Thursday, December 16, 2010

Its the trouble with the future

It goes without saying the future is one of the more problematic of tenses. As Hiedegger brilliantly realized, the trouble with ti really if that it needs to be understood not as merely a future present, but as it is right here right now. Time after all in itself implies some kind of relationship with the future = what else is being in time at all? The future is never something then hidden or some present far way - it is rather always right here right now - an entity all decisions political, biological, social economic and eve artistic are made - and made constantly .
Such an overhanging future has several key aspects. Firstly, following still Heidegger it is clear that the future is caught up with possibility. To have a future is always to feel something more can happen in our lives- we are never done never finished- life is always shaking new thing into us. w have the behave then in accordance with this possibility- We need to always open up certain options, and evolve them in the hope of more options to come. We have to plan now, but plan in the idea that what is planned is no necessarily what will come in itself, so much as the platform or deck that runs out into possibility, our projection into it, from onto which the possibilities far, and around which they coalesce. Heidegger would have us then at once revel in the creative of the what is to some that hangs over us- while suggesting we create nets of capturing those possibles we look to and for, those that we feel peculiarly suite ourselves and our lives. A move which defines reasonable enough personal choice but is lousy when it comes to the game of modern politics.... Hence is love of dictatorships which expend the politics of one person into the nation.
In opposition to this pole there is of course the future or probability (an option Heidegger for one derided). That is the future were one reckons up what one thinks is likely to be - what is likely to come and modifies ones behaviour accordingly in the here and the now. these numbers of course define their own reality - create there own level - on which historically at least policy tended to be made. It might hurt some the argument always goes, but over all the average or the expectation or the trend line is going our way. the trouble with this approach (and hi is Heidegger's critique) - is that it misses the key fat of temporality as such namely that it is self-conscious as it is time. Time is born in us, in the fact that we have being, and know we have a future. Probabilty then deadens that looking towards - or defines a level where it can be safely ignored. It does not matter where we know what is happening or no, the argument runs, the future is the same nevertheless - it does not matter what we think, the future appears in the numbers. A point of course heidegger lampoons,a s what is the point of time as we live it, as it is in us if it were not self conscious? to set theorize that deny that aspect is to create a theory that tears out the essence of temporality in describing it.
In terms of modernity we would of course now say that Heidegger is half right. The is wrong to demand the self-consciousness of being is the critical determinant - that it is all that matters and does so in defiance of maths, but he is right to insist that the fact that being knows what it wants effects the future. We are all very used to the fact that belief is something, in something in some mass happening is itself a real truth - and has become increasingly (and often very irritatingly) an increasing power in the land. indeed so much is this the case that it has become as it were a third pole of the future - the belief in others believing, and the way to manage their expectation in the face of the fact that belief is nonsense, is the task of modern politics. Debates such as health and safety or immigration are carried out in never never land of what we think is being done and the future we imagine we are running towards.
A new pole has then been created of the collectively imagines future - the actions we assume and assuming create other different futures. But as an opposite pole to this future is is then clear yet another has emerged. Starting from Heidegger's perspective has arise the demand that we all have a right to a future - to possibility to creation - and it ii
s the task of someone else - say the state or the society or the law or the nation or whoever to ensure those sacred rights. possibility has then moved into stroppy insistence of right to come, the future is come little more that an land grab for possibilities. a place were we anxiously stake out our claims and demand what is to come.
Between these different corners of ways we do the future many different poles exist, and we compose many futures for ourselves and for others . A composition which has clear rules. Firstly and most importantly such an act of composition is hand in glove with what we call our personality. that is our personality in a sense is(in part) the name we have to the manner in which we infer differing futures: Our prejudices or fear, our hopes and dreams, our dominant thougths are then all given in the kind of futures we are likely to make and remake; To be gloomy or introspective or hateful or lovable is to allows for certain futures. But such a personal composition is also in a sense collective, our personality also, defines how we allow others also into these future how we share them- and who we share them with (Heidegger brilliantly understands here that the past is the having been of mood and personality- that which one is already, which conditions what possibles are possible). The shared future then evolve in this merging of personality (and becomes a power). a sharing which will that enter are trend lines from the here and the now and develop them into what is to come. The here and the now then forms the bridge into possibilities- into those possibilities one looks to create - and the actions needed. an bridge building that is highly creative but also plastic and collective. many in the process, a mulitude that will of course warp the bridge itself and its direction - turning it aside or naming it take other paths in a shifting world, were belief as well what is believes itself is a force. moreover the bridges become then part of the non-believers the non bridge makers possibility as well pricing other action within them,actions that will further change the landscape for the bridge, making it increasingly tricky where it is going. the bridge of course ultimately becomes merely a jut into somewhere - and often so massive that it cannot be taken down or changed.
futures has an irritating habit of avoiding all plans, all believes and even any one set or series of possibilities. What tumbles into being is then always something from somewhere else - light by the vividness of reality, a light that shines never where it is meant to. The problem then with the future is that it actually out thinks us - while demanding that we think it: our thoughts are then always a part in this avoidance, in what othering it composes. a problem that of course haunts all our lives, and makes any attempt tp be free so very very difficult.

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