Sorry Chuck, The Inevitable is Coming

Chuck Klosterman concludes his book But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past with this thought: "I'm ready for a new tomorrow, but only if it's pretty much like yesterday" and while this is a pleasant thought, there's very little chance of it happening; before he gets to this romantic notion, he speculates on just how much the future will be different from the now, and how that will change the lens through which those future people view our time . . . and he also recognizes that not much will survive the test of time and that we have little to no chance of predicting what those things will be:

1) it's very difficult to predict what band will become the John Philip Sousa of rock'n'roll . . . no one can name another march music composer (and Klosterman points out that in one hundred years Bob Marley and reggae will be synonymous) so you can speculate: Chuck Berry? Led Zeppelin? The Beatles? The Rolling Stones? Def Leppard? who knows?

2) once a genre becomes insular and arcane, it's the "weirdos" who get to curate the art form, and select what is great;

3) American football now seems to be on the outs, as everyone educated knows that the sport is too dangerous because of the head injuries-- but Klosterman points out that this is because football is trying to become the sport for everyone . . . everyone watches a game or two, and almost everyone belongs to some kind of fantasy league or pool and everyone watches the Super Bowl . . . so this is too much exposure for something so dangerous, but there are plenty of sports that are more dangerous-- auto racing, UFC, base-jumping-- but they don't command such a large audience, so football may become less popular, and that may save it-- it may have a core group of diehard fans and  to them, the sport will represent valor and fortitude and toughness and all kinds of conservative values, and the rest of society will look upon it like auto-racing . . . or it may be deemed too dangerous and expensive it may die at the youth levels and go the way of boxing and the dodo . . . we won't know until the future;

4) folks in the future may look at The Matrix as a seminal film not because of the groundbreaking "bullet time" effects, but because the Wachowski Brothers transitioned and became the Wachowski Sisters, and so the world-within-a-world theme takes on an entirely new (and possibly more compelling) spin for future generations;

5) Klosterman concedes that important art from our time should reflect the most important elements of our time and he gives a list of these possibilities, while admitting that we see these through the cloudy and low vantage point of the present, but here are a few . . . and while I don't use quotes, I am usually using his exact words, just truncated: the psychological impact of the internet, the prevailing acceptance of nontraditional sexual identities, the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, an unclear definition of privacy, a hatred of the wealthiest one percent, the artistic elevation of television, the recession of rock'n'roll and the ascension of hip-hop, a distrust of objective storytelling, the prolonging of adolescence;

BUT, while I love Klosterman and had a great time navigating his ambiguous, philosophical arguments about how we can't predict the future, or how the future will view our present, Kevin Kelly does present a convincing counter-argument in his new book The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future . . . I'll save the summary of his most interesting predictions for another sentence, but, Chuck Klosterman, I'm warning you: tomorrow is going to be nothing like today, and the day after that is going to be exponentially even more wild . . . we've leapt over the edge and into the realm of the zillions . . . zillions of bits of interconnected information, zillions of smart objects, zillions of interconnected screens, zillions of hyperlinked pages, zillions of sprawling dendritic tendrils, stretching across the earth, in an ever-expanding, self-revising smart tangle of digitally connected humanity, so strap yourself in and get ready for a wild ride: we'll be in the future before you know it.


rob said...

never using quotes is an interesting quirk of intellectual purity

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