Thursday, March 01, 2007
March Book Review
Even though WALDEN TWO was written in 1948, it is the "bible" for many of the communes of the 60's.
Walden Two is the name given a utopian community in the delightful fiction. "Walden" after the Henry David Thoreau book ( still haven't read it. Am I going to have to get a switch?)
Several communes were started using this book as their charter. Several still remain, the most noticeable being Twin Oaks .
In the book, Rodger ("Rodge") and Steve Jamnik, two young men returning from service at the end of WWII, stop by the office of Professor Burris to ask if he knows anything about a man named Frazier, and the new society Frazier is trying to build. Burris remembers that Frazier was a classmate of his in graduate school, one with radical ideas. He sends a letter to Frazier and immediately gets a reply inviting him to visit the community. Burris agrees to take time off from his academic duties to accompany Rogers and Steve on a visit to "Walden Two," Frazier's community. Rodge's girlfriend Barbara, Steve's girlfriend Mary, and Burris' Colleague Castle, also come. The population of Walden Two is about one thousand people, all of whom seem to be healthy and happy. They live in dwellings, eat in common dining spaces, raise their children in a nursery, and grow and build much of what they need. The standard workday lasts only four hours, or less; no one is paid wages--but nothing at Walden Two costs money. Each of the visitors responds to the community differently. Castle finds it challenging he spends the duration of the visit arguing with Frazier about such a community like Walden Two. Burris, on the other hand, finds himself somewhere in the middle: he is skeptical that such a community could work, but he finds Frazier's arguments compelling and he cannot forget the evidence of success in front of him. Steve and Mary are both convinced that this is the life for them; they decide to stay at Walden Two. Rodge, too, is convinced, but Barbara is not; he leaves Walden Two with her at the end of their visit. Burris decides to return to his academic life. However, at the train station he suddenly realizes that he would rather try life at Walden Two, for whatever it's worth, than go back to the university. He walks back to Walden Two and begins his new life there along with the rest of the group.
Everyones idea of "Utopia" is a little different but this is a very thought provoking book.