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Dr. Andrew Wood
Office: HGH 210; phone: (408) 924-5378

City of Layers

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"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 vision 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.


Andrew Wood's summary of William Gibson's The Gernsback Continuum

Related Notes

Why Study Public Life? [Six components]


Genius Lyrics: Donald Fagen's IGY (What a Beautiful World)


Things to Come

Dr. Wood's Additional Resources

Bus depot moderne

Deco dictionary

LA streamlined

Miami deco

Motel moderne

Our highways of tomorrow - 1944

Raygun gothic

South Bay deco

Even More Resources

Beyond ruin porn: What’s behind our obsession with decay? [Arch Daily - possible insights into semiotic ghosts]

Photos from the days when thousands of cables crowded the skies [io9 - another example of semiotic ghosts]

Tomorrow Calling [Film version of The Gernsback Continuum by Tim Leandro]

Extra Sci Fi - #8 - [Explanation of The Gernsback Continuum by James Portnow]


Getting out of the Gernsback Continuum [Andrew Ross]

Image Credit

Pulp-o-Mizer [Thrilling Tales]