Friday, May 29, 2009

Zero History

Zero History, a novel in progress, by William Gibson.

I like the title a lot. Some reflection:

"The future" is and always was a map of a fake territory. It is entertainment. However, without any map at all we become paralyzed, so even a fake map can provide initial direction, even if it is rarely ultimately the right direction. Thus "futures" survive. Willy Lee rockets boldly charted out intergalactic federation before a nation came together and reached upwards. Cyberjockeys first jacked across a new world's neon constellations, created new myths to sail by, tentative models to take to the money people. The future promised Star Wars, I-Robots, and Cybertopia - we got decaying red stars, automation, and Google.

But now we are seduced by ever sexier futures and dwindling soundbite-sized "now", all whilst history is regooded -- the signified is stripped from signifiers, packed into a brochure and McDonaldized. We become blind to history and its non-linearity. Thus our pattern seeking mind fabricates theories, draws whatever lines it can on the last two data points: this quarter's report, this season's pants, this election cycle's buzz issue, the last 140 characters, today's housing price index.

The future is fake, a con, a Ponzi scheme -- but when there is zero history, it's the only game in town.


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