Our Grandparents Had A Future

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analemma-tower-clouds-architecture-office-conceptual-supertall-skyscrapers_dezeen_2364_col_3“We have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. … We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition”

Text: William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

Pics: “In a bid to get around terrestrial height restrictions, Clouds Architecture Office has proposed suspending the world’s tallest skyscraper from an asteroid, leaving residents to parachute to earth.New York-based Clouds Architecture Office drew up plans for Analemma Tower to “overturn the established skyscraper typology” by building not up from the ground but down from the sky by affixing the foundations to an orbiting asteroid.”Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility,” said the architects, who have previously drawn up proposals for space transportation and a 3D-printed ice house on Mars.”If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.”- Supertall skyscraper hangs from orbiting asteroid in Clouds Architecture Office concept, Dezeen.

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A Kind of Tragedy

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“It was a warship, after all. It was built, designed to glory in destruction, when it was considered appropriate. It found, as it was rightly and properly supposed to, an awful beauty in both the weaponry of war and the violence and devastation which that weaponry was capable of inflicting, and yet it knew that attractiveness stemmed from a kind of insecurity, a sort of childishness. It could see that—by some criteria—a warship, just by the perfectly articulated purity of its purpose, was the most beautiful single artifact the Culture was capable of producing, and at the same time understand the paucity of moral vision such a judgment implied. To fully appreciate the beauty of the weapon was to admit to a kind of shortsightedness close to blindness, to confess to a sort of stupidity. The weapon was not itself; nothing was solely itself. The weapon, like anything else, could only finally be judged by the effect it had on others, by the consequences it produced in some outside context, by its place in the rest of the universe. By this measure the love, or just the appreciation, of weapons was a kind of tragedy.”

Text: Iain M. Banks, Excession

Pics: Images purporting to show the ‘Black Knight Satellite’ –  “an object approximately 13,000 years old, of extraterrestrial origin …orbiting Earth in near-polar orbit” – Wikipedia.

 

 

Fall of Empire

 

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“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.” – Isaac Asimov, Foundation.

Pic: Great Fire of London, artist unknown.

The Lost Object

 

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“Frederic Brown writes about a man who travels into the past in order to punish his grandfather for tormenting his grandmother. In the course of an altercation he kills his grandfather before his father has been engendered. Thus the time traveller cannot then come into the world. Who, therefore, in fact killed the grandfather, if the murderer has not come into the world at all? Herein lies the contradiction. Sometimes an absent minded scientist, having left something in the past which he has visited, returns for the lost object and encounters his own self, since he has not returned exactly to the moment after his departure for the present, but to the time-point at which he was before. When such returns are repeated, the individual is subject to multiple reproduction in the form of doubles…”

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“Or another example: in the future someone comes to an artist (in one story to a painter, in another to a writer) and gives him either a book dealing with painting in the future or a novel written in the future. The artist then begins to imitate this material as much as possible, and becomes famous, the paradox being that he is borrowing from his own self (since he himself was the author of that book or those pictures, only “twenty years later”)”.

Text: The Time-Travel Story and Related Matters of SF Structuring, Stanislaw Lem, Thomas H. Hoisington and Darko Suvin, Science Fiction Studies.

Images:  Postcards From the Void – Juliet Eldred and Ground – Bill McDowell

Kipple

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JR – Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers of yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.

Pris – I see.

JR – There’s the First Law of Kipple, “Kipple drives out nonkipple.” Like Gresham’s law about bad money. And in these apartments there’s been nobody there to fight the kipple.

Pris – So it has taken over completely. Now I understand.

JR – Your place, here, this apartment you’ve picked – it’s too kipple-ized to live in. We can roll the kipple-factor back; we can do like I said, raid the other apartments. But –

Pris – But what?

JR – We can’t win.

Pris – Why not?

JR – No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.

Text: Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Pic: Vintage matchbook

A Particular Magic

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“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

A Dark World

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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.