Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy
or an unrealistically idealistic
state where everything is perfect. Someone who is said to "live in cloud cuckoo land" is a person who thinks that things that are completely impossible might happen, rather than understanding how things really are. It also hints that the person referred to is naive
, unaware of realities or deranged in holding such an optimistic belief.
In the modern world, a "cloud cuckoo lander" is defined as someone who is seen as "crazy" or "strange" by most average people, often doing or saying things that seemingly only make sense to themselves, but also exhibit cleverness at times in ways no one else would think of.
, the land of plenty in medieval myth, can be considered the predecessor to 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.
, a Greek playwright, wrote and directed a drama ''The Birds
'', first performed in 414 BC, in which Pisthetaerus, a middle-aged Athenian persuades the world's birds to create a new city in the sky to be named ''Nubicuculia'' or Cloud Cuckoo Land (, '), thereby gaining control over all communications between men and gods. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer
used the word (German ') 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 its figurative sense by reproaching other philosophers for only talking about Cloud-cuckoo-land. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
refers to the term in his essay "On Truth and Lying in a Nonmoral Sense." In 1923 the Viennese satirist and critic Karl Kraus
published ''Wolkenkuckucksheim'' (Cloudcuckooland), an adaptation of ''The Birds'' by Aristophanes
. Author Edward Crankshaw
used the term when discussing the Deak-Andrassy Plan of 1867 in his 1963 book ''The Fall of the House of Habsburg
'' (Chapter 13, "The Iron Ring of Fate").
Uses in politics
The phrase has been used by British and American politicians as well as writers. Margaret Thatcher
used this phrase in the 1980s: "The ANC
is a typical terrorist organisation
... Anyone who thinks it is going to run the government in South Africa
is living in cloud-cuckoo land." Bernard Ingham
, Margaret Thatcher
's spokesman, who, when asked if the ANC might overthrow the government of South Africa by force, replied: "It is cloud-cuckoo land for anyone to believe that could be done". MP Ann Widdecombe
used the phrase in a debate on drug prohibition
with a representative of Transform Drug Policy Foundation
: "...it is cloud cuckoo land to suggest that eople who don't currently use heroin would not start using it if it became legal
referred to Barack Obama
's claim that algae
could be used as a fuel source
as cloud cuckoo land. Henry A. Wallace
, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (later U.S. Vice President
in Franklin D. Roosevelt
's third term) used the term to describe the unrealistically inflated value of stock
s 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 ar 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".
used the phrase referring to inadequate German economic politics toward failing members of the European Union: "Basically, it seems that even as the euro approaches a critical juncture, senior German officials are living in Wolkenkuckucksheim—cloud-cuckoo land." (June 9, 2012). Yuri N. Maltsev, an Austrian economist and economic historian, uses the term to describe the lack of promised results in the communist states in his forward to 1920 essay by Ludwig von Mises
: "Today, the disastrous consequences of enforcing the utopia on the unfortunate populations of the communist states are clear even to their leaders. As Mises predicted, despite the cloud-cuckoo lands of their fancy, roasted pigeons failed to fly into the mouths of the comrades."
The phrase has been used in poetry, music, film and by writers. ''Cloudcuckooland'', a poetry collection by Simon Armitage
, the first album by the Lightning Seeds
, released in 1990. In 2002, electronic music producer Sasha
released a track called "Cloud Cuckoo" on his album Airdrawndagger
. Cloud Cuckooland is the name of the eighth world found in the video game ''Banjo-Tooie
uses the term in the lyrics of their song Like Spinning Plates
. Publisher and editor Gary Groth
uses the term in the title of his review
of Scott McCloud
's book Reinventing Comics
Cloud Cuckoo Land has been used as a stand-in for Hollywood
as in Stella Gibbons
's ''Cold Comfort Farm
''. Dorothy Sayers, in the Author’s Note to her novel ''Gaudy'' ''Night'' (1936), explains that the story, while set in Oxford, is entirely fictitious, concluding that “...the novelist’s only native country is Cloud-Cuckooland, where they do but jest, poison in jest: no offense in the world.” (The final words are a reference to ''Hamlet'', Act 3, Scene 2.)
Cloud Cuckoo Land is the name of a magical realm, hidden inside a cloud featured in ''The Lego Movie
''. An iconoclastic, mixed-genre world where there are no rules or unhappy things and serves as a hidden base for the rebel protagonists and councils of Master Builder. It is destroyed by Lord Business's army and falls in pieces into a giant Lego ocean.
“Magical Christmas Land” is a slang term frequently used by players of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering
that appears to be synonymous with Cloud Cuckoo Land.