Comfort in Change

Within Jameson’s work, one small section raised a number of questions for me.  Specifically, he says “there is, indeed, something also at least vaguely comforting and reassuring in the renewed sense that the great supermarkets and shopping centers… that all these things are not seized immobile forever, in some “end of history,” but move steadily in time towards some unimaginable yet inevitable “real” future.”

At first, I was a bit taken aback by this.  What could possibly be comforting about the present ceasing to exist?  The more I thought about this, though, the more I could see the evidence to support this idea.  In fact, it is this idea that speaks to a larger question: why do we want to know the future at all?  Does this mean that there is some inherent dissatisfaction with our own time?  On the one hand, such a desire to seek the future and progress makes sense if we can assume that the future will be better than the present.  We cannot, however, know this, and so I am still led to question why we as humans have such an insatiable desire to know the future.  From Mill’s perspective, it makes sense that we seek progress, but I feel as though this desire goes beyond that theory and may even suggest some innate human need.

Regardless of the motivations, though, the search for the future, and the questions I have considered, indeed reflect Jameson’s view of the science fiction future as a tool for placing the present.  No matter what we think about the future, or why we explore it, those motivations inevitably speak to something about our own time and even provide a new, perhaps more subtle method of analyzing the present.

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