12.27.11 I usually write these columns on Monday mornings, the day we put the paper out, but because of the holiday I’m writing this one on Friday, which means it will be four days before you read it, with all of the events of the weekend between. I’m writing into the future.
It’s appropriate, since the feature this time around is about how exceptional young people around town see the future of their professions and the city. They’re looking forward, because they are the ones who will have to push things forward. The thing with the future is that you have to look backwards to see where it’s going. Seeing the future is really about tracking your own trajectory.
AMC has been showing the George C. Scott version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I can’t get over how contemporary the language feels. The tensions in the story are about income disparities between the rich and poor and the moral and spiritual dangers of a materialistic culture. You think you know it well, because of Tiny Tim, but listen:
“What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ‘em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you?”
I haven’t run into anyone with the mettle to humbug the holiday season so succinctly, but the idea of a social critique––and there are others in the story––being so perfectly alive 160 years after its writing makes you wonder if the future doesn’t proceed from the past more like a spiral than an arrow, and even then mostly because daily progress helps us feel better about death.
In the New Year, we need new ideas, new paradigms, a new relationship between leaders and visionaries. It’s time for the Boomers to pass the torch, so that the light may shine more favorably on their achievements, and so the next generation may add the weight of expectation to the force of its ideas.–Giles Morris