Cloud cuckoo land  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Cloud Cuckoo Land is an imaginary place. It refers to an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. ("You're living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.") It hints that the person referred to is naïve, unaware of reality or deranged in holding such an optimistic belief.

The reference comes from The Birds, a play by Aristophanes in which Tereus helps Pisthetairos (which can be translated as "Mr. Trusting") and Euelpides ("Mr. Hopeful") erect a perfect city in the clouds, to be named Cloud Cuckoo Land (Νεφελοκοκκυγία or Nephelokokkygia).

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer used the word (German Wolkenkuckucksheim) in his publication On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason in 1813, as well as later in his main work The World as Will and Representation and in other places. Here, he gave it the figurative sense by reproaching other philosophers for only talking about Cloud-cuckoo-land.

Cockaigne, the land of plenty in medieval myth, can be referred to as the modern day cloud cuckoo land. It was an imaginary place of extreme luxury and ease where physical comforts and pleasures were always immediately at hand and where the harshness of medieval peasant life did not exist.

Uses in politics

  • U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace (later U.S. Vice President in Franklin D. Roosevelt's third term) used the term to describe the unrealistically inflated value of stocks on the New York Stock Exchange just before the crash of 1929 that signaled the onset of the Great Depression. In his 1936 book, Whose Constitution? An Inquiry into the General Welfare, Wallace describes a cartoon in a popular weekly magazine which "pictured an airplane in an endurance flight refueling in mid-air, and made fun of the old fashioned economist down below who was saying it couldn't be done. The economic aeroplane was to keep on gaining elevation indefinitely, with the millennium just around a cloud" (p. 75). Wallace wrote that Wall Street's practice of lending money to Europe after World War I "to pay interest on the [war reparations] debts she owed us and to buy the products we wanted to sell her … was the international refueling device that for 12 years kept our economic aeroplane above the towering peaks of our credit structure and the massive wall of our tariff, in Cloud-Cuckoo Land" (p. 77).

Other uses

  • A British festival named Cloud Cuckoo land occurs annually in summer, formally named Godsplash. The festival changed its name in time for the 2011 festival.
  • Cloud Cuckooland is a level from the Nintendo 64 game Banjo-Tooie.

See also






Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cloud cuckoo land" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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