About the Site

As I sit here wondering what to write by way of introduction to the latest incarnation of my website, a song by Dr. John titled “Life is A One Way Ticket” begins playing, and I find myself listening to these lyrics:

You’ll have flowers all around,
But you won’t be able to smell them.
You’ll have something to say,
And you won’t be able to tell them.

I’ve been a broad and eclectic reader for a long time now, and my compulsion to write comes not so much from a belief that I have anything startlingly original to say, but more from the conviction that I might have some ability to restate a broad range of important truths in a reasonably clear and succinct fashion.

I write as The Practical Utopian because my twin desires are to be:

  • Down-to-earth: I try to write short pieces explaining big ideas that will be broadly useful;
  • Idealistic: I write with the goal of helping all of us achieve better outcomes, both for ourselves and for those around us.

I also tend to be a bit of a contrarian, and so I hope that my work might provide a welcome alternative to much of the writing that is pushed at us on a daily basis – I’m generally not trying to jump on the latest trending topic in the current news cycle, but rather writing thoughtful pieces on subjects of enduring interest that will be worth reading today, but also worth coming back to in the future.

You might well ask me for some qualifications to indicate why my stuff might be worth reading, but I’m afraid I don’t really have any. I’ve never tried to make a living with my writing, so I don’t have a list of professional writing credits; and I’m trying to pull together worthwhile ideas from a broad range of sources, so I’m not drawing on any unique expertise. In other words, I am both an amateur and a generalist, and I can only hope that you may find, as I have, that these twin traits are helpful to my mission, rather than proving hindrances.

In terms of the size of my ambitions, I’ll be content to ride along with singer-songwriter Paul Thorn, whose t-shirt states unequivocally that he’s:

Bigger than a cover band;
Smaller than Elvis.

With my more general intentions out of the way, let me move on to the website’s organization.

  • The Home page contains a sampling of the material to be found on the site.

  • I’ve tagged each piece of content to one or more Topics that I’ve found to be of recurring interest and enduring importance; some of these I occasionally refer to prescriptively as principles or values to be recommended.

  • Most of my writings are identified as Essays.

  • I have some additional pieces that I classify as Appreciations: these are written to explain my enthusiasms for various works by others: songs, films books and the like.

  • The Quotes section contains brief quotations from works by others that I’ve found particularly enlightening.

If you’d like to drop me a line about any subject likely to be of mutual interest, feel free to send me a note, and I’ll do my level best to respond in a timely fashion.

Herb Bowie, October, 2020