Imagine a world where your worst nightmares become an all too palpable reality; where rape is glorified, giving birth is like brushing your teeth, and death seems like the beautiful way out. Did you picture “Utopia” by Ahmed Khaled Towfik? I hope so, because in the novel “Utopia” Towfik manages to create a futuristic Egyptian society where all these scandalous misadventures become actuality.
The Utopians, or the wealthy members of society, decide to alienate themselves inside a large gated community to keep out the inferior…a.k.a. the poor members of society. Utopia becomes a plethora of sex, drugs, rape, and almost anarchy. Because the Utopians have everything so readily available to them, including Phlogistine the drug they endure many times a day, life begins to bore some members making them want something more exciting..so what image becomes more exciting than living a redundant everyday life? Death.
“…at that moment when death becomes larger than life itself, at the moment that death becomes a kind of artistic beauty. The scene was fearsome, especially since it wasn’t on the television screen. Everything was real and terrible and cruel and, and…and seductive. Please don’t deny it” (Page 3, Towfik).
This quote is the narrator talking about the “Platoon” (the 80’s movie) poster he has hanging over his bed. He is a young [less than 20] man living in Utopia who has had sex with every girl he has ever been interested in, who ingests Phlogistine like it’s water, and his only use for his parents is their money. Death to him becomes this beautiful image and almost something he wants to attain. In a world where you have everything you could ever need, a surplus of it at that, life becomes an unappealing, repetitive routine. If you can simply have whatever you want, what is there to live for? What is there to battle for? To aspire to? I feel like Towfik used this to demonstrate how people need to stop being so greedy in this day and age because in reality owning everything you’ve ever wanted leaves you with nothing.
I also feel like he truly believes death is beautiful; we always say life is beautiful so why not death, why not the other side? It’s this seductive thing, we never know when living and breathing will come to a halt and when everything will turn to nothing. When everything we’ve done and accomplished and lived for will flash before our eyes; every book we’ve ever read, every person we’ve ever loved, every place we’ve ever visited, every song we’ve played on repeat ’til we can’t listen anymore…will flash before our eyes…then be gone. forever.
Scary or seductive? You decide.