I'm about to turn 49 (in other words I-may-as-well-be-50). I'm very upset because the future I was promised as a child has not yet arrived and I wish to make a formal complaint. Yes, we have that "fifty is the new forty" thing ... but that is countered by whomever said "forty is the old age of youth ... fifty is the youth of old age". Personally, I want that fellow found and hurt.
All in all, I'm really disappointed in the future. It's not what it used to be. I went to Disneyland back in the 60s and 70s. I remember Tomorrowland. I saw what was promised. All those NASA inspired inventions! The forward march of science! "The Carousel of Progress" was one of my favorite rides -- that big utopian pimp festival of American big business. And Monsanto's Mighty Microscope! Better living through chemistry, even if it did shrink us down to the size of an ice cube and force us through the big sphincter of our friend the atom. It's a Small World still hangs around but the dolls are getting ratty-looking and the effects just don't cut it anymore. And jet packs! Where the hell are the jet packs? Personal aircraft vehicles. I was PROMISED! And the rubber houses we'd be able to hose out and dry off. And freeze dried food turned into piping hot meals at the push of a button. And AIR CARS and MONORAILS! Where are these things?
I remember watching that charlatan Ralph Story (actually, I loved Ralph Story ... everyone from LA loves Ralph Story, but in this instance he lied to me!) tell us about "Los Angeles the Hovering City". I checked -- LA is not hovering. It's not even flapping its wings. There is no "community air transportation", no homes pillowed on air balloons above the smog, no fun roller coaster rides through shopping malls ... none of it and it really SUCKS.
Fortunately, the current future is so chaotic in the minds of most modern futurists that they can't come up with a decent guess about ten years from now let alone fifty. The futurists who make predictions are all called "overly optimistic" and even "hyperbolean" (and not in the fun McKenna sense) but then I remember that two years before I was born, Sir Harold Spencer Jones wrote in New Scientist that generations would pass before man would walk on the moon. Well, not so much. Now Ray Kurzweil, apparent engineer of hyperbole, is talking about amazing stuff happening. So is he too optimistic or too pessimistic? Is nanotechnology the new floating city? It's not that the future didn't arrive -- it was just remarkably different than the one we expected.
But what happened to the happy and optimistic future of the 50s and 60s? Two words: Republican Revolution. The sizing down of hope and the privatization of dreams. The collective requires a common pool of information and resources in order to evolve. The GOP mindset takes all the resources and information and preserves it in the hands of the wealthy -- which is how they are kept empowered. We need to remember that evolution is a group process (but then not all of us believe in evolution).
As we face a new year and a new, very different President, perhaps we have some cause for hope.