(2017 midterm assignment)

Model Student Midterm answers 2017 (Index)

Essay 2: Personal / professional topic

LITR 4368
Literature of the Future  

Model Assignments


Neil LeBoy

Come Together or Fall Apart

          What do you imagine when envisioning a future society?  Do you picture hover cars and teleporters transporting people through a city in the sky, or do you imagine the future as apocalyptic and digressive? More importantly, which future is more realistic? Dr. White suggested I research the debate between “cornucopians and doomers” to better understand how people view the future. In short, cornucopians believe the world will develop technology to properly address the problems of growing populations with limited natural resources, “The term cornucopia has its roots in Greek mythology. It translates to the “horn of plenty”, which magically supplied its owner with endless food and drink” (web). Opposing this view, “malthusians or doomers” believe the worlds cannot produce enough resources to adhere to the rapidly growing population. (Web) Using course readings and outside sources for research I will debate and decide if I should agree with the cornucopians or the doomers.

          Personally, I find the most valid arguments to be based in actuality. I also am a proponent of, “see it to believe it”, which makes me skeptical of all future visions. Is a cornucopian view more or less realistic than a doomers view or vice versa? When dealing with realism in Literature the Oxford Dictionary defines realism as “the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is” (course web). The realism in Parable of the Sower and “Stone Lives” made the future visions presented easier to follow and accept as a possibility. Neither future sounded pleasant to live in though; one point for the doomers.

          Technology will save us all through gastronomy. In the article “Cornucopia: The Concept of Digital Gastronomy”, the idea of technology is linked to something I love, food. The article presents the idea of an affordable 3D printer that will print people food (Zoran 245-51). Authors in the past including Isaac Asimov’s  Foundation presented future visions of turning common material into gold, “and although creating gold is still a distant dream, our ability to manipulate matter and shapes is increasing” (Zoran 425). Besides, who really wants to end up like King Midas? The article mentions companies including “Phillip’s Design” (426) that are currently looking into future gastronomy. The authors of the article even create their own version of a 3D printer that can produce basic foods to show how realistic future gastronomy is. They explain by illustrating the machine, “They can be understood as a realistic vision and, as such, the vision encourages discussion and public interest” (431). This quote really got me thinking, it would be impossible to change the future for the better if no one attempts to. Now I find not only are people attempting to change the future, but could possibly be close to doing it. Instead of scavenging the Bungle for scraps of food, Stone could have access to a machine that prevents hunger. Imagine the effect the 3D printer would have for Lauren’s group, “Earthseed”, she would have the ability to feed her entire group with the push of a button. What if someone created a machine that turned large quantities of ocean water into fresh water? Before diving too far into what ifs, and alternative futures, I will admit the cornucopians in this article have inspired me.

           I would love to imagine the world will take care of itself. People would replenish what they take from the world, and try not to hurt each other. I want a 3D printer to cook me steaks every night before bed. For now, these ideas are completely unrealistic. Could the doomers be right, is civilization spiraling towards an apocalypse? It is completely possible, even tomorrow the possibility of bombs wiping out humanity is present. Larry D. Wilcox presents the ideas of well-known doomers in part of his article, “Futurology and the Social Sciences Bloom and Boom or Gloom and Doom?” Wilcox quotes the words of a prominent doomer Robert Heilbronner to express his overall position, “Nothing short of a total solution to the problems of population growth, nuclear danger, or economic growth would vitiate the larger anticipation of a rendezvous with forces that will subject human society to the buffet of a mighty storm” (Wilcox 208). Wilcox compares these ideas to those of scripture, and argues “this type of projecting should be left to pundits, prophets, professors, physicians and politicians” (Wilcox 208). Wilcox also thinks future studies in courses like our own should concentrate on alternative and “preferred” (209) futures. I agree with Larry Wilcox, why think about the worst case scenario if we can be preparing for the best. Just as impossible is to argue against the doomers. How long can people continue to exist without society falling apart? One big war, or simply ignoring overpopulation could have disastrous consequences. Perhaps, novels like Parable and stories including “Stone Lives” serve as a guide for doomers in case things do go wrong in the future.

          I would have to choose to be a cornucopian over a doomer. At the same time, I want to be prepared to evolve and adapt in case the doomers end up correct. Studying Literature of the future could be key in the actual shape of the future. I mentioned when beginning the class I was confused by the class’s purpose, but see now there is great importance in the future narratives. Just as today shapes the future, ideas of the future help shape today. Instead of looking at Parable and “Stone Lives” as realistic visions of the future, I could think in terms of realistic ways of preventing those futures including 3D printers and my fresh water idea. Larry D. Wilcox directly mentioned the future literature course at U.H.C.L. on page 205 as a progressive step towards studying the future through Literature. His quote at the end of the article struck me deeply, “The future remains in the past and present of human beings.” (209). People have the ability to change the future. We can make it better.

Butler, E. Octavia. Parable of the Sower. First Grand Central Publishing. 2000. New York, NY.

Flippio, Di Paul. “Stone Lives”. Class Handout.

Wilcox, Larry D. “Futurology and the Social Sciences Bloom and Boom or Gloom and Doom?” International Social Science Review, vol. 58, no. 4, 1983, pp. 202–210. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41881475.

Web. “Cornucopia” <https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/cornucopia/> Accessed November 5th 2017.

White, Craig. LITR 4368 Literature of the Future. Course Website.

< http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/HSH/Whitec/LITR/4632/default.html>

Zoran, Amit, and Marcelo Coelho. “Cornucopia: The Concept of Digital Gastronomy.” Leonardo, vol. 44, no. 5, 2011, pp. 425–391. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41421765.