The future ain’t what it used to be

Some of you may remember 1984. Actually, I’m pretty sure everyone has *some* memory filed under the heading of 1984. For the older among you, it’s 1984: a foreboding tale of a fear-mongering government assuming control of a sheepish middle class, by George Orwell, thankfully proven to be wild, over the top Red Scare era fiction. For others, the final album by Van Halen before they >shrug< morphed into Van Hagar and David Lee Roth morphed into >shudder< a solo act. Some of you may remember it as the Blade Runner-esque commercial run during the 1984 Superbowl (incidentally, directed by Blade Runner director Ridley Scott). And a growning number will remember it as all three of those things, collectively filed in your memory bank as ‘stuff that happened way before my time,’ like World War II or, what was that one before World War II… oh yeah, the Crusades.

Which, let me say, I completely understand. Old people have this condescending way of looking down their nose at people too young to remember the exact chronology of what happened before they were born, as though they’re somehow experts on things that happened before they were born. Because, somewhere about five, maybe six generations ago? People done remembered everything that ever happened, right back to the war between Adam and Eve and the dinosaurs, because their roots were just that important to them.

I, however, don’t remember any of that. I scarcely remember what I had for lunch yesterday. Scratch that: carnitas burrito bol from Chipotle, with guacamole. But what I said during a tremendously important 2:30 conference call with a client all the way over in another timezone? I’d have to look at my notes.

But what I do remember is this: the ‘If You Had Wings’ ride in Tommorrowland at EPCOT Center. Which, coincidentally enough, I think I saw in 1984. Reading over what the Wikielves have to say about it, my recollection may be entirely false, but I remember this ride as having real resonance. And by resonance, I mean a feeling that, at some point in the past, people really believed this malarky. Flying cars. Jetsons style elevator houses. People living in space just to get away from it all. If you’re old enough to have memories of the future that pre-date Alien and Blade Runner, I suspect you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Anyway, it turns out there’s a term for this exact flavor of nostalgia — Paleofuturism: the study of the future passed.

This fellow Matt has a pretty impressive collection of it all (photo borrowed from his site). Flying cars, sure. Robotic servants. Modern conveniences. Civilized armaments. Technological marvels for the betterment of mankind. I, for one, love the fact that this is a topic broad enough to be not only the topic of any number of college term papers, but given another generation or so, basis for an undergraduate degree.

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3 Responses to “The future ain’t what it used to be”

  1. // carnitas burrito bol from Chipotle, with guacamole

    Incidentally, that’s the same bol I had today! I mean, yeah. Purely by chance. No prior witnessing of a bol in play. I am still quite stuffed, though I should force myself to eat breakfast so I can avoid lunchtime famishment. I don’t think that’s a word. Either that or get a salad, though not from the bol factory. A buck more for some extra green stuff that’s not mushy awesome? Please. I’ll have a side of chips with that.

  2. Where the hell is my Hovercar?

  3. Huh, looks like the joke HTML Red Forman tags I stuck in my comment got automatically deleted by WordPress. I tell you, being unable to stick in mock HTML for comedic effect marks the downfall of civilization, and the rise of the world fascist state!

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