, some suspicious reports could happen from misunderstandings and miscommunications– that is why all reports go to the wise Elders.

If a mer-person finds an unnatural object (such as a human-made object), he/she must report it to the Elder. This object could be harmful to the society. The Elder will have a meeting with the Elders from the other villages and come up with a way to properly dispose of this object.

Mer-people are instinctively inclined to understand and appreciate nature; everyone automatically behaves appropriately—meaning they behave in a way that is positively helpful and valuable to nature, or in a way that is neutral. In this utopia, everyone puts in an equal effort to sustain harmony with nature. Inappropriate behavior is anything that negatively harms nature– such as over-hunting, or developing tools that cannot be recycled back into the environment. However, it is not in the mer-people’s nature to act inappropriately (although there are random, rare exceptions due to genetic mutations).

Punishment does not exist in this utopia, simply because: 1) no one is intentionally mischievous, and 2) there is absolutely no good that punishment endured by mer-people would bring to nature. The only problems that arise within this utopia come from accidental misfortunes, such as an accidental harpooning of another hunter while catching fish, or an unintentional overhunting of a small fish species. In the case of a “friendly fire” death, the entire community may mourn over the lost life, but the “killer” is not punished. Instead, everyone works together to re-establish the peace by putting in slightly more effort to make up for the lost work of one body, and by encouraging a sense of community through expressive interactions such as hugs and smiles. Everyone works to take care of the nuclear family “left behind” collectively, because they are all part of one larger family– everyone in its community is entwined. With a loss of a life, there may be a memorial, but never a burial (because it is an unnatural action).

If someone accidentally hunts too much of a fish species to the point that its population becomes endangered, the mer-people lay off hunting that particular species until it naturally repopulates itself to a safe level. However, if it becomes extinct even after the mer-people have stopped hunting that species, it is looked upon as a natural and inevitable termination.

Now what if someone deliberately breaks the code of being one with nature? Although this is a species where everyone is innately born with the understanding and appreciation for nature, there is an extremely rare occurrence of an outlaw. It is natural for a species to experience some individual abnormalities, such as a clownfish born with a deformed fin (e.g. Nemo). Although very uncommon, a merman or mermaid born without an appreciation for nature is possible. Once an Elder realizes that an individual mer-person does not follow the natural code, they have the power to exile him/her out of the society. Once cast out, this mer-person is soon expected to die because they are incapable of surviving by themselves. It is nearly impossible to survive on their own because they come from a species that significantly relies on one another. No remorse is shown by any mer-person inside the society because they only uphold equilibrium with nature.

Divergent (2014); Faction Before Blood

“I don’t want to be just one thing. I can’t be. I want to be brave, and I want to be selfless, intelligent and honest and kind.”Four

Divergent (2014), directed by Neil Burger, takes place in a futuristic post-war Chicago, where a totalitarian society is separated into five factions, or groups where people share a primary characteristic. Erudite are the ones who value knowledge and logic; Amity farm the land and are always happy and harmonious; Candor are truthful and value honesty; Dauntless are the brave and fearless protectors, and police, of the city; and Abnegation, or Stiffs, are selfless, simple public servants who are trusted to run the government.

Beatrice Prior was born into Abnegation, along with her brother Caleb. They both undergo the obligatory aptitude test, which determines which faction they are best suited for. Although teens usually receive the result of the faction they are born into about ninety-five percent of the time, Beatrice’s results are inconclusive. Knowing she has a hint of Dauntless inside of her, she makes the bold move to choose Dauntless as her new faction during the Choosing Ceremony.

Training starts immediately and she must learn to be both physically and mentally fit to earn her stay within Dauntless. Now known as Tris, she steadily climbs the performance chart with her determination and dexterity. Meanwhile, she must protect her secret of being Divergent, or someone with multiple attributes of several factions. Divergents can think independently and creatively, and the government cannot control their thinking. Therefore, they are considered dangerous threats and are aggressively hunted down by Erudite, who are trying to gain control as the ruling faction.

Once society turns chaotic with the Erudite takeover, it’s up to Tris and others (who realize the system is flawed) to stop them.

Society reminds people of the terrible war of the past, in which the rest of the world was destroyed. The founders built a wall around the city to keep its people safe and divided everyone into five factions to sustain peace: Erudite (intellect), Amity (peaceful), Candor (truthful), Dauntless (brave), and Abnegation (selfless). This system was put into practice to prevent future conflicts. If anyone is Divergent, or conveys traits from all five factions, he/she is unable to be conformed or controlled by the ruling party—and therefore, are considered a threat to the “peaceful” system. Another group that does not belong to the five factions is Factionless—people who do not belong to any faction. Both Divergent and Factionless pose complications for this society’s effort at utopia.

Since Abnegation is selfless, they are entrusted with the power to rule and govern society. Erudite aggressively work behind the scenes to gain control of society and eliminate Abnegation, because they believe that intellects deserve the power to rule. This brings up the question: should a society be ruled by smart people, or selfless people?

Jeanine, the fascist leader of the Erudites, believes that intellect deserves to hold power. She believes that human nature is a sign of weakness. It is natural for people to “keep secrets, lie, steal” and she wants to eradicate this enemy to peace. She praises the faction system because the sense of conformity “removes the threat of anyone exercising their independent will.” In order to carry out her personal scheme, she has Dauntless injected with a controlling serum—they become mindless soldiers and exhibit no self-control. With chemistry, she is able to wipe out their history, emotions, and thoughts. She uses this army to round up and eliminate the Abnegation faction, whom she believes is a threat to the faction system.

There are strong parallels in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. This dystopian society is surrounded by a Green Wall, which separates its people from outside nature. It is set in the future after a great, painful war that has destroyed the rest of the world.

Similar to the idea of a serum used to control Dauntless, in D-503’s last journal entry, he shares his encounter with the “Great Operation”—a procedure that is mandated for all citizens in order to prevent acts of rebellion. This operation aims to remove imagination and emotions from its people, and turn them into mindless and controllable soldiers. This idea of a soldier—someone who carries out given orders—emphasizes the absence of individuality and freedom.

In Divergent, each teenager is given an aptitude test which, based on one’s personality, indicates a suitable faction. Each individual, however, has the free will to choose his/her permanent faction, regardless of the results. Yet, if any teenagers choose a faction that differs from their parents, they are unable to see/visit their parents.

By allowing individuals to choose their factions, these young individuals either succeed in earning their place by upholding or developing the main characteristic of their unit, or fail to belong and consequently become Factionless. Since some do succeed, people from different factions intermingle and produce children who may carry a mixture of traits from their parents. Over time, it is reasonable to assume that someone could be born with all the strengths of the five factions—therefore, this system actually encourages the inevitable creation of Divergents. While in Abnegation, Tris had an insatiable craving to be Dauntless, and her instinctive bravery is explainable by the fact that her mother used to be Dauntless herself. Maybe Tris has ancestors down her family line from every faction.

In Plato’s Republic, he discusses how people are composed by gold (commanders), silver (auxiliary), brass and iron (craftsmen)—predetermined by God himself. The species are generally preserved in their children, as they will most likely share a composition to that of their parents. However, “a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son.” Plato continues to state that parents should observe the natural elements in their offspring, because nature may call for a “transposition of ranks”. He also mentions that no one should be disappointed if their offspring show elements of a lower “class” because it is part of the natural order. In Divergent, the teenagers’ right to determine their place in society themselves is not really a celebrated freedom. Before the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice encounters Jeanine, who tells her, “I’m sure your parents will support whatever choice you make.” Beatrice responds, “I thought it wasn’t supposed to be a choice. The test should tell us what to do.” “You’re still free to choose.” “But you don’t really want that.” Once Beatrice makes the decision to join a different faction, she sees the look of disappointment on her parents’ faces—the same look they expressed when they found out Caleb had also joined a new faction.

Although she has a Dauntless element inside of her, this society does not commemorate change that is not controllable by the ruling faction. In an effort to maintain some strict order within the system, there are rules. Once a decision has been made, the teenagers cannot change their mind about their faction and return to their old faction. In fact, if they fail inside their chosen faction, they must join the undesirable Factionless. Also, they must assume the “faction before blood” mantra. When Tris goes to see her brother at Erudite, he brushes her off and puts his devotion to his faction before his family. This in-group sense of identity keeps the five factions manipulatable. [See clip below]

Just as Divergent ends with the “revolution” still not yet won by Divergents (and allies), We ends with the future state of One State uncertain. Although parts of the Green Wall have been destroyed and there seems to be an increase in social rebellion, the survival of this society is still questioned. Divergent, however, does seem more hopeful in bringing about the near-future destruction of the totalitarian city-state—mainly because of a likeable, capable female lead who seems to be natural catalyst for change.

“The Iron Heel” (1908), Jack London

The Iron Heel (1908), Jack London

The Iron Heel is a multi-level story of the past, present, and future—all at the same time. Avis Cunningham (Everhard), a middle-class-lady-turned-revolutionist in the United States, writes a manuscript of events that have occurred in her past (1910s), but narrates it in the present tense. She writes about the ongoing revolution to topple the capitalist system, not knowing that it would actually take multiple revolts after her for capitalism to finally fall.

The plot within the manuscript first focuses on Cunningham’s encounter with Ernest Everhard, who eventually becomes her husband. She first meets Everhard, a man from the working class, at her father’s dinner party. Everhard challenges the higher classes to recognize the contemporary flaws and inevitable crumbling of the capitalistic system, debates socialist theories with them, and describes the current reality of the working class. Everhard opens up the door of socialism for Cunningham, Dr. Cunningham, and Bishop Morehouse—gradually allowing each to come to accept a revolutionist’s perspective.

This ultimately leads Everhard to state, “That, gentlemen, is socialism, a greater combination than the trusts, a greater economic and social combination than any that has yet appeared on the planet. We meet combination with greater combination.” (London, Ch. 8).

Cunningham discovers real flaws within the capitalistic system—from company negligence to unjust courts, and from dirty conspiracies to bribes and treason. There are multiple confrontations between Everhard and capitalist defenders. In one instance, he reveals the hypocrisy of middle-class merchants, who support capitalism but rage against “bigger dogs” who have taken their profits. Everhard describes the rise of the socialism, and how a impactful uprising throughout the world is in the works.

The entire second half of the novel deals with the physical revolutionary action against the “Iron Heel”. The revolutionaries plan to seize power and control through a coup d’etat, rather than a social revolution. The proletariats/laborers plan to take power from the ruling class, from the trusts, and gain control of all the machinery. Cunningham goes into secret hiding, changes her identity, and sends and receives messages to/from other revolutionaries—all for the socialist cause. Cunningham and Everhard, even though briefly jailed and separated, continue their plans for the First Revolt with enthusiasm.

The First Revolt was planned for the spring of 1918. The revolutionaries planned to blow up wireless stations; transportation networks (bridges, tunnels); and seize officers of the Mercenaries, police, and Oligarchy. Other simultaneous events were to occur in neighboring cities and countries all around the world. It was doomed from the start, however. While undercover with the Oligarchs, Cunningham discovers that the revolutionary plot in Chicago–the “storm-centre of the conflict between labor and capital”–has been discovered (Ch. 22). Knowing that “Chicago is to be sacrificed,” she still makes her way to the doomed city, where Everhard is presumed to be. Although she is able to reunite with her husband, the destruction is obvious– bodies lay in red pools in the streets, suspicious traitors are questioned and executed on the spot, and bombs and explosions fill the city with noise and destruction.


Although the First Revolt fails, the revolutionaries quickly plan a Second Revolt—even with a recent passing of one of their capable leaders, Everhard (which is never explained). The story ends in mid-sentence, and it is suggested that Cunningham must have been rushed to hide the manuscript. She was never able to return to finish the manuscript, and her fate is also unknown. Unfinished and kept hidden until discovered 700 years into the future, the manuscript gets updated with footnotes and a foreword by Anthony Meredith, who provides useful historical context and explanations. By this time, Meredith is living under socialism.

Jack London’s view of socialism was not concrete. In fact, his political views were a personal cocktail of conflicting theories—emotional demands for social justice, racial superiority of the white race, and social Darwinism (Trott). This idea of social evolution was a part of his socialist thinking—he understood that class conflict and subsequent revolution were inevitable facts of nature (“The Iron Heel: A Jack London Novel…”). He became a member of the Socialist Labor Party in 1896, and joined the Socialist Party of America in the early 1900s.

By 1906, London had already abandoned the idea of a “mass working-class movement to overthrow capitalism and establish a new society” (Trott). Although The Iron Heel starts out with the strong belief that socialism can overwhelm capitalism, London indicates that socialism is not attainable in the likely future (multiple revolt failures)—declaring that the working class is actually powerless in freeing itself from capitalistic rule. Although the Iron Heel eventually topples a few centuries later, the capitalist system fails because of its own vulnerabilities—not through an overtaking.

The Iron Heel was “remarkably prophetic” in describing the actions of government during World War I, after London’s death (“The Iron Heel: A Jack London Novel…”). London discusses the utilization of secret police, reactionary mobs, spies, and terrorism the Iron Heel and revolutionaries participated in. He also describes the heavy censorship of papers and control of media, which proved to be a major disadvantage for the revolutionaries. The Espionage Act passed during WWI brought about paper censorship, jailed outspoken dissenters, and “protection groups” that went around towns dealing with unpatriotic people. His predictions were oddly foretelling.

Circumstances of the times:
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw much economic and social sickness, including: the Depression of 1873, the Pittsburgh railroad strike and the July riots of 1877, the Haymarket Riot of 1886, the Great Panic of 1893, the mass demonstrations of the unemployed, the control of monopoly and large-scale production in just a few people (Vanderbilt, Moore, Rockefeller), and the establishment of trusts (Khouri). People struggled over power and money.

During this time, socialism and other movements against capitalism were quickly defeated. With an accelerated birth and growth of industrialization and a working-class movement, utopian and dystopian texts were published in great numbers. There seemed to be a collective pursuit of the “future and projection of utopian hopes or anguished fears” (Portelli). Also, the intellectual and economic analysis of socialist thinkers (like Karl Marx) in the early 1900s, started to make influences throughout the modern world.

The society is broken down into three main classes: the Plutocracy (wealthy trusts), the middle class (professionals), and the proletariat (wage workers). In respect to governance, the Plutocracy holds the power over the machines, the economy, the law, and the force that supports the law. They rule with an “iron heel” that is as “relentless and terrible as any despotism that has blackened the pages of the history of man” (London, Ch. 9).

The central struggle occurs between the Plutocrats and proletariats. The Plutocrats have formed the Oligarchy and the Iron Heel to dominate every aspect of this society. The middle class is essentially either bought out by the Plutocrats, or joins the proletarian cause. Because of this separation of the middle class, it eventually dies out. There is no longer a medium, a neutral party—only extremes.

The Plutocrats rule with a capitalist stick. They suppress socialism with its secret agents and control of the press; they whip the Catholic Church into obedience and keep the church on a short leash; they rob the workingman’s vote (Ch. 13). The result? A great surplus they must dispose of abroad.

The proletariats, or revolutionaries, take on a socialist view as their ideal form of government. Everhard attempts to mathematically validate why capitalism is designed to fall, using Karl Marx’s theory of surplus value. According to the capitalist system, any unconsumed surplus must be disposed of overseas, because capital in its own country has already consumed as much as it is capable. Surpluses are sold to countries with undeveloped resources and, eventually, these countries become developed and have their own surpluses. With a limited number of countries on the planet, every country will eventually have a surplus, and will “stand confronting every other country with surpluses in their hands” (Ch. 9). In order to avoid this problem, countries should not generate any surplus by “returning to a primitive method of production”. However, Everhard acknowledges that the machines cannot be destroyed and the “tide of evolution” cannot “flow backward” (Ch. 9). Therefore, possessing power over the machines will allow for careful production. The proletariats do not want to destroy the trusts and the machines, but to own and supervise them.

In an effort to dismiss and discredit socialist theories, the Plutocrats manage the press. Respected thinkers presenting socialist views are written off as sick or mentally unstable, or are branded as anarchists. Certain middle class individuals are invited to join the trusts and enjoy increased wages with shorter hours, if they belong in a favored union (Ch. 15). Members of these favored unions are now relabeled as traitors to the lower classes, and a divided caste system arises (aristocracy of labor, the rest of labor, and military castes).

Human Rights:
The governing class very loosely respects the idea of human rights. When Cunningham investigates Jackson’s case (concerning fairness in the justice system), she discovers that there was absolutely no justice in the judge’s court. She remembers Everhard’s charge that the gowns she wears, the food she eats, and her rooftops all drip with blood of men and children—and she begins to shudder at the size of these stains (Ch. 3).

Speech and the press were often censored to the Plutocrats’ favor. Reporters twisted words out of context and described controlled comments as “howling anarchistic” speeches; socialist presses were destroyed or barred from being mailed; and the Black Hundreds (reactionary mobs) caused violence and havoc to later redirect responsibility to the revolutionary groups (Ch. 10).

People were thrown into sanitariums without sufficient reason. People were jailed but not charged (e.g. Cunningham was kept in prison for six months). People were drafted to serve in the military—forced to serving the Plutocracy by fighting against their own families and friends in their own home-fronts. People who refused to serve in the militia were executed. People disappeared without warning, never to be seen again. The Iron Heel controlled the peoples’ rights.

Bishop Morehouse is a heartbreaking symbol of the vulnerable church. When Everhard first proclaims that the “Church is not teaching Christ these days…the Church is supported by the capitalist class” (Ch. 2), Morehouse experiences a revelation. Now alert, he goes on a “soul-sick” journey to visit the homes of the wageworkers and the slums of San Francisco and finds a renewed purpose. Morehouse states that the “palaces of the Church should be hospitals and nurseries for those who have fallen by the wayside and are perishing” and begins to preach the message of Jesus more passionately to show the church that they need to take a more serious, holy stand (Ch. 7).

His purified passion lands him inside a sanitarium, with the newspapers reporting of his mental instability (Ch. 12). His mandatory solitary confinement helps make him “sane” again, but only momentarily, out of fear. Everhard shares his bitterness with Cunningham by stating, “The Bishop obeyed Christ’s injunction and got locked up in a madhouse…Society has spoken.” This statement strengthens the disappointing realization that the church has strayed so far from the Word (gospel), heavily choked by capitalism’s deadly chains.

Morehouse eventually gets out again and disappears from the public light, continuously working for the Lord in quiet. In the end, his body is discovered in the streets of Chicago “torn and mangled” among other bodies (Ch. 24). Seeing a devoted Bishop die while fighting for the church, and with not much advancement, sadly reduces the level of supernatural hope that people want to have while enduring hardships.

The Iron Heel narrates a determined, revolutionary effort against the Oligarchy. While the manuscript details a motivated effort to bring down capitalism and to replace it with socialism, the reader, through Anthony Meredith’s footnotes, is aware of its doomed ending. This dramatic irony channels the sarcastic humor of Jack London, who wanted to inform society that the working class is powerless at overwhelming capitalism, and socialism is not achievable in its near future.


A PowerPoint PDF with a brief overview is also available, here.


London, Jack. “The Iron Heel.” Project Gutenberg E-Book. Dec. 2012. Web.<>.

Khouri, Nadia. “Utopia and Epic: Ideological Confrontation in Jack London’s The Iron Heel.” Depauw. Science Fiction Studies. July 1976. Web. <>.

“The Iron Heel: A Jack London Novel You Didn’t Read in School!” Daily Kos. 2011. Web.<>.

Portelli, Alessandro. “Jack London’s Missing Revolution.” Depauw. Science Fiction Studies. July 1982. Web. <>.

Trott, Steve. Jack London’s The Iron Heel.” The Socialist Party of Great Britian. Jan. 2008. Web. <>.

“The Village” (2004): Fear…and Love! But Mostly Fear.

The Village (2004), M. Night Shyamalan

Brief Summary (without spoilers!):
The Village (2004) is about Covington—a small, self-sufficient village in the woods that lives in isolation from the outside world. Consistent with the late 1800s, the village people wear traditional garbs, perform agricultural and domestic tasks, and live free of technology and modern medicine. Covington is run by a handful of men and women Elders, each of whom have a painful, secretive past in connection to the outside “towns”.

When an incident leaves one of the villagers fighting for his life, his lover asks the Elders for consent to enter the impermissible woods to reach the outside towns for much needed medicines. The lover and heroine is a blind girl named Ivy, daughter to the head Elder, Mr. Walker. He ultimately reveals truths about the village, the creatures in the woods, and the secrets of the Elders to her. With this information, Ivy journeys, alone, beyond the safety of her village into the woods and (hopefully) reaches the outside world in time to save her lover’s life.

Watch the entire film on YouTube, here.

At first glance, communal intimacy and youthful innocence portrays the village in a utopian light. There are frequent long-table dinners, barn wedding celebrations, and hide-and-seek games within the flowery fields. However, this society lives in vigilant fear of the haunting creatures lurking beyond their borders—which are attracted to the color red and are only referred to as “those we do not speak of”.

A discussion over a slain animal, in what appears to be an elementary classroom setting, shows the village children believing “those we don’t speak of killed it”… “they’re meat eaters”… “they have large claws,” (6:45). The Elder speaking to them stresses “We do not go into their woods, and they do not come into our valley. It is a truce.” This tells the younger generation that they must never leave the mental and physical safety net of the village; they must abide by the rules.

As with most children, some of the village boys have a daring appetite for rebellion or adventure. In one scene, a village boy has been dared to stand on a tree stump at the edge of the borders, with his back to the woods (14:40). His friends watch from a safer distance, seeing how long he can last before getting scared. Eventually, his fear gets the best of him and he runs away from the edge. They are all encouraged, by fear, to obey. Always.

Because of fear, the people lack courage. Only Ivy experiences such bravery, which is fueled by her deep love for her fiancé, Lucius. She has the courage to venture into unknown territories even though she is blind. She has the will to continue her journey even after her two assisters have abandoned ship. She also has the determination to face and defeat a creature that attacks her in the woods. In all of these instances, love conquers fear.

Ivy’s character is very brave, even though many people may view her blindness as a major limitation/flaw.
Ivy garners the courage to fight off a creature in the woods.

Unknowing to the village people, fear is the Elders’ method of controlling/governing them— they use fear to protect their village. It is all mainly to prevent the villagers from physically venturing out beyond their borders, and to squash any curiosity or interests of the outside world. No one ever leaves, and no one (an outsider) ever enters Covington.

A great clip on the villagers’ fear of “those we don’t speak of”:

There are other rules and regulations the village people also follow. People must be granted authorization to venture out; people need the blessing for a marriage; all accidents/incidents must be reported to the Elders. The men and women Elders make decisions altogether, always as one. The Elders even take turns being the chairman for meetings (although, Mr. Walker is the definite head Elder). They are seen as trustworthy, all-knowing, and right/true to their people, mainly because of wisdom gained from interaction with the “outside towns” before settling here.

What the Elders eventually realize, however, is that “heartache is a part of life” (1:14:00). Even though they had each tried to leave their painful pasts behind (dealing with a violent or unexpected death of a loved one) in the outside world, they still continued to experience the pain of losing loved ones inside the village (to disease and accidents). This reminds me of the people who scarcely age, in James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. The High Lama, or Perrault, himself has been living for over 300 years. Other people within Shangri-La, like Lo-Tsen, have been able to retain beauty and youth over many years—they are all about preservation, and relish in their carefree bliss. However, in Covington, the Elders work to erase knowledge about the outside world—and its population is not really expanding.

In Lost Horizon, Shangri-La is able to sustain its population by bringing outsiders into its valley; yet, it is so well hidden from the outside world, that Conway struggles to ever find his way back to paradise. Covington, on the other hand, prides itself on staying completely isolated from the outside world. Ivy later learns that the village exists somewhere deep inside a wildlife preservation, well-funded by her family’s estate to keep people out and planes out from sight. The Elders never look to invite outsiders to join the village, and its population grows only through existing lineages.

In terms of economy, money does not play a role in this society. Ivy’s father enlightens her that “money can be a wicked thing. It can turn men’s hearts black. Good men’s hearts.” (1:00:03). The village does not have a need for money since they are communal and they do not need to interact with other towns to exchange goods and services. The Valley of the Blue Moon, in Lost Horizon, seems to agree with this notion that money is not the most important center in one’s life. Henry Barnard, or Charlmers Bryant, is a financier who stole millions in USD and disappeared from America. He finds comfort in the valley and wants to stay—offering his services to prospect gold to improve life in the lamasery. It appears that the valley is inspiring Barnard to turn his greed for money around, and instead, to give him a newfound purpose of being a contributing member of society.

[Spoilers ahead]
Even though fear is the Elders’ main weapon to govern Covington, they use deception and secrecy as supporting tools. When Mr. Walker brings Ivy to an old, locked shed, he allows her to touch what hangs inside—there are three creatures with “boar-like masks inside their robes, and clawed hands. They are costumes.” (1:07:40). He then proceeds to explain to a very surprised and stunned Ivy that “everything is farce”:

Ivy: The screams? From the woods?
Walker: We created those sounds.
Ivy: The Ceremony of Meat?
Walker: We remove it ourselves. An Elder is always assigned.
Ivy: The drills… they are farce, too?
Walker: We did not want anyone to go to the towns, Ivy. 

We soon learn that each of the Elders have a painful secret—while living in the outside world, they had to deal with a horribly cruel death of a loved one. In fact, they all met each other at a counseling center! Walker shared an idea with the Elders one day (in the 20th century), leading to a mutual agreement to start a new life (one that mimicked the times of the late 19th century). With this new society, each Elder kept these secrets from their children and their children’s children, allowing for an innocently naïve society to flourish. Surprisingly, in the end, the Elders collectively decide to keep the society going, using the tragic death of one of their own to instill more fear in the village people.

Utopian Flaw: From Thomas More’s Utopia

“The hospital are furnished and stored with all things that are convenient for the ease and recovery of the sick; and those that are put in them are looked after with such tender and watchful care, and are so constantly attended by their skillful physicians…” (UR, 83)

This type of sincere, serious care can only originate from a genuine, familial love. Because we are first able to experience and understand love within our own family, we are able to then proliferate that love unto others (neighbors, friends, partners, patients). How can this Utopia, which easily ignores the importance of maintaining genetically-linked families, encourage an environment that fosters such a love?

In a household, the number of members must remain between ten and sixteen. Any “extra” member is trafficked into another household– even into another city or town or continent (81). This is clearly a form of human trafficking! If parents are able to send out their own children and receive others, how can love really exist? It may be easy/natural to care for another being as your own (e.g. adoptions), but can you disregard the love for your own at the same time? Can you easily transfer that love around?

Because this Utopia encourages its people to be proficient in specialities that they enjoy doing and/or are talented in, these “skillful physicians” are obviously medical experts. But someone who knows exactly how to treat a virus or disease may not have the same capacity to truly care about their patients. If they are just doing their jobs, why is More describing them as such caring attendees?

Where does this “tender and watchful care” originate from?

Wouldn’t It Be Nice vs. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Love is a powerful advocate for peace– meaning that someone who is consumed by pure and honest love is overcome with mental harmony. It is a calmness and a freedom from anxiety  that washes over someone who is deeply loved, and loves deeply in return. Because love enables a sound mind, it sets up a strong baseline for a utopia.

The character singing Wouldn’t It Be Nice, by Beach Boys, is yearning for some utopia where his innocent love can freely flourish beyond what his current society believes is just too young. A different world is fantasized– where the character is already older and married, spending time with his loved one in true happiness. The presence of carefree innocence–which almost always accompanies teenage love–is what masks all problems and struggles, therefore, creating a perfect place.

However, the stanza “You know it seems the more we talk about it / It only makes it worse to live without it / But lets talk about it / Wouldn’t it be nice” reveals admittance from the singer that such a place does not really exist…but wouldn’t it be nice?

It is important to point out that the love the singer is referring to may not be as deep of a love as what we may define to be a true, sacrificial love (e.g. spiritual relationship or parent-child relationship). Although we may all remember our first flings and intimate relationships during high school as an “all-mighty love”, in hindsight, we are able to understand that that kind of love is definitely a more playful and youthful “love”. Still, the innocence that attaches to that playful love can be persuassive enough to dream up one’s own utopia.

Listen to Wouldn’t It Be Nice, here.
Read the full lyrics, here.

In contrast, an example of a deeper, more serious (and spiritual) love is Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), a song by Hillsong United. The singer is calling out to her God, letting go of her anxieties and burdens and letting Him take care of her. The trust and honest faith that she embraces allows her heart to feel at peace– she is emotionally experiencing her own utopian world.

“So I will call upon Your name / And keep my eyes above the waves / When oceans rise / My soul will rest in Your embrace / For I am Yours and You are mine”

Listen to Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), here.
Read the full lyrics, here.