time to go back to the future

these are negative times we are living in. conservatism is up, investment is down. innovation is drying up, and even apple are reduced to trying to make us want stuff we clearly don’t need. the future is a bleak wasteland. i’m excited.

why? because it seems like it is always intense discomfort with the now that creates our most exciting leaps into the future. but it always seems to be preceded by an desire to look backwards. i remember the same thing happening when i was young, in the early 1990s – and it seemed to be follow by an avalanche of innovation – cultural, technological, everything. i think the same thing happened in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and looked what happened then.

i think now we are in the phase of looking back. of collecting our thoughts. of trying to rediscover our identity – where we have come from. what we NEED is for our leaders – artistic, business, political, technological, to start telling a compelling history of that past, of how we arrived where we are. because i think it is only when you get that sense of perspective, that you start feeling optimistic about the future.

where did this though come from?

firstly from reading a biography of lincoln, ‘team of rivals’ (much recommended by me and by Obama, another man who really needs to get people excited about the future again.) lincoln’s genius was to simply tell the american story, in a way that was simple and accessible and almost mythical, but made people instinctively excited about the potential of the future. david cameron sure as hell ain’t no lincoln. the way things are going, neither is obama.

david cameron sure as hell ain't no lincoln

but mainly it comes from one of my favourite scenes in the movies – the mall scene in bill & ted’s excellent adventure. definitely one of the formative texts of my world view (sadly.)

here it is, in al its glory. see beethoven discovering synthesizers. joan of arc discovering aerobics. and socrates trying to get laid.

beethoven discovers synthesizers

this scene reminds me that however drab the current moment might seem, it is so much easier to see the potential in the things around us when we have just a little perspective.


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