The future isn't what it used to be
"Dialta had said that the Future had come to America first, but had finally passed it by. But not here, in the heart of the Dream. Here, we'd gone on and on, in a dream logic that knew nothing of pollution, the finite bounds of fossil fuel, or foreign wars it was possible to lose . . . Behind me, the illuminated city: searchlights swept the sky for the sheer joy of it. I imagined them thronging the plazas of white marble, orderly and alert, their bright eyes shining with enthusiasm for their floodlit avenues and silver cars. It had all the sinister fruitiness of Hitler propaganda.."
- William Gibson, The Gernsback Continuum
We explore the notion that our popular culture, built environment, and textual landscapes contain overlapping and contradictory visions of the good life. As William Gibson suggests, those fragments form a "cultural membrane" between the real and the ideal that dwells within residual pieces of literature, architecture, and cultural detritus. These alternative rhetorics of "the future" reveal useful insight into the contradictions of democratic governance and community discipline. Drawing from the writings of Frank Manuel, we examine the role of utopia in the construction and critique of social life.
Notes: Making Sense of the Gernsback Continuum
Notes: Organizing Utopia
Activity: Looking forward from the year 1900
Daniel Chandler's, Imagining Futures, Dramatizing Fears: Landmarks in Fictive Images of Technology
Bruce Sterling, The Future? You Don't Want to Know
Mark/Space, Definition of Utopia
PBS, Predictions taken from The Ladies Home Journal - 1900
Pressburger Zeitung, In the Year 2000
Steve Sidman, Yesterday's Predictions
Society for Utopian Studies, Utopian Links
Tapeworm, Echoes Of Futures Past
Time Magazine, 1900 vs. Now
Brenda Tooley, Utopia: Convention and Change
Ursula Hoffmann, Utopia: Lehman Scholars' Seminar
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