Retro-Futures: The Demise of Progress in a Progressive Age

Southern Nights

3

Reading Anna Greenspan’s Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade which is a great introduction not only to Shanghai, but to the underpinnings of our current malaise regarding the future itself:

Today, in the developed world at least, this progressive optimism strikes many as archaic, absurd and shockingly naïve. It is not so much that GM’s vision of the 1960s is outmoded— after all the Futurama pavilion foreshadowed the immensely transformative US interstate highway system, which was built under Eisenhower in the mid-1950s, a couple of decades after it was first presented at the World Fair. Rather, it is the spirit of futurism itself that seems so remarkably out of date. The progressive presumptions embodied by Futurama induce— together with images of jetpacks and robot maids— a wistful, tragi-comic nostalgia for a future that never arrived. Autogyros, in particular, seem to taunt us as a broken promise. ‘Where are the flying cars?’ ask…

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About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
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