My beautiful picture

“Deserts possess a particular magic, since they have exhausted their own futures, and are thus free of time. Anything erected there, a city, a pyramid, a motel, stands outside time. It’s no coincidence that religious leaders emerge from the desert. Modern shopping malls have much the same function. A future Rimbaud, Van Gogh or Adolf Hitler will emerge from their timeless wastes.” ― J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition

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“You must understand—and every year it becomes increasingly difficult to understand how entirely different the world was then from what it is now. It was a dark world; it was full of preventable disorder, preventable diseases, and preventable pain, of harshness and stupid unpremeditated cruelties; but yet, it may be even by virtue of the general darkness, there were moments of a rare and evanescent beauty that seem no longer possible in my experience. The great Change has come forever more, happiness and beauty are our atmosphere, there is peace on earth and good will to all men. None would dare to dream of returning to the sorrows of the former time, and yet that misery was pierced, ever and again its gray curtain was stabbed through and through by joys of an intensity, by perceptions of a keenness that it seems to me are now altogether gone out of life. Is it the Change, I wonder, that has robbed life of its extremes, or is it perhaps only this, that youth has left me—even the strength of middle years leaves me now—and taken its despairs and raptures, leaving me judgment, perhaps, sympathy, memories?”

HG Wells, In The Days of The Comet.

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“There is no articulate resonance. The common problem, I suppose, is to have more to say than vocabulary and syntax can bear. That is why I am hunting in these desiccated streets. The smoke hides the sky’s variety, stains consciousness, covers the holocaust with something safe and insubstantial. It protects from greater flame. It indicates fire, but obscures the source. This is not a useful city. Very little here approaches any eidolon of the beautiful.”

Text: Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren.

Pic: Mark Kimber, A Throne Embraced by Cloud, 2012.

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“To think positively about our prospects, we must first be able to imagine ourselves in the future. Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talents: mental time travel, the ability to move back and forth through time and space in one’s mind. Although most of us take this ability for granted, our capacity to envision a different time and place is in fact critical to our survival. It is easy to see why cognitive time travel was naturally selected for over the course of evolution. It allows us to plan ahead, to save food and resources for times of scarcity and to endure hard work in anticipation of a future reward. It also lets us forecast how our current behaviour may influence future generations. If we were not able to picture the world in a hundred years or more, would we be concerned with global warming? Would we attempt to live healthily? Would we have children?”

Text: Tali Sharot, The Optimism Bias, TIME

Pic: Thomas Cole, The Architect’s Dream, 1840.

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“A numberof theorists of “risk society” have suggested that, in our current social context, science and technology in general have serious public relations problems. Risk theory posits that the management of risk forms the basis of government rationality in late modernity, replacing the distribution of social wealth and the protection against dangers. The origin of risk society is found in a fundamental process of modernity – the replacement of local knowledge by technical expert-knowledge systems.These knowledge systems render social relations abstract and invert the causal linkage of past, present,and future: the present becomes an outcome, not of the receding past,but of the emerging risks of the future. Yet these expert systems are not seamless. Risk theorists argue that the traditionally privileged position of science and technology as knowledge systems has come under scrutiny as their limits have become apparent. Contrary to Enlightenment expectations,the more that scientific knowledge has developed, the more complex, contradictory, and indeterminate it has become. The constant revision of knowledge, the disagreement among its practitioners, and the evident failures of science over the course of the twentieth century have tended to undermine utopian promises of progress; certain knowledge and rational control over nature have given way to a permanent sense of anxiety, as people contemplate the potential failure of globalised technologic scientific and economic systems”.

Text: Sheryl N. Hamilton, Traces of the Future: Biotechnology, Science Fiction, and the Media

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