The Future AbidesPosted: August 26, 2011
September is almost here, which means my daughter is almost here. That also means 2012 is right around the corner. Closer maybe for me, due to the the zombie-like parenting befuddlement that is bound to occupy the last four months of 2011 as I know it. I’m sure I’ll just wake up, January 2012, in the middle of some department store baby section, idly and cautiously assessing my surroundings, like the opening scene of the Big Lebowski, or when Bill Murray sees Slimer for the first time. Just coming around to reality.
But, 2012? TWENTY-TWELVE! That’s like, the future. I’ll be waking up in the future. And while, cinematically, no one has really hit the nail on the head, no flying cars or Bartertown, this is what my daughter will be born into -whatever this is. It’s probably why I tend to read mostly non-fiction, learning about past, present and future across a variety of disciplines. It seems important to me, and it’s interesting.
For now though, I mostly stay away from the the giant section in the library on parenting books. The only real idea I have on parenting is one I came up with. That if your childhood was good, you want to recreate it as much as possible for your child. This isn’t necessarily easy, but at least you know what you want. Having a destination, a goal, makes things easier. The flip side of this is of course that if your childhood wasn’t so great, you want something different for your kids. A little more elusive, since you mostly know just what you don’t want. Amber and I have been lucky in that we’ve both had really good childhoods, with plenty of great models and memories to emulate from. It’s probably the biggest leg up in life we’ve been given, and we haven’t fully realized it yet.
Of course the wake up call from that big warm ‘n fuzzy is that the world is, and always will be, a changing place you can’t control (sorry if the rest of this post is a bit of a downer). And instead of reading the latest book about how to handle your teen daughter dating, driving, getting a D in math, and not liking the music you listen too – I read Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency; Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century. It’s really more my style, plus – I hate math.
Despite the subtitle, The Long Emergency doesn’t talk about getting a place in the mountains, stockpiling firearms and canned food, and living off the land. It’s not the non-fiction version of The Road. It’s more about how we’re gotten where we are as humans in the industrial age and how we’re nearing the end of that era, or “oil fiesta” at the author says. Of course it also includes the authors thoughts on what this all means for the future.
Whatever media you are taking in, time and place obviously takes a bit part in how you see it. And your wife about to have a baby is certainly not an exception when reading a book primarily dedicated to examining how our species handles it’s resources and what it means for our future. It got a little dense at parts and bit boring in others. When you’ve read and seen other things on the same topic the parallels and shared information seem to ramble a bit. It had plenty of new information for me though, as well and an interesting and appreciated perspective.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s some videos I found of the author discussing his book’s topic.
As an aside. I also read his World Made By Hand book, a fictional version of life in the future world The Long Emergency illuminates. It wasn’t amazing, but nice to have another post apocalyptic author keep things, not only in the realm of realism, but based on a good deal of facts that his non-fiction work covers.