Considering the Future
Friday, June 27, 2008
I've had some interesting synchronicities about "The Future" lately.
First, my Beloved and I were doing some vocal toning together with a friend the other day -- free-forming it -- and inadvertently, we chanted "Bum.....Bum.... Bum. Bah-bummmmm," exactly like the rendition of Sprach Zarathustra from the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey.
Which got me to thinking about that movie.
Then, the wild-ass phenom in the sky yesterday, and when I went to edit the video, that line from 2010 ("Something wonderful") kept popping into my head, so I included it (just in case you were wondering).
So, of course, last night we had to rent 2010:The Year We Make Contact and watch it.
And then this morning, Melissa McEwan at Shakesville had posted her daily "Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime", which was a bit from a British Sci-Fi show called UFO (circa 1970, supposedly set in the 80s -- a 1980s where we have already colonized the moon).
What struck me as I wandered through these visions of What Will Be was how wrong we'd been about "The Future" in some regards, and how right we'd been about it in other regards.
Example: In 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Dr. Chandra has created not one, but TWO series of amazing computers that seem to be able to "feel" and "think" (which we have NOT been able to do) -- and yet . . . . . and yet . . . .
Please note the GINORMOUS CRT monitor on Dr. Chandra's desk, with what is obviously the "futurized" version of a slot for a 5.5 inch floppy disk in the front (remember those pieces of crap?), and with this amazing, super-intelligent computer there, he stands up to type out the name of the file on a keyboard, and it appears in crappy, DOS-like letters on SAL's screen.
Also -- were we not supposed to have our bubble-headed stewardesses on our chartered flights to the moon seven fucking years ago???? In 2001????!!!!!
I mean, what's up with that?
It was bitter-sweet to watch 2010/TYWMC (made in 1984), where the USSR was still our arch-enemy, and no one could have imagined that five years later, the Berlin wall would come tumbling down. Emotional tension in the film is heightened by the fear of WWIII, which is imminent because of a stand-off between the USA and the USSR in Central America. Different characters these days -- but same old story.
The hero in 2010 is going to save the day with the cheesiest little Radio-Shack-looking pocket calculator -- but aero-braking around Jupiter and artificial gravity are a snap.
There are video-telephones, but no LCD or plasma flat-screens.
There is suspended animation for long space-flights, but they're still using paper print-outs on the desks (which no one puts away for the aero-braking . . . duh!).
People have dolphins swimming around in their living rooms, but wifey/professor-mom is still doing the dishes in the sink.
There are adverts for moon-jaunts on the TV, but the TV is still 15" across and the newscaster is as stilted and boring as ever.
And hey -- about those video-phones. You know, they've been promising me a video-phone since the early sixties! Where's my video-phone?
Oh . . . . and another thing ----- WHERE'S MY FUCKING JET-PACK!!!!?!?!!?!
All baby-boomers were supposed to have been issued an individual jet-pack by 1975. (I'm, like, 99% certain that that was in the brochure.)
When I think about the fact that 2010 is a year and a half away, and consider the notions that our prognosticators had in 1968 and 1984 about what things would be like by now (actually, Arthur Clarke wrote the short story that 2001 was based on in 1950), I sometimes think that the Dreamers were a bit ambitious.
But then I remember that 20 years ago (1988), there actually was NOT a computer in nearly every home in America (or two or three, as in my home). The 56k modem is not even 15 years old. If Dr. Heywood Floyd were living today, his secret "destroy HAL" detonator would not have been a pocket calculator, because he would have had a calculator in his Blackberry. And he would have been too busy live-blogging the trip to Jupiter to go chasing after Dave Bowman's ghost. ("Later, dude! Someone is wrong on the internet!")
So it is possible to make incredible, nearly unbelievable, technological strides forward in a very short time. If the USA hadn't distracted itself with wars, wars, and more wars, and had remained focused on space exploration, who knows where we'd be by now?
But the USA didn't do that.
When I was six, every boy in my class (and at least half the girls) wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. We were charged and excited by the notion of walking on the moon, and visiting the stars. "All Things Spacey!" -- that was our future.
However, we made a different future.
Proving that history can pretty much turn on a dime, if it wants to.
Which means that we could also turn just as abruptly from visions of dire outcomes and inevitable decay to expansive solutions and flourishing growth.
I wonder what we'll do next?
Posted byPortlyDyke at 1:05 AM