Sunday, April 19, 2009

imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia

I've been thinking a lot lately about the future. And the past. It's kind of hard not to, as basically every single thing we do is for the future, to prepare.

I found this presentation on ted a month or so ago; its title grabbed my attention. Nostalgia for a future that never happened. Very similar to that great quote from Alaska, after which this entry is titled (that was a horribly awkward sentence).

Interpretations and depictions of the future have always interested me; ever since I was little, watching Back to the Future II, I was greatly amused at how far off they were, how totally wrong they'd gotten it. Granted, 2015 is not here yet, but I highly doubt that in 6 years we will have flying cars or hoverboards or be wearing ridiculous plastic neon clothing or throw out bundles of laserdiscs in the trash.

It's interesting though, to see what people imagine the future to be like. How much of it stems from their hopes? Extrapolations of current technology and trends, taken further? It tells a lot about a person, a culture, a time period, the way they imagine and construct these things.

In this video, Bruce McCall "paints a future that never happened." He calls it retrofuturism, "looking back to see how yesterday viewed tomorrow, and they're always wrong. Always hilariously, optimistically wrong."

It's 13 minutes long, and I don't blame you for not watching it if you don't, but it's insanely fascinating.

"Somebody once said that nostalgia is the one utterly most useless human emotion."

Useless in the technical, tangible, real sense, but, nevertheless, it holds so much. Maybe it is useless. But I thrive on it. I document everything I can. I love that the timeline of my life can be reconstructed through photographs, papers, journals, my daily online activity. It absolutely floors me. I cannot comprehend when people delete things, throw away documentation of their life. The trail of me I leave behind is such a precious thing.

And ultimately, it does not matter. But it does.


  1. Great blog. I don't really have that much to say about it at the moment because it just inspired me to think about this subject. So maybe I'll post another comment tomorrow when I have collected my thoughts on this better.

  2. This post has given me a lot to think about. Except the bit about there being no hoverboards by 2015, which I REFUSE to think about because a 2015 without hoverboards is not a 2015 I want to live in. There WILL be hoverboards, I shall make sure of it...even if I have to build a prototype myself. Or at least harass those smarter than me to do so.

  3. I love this post. I want to have its babies.


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