Berkeley Talks: Novelist Ilija Trojanow on the utopian prerogative

September 27, 2022

In Berkeley Talks episode 151, novelist Ilija Trojanow discusses why we need to embrace the idea of utopia in order to imagine a better future.

“It’s important to not confuse what does exist with what is impossible, which is how most people use the word “utopian” in everyday parlance,” Trojanow says. “Progress has, at times, been utopia come true. By envisaging differing realities, we are imagining alternatives into existence.

“Truly utopian narratives challenge existing preconceptions by opening windows of thought and fantasy that give life to a multitude of possibilities,” Trojanow continues. “In order to survive, we will have to redefine our modes of planetary existence, and this will be impossible without powerful utopian imagination. Thus, utopia is not the art of the impossible, it is the rational of the necessary.”

Trojanow, author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books, delivered the 2022 Mosse Lecture at UC Berkeley on Sept. 1. The annual lecture was organized by UC Berkeley’s Department of German, in collaboration with Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies, the Mosse Foundation and the German Historical Institute’s Pacific Office at Berkeley.

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