Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Retro-Futurism/Open Futurity

"The Future" is essentially reactionary, the political imaginary of escapist status-quo acquiescence or of triumphalist status-quo amplification: It is the open futurity arising from the lived diversity and convivial creations in our shared present that is essentially emancipatory.

So I tweeted a moment ago, another variation on a theme to which I have recurred so often for years now. But this time writing it I had an unaccustomed twinge: I still mean what I say, but of course "openness" has been buzzword buzzsawed into the usual vacuity by techbro meme hustlers by now -- open is empty more often than not in the mouths of the open source open access open society openness brigand brigade -- and so I find I am less comfortable with my long-favored phrase "open futurity" than I once was.

I could take up another phrase, do my own meme-hustling number, try my hand at Luntzian-Lakoffian "re-framing," cough up a neologistic hairball to take personal credit for -- like "over-futurity," say. It has a nice Nietzschean coloration: the re-opening that resisted the reactionary foreclosures of "The Future" re-figured now as over-comings, tapping into the useful but also fashionable academic dance-number of "the future anterior" that builds the next out of the shared resourcefulness of the here and now. Over-futurity, too, nicely evokes the eyeroll of being "over" neoliberal futurological hype, as truly I am.

But over is just a hop skip and a jump from uber, after all, and the meme-hustlers have already grazed and pooped all over that figurative field. Of course, there is no word-magic that can make our arguments for us: a world suffused with marketing deceptions and re-packagings chews up every word and spits it out, leaving it a poorer thing with ugly associations in tow. I guess I'll stick to open futurity against retro-futurism for the time being.

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