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Thread: Futurism's overrated

  1. #151
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  2. #152
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    Nabokov's thoughts:

    ‘I utterly spurn and reject so-called “science fiction”. I have looked into it, and found it as boring as the mystery-story magazines... The future is but the obsolete in reverse" - from "Lance"

    ‘The present is only the top of the past, and the future does not exist.’-- from Ada, or Ardor

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  4. #153
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    well of course he would say that he was of aristocratic lineage. for all its faults sci fi reflects the onward march of history. just a shame most of it is in the Asimov cold war paranoiac style. so it looks hopelessly anachronistic in 2019.

  5. #154
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    A bit of science and philosophy wouldn't go amiss here:

    Philosophical presentism

    Philosophical presentism is the view that neither the future nor the past exist.[1] In some versions of presentism, this view is extended to timeless objects or ideas (such as numbers). According to presentism, events and entities that are wholly past or wholly future do not exist at all. Presentism contrasts with eternalism and the growing block theory of time which hold that past events, like the Battle of Waterloo, and past entities, like Alexander the Great's warhorse Bucephalus, really do exist, although not in the present. Eternalism extends to future events as well...

    Augustine of Hippo proposed that the present is analogous to a knife edge placed exactly between the perceived past and the imaginary future and does not include the concept of time. This should be self-evident because, if the present is extended, it must have separate parts – but these must be simultaneous if they are truly a part of the present. According to early philosophers, time cannot be simultaneously past and present and hence not extended. Contrary to Saint Augustine, some philosophers propose that conscious experience is extended in time. For instance, William James said that time is "the short duration of which we are immediately and incessantly sensible".[2] Other early presentist philosophers include the Indian Buddhist tradition. Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, a leading scholar of the modern era on Buddhist philosophy, has written extensively on Buddhist presentism: "Everything past is unreal, everything future is unreal, everything imagined, absent, mental... is unreal. Ultimately, real is only the present moment of physical efficiency [i.e., causation]."[3]
    Eternalism

    Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universe theory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time.[1] Some forms of eternalism give time a similar ontology to that of space, as a dimension, with different times being as real as different places, and future events are "already there" in the same sense other places are already there, and that there is no objective flow of time.[2] It is sometimes referred to as the "block time" or "block universe" theory due to its description of space-time as an unchanging four-dimensional "block", as opposed to the view of the world as a three-dimensional space modulated by the passage of time.
    Growing Block Theory

    According to the growing block universe theory of time (or the growing block view), the past and present exist and the future does not exist. The present is an objective property, to be compared with a moving spotlight. By the passage of time more of the world comes into being; therefore, the block universe is said to be growing. The growth of the block is supposed to happen in the present, a very thin slice of spacetime, where more of spacetime is continually coming into being.

    The growing block view is an alternative to both eternalism (according to which past, present, and future all exist) and presentism (according to which only the present exists). It is held to be closer to common-sense intuitions than the alternatives. C. D. Broad was a proponent of the theory (1923). Some modern defenders are Michael Tooley (in 1997) and Peter Forrest (in 2004).
    Not sure any of them are satisfying. You could argue that because we are human, human perception is paramount, and that even if the present past and future all exist simultaneously in an objective sense it doesn't matter because that's not how we perceive time - but if you're playing the solipsist card then you also have to take into account that cognitive and neurological theory has mostly rejected the computational theory of mind. Memory is not 'stored' like data on a hard drive it is a network of connections which reactivate when we access them, and essentially 'relive' the experience mentally. In that sense even the past is contained in the present.

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  7. #155
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    [QUOTE=blissblogger;364839]
    ‘The future is but the obsolete in reverse" - from "Lance" /QUOTE]

    This is a striking statement - presumably what he means is that human nature doesn't change, whatever happens technologically. (I think there's something in that - witness the contrast between our amazing technological achievements and the crime, hysteria, irrationality running rampant regardless.) Presumably his experience of the Russian Revolution prejudiced him against all forms of utopianism.

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    what is human nature? it doesn't exist. it's just an abstraction that people use to quantify the fact that all economy is fundamentally an economy of time.

    God is a far far far more coherent concept than human nature. this is my problem with victorian secularists. they don't look at the relationships between people but the way the mediations between people are expressed through things and events. there's a reason why atheism never took off in middle east.

    Like, I'm only really an atheist in a theological and material sense, not in a practical or ideological sense, because that's not my battle, I don't have to fight against medieval thought. that's Nabokov's problem. a man who knows how to use an unimaginable amount of posh french words but hasn't had a single worthwhile thought.
    Last edited by thirdform; 14-03-2019 at 11:15 AM.

  9. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bellwoods View Post
    In the 1870s, Japan decided to go all-in on the whole westernization thing. Apparently in a very, very short period of time, everyone was dressing in western clothes, listening to western music, putting up western-style buildings. But the thing is, very often these things were western-looking, but not actually western. For example, there was gyofu, "western-style" architecture, which was vaguely western-looking architecture made with traditional Japanese materials and construction techniques—because there were no western-trained architects/craftsman in Japan at the time. Japanese men would come home, change out of their western clothing (top hats etc.) and put on their traditional Japanese clothing for around the house.

    What was the point of this? Why would so much of Japan choose to perform westernization even before things had technologically (ie. organically) shifted? Some of it was about signalling to other countries, presumably, that Japan had entered the modern world in a serious way... but I also think people will play a role as a way of willing an identity or situation into reality. The Japanese were willing themselves into a western way of life. I read futurism, at least in the late 20th century, as something very similar—there was a sense that things were heading in a particular direction, and there were people (artists included) who wanted to accelerate the process through role-playing via cultural production.
    slightly related to this hyper modernization of japan, especially in regard to technology and architecture, its consequential estrangement and detachment, are the movies of shinya tsukamoto. they offer a perfect visualisation and symbolization of the terror that comes with that. youtube.com/watch?v=pqjISAh1VS4&t=
    Last edited by yyaldrin; 14-03-2019 at 11:07 AM.

  10. #158
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    [QUOTE=Corpsey;364849]
    Quote Originally Posted by blissblogger View Post
    ‘The future is but the obsolete in reverse" - from "Lance" /QUOTE]

    This is a striking statement - presumably what he means is that human nature doesn't change, whatever happens technologically. (I think there's something in that - witness the contrast between our amazing technological achievements and the crime, hysteria, irrationality running rampant regardless.) Presumably his experience of the Russian Revolution prejudiced him against all forms of utopianism.
    it's a very condensed poetic statement that I'm not sure I fully understand - i think he is saying something like the non-obsolete, the absolutely emergent, is no more interesting or relevant to us in our present moment than the archaic and passe things that are linger on in the world.

    But, the archaic and passe things that linger on in the world are fascinating and full of interest and pathos - so why shouldn't speculation about what is to come be equally fascinating? and how can we stop ourselves from trying to peer over the horizon of the present, from hoping and imagining that things will be better, or at least excitingly different?

    and he was as you suggest, intensely nostalgic - never got round to reading it, but Speak Memory is supposed to be one of the great exercises in autobiography and an attempt to recover lost time. Pale Fire, my favorite of his novels, contains a sort of displaced version of his longings for Tsarist Russia, in the form of the mad man's delusion that is the exiled king of Zembla, stranded in America and forced to pretend to be a lowly professor.

    Actually the same applies to Ada, which is sort of alternate-history - set in a North America that was colonised by Russians, so again you have the recreation of aristocratic Russian life but on the American landscape where Nabokov found himself

    off topic, but an odd bird, Vlad

    - he hated music, had no feeling for it, and it stirred in him a most disagreeable disequilibrium

    - he loathed Freud and psychoanalysis, used to go on about the quack of Vienna. i think as a fiction writer he felt threatened by the idea of the unconscious as well-spring of the imagination.
    Last edited by blissblogger; 14-03-2019 at 09:43 PM.

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    The emergence of science fiction and fantasy as full-fledged literary genres in the mid-to-late-19th century lines up conveniently with the period during which a number of particularly keyed-in dudes began to ring the alarms regarding the death of God etc. It's worth noting that the way that Frankenstein treats time—that it's technically set in the past (relative to the time of its publishing) while involving horrific technological innovation—seems odd to us now. Technological hubris usually takes place in the present or near-future (Blade Runner, Terminator, etc.). I claim (*sniff*) that this is because the past-present-future symbolic alignment hadn't yet reached its maturity in the early 19th century, but by the time of Morris et al it was pretty well locked into place.

    Probably, these literary forms (Ballard called science fiction the only native literary form of the 20th century) slide into place to fulfill some set of functions left behind when Christianity started to really rust out. Themes tend to involve eschatological scenarios, attempts to mythologize scientific things, conflicts on a massive (sometimes literally unknowable) scale. Blah blah blah.

    The point is that conceptions of the past and future are ideologically contingent. Medieval paintings of classical scenes look like... medieval scenes. The medieval Christian worldview was fully capable of imagining alien worlds, scenarios, creatures (see the Arthurian "Questing Beast"—possibly an attempt to describe a giraffe to Europeans who had never seen one)—it just didn't find it necessary to do so, for reasons that have to do with the deep assumptions underlying medieval Christian life. So the question is: why, in the mid-to-late-19th century, do we see the coupling of fantasy with the past, and science fiction with the future?

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    How has Barty managed this 1-2 punch of classic provocateur threads gone-good? A true prodigy.

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    [QUOTE=blissblogger;364955]
    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post

    off topic, but an odd bird, Vlad
    Definitely, and not a particularly appealing (though entertaining) personality - at least when pontificating about literature. (I've read a lot of his interviews, and wrote my UG dissertation on 'Lolita'.) His 'Lectures on Literature' are eccentric but brilliant - also seek out his book on Gogol. He definitely wouldn't have used that cliche 'human nature', apologies to his shade for that one. (I think another of his quarrels with Freud is that Freud turned the mind into a collection of symbols and systems - of cliches, in other words.)

    On the subject of time, I was listening to this last night https://www.nypl.org/blog/2018/08/21...podcast-ep-228 an interview with a physicist, talking about how there's no such thing as 'now'.

    Incidentally, I'm not sure his opinions on sci-fi are the same as Ballard's, but I recall reading Ballard talking about how science fiction of the space-race variety was now anachronistic, that sci-fi would only get anywhere by exploring 'inner space', etc.
    Last edited by Corpsey; 15-03-2019 at 11:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bellwoods View Post
    So the question is: why, in the mid-to-late-19th century, do we see the coupling of fantasy with the past, and science fiction with the future?
    A wild guess, could have something to do with accelerated technical and scientific innovation and socio-cultural change.

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