The Year 2000: A Framework for the speculation on the next thirty-three years.
Mrs Hardly’s way cool blog project – Part 1
Note: I had orginally planned to approach this project in a fairly methodical way, carefully summarising each chapter and tossing in some commentary. However, after attempting to read the introduction and first chapter, I’m not sure that careful summaries are the best approach, so the project will be done in a fairly ad hoc fashion – I’ll pick out the best bits and omit the boring, because the less essay-like this ends up – the better. This may mean the project is rather shorter than I’d anticipated, because there seems to be a very large amount of The Boring contained within the 425+ pages.
The intro, by Daniel Bell, “Chairman of the Commission on the Year 2000, American Academy of Arts & Sciences”, begins intriguingly – he talks about a series of books called “Today and Tomorrow”, published by Keegan Paul / E P Dutton in the 1920s. These actually sound incredibly cool and I’d love to get my hands on some of them. Bell obviously doesn’t think they are anywhere remotely as cool as I do, he is quite contemptuous of the majority of the volumes, because they are “fanciful”, have a “puckish” tone and “lack seriousness”. He goes so far as to label the volumes on society as “feeble” and is particularly scathing about JFC Fuller’s Atlantis, America and the future, where Fuller predicts the US will be plunged into a religious war in the distant future, which Bell obviously thinks ridiculous. Hmmmmm, who is feeble now Mr Bell?
This goes on for many, many pages and really, I’ve not experienced such a high level of, what can only be described as, bitchiness in such a scholarly work before, and as we all know, I love me some snark and I never, ever thought that I would find anything to be too snarky1. Thank gods Mr Bitchy has only written the introduction, because if this was his book it would be consigned, mostly unread, to a Charity Shop somewhere in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney quicker than you could say “Mr Bell, you are a real tool”. And I really hope that Herman and The Wiener are not the same pompous, loathesome dickheads that Mr Bitchy appears to be or this project will come to a rather abrupt conclusion.
Anyway, the point of the bitchiness is soon obvious. Because, you see, all previous predictions of the future have been flawed and wrong, for they lack the benefit of Sophisticated New Methodologies – like statistical time-series and modelling and controls and a whole lot of other stuff which I am going to spare you from and this all makes me rather hate statistics (and I generally think statistics rock) and I am beginning rather loathe Mr Bitchy.
I am very glad when the introduction ends – Mr Bitchy uses Machiavelli’s argument that half men’s lives are ruled by chance and the other by the men themselves to conclude that the Sophisticated New Methodologies will endeavour to have chance more or less omitted from the what-rules-men’s-lives equation.
While reading, I’m thinking, all the while, that I really should cast caution to the wind and tell The Professor the URL of my blog, because he lives for this shit. But I realise that this would probably be a Really Bad Idea (however I might gift the book to him when I am done).
Next up: the actual book (where I hope there is some decent content).
1Yes, I’m aware of the irony of snarking about something being too snarky, but hey, this is a blog, not something that purports to be a scholarly vision of the future and wants to be taken seriously.