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What is This Project?

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020
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This article was featured in Issue #2 of the Atlantic Bulletin

What is Vekllei?

Hi, I’m Hobart and I write and draw Vekllei at Studio MillMint.

This is a pretty complex project. Not just complex insofar as there’s a lot to read about it, but that it uses concepts and terminology you might not be familiar with if this is your first time around utopian fiction.

So Vekllei is a utopia — what does this mean? It’s latin for “no place,” and I use that literally. Vekllei, in a literal sense, cannot exist. Not because I think it could never have existed, or that some part of it is completely unreasonable, or it breaks the laws of physics — but because it exists in a certain place and time that is just isn’t replicable. It’s all built from the ground up.

Vekllei is a very good place to live, but it is not perfect. Utopia does not mean “perfect place”. Utopia is a form of social dreaming, much like worldbuilding, linked to the values and priorities of its author. In utopian studies, “utopia” is usually broken down further:

  • Eutopia — “good place”
  • Dystopia — “bad place”

Note that both form a part of the “utopia” — this is appropriate, since Vekllei is grounded in a social realism that acknowledges the good and bad parts of life. Indeed, they are inseparable — you cannot have the light without the dark. Obviously, in my eyes, Vekllei is very much a eutopia. You can read more about Vekllei (the country) by clicking here.

There are three parts to my “social dreaming”:

  • Landscape — the world and country of Vekllei. When you think of “utopia,” this is it — shining modernist cities against striking landscapes.
  • Character — not all social dreaming takes place in spaces. Some of it is built around experiences, objects and relationships. Tzipora is a “character utopia” in the sense that she represents a utopian life experience, full of stories good and bad.
  • Author — Vekllei is a representation of the problems of my life, as a form of escapism. A lot of my posts here reflect dissatisfactions and displacements in my own life — consumer society, commodification of childhood, wage labour, postmodernism, etc. I’m very much a part of this utopian dialectic.

Let’s run through some of the common queries and misunderstandings about Vekllei

Who are you? A Tasmanian illustrator.

You’re not Japanese? お前はもう死んでいる

Why is Vekllei a utopia? It makes me feel better about my life and the world. It’s escapism; it’s a dream.

It’s a bit cringe to grandstand your political beliefs, doncha think? Vekllei is a personal utopia. That’s what I’m selling. At least you’re getting good opinions.

Where’s the tension if it’s perfect? Vekllei is very cynical and tragic in places. Utopia is just a reflection of the author, good and bad.

Is there a novel? A story? A comic? I’m working on a comic right now. I’m pretty much working on Vekllei full-time so I’m hoping to announce it soon. I’ve got a lot of different Vekllei projects going.

Where is Vekllei? Iceland.

Why does Vekllei look Japanese? Vekllei is like a country of Scandinavians speaking French with an Aussie accent in Shōwa era Japan/Maoist China/Taiwan etc. Vekllei looks however I imagine utopia looks.

How does that make sense? Why can’t it just be cool?

Is your alt-history thought out? Vekllei’s history is whatever I need it to be. I’m always trying to be realistic, but it’s all worked backwards from the setting. I’m not really “worldbuilding” in a typical sense. Very little of it is published, most of it is retrieved on request. Just ask if you have questions.

Is Vekllei communist? No.

But Vekllei calls itself “petticoat socialist”. Vekllei is set in a culture of Marxist revivalism in the 50s and 60s. A lot of Vekllei’s lexicon is set in that context. Vekllei is a decentralised democracy that doesn’t use money. It’s a sort of participatory economy.

Why the “petticoat”? Vekllei is a female country. Womanhood is decommodified. It’s maternal, social and friendly where socialist rhetoric is masculine, technocratic and progressive.

Who is Zelda? Zelda is another name for Tzipora. She has two names specifically to confuse you.

What is the “bulletin”? I publish the Atlantic Bulletin once a month via email. It’s got the month’s posts in it as well as facts and tidbits from Vekllei. DM me an email if you want to join.