? Constructing the future | Main | 50 years gallery ?

March 02, 2005


Neal Stephenson is interviewed at Reason on power disorders, shaftology and the emblematic figure of our age (via C. Buddha).

If the emblematic figures of earlier eras were the pioneer with his Kentucky rifle, or the Gilded Age plutocrat, then for the era from, say, 1940 to 2000 it was the engineer, the geek, the scientist. Itís no coincidence that this era is also when science fiction has flourished, and in which the whole idea of the Future became current. After all, if youíre living in a technocratic society, it seems perfectly reasonable to try to predict the future by extrapolating trends in science and engineering.

It is quite obvious to me that the U.S. is turning away from all of this. It has been the case for quite a while that the cultural left distrusted geeks and their works; the depiction of technical sorts in popular culture has been overwhelmingly negative for at least a generation now. More recently, the cultural right has apparently decided that it doesnít care for some of what scientists have to say. So the technical class is caught in a pincer between these two wings of the so-called culture war. Of course the broad mass of people donít belong to one wing or the other. But science is all about diligence, hard sustained work over long stretches of time, sweating the details, and abstract thinking, none of which is really being fostered by mainstream culture.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 2, 2005 08:27 AM

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