“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
- Closing time, Semisonic
In my midterm essay I focused on how literature of the future affected me professionally as a future teacher, however, the course has also changed me personally by altering the way that I think about change and the future.
When I thought about the future prior to this class, certainly I might have pictured an innovative society with all types of technological advances. What I failed to realize is, we are already on our way to that society, even if it takes decades, change does not occur overnight. It happens in phases and steps, and surely it would be naïve to think that some of those changes are not already in motion. When Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, surely we did not begin to wear, process and distribute cotton the way we do today. He simply tapped the dominion that inevitably led to where cotton is now. I now think of change in this manner, to be set off by limitless dominoes in every faction of society. Doubtlessly a daunting thought which might explain why before this class I glazed over ideas of change and time.
I must admit that if I thought about change, I thought about it obscurely, and I viewed it more like a cliff. Akin to society reaching a tipping point and going right over the edge and every new wave of change rolling over the cliff in the same fashion. Instantaneous future. In hindsight, it is almost as if I ignorantly expected some future generation to wake up in a world similar to that of Drapes and Folds. But it is actually through this text, and others similar to it, which I realized the realities of how a society moves into the futuristic.
Drapes and Folds is a futuristic society in which the characters trace how the nation became the place that it is through dialogue. For example, the people are nourished through nipples in the walls due to a troublesome history involving the government pumping chickens full of toxins and limited availability of varied foods. When the author traced the history to show societies’ decline, a light bulb lit up. Nipples did not spring from the walls overnight; history impacted the future just as how what we do now will surely shape our future.
Chocco is a harsh but honest view of the way our present culture lives, irresponsibly and selfishly. From our violent ways and careless treatment of our earth, in this story, we have caused the destruction of our world. The characters are decedents of those who rebuilt a “back to roots” community from our ruin. This story shows the layers of how we caused destruction, rather than some apocalyptic event that sent us over the edge. These incremental changes and blows ultimately shaped the destruction of our present and the renewal of the people who began to live correctly.
Although the demise of the public in Speech Sounds was reminiscent of an apocalyptic event, because the sickness that impaired language occurred rapidly, the story still evokes waves of change. Without language, people communicate with grunts and hand motions. They had developed a universal form of communication when they had no other. This loss of language provides the catalyst for change, forcing the people to adapt, which undoubtedly did not occur quickly or without trial and error. And change continues even as the story ends when the main character discovers others, like her, who can speak, leaving the reader to imagine what future this discovery might lead.
I now see change more as a mountain, to be climbed up, or down- however one might wish to view the hike- but constantly moving- constantly well, changing if you will, into the world of the future. The power of literature, and as an extension futuristic literature, is it’s ability to allow readers to open themselves up to new ways of thinking and to grasp a better understanding of how the world continues to evolve and change.