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Social Perfection: Lifestyle Blogs as (Non) Evolved Utopias Public Deposited

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  • Lifestyle blogs viewed through the lens of utopian literature reveals a rich historical heritage behind the current phenomenon. Blogs such as "Classy Girls Wear Pearls" exhibit an idyllic perfection, unable to withstand inquiry, and the intense disagreement that results between the real and the ideal echoes features of formative utopian literature. ‘Utopia’ may be defined as an imagined community whose society is intended to remedy, recast, or reinvent the sociopolitical reality of its creator. The presence of the creator in his or her utopia constantly informs the imagined community’s reality, and all the events that occur within the text. Since Thomas More’s seminal Utopia (which, significantly, can be translated from the Greek as either “good place” or “no place”), the written creation of utopian communities have allowed authors and readers to explore the possibilities extant in designing a perfect community. In utopian texts by More and Francis Bacon the authors work to disguise their status as creators by distancing their voices from the explanatory voices that do most of the narrative legwork. The authors are at pains to establish themselves as third parties: disconnected, and therefore unbiased. Margaret Cavendish explodes this utopian technique in The Blazing World by placing herself, or, more correctly, her disembodied soul, as a central character in the narrative. Despite this divergence, the generally fraught relationship between the author and the text in utopian literature points to a key feature of the genre’s goals. The role of author must be handled deftly in utopian narratives in order that the social ideals of their utopia may be seen as outdistancing the purposes of the author. Five centuries since More published, these threads of utopian thought have resurfaced in the dubious idealism and, importantly, the camouflaged authorship of lifestyle blogs.
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