Visions Of Utopia

Entry by: macdonald

4th April 2022
Dear Mabel

Yes, I did catch the virus in England and it nearly killed me. It changed the very composition of my blood and strained my heart and lungs, which remain weak. But I am sure they will improve in the high mountain air of New Mexico when I get there. The pandemic is almost over now and the vicious Russian war too if disputes over territory between Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states can be resolved. Liberty and Democracy have been under threat, shaken to their core, but after it was suggested by the authorities that my ‘foreign’ wife might be a spy in England, I’m not sure I believe in democracy as much as I used to.
I was afflicted at birth with a need to understand myself and the world. Dreaming of a better world is something I have always done. More’s Utopia didn’t sound like much fun. The people worked too hard, spent their little leisure in honest and laudable pastimes, but were docile and controlled, not spirited and free. However, I found it striking that he imagined Utopia as a real place, rather than as a set of principles. From an early age, I have had an impulse to write things down and I wrote to a friend about my thoughts on a perfect society when still a schoolboy…
“Don’t you think it would be possible to have a large house, really big, you know, and all the people one likes best live together? All in the one house? Oh, plenty of room inside and out, of course, but a sort of centre where one could always find those one wanted, a place all of us could come to as a home. I think it would be heaps nicer than to be all scattered and apart. Besides, there’d always be someone one liked near at hand. I know I should love something of the sort. Haven’t you often felt sad at the thought of the gradual breakup of families or groups of friends like ours? I have, and it could be avoided if we had the means.”
More’s vision rose from the converging streams of the artistic Renaissance, the age of discovery and the print revolution. A post-war, post-pandemic modern world in the middle of a communications and technological revolution is a time to take stock, make plans. Consider the seed; how it stays dormant until conditions are favourable. It is almost time for action, for renewal of my youthful vision. If I find what I think I will in New Mexico, we should invite all our friends to join us with the intention of creating a new society. Everyone must do things. Cook and clean and build and make what we need and grow flowers and vegetables. Others may copy us. The first law will be that there are no laws and the second that all men and women shall have the right to food, shelter, and knowledge and the right to mate freely. Our religion will be a religion of the blood and the flesh and of warm, human contact. We will use the new technologies but follow our instincts as much as our intellects. If we can always be our best selves, it would be the finest way to live. In time we may even regain contact with the lost world of the senses.
I hope the landscape of New Mexico will yield its secrets to me. Whatever I write there will be shaped by the landscape. My work has always been concerned with love and sex and death and the more I am vilified and persecuted, the more passionate I become about it. Nothing I see or feel will ever be beyond the reach of my pen.

Yours, DH Lawrence, April 4th, 1922

PS My best supporter in England, Forster, thinks I’ll still be read in a hundred years when every other modern writer is forgotten. A hundred years! By then the reading public, if it still exists, will wonder what all the fuss was about.