The Future Now
by, 04-07-2012 at 01:53 PM (572 Views)
You get to a stage in your life in which you realize your future is now. It did arrive. The future that you thought about 10, 20, 30 years ago is here.
And you look at it and see that it is anything but what you thought it would be.
Not your personal future. You may have a spouse, and he/she may be even better than you expected. You may be wealthy. But the future that surrounds you, the world you live
in, is not what you expected.
2001 was supposed to be a new millennium, a new era. It has been very little of what was expected. In the 1960’s the image offered to us was one of giant Ferris Wheels in the sky, floating in low earth orbit before you would be flung far away into deep space, on your way to the moon. Kubrick and Clarke lead the imagination to those destinations and with a paltry 9 special effects constructed a future that was gorgeous and foreseeable.
Pan Am, the gigantic airline of the time, would lead the way. In albatross-like space planes, Pan Am would take you there and beyond. The airline even went so far as to sell tickets to the moon for US$1, promising they would honor their commitment when technology and science would give them the means.
Alas, Pan Am went belly up when that industry was de-regulated and the difference between people and cattle disappeared. The era of supersonic planes went away with that. It is hard to believe for young people that JFK-CDG could be done in a paltry 3 hours. New York – Heathrow too. New York – Tokyo over the Pole in 90 minutes was the next technological challenge. The future of super and hypersonic planes was taken away from us, and the dreams of Titanium fuselages crossing the skies vanished. Now, fat ungainly planes crammed with far more passengers that any kind of comfort can stand will take you anywhere, but in a manner as close as slumbering as a plane can. It is flying pigs on the wind, not svelte hawks cruising towards your destination.
It is not related but other dreams have not materialized. Graphite trains on top of magnetic rails are not here. Pop – up holograms neither. Politically, a world moving closer to a unified form of government is farther than ever, and it seems more and more like the United Nations is every day more of an oxymoron. Orwell seems to have been right: China is a duality of high technology and Medieval Fiefdom, and all the horrors of 1984 can be seen in North Korea, Burma and Laos. Revivals of the stupidest forms of communism flourish frequently in South America, still lingering in political structures of the 1950’s.
Telepathy did arrive, in the form of cellular telephony. We should have been careful of what we wanted, but we weren’t, and now a subtle form of slavery roams every single person that has to be available to his corporation or boss 24/7. Receiving a letter is something that no child has ever gone through; bills, legal notices, unwanted news and related arrive promptly, but the subtle pleasure of knowing that somebody thought of you enough not only to write but to walk, get the stamp and post you her thoughts is no longer known.
On some issues, the future was spot on. Global Warming came, settled down and simply got a new label: climate change. The moniker evolved because the models were not accurate enough and could not foresee that it would be only a warmer atmosphere, but one in a more chaotic state that would swing more wildly, with extreme heat and extreme cold taking turns. Overpopulation is, by its own definition, everywhere, and we are used to, not driving anymore, but commuting at extra slow speeds on extra wide lanes (while we text or are Bluetooth-connected to the cellular yoke). It is a future we expected, but from the wrong movie: it is not Logan’s Run (not that we wanted that one either) but rather, it is Soylent Green. It is not New York, but certainly it is Calcutta or Mumbai (Bombay when we were growing up) or Beijing (Pekin), where people die on stairs and alleys and no one notices. They just simply step over them on their way to avoiding the same fate.
On that note, we are not yet eating each other, but our food each day resembles less and less what it was. It is simply something edible. Pink slime. Additives. Chickens bred, raised and slaughtered without ever seeing the sun. Cattle going the same way. Organic food that is anything but, because corporate greed was able to regulate the term.
It is the Road Warrior, a future of depleted resources, of wastelands borne out from the assumption that the rate of consumption was sustainable, the misunderstanding that it is a planet, but it is also an island.
It is one of those days for this writer. The sun is shining; rain fell early in the morning and the corporation toils to find wealth underground. The cogs are moving, and they turn slowly and become grinders. Somewhere a war goes on, women are abducted for sexual trade, and slave children pick up harvests they will not enjoy. But we are tranquil, under general anesthesia called Cable Tv.
They said in the future there would be no wars; we would have Rollerball.
We got The X Games©™®etc.
Whenever I die, I will die happy.