Though (or possibly because) I’ve been spending so much time learning about history, I find myself increasingly preoccupied with particular thoughts on the future that I’ll purge here.
1. Telephone poles. Will we see the end of telephone poles in our lifetimes? A view unobstructed by black graph. Will the horizontal netting that we’ve become blind to be uniformly replaced by upward spikes of cell phone towers? Doesn’t this a mirror our relationships to each other? Are we a culture of disconnected, lonely spires. Maybe this is how species go extinct. It’s not disease, natural disasters, or lack of food, but the lack of connection that leads to those things. Our greatest social trauma is isolation.
2. Evolution. What will be the first vestigial organ to be omitted completely from our reproduction? What functions will begin to change next? Will we evolve out of the need for sleep? We don’t need our memory in the same way we did before language, the ability to write, photography, and the internet. We don’t need to retain those reference materials, just the short-term memory needed to complete basic human functions. Memory reinforcement is a prime objective of sleep. Further, now that we have artificial light, and can manipulate almost everything in our favor, sleep is impinging on our social demands and maybe it is ripe for evolutionary elimination.
3. Right now, as seen from the future. It’s a warm night in Oakland, and I’m standing in my kitchen, very alert. Things have settled somehow, and everyone and every little thing is on its chosen trajectory. There is the occasional siren racing down Telegraph attached to an ambulance. An AC Transit bus rolls over the deceptively menacing pothole that rattles the whole building. Weed smoke filters through the open windows from the streets two stories below, and mingles with the weed vapor already hovering chez moi.
An older than middle-aged man is ambling down the street screaming about Tupac, someone shouts for a friend, a car door thumps. And I think of the future, and whether other generations will look to this time as a Belle Epoque, and Hella Epoch, if you will (you shouldn’t).
The porta-potty from last night’s street party is still being put to predictable use. The sewage smell from the construction two blocks away on Broadway has almost subsided, unless I have just become regrettably accustomed to the stench. The freshly cleaned window screens smell like bleach cleanser and metallic exhaust that will not relent. Occasional cigarette smoke drifts by, and soon the barbeque grill at the bar next door will be fired up for the evening poisoners.
Neat rows of metal boxes on rubber tires meet the cement curb that lines cracked asphalt beds. After a solid rain, the remnants of the raised trolley tracks are vaguely visible. An artificial black and white grid smothers genuine earth so that the relentless clang of traffic may continue unimpeded. At the very edge of the visible horizon, is the new western span of the Bay Bridge, which at night flaunts a pyramid of light for late travelers. To the left are the remains of the old span of the old bridge in the midst of its central decay. On clear days a glimpse of international orange on the Golden Gate Bridge winks in the very far distance.
This entire metal jumble is framed by a bland storage facility and a cluster of homes with battered shingles, dotted with billboards hawking infinite ways for me to alleviate myself of my burdensome wallet. The billboards are perpetually covered in graffiti; nonsense words and indecipherable symbols. This scene is both seething and complacent; forced by humanity to conform itself to an unnatural trajectory.
And all I can think is that in the future, all of this will seem so fucking romantic.