Friday, May 4, 2012

DYSTOPIA

I've just closed the final book in the Hunger Games series ... and I pause.  This was no kids' storybook.  I can nearly taste the ashes mixed with blood-tinged roses.  Feel the confusion and terror.  Hear the crowds cheer the gladiatorial slaughter.  Panem et Circenses.


Rusty, mid-20th century iron bridge
against elegant, 19th Century building
San Antonio, Texas

Wow.

The dystopia is unnerving because it so resembles an absurdist reality:  the menacing undercurrent of a gleaming, frivolous Capitol.  Starvation and desolation elsewhere.  A subdued and mesmerized population.  History repeating itself.  Panem et Circenses.  As one of the protagonists desperately tries to grasp, "Real or not?"

I feel as disoriented as the characters in the book, with fiction mixing with recollections of my recent visit to San Antonio with my family.  After all, Texas was the seat of a bloody revolution which won itself -- at  great human cost -- a decade-long Republic in the mid-1800s.  


Rear face of The Alamo, viewed from its garden
San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo, beautiful today with its cactus-filled gardens, was the scene of a horrific massacre by Santa Anna's forces from Mexico in 1836. No survivors. Soldiers and farmers alike fell in valiant defense. But converse to Santa Anna's calculating plan of teaching the rebels a lesson, it turned the fortress into a rallying cry for a Texas Republic.  Remember The Alamo!  Heroism from characters, like the Tennessee sharpshooter, Davy Crockett, echoes through the walls.  Battle tales border on fiction.

Not too different from the Hunger Games.


The crumbling grandeur
of Victorian mansions in the
King William (Kaiser Wilhelm) district,
where German settlers stayed and prospered.
San Antonio, Texas

Fortunately, San Antonio wasn't really all disheartening.  Wandering the tree-lined streets of the old neighborhoods hinted at more hopeful times.  This is a city settled by hardy adventurers.  Europeans searching for better fortunes, where land was literally free.  It's such an American cliché -- a city built by immigrant go-getters.


Wildflowers by the Mission San José
founded by the Spanish in 1720
San Antonio, Texas

My visit was actually far happier than this post might convey.  My cousin's wedding was joyous, and my family lived up to its rowdy reputation.  I think we frightened my cousin's new wife's family with our vivaciousness on the dance floor.  The photo below best shows the bubbly mood we were all in.


Me and my cousin (the groom's sister)
Being silly at the wedding reception

Have you read the Hunger Games?  Or other novels on dystopian societies? 

17 comments:

  1. Looks super great
    have a nice and stylish weekend darling
    come and say Hi,
    The Dolls Factory

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  2. you know exactly how i reacted when i finished it...i still haven't forgotten..and i cannot shake away the feeling when i think about it even now..loved how you drew somewhat(not exact thankfully!) parallels to modern day america..but glad to know you had a great time with your family!

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    Replies
    1. tumblr is basically another platform for blogging..some people use it as a proper blogging tool and some (like me) use it as an appendage to the main blog..like having a facebook or twitter only tumblr is like a visual diary..check a few out to see..it's addictive i warn you..

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  3. I want to read the book, the movie was silly (for me) but I know that always the book is the good

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  4. Wonderful shots! (and history lesson!)

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  5. Some beautiful photos there. I especially like the fourth one down,because the out of focus building has a mysterious and weirdly Middle Eastern air.

    I don't like stories about dystopias. I might have read too many of them, or perhaps I am just too soft and sentimental to enjoy them!

    Oh, I'm so glad the wedding was fun!

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  6. So glad to see you so happy.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  7. Aahh, you look you're having the best of times! While reading The Hunger Games I also watched The X Factor - as you say Panem and Circenses... We're not THAT far away from the books, methinks. xoxo

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  8. Bah, did it swallow my comment? Again...
    You're looking like you're having the best of times!
    While reading The Hunger Games I was watching The X Factor - as you say - Panem and Circenses... We are not so far away from the books, methinks.
    xoxo

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  9. My daughter lives and works there, so we have been spending a month with her for the last 7 years. Berlin is our 3rd home, afte Spain, and England.
    We are going from home to home.
    Much love, dear friend.

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  10. Always interested in hearing what others think of the Hunger Games, and happy to see that you also don't treat this as a children's book. I have second grade children asking to read these, having already seen the movie. Interesting spin on San Antonio though, quite.

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  11. I notice that when I comment on my mobile it doesn't show up. so I'm trying again via laptop. I read the book before I saw the film and was happy that I did that. I love that photo of you. Hope that you have a great week dear. -xx

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  12. I really love your blog dear!
    Keep posting and go for it :)

    XO

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  13. What beautiful photos, J! 'Remember the Alamo!' I remember growing up with that comment, and didn't really know what it meant - it just kind of seeped into my cultural reference. This is a fascinating post: the way you tied in a wonderful wedding trip with these serene images, and then - as is the definition of dystopia (I had to look it up on wikipedia: I wasn't sure at first what you meant) this contrast between beauty on the surface... 'the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian.'

    My husband kind of dragged me to the film version of The Hunger Games - neither of us knew anything about it, except it was a cult following with 'the kids'. We loved the film - I mean, it really, really stayed with each of us - and I bought the next two in the trilogy, but haven't gotten into reading them. Having been on a fiction 'fast' while writing my own novel, I'm kind of bingeing on books - but prefer reading happy, romcoms - I just haven't been ready for that kind of haunting claustrophobic world.

    In the wiki description of dystopia, they mention the Handmade's Tale. Have you read that yet? We got lured in while driving, a few years ago, and caught the most atmospheric version as a radio play in the BBC. We both had to read the book after that.

    While I was typing that, I could hear my husband playing really haunting Kentucky blue grass music. Fits the mood of the Hunger Games exactly. Again - BRILLIANT, Jenny, how you put this post together. And it looks like you did have such fun at the wedding! xox

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  14. This is a lovely post full of contrasts. I haven't read the Hunger Games sounds very powerful. Love your images and the story of the Alamo. And finally the happy shot for you and your cousin is great. Xxxx

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  15. You are beyond adorable. I love the multi-faceted and beautiful way you take in life. Happy wedding to your cousin. Happy anytimeofday to you!

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Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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