As 2012 approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of The Future; a utopia that always seems to be just beyond the horizon, but never actually arrives. Can all of history really be a linear unfolding, heading towards an apex? If so, then what? Stasis? Perpetuity? Is this mirage some form of religious faith – or perhaps it’s simply a psychological defense against a less polished, omnidirectional reality.
Images featuring the perfectly controlled, crystal-domed habitats and flying cars against immaculate landscapes of the Atomic Age stir up a strange mixture of nostalgia and hope. These blueprints, laid out by our grandparents, haven’t come to pass. The physical limits of our planet, an economic system based on the illusion of infinite resources, the many untold and ongoing histories of silenced peoples, and the fear and hatred of wild, untamed nature all clamor in opposition to this western narrative. But something outside of our individual realizations keeps luring us down this path.
In the fashion industry, the perpetual changing seasons of collections mimic the natural cycles of our planet circling the sun: autumn, winter, spring, summer. This helps make fashion seem larger than life; beyond-human. This mimicry also naturalizes “fast-fashion”, over-production, and rewards people who spend their money with the feeling that their purchasing of each new item is a direct participation in working towards something. Many industries lead us on in this way; each new advancement brings the hope of finally achieving, or at least providing the next big step toward an ultimate advancement that will save us. But can any of us even articulate what that destination would be? If not, who are we allowing to lead the charge, and do we have to keep working toward an impossible and failed utopia?
In 2012, take some time to articulate simple, realistic, radical ideals based in justice and ecology; and ask yourself how you can work toward them.