The Other Tomorrow
As technology grinds away that which is impossible, we are limited only by our imaginations. Yet, the only futures Mass Reality can be bothered to sell us are despairing dystopias and bland, sterile consumer cultures. Obviously these aren’t the only possibilities, but failure to imagine better ones limits our ability to impose our will on our environments. If you don’t imagine the future, someone else will do it for you.
In the 1920s, failed artist Adolf Hitler gave speeches in beer halls about his vision for a new German empire. By telling his stories, he was able to gather the support he needed to seize power in Germany, and his followers made his visions a reality.
In the wake of World War II, Touko Laaksonen used his drawings to re-write the scripts acted out by men in uniform, casting them as rough lovers endowed like Roman gods. His vision was published and spread around the world. The drawings of ‘Tom of Finland’ became a model for what homosexual men looked like, externalizing his vision. By the 1970s this externalized vision was solid enough to be sold in the mainstream media in the form of the disco band Village People.
In the 50s, a tight knit crew of junkies, vagrants, queers and madmen living on the road and in miserable hotels started telling stories about each other. Publishers and journalists took note and the myth of the Beat Generation spread. In the 60s, the likes of Timothy Leary and Abbie Hoffman did not let this lesson go unnoticed; tell the right stories about your crew and others will take it as fact.
In 1968, Stewart Brand, himself influenced by stories of Leary and Buckminster Fuller, assisted with Douglas Engelbart’s demonstration of cutting edge computer technology: the mouse, e-mail, hypertext, and much more. Brand went on tell the story of how empowering the personal computer would be, and of the utility of computer networking. Steve Jobs believed this story. In 1976, Steve Jobs convinced Steve Wozniak to go into business with him selling the personal computer Wozniak built in his garage: the Apple Computer.
In the late 70s, Daniel Miller envisioned the future of music: rock bands playing synthesizers. He was convinced that the synthesizer would become the central instrument of punk rock. Since it wasn’t happening yet, he did it himself. He recorded a solo single as the Normal, then he created the “virtual band” the Silicon Teens. In 1981 he met the real thing, Depeche Mode, and started releasing their music on his label Mute Records. The 80s went on to be dominated by New Wave and synthpop, and today electronics are practically omnipresent in music.
In the early 80s, William Gibson saw an ad for for an Apple Computer on the side of a bus. He then began to imagine the world that became the world of Neuromancer, and accidentally created the subculture that came to be known as cyberpunk. Before cyberpunk became a real life phenomena a Berkley yippie calling himself R.U. Sirius read the early cyberpunk novels. Sirius decided the future of the psychedelic movement was in computers and virtual reality and started a magazine covering cyberpunk culture: Reality Hackers, which later became Mondo 2000. Even at the time, Sirius admitted to making the whole narrative up. By the early 90s cyberpunk was a real cultural movement and made the cover of Time Magazine in 1993. Kevin Kelly, an associate of Brand’s, took Mondo 2000′s myths and repackaged them as Wired. The cyberpunk myths became the myths of Wall Street and the “dot com boom.”
History is full of these stories. So is the news. In 2000 the neoconservative think tank The Project for the New American Century, which included Dick Cheney and other future Bush administration officials, published the paper Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The paper called for the vast expansion of US military power and called on the US to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars.” They noted, however, that “The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event â€“ like a new Pearl Harbor.” On September 11, 2001 they got their Pearl Harbor, and the plans laid out in Rebuilding Americas Defenses were set into motion.
In 2003, the New York Times reported that an unnamed source in the Bush administration said: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality â€” judiciously, as you will â€” we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actorsâ€¦ and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
What will it be then? Will you create the future, or be left to study what they do?
What is your vision of the future? Will you follow the example of the likes of Hitler and Mussolini? Or that of the likes of Leary and Brand? In your vision of the future, are you a monarch, ruling over the inferior classes and punishing your enemies? Or is there plenty for everyone, a euphoric blissed out sexual utopia? Will you choose to grow old and die? Or will you extend your life and consciousness infinitely? “It’s your lie, make it as big as you want.”
Write your own myth. Be your own messiah. Team up with like-minded visionaries and the genius fringe to build something madder, more beautiful, and far sexier than the mainstream could ever imagine. Come to Esozone, and build the Other Tomorrow.