Xanadu is a relatively young cool greenish-grey color which was named in 2001. The color is connected to the Philodendron plant because the cultivar of the leaves are the same color. Philodendron grows mainly in Australia and has been used for ceremonial purposes by the Kubeo tribe in Columbia. Interestingly though, Xanadu is actually named after a Mongolian city.
Xanadu the city was founded by Kublai Khan in 1625. The name Xanadu is the anglicized form of Shang-tu, which is what the Mongolians called it. S.T. Coleridge described Xanadu in his poem Kubla Khan (1861) as a place with a sense of “magnificence and luxury.” According to Coleridge’s poem, Xanadu was a fascinating place with ice cave pleasure domes and lots of sunlight. In Kubla Khan, the title character, in a sunny and beautiful garden, is brought a prophecy about an impending war. Coleridge wrote his poem following an opium-influenced dream at a time when there was a cultural obsession with the Romantic period. Historical accuracy aside, Coleridge’s Xanadu shows the importance of fragments of mind-state.The term Xanadu, in the new millennium, belongs to Theodor Holm Nelson. Nelson’s “Xanadu” encompasses theoretical ideas pertaining to new technology. The terms “hypertext” and “hypermedia,” in relation to the home computer, are two examples of these ideas. Nelson has been called a web visionary and he is the self-appointed “officer of the future.” As such, The word “hypertext” conjures up something radical and technological, with four dimensions, probably like a “hypercube” or an object diffused into space and time (as in “hyperspace”). Nelson’s concept of Xanadu is a dynamic, powerful and flexible way of organizing information with intuitive technology. It is a concept that we still haven’t been able to turn into something useable.
Both uses of Xanadu symbolize creativity, innovation and the power of dreams. In both Coleridge’s poem and Nelson’s theories Xanadu is something ideal whether it be an unrealistically romantic place or a new age, cyberspace theory. While one is the idealization of the past, the other is an imagining of the future.