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Flawed freedom or blissful imprisonment?

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message 1: by Lulu (last edited Jan 02, 2008 06:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lulu Everyone told me that after reading this book, they wished they could move to Shangri-La. I was expecting to fall in love with the secluded paradise but I never quite came to love it for two reasons. 1) Hilton skimps out on describing the oasis; 2) I value my freedom a lot and the idea of being trapped somewhere does not appeal to me. Anyone else agree that Shagri-La sounded nice but not quite Utopian?


Denise I agree with you. The fact that people were being held against their will took away from the premise that this was a desirable and peaceful haven. In my mind, Utopia would be a place a person would welcome, not a place to which one must become inured.


Chad I think the reason he skips out on describing it so fully is that its perception is unique to each character. No two characters have the same motive for staying or leaving its confines. Even Conway prevaricates between how he comes to understand his situation. Ultimately, Hilton's attempts to keep Shangri-La ephemeral underscore the amnesiac framework of the book.


Jeff Lulu wrote: "Everyone told me that after reading this book, they wished they could move to Shangri-La. I was expecting to fall in love with the secluded paradise but I never quite came to love it for two reason..."
Not meant to be Utopian.


Jeff The basic idea is that Shangri-La represents society/being social, which is shelter from the storm or chaos of freedom/liberty in practice, but that this shelter only works if it is moderate & balanced. But time only goes forward into the future, so humanity, as well as all life, is doomed to a cycle of building up, then collapsing, then building up again, then collapsing again..... you'll see. No one seems to accept or is willing to admit that the prediction the monk first gives conway about the future is inevitable. Everyone tries to avoid conflict at all costs due to fear/self-preservation, but this only builds up the pressure so that when the collapse happens it's worse/more intense than it would've been in the first place.


Jeff The deeper truth is that just like all life forms, we are imprisoned (blissfully?) by the principles of the universe, which no one really minds because what we are (our bodies, proteins, dna, the actual physical matter of us, etc.) evolved in that system. Mankind's problem is that we have tried to impose our own system (how we imagine the universe SHOULD be) over it, and it simply won't happen, the whole biosphere of life will collapse because human kind continues it's growth in population/knowledge and this simple creates a bottle neck in the biosphere's life cycle. Human kind has been hoarding energy/biomass on earth due to our greed for life itself, which is perfectly normal, it's the goal of the ID, to survive until we can procreate a bit, but our knowledge truly is fear based, in that it's all based on fear of death. Instead we should learn to accept life and death as the same thing. Just as everything you do or think is something YOU as an individual organism will both LIVE & DIE for. It's the catch-22 of consciousness/perception: Is the world heaven? or is it hell? Conway sees both in moderation in Shangri-La.


Jeff Lulu wrote: "Everyone told me that after reading this book, they wished they could move to Shangri-La. I was expecting to fall in love with the secluded paradise but I never quite came to love it for two reason..."
but you are trapped somewhere, somewhere being the planet earth and also within the physical universe, so you have to obey the physical laws of said universe, which doesn't really trouble any form of life because life grew out of said universe. People are always babbling about freedom, but the only real freedom we all want is simply the freedom to do what we, as individuals, desire, instead of having to OBEY some rigid social structure &/or other members of our species. Humanity is the only species where social groups have become rigid social hierarchies.


Samantha Glasser I love the idea of Shangri-la because it is a shelter for all things beautiful. It is a protective place where the horrors of the world (ie war) do not penetrate. The downside is a loss of mobility, but if you live in beautiful place, why would you want to leave?


Anthony Watkins I find the logic here to be similar to that in the Life of Pi, though I read them over 30 yrs apart. Loved the novel, which I read as a nearly grown boy, and I believe that the details of the valley are left a little vague, not only because each character sees it differently, but because we, as readers are supposed to see the paradise we envision.

I have to say the the 1937 movie damaged my glorious memory of the valley, by creating this hokey place and people, yet the fantasy, with all its dark underpinnings remains


message 10: by Feliks (last edited Apr 18, 2013 10:37AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Feliks I've traveled to the valley where Hilton drew his inspiration from. Its nice, but not as magical-seeming as one would expect from such a remote and exotic landscape. It was just not that deep a declivity among the surrounding hills; rather small dimensions overall. Not filled with flowers or villages or anything. The temple was definitely daunting and spooky inside, though.

There were other more wonderful terrain sights nearby, nevertheless--which I would have thought more provocative to a fantasy story. A mammoth alpine lake, a rocky trail to a sulphur spring, a high-altitude horse meadow with a tribe of herdsmen.

Anyway, I very much like the 1937 movie, especially for the snowy mountain peaks and passes. After all, even when cinematography improved--and they re-made the movie as a color musical in the 1970s--it did not look any better. Even with some outdoor locations.

I like an old b&w flick almost every time; because of the shadowy and dream-like abstraction of the images. Those're the images that stay with one the longest; they most resemble our subconscious.

As for the dilemma of freedom: I'd be perfectly content in a place like that. Remember, the passengers of the plane had mostly already sampled the world's freedom. They were adults. What was the civilization they left behind? Nonstop wars, revolutions, upsets, turmoil, upheavals. To be in a secure, protected place where one can be at peace..a sanctuary to shed all that restlessness and indecision and uncertainty? Yes, I'd take it for sure.


Anthony Watkins Agreed in general on the black and white, but generally oppose images, color or not moving or not as they limit the imagination


Feliks Agreed. Always prefer the experience rather than the 'substitute'. Of course, you can't convince anyone addicted to Facebook, to just walk away from their monitors and live life directly, anymore..


message 13: by Jeff (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeff I'm already convinced... Facebook is a perfect example of technology intending to make life easier, but in actuality it just makes life even more complicated.


Anthony Watkins Jeff wrote: "I'm already convinced... Facebook is a perfect example of technology intending to make life easier, but in actuality it just makes life even more complicated."

Facebook IS the Matrix:)


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