The Loss of Cool Futurism: Disunity

Serdar and I were recently’ discussing the revival/return of Omni magazine. If you’re not familiar with Omni then you’re . . . probably younger than I am.  So stop playing your music so loud and get off my lawn.

Anyway, Omni was one of those publications that had a theme of what I call “cool futurism”, of the amazing stuff we’d see, of soaring cities and great technology and a better world. It was hip and happening and often positive. Cool futurism is the kind of thing you see in Star Trek TOS, in speculations on future architecture, on imagining how we’ll solve disease or poverty – not naive, but, well, “Cool”.

It’s cool to make things better. Cool to imagine awesome things we can make.

It just doesn’t seem to be that popular anymore in America. So I began asking what happened, and you’ll be utterly shocked to hear there’s a blog post about it to follow. Probably several.

First of all, I think Cool Futurism is gone because there’s no sense of unity or potential unity.

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Rembrances of 9/11

Every year this comes up.  Oddly, I have a place on my web page to discuss it, even though most of what I remember was going numb.

I was working at an insurance company when the first plane hit the WTC.  Then a friend in NY called in a panic and I went into crisis mode, giving her advice and suggestions on how to get out.  When she tried to figure what to do I kept up on the news, which was easy – insurance company after all.  I couldn’t avoid it.

The week was a kind of blur.  News on all the time.  Work.  Playing “Elder Scrolls: Arena” just to sort of do something.  Chatting online.  As I noted, numb, numb after the searing realization.

Eventually the numbness faded.

I remember seeing Americans get unified (despite some horrible incidents).  I remember heroism in the rubble.  I even recall how IT people saved companies with good backup strategies – standing out as I was a programmer at the time.  It’s in pieces and flashes.

It’s little images falling through my mind like snow, light between the blackness.  I try to remember that because we need that feeling, that knowledge.  We don’t need the numbness.

Now, there’s talk about the meaning of 9/11, the impact of 9/11, it’s all politics and abstract theories, all propaganda and opportunism.  The meaning seems to have been leached out of it considering the later political excesses and the wars so easily ignored now.  It’s not the big picture we talk about anymore, it’s a little picture inflated to look big.

Our media and so often our memories have gone numb, and considering or dysfunctional news media and punditry, numb and dumb.  There’s no feeling there, and it’s not even the earned numbness of facing the pain.

So now, I look back, look at the numbness, and try to remember the light and the painful lessons and the heroism and the chaos.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.