All posts by Robin L. Frankel

About Robin L. Frankel


Robin’s favorite quotes

““Yes, I thought it was wonderful,” he lied and looked away; the sight of her transfigured face was at once an accusation and an ironical reminder of his own separateness. He was as miserably isolated now as he had been when the service began—more isolated by reason of his unreplenished emptiness, his dead satiety. Separate and unatoned, while the others were being fused into the Greater Being; alone even in Morgana’s embrace—much more alone, indeed, more hopelessly himself than he had ever been in his life before. He had emerged from that crimson twilight into the common electric glare with a self-consciousness intensified to the pitch of agony. He was utterly miserable, and perhaps (her shining eyes accused him), perhaps it was his own fault. “Quite wonderful,” he repeated; but the only thing he could think of was Morgana’s”

Brave New World

I like it because I identified with it.  So many times I have been the socially awkward odd one out at social gatherings and this quote is what it feels like.

“I write this, and my cheeks are burning. This must be similar to what a woman feels when she first senses within herself the pulse of a new, still tiny, still blind little human being. It is I, and at the same time, not I. And for many long months it will be necessary to nourish it with my own life, my own blood, then tear it painfully from myself and lay it at the feet of the One State.”


I like it because as a writer, I feel the same way towards my own work.

“Most young Anarresti felt that it was shameful to be ill: a result of their society’s very successful prophylaxy, and also perhaps a confusion arising from the analogic use of the words “healthy” and “sick.” They felt illness to be a crime, if an involuntary one. To yield to the criminal impulse, to pander to it by taking pain relievers, was immoral. They fought shy of pills and shots. As middle age and old age came on, most of them changed their view. The pain got worse than the shame. The aide gave the old men in Ward Two their medicine, and they joked with her. Shevek watched with dull incomprehension.”

The Dispossessed

I like it because there are still illnesses that are shameful to have and shameful to treat.  Depression and similar mental problems aren’t talked about.  Some people suffer in silence and others, tired of being sick, get treated.




Perfect Harmony with Nature

Ohwa, a mermaid and Appa, her half-brother, came out of their home cave together.

“Today’s the first day of our apprenticeships!  I’m so excited!” said Ohwa.

“Yeah, me too.  It sure was a grueling series of meeting with the elders until we got these.”  Appa shook his head.  “I knew that I’m not cut out to be a hunter but I like to work with my hands.  I still don’t understand why I had to endure the Elders five times.  Five!  Until they finally decided I could weave seaweed into nets and sharpen driftwood into spears.  I think you had it a little easier.”

“Only a little bit.”  Ohwa flipped her long red hair over her shoulder.  “I met with the elders four times.  They wanted to make sure I was capable of killing an innocent life.  Apparently, the larger fish we eat are capable of having feelings too.  Personally?  Blood excites me.  I’m looking forward to my first kill.”

“That’s a warning for the elders too.  I remember when we played games as kids.  You were always looking for ways to hurt people.  The elders had our caretakers report to them.  I’m surprised you aren’t being expelled!”

“Yeah, I know.  That’s why I was surprised when they wanted to know if I could kill.  I think they thought it isn’t as easy the first time you actually kill.  That all my fantasies and smaller attempts wouldn’t be able to actually follow through.  They told me I have a little extra human blood in me that is making me bloodthirsty but all the other merpeople who contributed to me and my line always had-“

And here Appa joined in with the familiar line-“a healthy respect for nature!”

They laughed.  “Yeah, and the respect for nature supposedly makes it difficult to kill.”  She rolled her eyes.  “We’ll see.”

“Well we’d better get going.  I’m headed to the artists’ cave and you’re headed to the open ocean to meet the hunters.  See you soon!”

They exchanged kisses.  “See you soon.”

*Ohwa, whose name means egg in one of the ancient human languages that had been bastardized into mersong (Appa’s name means water in the same language), swam until she came towards the edge of her village’s territory.  The territory wasn’t particularly large, the whole area could be swam in about two hours and it only took Ohwa 20 minutes to reach the hunter who would be teaching her.

She looked around for a bit, contemplating Melloasis.  From where she was located, she could see a crowd of older mermen and mermaids assembled around a collection of spears.  Further north, she could see the school of fish they’d be hunting – Plattyies.  The plattyies were around the length of Ohwa’s tail and were covered in green scales with typical fish faces and fins.  Ohwa loved the taste of plattyies, at home she usually went through three plattyies a week with a little supplement with seaweed and plankton, while a typical merperson barely ate two because they had a more well-rounded diet.  That was probably why Ohwa was a bit rounder than your typical mermaid.  She was active enough, but now as a hunter, she’d be putting in a more strenuous workout.

She swam over to the hunters.  “Hey guys, I’m the new apprentice.”  She held out her hand.  “Ohwa.”

“Hey Ohwa!”  The leader of the group looked up at her with a big smile and took her hand.  “I’m Ette.  You’ll be training under me.”

Ohwa was suddenly silent.  Ette had cut his hair short and dyed it in black and white stripes, and his scales had also been dyed to match.  He was… attractive.  Really attractive.  She had never seen this combination before and suddenly wondered if mating season was coming up.  She didn’t normally feel this way.

The mermaid next to Ohwa must have noticed the look on Ohwa’s face because she whispered in her ear, “Not just you.  Last mating season, the eggs he helped conceive had the highest hatching rate of that year’s batch.  I think our bodies can tell no matter what the season.  He’s a good guy too and you’ll learn to work with him.”

Ohwa whispered back.  “Does he know the effect he has on mermaids?”

“No, and I’m not going to be the one to tell him.”

Ohwa nodded and hoped Ette hadn’t caught the conversation.  She raised her voice.  “Hi Ette, I’m a bit shy.”

“It’s okay.  We’re running a bit late so take a spear and we’ll head to the plattyies.”

Ohwa looked at the spears and chose a long yellow one with a nasty looking barb on the end.

“Good choice.  That can slow down a platty that’s running away and it’ll stick good.”

“Thanks Ette.”

“Follow me.”

Ohwa took a place towards the end of their loose v-formation so she could talk to her new friend.  “I didn’t get your name.”

“Oh sorry, it’s Echa.”

“Oh you’re related to Ette?”

“Loosely.  His father and my mother are part of the same mating cluster but we’re not directly related.  Are we related?  Our hair is the same color and I don’t dye mine.”

“Me either.  Uh, my mother is Agua and my father is Iba.”

“My father’s brother’s name is Iba.  We’re cousins!”

“That’s so cool!”  The two mermaids hugged.

Ette cleared his throat.  “Ladies?”

“Sorry Ette.”

They had arrived within spear throwing distance of the plattyies.  Now that Ohwa could see them up close and was going to actually get to kill one, her stomach was all knotted up.  It didn’t feel like excitement.  It felt like… nerves?  Could the elders be right after all?  To prove them wrong, she spoke up.

“Ette, can you show me how to throw the spear?”

“Sure.  Come out in front.”

She swam out in front of the group slowly.  She noticed that the plattyies could see the spears and were swimming closer together, in a circle.  They appeared to be trying to eat seaweed really quickly so that they could run away right after.  A knot came up into her throat.

“You know, I don’t think this is going to be as simple as I thought it would be.”  Her voice was hoarse all of a sudden.

“It’s okay, Ohwa.  My first time I ran away.  My second missed its mark and hit a wall.  Finally, the third time I went out hunting, I was able to wound a platty and help bring home dinner.  If I can do it, you will too.  Eventually.”

Ohwa smiled and nodded.  Inside she was thinking that she wasn’t going to run away – couldn’t – not after how long she’d dreamed of this moment.

“Alright,” Ette lifted his spear in his right hand and held it horizontal in front of him.  “Lifting the spear and throwing the spear are the easy parts.  The difficulty is hitting a moving target.  It’s easiest to aim at the center of a platty or a group of plattyies at first.  You’re more likely to get a hit that way, especially with your barbed spear.  I’ll go first, then you try if you can.”


Ette heaved his spear at a platty that was towards the edge of the circle, still eating seaweed.  He wisely realized that if he hit the center of the circle, the whole school would flee and Ohwa wouldn’t be able to hit any of them.  His spear flew true, and pierced the center of a platty.  The surrounding plattyies, seeing that one of them was hurt, started to flee.

“Your turn, Ohwa.  Be fast.”

Ohwa lifted her spear, put it into position, aimed at the center of the school, and heaved.  Somehow, it ended up spearing through a platty’s eye and it started making horrific noises.

“Oh no!”  The sight of the poor platty was too much and Ohwa threw up her breakfast –half-digested chunks of platty! – which made her throw up even more and start crying.

The school of platty had mostly fled by now and Ette heaved another spear and put the wailing platty out of its misery.

“It’s okay, Ohwa.  Look at me.”  He tilted her head up towards him and wiped away her tears.  “It happens to every hunter their first time.  None of us thought we could do it.  It’s in our nature.  We’re peaceful merfolk.  We don’t have war, we bred those human genes out of us.  We still need to eat but because we don’t have fangs and claws, our killing requires more equipment, more effort, and it can be traumatizing.  It’s okay, Ohwa.  Do you understand?”

Ohwa nodded as the tears kept streaming down her face.  She sniffled.  “It’s just that I always thought I had extra human blood in me… that I was bloodthirsty.  I always liked attacking other merkids in our games.  I was looking forward to this.  Now that I’ve done it, it sickens me.”

Ette nodded.  “I understand.  You thought you were an outlier, that you’d be expelled?”

Ohwa nodded.  Maybe he did understand.

He continued, “There have been far fewer expulsions the past few generations.  The elders figured out that remnants of humanity were causing it so they had the caretakers develop an oil that they could rub into developing eggs.  It deactivates the human genes. In some cases, an egg has so many it can’t hatch without them.  In others, which was probably the case in you, there were enough genes that the remnant remains, an echo of a human you that never was.  This echo made you bloodthirsty… but the oil ensured you can’t go through with it.  It’s the elders way of keeping our villages safe.  Humans destroyed each other.  We don’t want their genes to destroy us too.”

Ohwa stopped crying.  “So there’s a reason for why I am the way I am.”


“I don’t know whether I should thank the elders or stage a revolt.  They took away my free will.  My life… what just happened… they knew exactly how it would play out even from my hatching.”

Ette nodded.  “I understand.  The same process happened to me which is how I know about it.  It’s not common knowledge and the elders would like to keep it that way.  After all, Melloasis is in –“

And here Ohwa joined in with the familiar refrain – “perfect harmony with nature!”​

*Ohwa and Appa are Romanian words.


Star Trek “The Apple” and “The Way to Eden”

Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek has always showed an idealistic future that didn’t run away from the tough questions.  In the season 2 episode “The Apple,” Captain Kirk and company beam down onto a planet that seems like a paradise… until it starts killing off his crewmen.  It turns out that the planet is peopled by a primitive tribe under the leadership of an intelligent machine called Vaal.  Vaal is a benevolent dictator that provides fruit of the tribe to eat, ensures that the people will never age or get sick, but in return, the primitive people are like children.  They don’t even know what sex or love is as Vaal has prohibited closeness and touching between men and women.

Mr. Spock and Doctor McCoy engage in a debate very similar to the one at the end of Brave New World: is it better to be happy or free?  Spock argues that the people are happy and well cared for by Vaal, and they should not interfere.  McCoy argues that the people aren’t living, they’re merely existing, as they have no freedom, and they should recue them from mindless obedience to Vaal.

In the end, Vaal, rightly deciding that Kirk’s landing party is a threat to him, orders the people to kill them.  Kirk stops the attack with only one crewman dead and in return, kills Vaal by draining its power supply, thereby freeing the people and setting them on the path of social evolution.

In addition to the parallels between “The Apple” and Brave New World, the primitive people of Vaal are very similar to the Eloi in The Time Machine.  Both groups are primitive and child-like because they are under the care of someone or something else.  In The Time Machine, the Morlocks have malevolent intentions and the Time Traveler is unable to rescue the Eloi, while “The Apple” has a decidedly happier ending.

Briefly, the Star Trek episode “The Way to Eden” has a bunch of hippies rebelling against authority.  They hijack the Enterprise ad redirect it to a mythical planet called Eden where they plan to create their own primitive society away from the Federation’s technology.

Their idea of man’s nature is benevolent; man doesn’t need the intense rigid structure that characterizes the society in Brave New World.  They just need, to, like, be free and get back to their roots, man.   In this case, they would probably like to live simply, like the Eloi or the tribe in “The Apple” – as long as there aren’t Morlocks or Vaal

ruling over them.


The Hunger Games

The movie “The Hunger Games” is based on the book of the same name written by Suzanne Collins.  “The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian society called Panem.  Panem which is divided into the Capitol, where the rich people in government live, and 12 Districts where the citizens live in abject poverty.  Many years before the movie is set, there was a civil war in which the then-13 Districts, rebelled against the Capitol.  The Capitol won the war, in the process, District 13 was completely destroyed.

Every year, to remind the citizens of what happened the last time they rebelled, each district has to give up 2 tributes: one teenage boy and one teenage girl, to fight to the death in the Hunger Games.  These are broadcast live throughout Panem.

The movie itself, follows the two tributes from District 12, Katniss Everdeen, and Peeta Mellark.  The plot of the movie, centers around them getting picked/volunteering for the games, getting ready for the games, fighting, and ultimately, in a rebellious act, threatening to commit suicide simultaneously when they are the last two tributes still alive, in order to become the first couple to win the Hunger Games.

This movie has dystopian themes of governance and human rights.  In this society, there is a totalitarian government headed by one man, President Snow similar to the government in the novel ­We, where the head of the government known as the Benefactor, is supposedly elected but the outcome is assured.  In both the “Hunger Games” and We, the individual is only important to the functioning of the society.  In We, there are no ‘people’ as such, only the citizens have numbers instead of names, while in “Hunger Games” the society isn’t a collective, there is still that theme of individual sacrifice for the greater good of the society when it comes to the tributes.

Every year, 24 teenagers are selected knowing that only 23 will come out alive, and this is cheered and emphasis is placed on the tributes’ bravery and sacrifice, knowing that they have no choice in the matter, once they’re chosen, they must fight, for the good of Panem.

This movie is also similar to the novel The Time Machine when it comes to the class system.  In The Time Machine the society is divided between the aristocratic Eloi and the proletariat Morlocks in a world where the Morlocks are in control and the Eloi are herded as sheep.  In “The Hunger Games” the aristocrats and other wealthy people in the Capitol want for nothing and are in control of the society, while the proletariat citizens of the districts are treated like sheep led to the slaughter.

The members of the capitol are tone-deaf.  They cheer on the tributes and place bets on their favorites to win.  They don’t seem to realize that these are real human lives being lost: picked up from poverty to kill their fellow citizens, for the entertainment of those whose children will never be picked.

The Time Machine: Communist Utopia/Capitalist Dystopia

H. G. Wells wrote The Time Machine in 1895 during the Industrial Revolution of late Victorian England. England at the time had a capitalist economy based on rich people making their money off the backs of poor factory workers. Wells was a socialist.  The Time Machine starts off as a deceptive communist utopia that is ultimately revealed to be an exaggerated future vision of capitalist dystopia.

At the time of his writing, industrialist capitalism had been going on for many years.  According to Hoppen, “By 1850 Britain had become the workshop of the world.  Manual power lay at the heart of the production process, assisted often only by the simplest of mechanical equipment.  Human beings were cheaper to install than steam engines and much more adaptable to their behavior than a self-acting steam or press” (59).

At the same time, critiques of capitalism were being written such as by Karl Marx, whose ideas most likely influenced Wells.  According to Bowles, “Marx argued that capitalism was based on the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class.  Although it might appear that the buyers and sellers of labor met “equally” in the marketplace and entered “freely” into contracts with each other for mutual gain, this masked the reality of the capitalist system.  The capitalists had a monopoly of the means of production (firms) where workers had only their capacity to work to sell.  This was the basis of capitalist production: capitalists who owned firms hired workers who owned only their labor, and the former sought to use the labor that they had to make a profit for themselves” (63).

Wells, himself a socialist, wrote what seems at first to be a simple time-travel story.  In The Time Machine the reader is introduced to the man who is only ever named as “The Time Traveler” in the frame story where the narrator and other sundry guests are invited to dinner at the Time Traveler’s house in (contemporary to Wells) England.  The Time Traveler announces to his guests that he has built a working time machine in miniature which he then demonstrates to his guests.  It disappears from space into time unknown.  This, he announces is only a prelude to him finishing the full size time machine which he intends to use and report back to his guests, at another dinner next week.

The next week, after he has come back, bedraggled from his travels, the real story starts as he recounts to his guests when he went in time.  The meat of Wells’ story takes place in the year 802, 701 AD.

As he recounts, when The Time Traveler had stopped his machine, he had arrived so far into the future that most traces of British civilization had disappeared.  The earth was filled with “ruinous splendor” (Wells 24).  Humankind had evolved to become smaller, weaker, and with fewer distinctions between the sexes.  There were no longer family units; instead, the people who call themselves the Eloi lived 100 together in communes, large palaces that have tables and cushions.   The Eloi only ate fruit, and as the Time Traveler discovered quickly when he tried to explain how he got there, they had the intellect and attention spans of Victorian children (21).

This, at the time, appeared to The Time Traveler to be a communist utopia.  According to the themes of this course, in this utopia, the ideal form of government was that none was needed.  There were no quarrels because the Eloi were simple minded people without any ambitions or complex wants that couldn’t be fulfilled.  There was no technology in this society, the Eloi lived simply and spent their days talking, eating, sleeping, dancing, playing, and flirting.  No technology beyond the manufacture of their clothing was needed.  As The Time Traveler discovered later, this was the first hint that all was not what it seemed.  The relationship between the Eloi and the natural world was one of harmony with nature.  The Eloi picked fruit from the trees to eat and picked flowers with which they used to decorate themselves but didn’t cultivate the naturally occurring gardens.  In this future, nature had reclaimed the land, but while the buildings were in disarray there were no weeds or poisonous berries that the Eloi had to take care of.  The Time Traveler also never came across any old or infirm Eloi, he assumed they had eradicated disease some time ago, but this was also a clue…

Shortly after the Time Traveler arrived, his time machine was stolen.  The Eloi had not taken it.  When he tried to ask them what had happened to it, they didn’t even understand his questions but simply laughed at him (31). When he goes back to look for it, he thinks he spies a white animal out of the corner of his eye…

The bulk of the novel is spent with The Time Traveler investigating what happened to his time machine, the true nature of human civilization in this future, and a minor romantic subplot after he rescues an Eloi woman named Weena from drowning.

He quickly learns that the reason the Eloi sleep in communes indoors is because they are very, very afraid of the dark.  They have good reason for this, as The Time Traveler discovers when investigating underground ventilation shafts and discovers that the white animals he’s been spying are creatures named Morlocks who have taken his time machine.

The Time Traveler as he chases after the Morlocks in an attempt to get his machine back without being killed comes up with a theory for these two species, the Eloi and the Morlocks.  He notices that the Morlocks, which are furry ape-like creatures with large greyish-red eyes that reflect light in order to see in the dark, live entirely underground, and have some intelligence in order to maintain machinery and their ventilation shafts (39).

His final theory, after coming up with several wrong ones over the course of the novel, is that the Eloi and the Morlocks are both descendants of Victorian humankind.  The Eloi are the descendants of the ruling elite, the bourgeois capitalists that own the factories in England.  The Morlocks are the descendants of the poor factory workers who, having to work to survive, kept getting exiled out of the sunlight by the bourgeois until they had no choice but to live underground and adapt to the darkness.  The ended up living in pitch blackness for so long that their bodies adapted until they no longer resembled normal humans.

Throughout all this, the proletariat-Morlocks kept taking care of the aristocrats-Eloi until it became habit.  Eventually the Eloi, having everything they need provided for, no longer had any wants.  In consequence, their brains and physiques became stunted from lack of stimulation.  They stopped eating meat, and the Morlocks, who still required the nutrients that only meat could provide, started taking care of the Eloi as if they were cattle… and eating them as such as well (48, 52).  No wonder the Eloi were terrified of them!

And so we come to the dystopian aspect of our story.  Like the communist utopia flipped on its head, this dystopia deals also with the course themes.  A capitalist economy is not ideal; it creates a class system with an income disparity and a severe inequality.  The workers depend on their bosses for their livelihood but because poor people are a dime a dozen, and thoroughly disposable, the elites need not care for their quality of living one bit.

Capitalist production was characterized by a central antagonism: the interests of workers and capitalists were diametrically opposed.  It was in the interests of the workers to work as little as possible, and it was in the interests of the capitalists to extract as much effort as possible from workers while paying them as little as possible (Bowles 63).

When the [workers] broke down, the master did not have to pay them for repairs; when they made a mistake he could fire them; when there was no work for them to do he could give them the sack (Samuel 58).

Wells’ story served as a cautionary tale to the capitalists: if you don’t stop now, if you don’t provide welfare for your poor and get rid of this class system- this is your future.

To finish summarizing the story, The Time Traveler, with the help of Weena, though she unfortunately died in the struggle, eventually confronted the Morlocks and took back his stolen time machine.  Exhausted, he got on and travelled even farther into the future when there were no more buildings, no more human or human-like creatures, and eventually the Earth was dead.  At that point, demoralized, he went back home to Victorian England, arriving only a few hours after he left even though he had lived eight days on his travels.  He finishes telling his story, and it seems nobody believes him even though he still has strange flowers in his pocket that Weena had given him.

The narrator is intrigued and goes back to see The Time Traveler one more time only to see him get back into his machine and disappear again into time unknown.  In an epilogue, the narrator mentions that it has been three years since The Time Traveler disappeared and they have not seen him since.

In conclusion, Wells was a socialist who wrote an entertaining science fiction story to comment on the inequality present in his contemporary Victorian England caused by capitalism.  It explored what might happen if history stayed on its present course as a warning that it might be changed.  It also, in the beginning, provided a vision of a communist utopia that society might model itself on if it so wished.

Works Cited

Bowles, Paul. A Short History of Big Idea: Capitalism.  Great Britain: Pearson Longman                             2007.  Print.

Hoppen, K. Theodore. The Mid-Victorian Generation 1846-1886. Oxford: Clarendon Press,                      1998. Print.

Samuel, R.  “Workshop of the World: Steam Power and Hand Technology in Mid-Victorian                     Britain.” History Workshop Journal 3 (1977): 58. Print.

 Wells, H. G. Dover Thrift Editons: The Time Machine.  New York: Dover Publications          Inc, 1995. Print.


Oneida Community

The Oneida Community was founded by Joseph Humphrey Noyes in 1848.  Noyes’ interpretation of some key passages in the bible led him to believe that the Second Coming of Christ had already happened in 70 AD.  This led him to interpret some more passages to mean that there was no more marriage between one man and one woman, but instead every man belonged to every woman the same way that all property should be held in common.

Noyes originally started a community in Putney, VT but do to the practice of Complex Marriage, he was charged with adultery and moved the community to Oneida, NY, where it became the Oneida Community.

There was a big theme of holy sexuality in Oneida.  Because every man was married to every woman (Complex Marriage), promiscuity was encouraged to the point that exclusive relationships were actually forbidden.  To keep down the birth rate, Noyes instituted a policy of Male Continence that the Oneidans were required to practice.

Teenage boys who were still learning this method were paired with menopausal women so that the chances of them conceiving would go down, while the older men such as Noyes paired themselves with teenage girls who were in their prime attractiveness.

Noyes also believed in Eugenics.  There was a committee in charge of pairing members of the community together to produce the best children possible.  Noyes, being the founder of the community, was chosen to father nine of the 56 children that resulted.

The community eventually broke down when the children came of age.  Noyes wanted to pass on leading the community to his son Dr. Theodore Noyes.  His son was a bad leader because he didn’t believe in Christianity and he wanted to lead from a distance instead of being directly involved.  Noyes eventually had to take over the duties again.  This, combined with factions, the law catching up with them (Oneidans were practicing statuary rape) and the death of Noyes contributed to the Oneida Community’s demise a few years later.

Oneida Dwellings
Oneida Community
Oneida Children
Oneida Now
John Humphrey Noyes


Voluntary Death: From Thomas More’s Utopia

“When any is taken with a torturing and lingering pain, so that there is no hope, either of recovery or ease, … but choose rather to die, … they shall be happy after death.” (Thomas More, Utopia, Utopia Reader pg.91)

There is a lot in these readings that I disagree with but this actually sounds like assisted suicide/euthanasia which is something that I do agree with. I personally believe that it is better to live a shorter life with a high quality than a long life of misery. Of course,  quality of life is subjective; one man’s heaven is another man’s hell,  but the man in hell should be able to leave if he so choose.

That is something I thought was interesting because it’s something that’s only legal in four US states according to the Wikipedia page on assisted suicide.

This is short because I’m posting from my phone and it’s really awkward trying to correct the auto-correct.

“Xanadu” by Rush

The lyrics to Xanadu are taken from the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

According to Coleridge, the poem came to him in a dream after reading about the summer palace of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan and then taking opium.

It’s a very trippy poem and a very trippy song.  The theme of the song is a paradise similar to Eden where  the protagonist can “taste anew the fruits of life/the last immortal man” and “dine on honeydew/and drink the milk of paradise.”

The song doesn’t talk of a community or of other people but it can be inferred that one of the utopian themes of this song is ecology: beautiful, rich, fertile nature unspoiled by the touch of mortal man.

In this paradise he will become immortal.  However, when the protagonist finds it, he is the only one there.  While the utopia doesn’t exactly become a dystopia, (Can you have a dystopia that consists of one person?) it becomes a nightmare because the protagonist “taste my bitter triumph/ as a mad immortal man/nevermore shall I return/Escape these caves of ice”

In Eden there were two people, Adam and Eve and it was paradise because they were immortal together.  In “Xanadu” by Rush the person has gone mad because he is an immortal man all alone.

This songs talks about the quest for utopia and a mythical promised land where people become immortal and the dangers of being the only one who finds it.

Utopias are meant to be a communities and you can’t have a community of one.