“…science fiction is something that could happen
– but usually you wouldn’t want it to.
Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen
– though often you only wish that it could.”
Arthur C. Clarke
I wonder if you recently read a book on tales or legends. Well I did, in fact, I finished yesterday the second book that took me to Avalon, to Merlin and Excalibur, reading these amazing adventures and never getting bored. In every reading discovering a new side of the characters, Merlin, Morgana, King Arthur, and the other people who inhabited these legends and tales.
What I like the most, is to discover these legends through the eyes and the perspective of each author. There is always a new angle, he or she will show you, adding to your imagination more details and more pleasure to enjoy.
I realized, from the various publications on social networks, that people no longer were reading these stories or any kind of similar literature. Most probably, such readings would be viewed as a waste of time, eventually earning you a condescending look from your own peers.
We tend to consider trivial most things that do not address “important” matters; productivity, competitive behaviours, performance oriented, results focused, management skills, well you know that kind of stuff they keep hammering in your head from high school classes until you graduate with a diploma…
There is no room for imagination, that kind of imagination that makes you climb the top of a mountain at night, in August and watch the sky and wish you were a space traveler… How often have you done that since your childhood? Not that much, unless you were with your own kids, right? Of course it would look awkward, to share such things with your coworkers the next morning at coffee break. They’d think you’re not just a dreamer, but maybe someone who watches too much science-fiction movies…
But how interesting if you knew that well-known authors of science and of course science-fiction who gave to human kind the best of their knowledge that made us progress in technologies, they were also big dreamers, people who read tales and legends, people who were anticipating to connect to alien life outside our galaxy… Yes, they did look at their dreams and imagination.
In 1976, AT&T had an interview with Arthur C. Clarke, during the interview, Arthur Clarke spoke how he envisioned the internet, smartphones and live data sharing, using the exact wording we use today. Yet when asked about a telecommunication satellite main purpose, he answered that it was not only for the benefit of people, but essentially for contacting alien life outside our galaxy. (You can watch this 5 minutes video on this link)
How many authors did we read, who were rational scientific, who analyzed facts and gave us the result of their amazing findings who served human kind in many ways. Most also wrote stories about time travelling, social life changes, globalization and its dangers, space discoveries, and much more. They wrote fantasy, science-fiction and were visionaries at the time where none of today’s technologies ever existed[i].
In today’s world the temptation to” classify” our behaviours according to some norms of pure pragmatism is very high. People who have different views and opinions from such normality tend to keep a low profile about their imaginative gifts. They simply fear to be tagged as less performing or less effective than what norms dictate. These people feel obliged to tuck in the ranks of a barely visible dogmatism. Alas they could bring so much to the wellbeing of people. It is not necessary to stand out for the principle of standing out, our collectivity would be more complete where every individual is able to enrich his social group contributing to the wellbeing of his kind, In a different manner of course.
Today’s world is in need, more than ever, of people who remind us of such richness. We need to cease thinking only like spreadsheets, linear and top bottom logics, such software packages who anticipate the user needs to replicate a formula, or format a cell in comparison to the surrounding other cells. When I was teaching math and financial courses, it was inevitable to use the spreadsheet application. People’s faces used to tell how excited they felt. Ah! Finally, to be able to build something complex in no time. This illusion was rapidly fading when principles of calculus and basic math were required to properly use this piece of software. The same is happening in our times: we strive working hard to prove to our employers and social circles that we are successful, performing, effective, efficient, and socially well seen (I am sure I missed some more of the superlatives). We fall for an image, but rarely for whom is behind it.
If we really care for our happiness, then emotions and imagination need to nurture such human faculties. Machines will never be able to express emotions or feelings, and if they do so one day, it means they would have succeeded where their creators failed.
Michel – February 18, 2015
[i] George Orwell (1984) – Jules Verne (20000 Leagues Under the Sea) – Arthur C. Clarke (Odyssey 2001) – H.G. Wells (The Time Machine) – J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) – Franck Hebert (Dune) – Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) just to name a few.
Image courtesy: Kewl wallpapers