Is the future More? For some it has been for some time. Ten years ago, the late critic Mark Fisher wrote in his book about the “slow cancellation of the future”, The ghost of my life, Cultural stagnation is to blame for our collective inability to “perceive and express the present”. To Fisher, the future is already lost, not just for splitting and accelerating, we now accept it as part of life shaped by the Internet, but “a general condition: where life goes on, but time somehow stops.” Such stagnation was in contrast to how the Fisher generation realized the future as an arrow-end destination through the pursuit of knowledge, independence and technological innovation. The future was a myth whose certainty was indebted to Marxist dialectics like Henry Ford’s assembly line: we once rubbed sticks together to light a fire and lived in wild chaos; Soon, we will travel in interdisciplinary spaceships and alleviate human suffering. That myth has disappeared, as we have witnessed the eruption of a simultaneous, repetitive and famous unequal plane of the past, present and future.
But wait we haven’t witnessed a flurry of innovation since then The ghost of my life? Are we stuck in our VR headsets, watching sports championships in packed stadiums and drowning our wages in shady blockchains? So how could the future end if it came to us now? About a decade before Fisher, queer theorist Lee Edelman had something to say about him There is no future. In it, Edelman argues for a more precise cancellation: the “reproductive future” or the organization of society and politics around the legacy of generations.
Both reproductive futurism and what we might think of as “corporate futurism” of traditional innovation support the chronological progression and descriptive sequence, “not towards the end of enabling change, but … giving back time to ensure repetition,” wrote Edelman. Under the future of reproduction, we collectively favor non-disruptive and growing change, and against radical, bizarre, or genuine revolutionaries who threaten the so-called “natural order” of biological gender, family values, and economic growth. So-called realism traps us in an endless present where even the most daring inventions fail to imagine a better and more just world — and indeed their success depends on the failure of our imagination, if you consider how Amazon’s delivery-on-demand is simply Set a precedent for further deterioration of working conditions; Or that Elon Musk’s hyperloop only makes sense in the future without public access to transit; Or how Meta can only imagine alternative-dimensionality as an office-cum-mall that hasn’t even been modified for homeowners.
There is so much to love about Edelman’s vision, the way we are told to embrace the “queer death drive” and move away from the horizon of the future altogether. He closes a chapter with the slogan: “The future stops here.” If reproductive futurism is based on money-making, for example, drawing the essence of existence from the illusion of progress and inheritance, then Edelmann’s proposal encourages the rejection of meaning and determination in the pursuit of ideological liberation. Yet this is not the direction of this freedom now, but a conspiracy of power – a demand for survival, a pessimism of political will, a systematically damaged working class and racist lower class and much more – that has trapped many of us. Present, leaving the future in the stewardship of a globalized corporation for whom its domestication is a top priority. Undoubtedly you are familiar with the kind of counselors who have declared themselves futuristic without self-awareness, promising you a knife-wielding tour guide through tomorrow’s risks and opportunities. Even financial futures অর্থাৎ that is, derivatives নির্ভর depend on predictions, even if volatility is part of the process.
By Lee Edelman’s successor, Rebecca Sheldon, that brings us back to the point where she wrote: “In the name of the future, we must protect the future.” As we grapple with the prevailing uncertainties of climate chaos and descriptive collapse and reach new heights of capitalism-condemnation, we will see more interest in the future beyond the torment of idealistic futurism; The future that breaks rather than stabilizes. If ideological futurism only values the difference between exploiting or overcoming it, constantly reducing the social relationship with the individual and forcing us to think about planetary problems – such as hunger, extinction and climate catastrophe – how can we? So will the future be made up of a combination of differences and aggregates? In the words of artist Sean Y Keen (fka Victoria Sean), “How can we imagine a future that is not a front, but a path down?”
In recent art and film, ideas about a diverse future have been crystallized in the form of ethno-futurism, such as synophuticism, aboriginal futurism, and contemporary aphrofuturism. Many present an alternative scenario of Western progress that predicts a rethinking of history or a rethinking of geopolitics. Indigenous futurism and aphrodisiacism, for example, raise the question, what would science, technology and industry be like if it did not rely on – as it does now – environmental degradation and human dependence? Yet others, such as synophuticism and Gulf futurism, simply ask, how do we view the future if the basic ideas of “progress” originate from somewhere other than the West?