Hopepunk trumps grimdark – light your own reality #7 #cong23 #reality


In a world where reality seems to be growing increasingly grim and dark, there are those – the hope punks – who are prepared to resist on behalf of the reality they know to be worth caring for. Look out for each other.Reality can be scary. We sometimes try to artificially control it to ease our minds. Some seperation is useful, ultimately, living is a team sport.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. The opposite of grimdark is hopepunk. Pass it on.
  2. It is genuinely and sincerely caring about something, anything, requires bravery and strength
  3. It isn’t about submission or acceptance; it’s about standing up and fighting for what you believe in, standing up for other people
  4. It is about demanding a better, kinder world; believing that we can get there if we care about each other (Rowland, 2019).

About Mag Amond:

Mags Amond is a retired second level teacher who has recently finished her PhD at the School of Education in Trinity College Dublin. Mags has been a long time volunteer in the Computers in Education Society of Ireland, a teacher professional network which celebrates its 50th year in 2023.

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By Mags Amond

I had an epiphany in April, at an Open Education conference in Inverness. I wrote a detailed blog post about the conference. But the seismic moment was during the keynote by Rikke Toft Nørgård. Rikke was speaking of possible futures (it was a true brainbender, in a good way). She used many terms I had not heard before, but two of them stopped me up to think as soon as I heard them. They made immediate sense of the reality of the recent world, and of myself, to me. The first was hopepunk, the second was grimdark. Both words describe modern literary genres, but have been borrowed to describe new realities. The grimdark was self-explanatory – it captures the reality of the past few years perfectly in its compound descriptors, evoking a bleak, nihilistic view of the world. It was the hopepunk that was like a beacon to me (and not just me, most people in the room sat up and took notice), it helped me understand my own recent reality.

So it turns out that in 2019, hopepunk was one of Collins English Dictionary’s ‘new and notable’ terms. It first appeared in a viral Tumbler post by Alexandra Rowland, @ariaste, calling out that “the opposite of grimdark is hopepunk. Pass it on.”

Before this, my definition of hope came (and still comes) from Heaney – Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for. Hope was working FOR something. A good thing, but perhaps a wee bit on the passive side, a tad PollyAnna. In an explanatory VOX blog post by Aja Romano @ajaromano they describe hopepunk as ‘a storytelling template for resistance in the era of apocalyptic change, hopepunk is hanging onto your humanity at all costs’. So it is not just working FOR something, it is using hope to RESIST a graimdark reality. Right now, hopepunk as a concept is evolving from literary genre to cultural phenomenon, political stance, worldview, philosophy, a community call. Like many useful things, it defies exact description.

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