At the end of Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia, the journalist-narrator William Weston, who has decided to settle in Ecotopia rather than return to the dystopian United States, declares: ‘I want to try out some different kinds of writing’. I’ve been wanting to do so too for some time now, which is why my Introduction to News from Nowhere for Florence Boos’s Morris Online Edition takes the form of a catechism between ‘TP’ and an imagined reader of Morris’s utopia (see morrisedition.lib.uiowa.edu/news.html). This is, I believe, the first introduction to the book that has been written in that form, though the long dialogue between old Hammond and William Guest within the text constitutes a kind of precedent here (particularly chapter XI).
I’ve always admired a formulation of Frederic Jameson’s in his discussion of Adorno and Benjamin in Late Marxism, where he evokes ‘the possibility of forms of writing and Darstellung [presentation] that unexpectedly free you from the taboos and constraints of forms learnt by rote and assumed to be inscribed in the nature of things ... the possibility of another kind of writing – which is eventually to say: another kind of thinking’ (p.52). So it is that my year of tweeting and six years of blogging on and around Morris, my catechistic Introduction to his utopia, and above all my idea for News from Nowhere Two, a sequel using Morris’s characters to explore twenty-first-century political dilemmas – all these constitute plans for new kinds of writing or Darstellung. Whether they amount to new thinking too is a judgement for you, dear reader, to make for yourself.