Tuesday, 6 January 2009

RIP The Future (1909-2009)

"Why wait for a future that never arrives on time?" Lou Barlow once sang; although I doubt he had the predictions of Henri Antoine Jules-Bois in mind at the time, let alone those of any of the countless futurologists that have since followed him gamely into the spotlight of potential future ridicule. As for Henri Antoine Jules-Bois; well, apparently he was a French occultist and self-styled "philosophical prophet" who, in 1909, the New York Times reported as having wonderfully French* things like these to say about the year now upon us:

M Bois believes that motor cars will in a hundred years be things of the past and that a kind of flying bicycle will have been invented which will enable everybody to traverse the air at will, far above the earth.

Asked to be more explicit, M Bois naturally said that while a philosophical prophet might feel sure of his generalities, it was too much to require of him to enter upon strange details.

There was some other stuff in between those two paragraphs, as well - from which it was pretty clear that he hadn't foreseen size-zero models or the state of British public transport - but I kind of liked the above juxtaposition better, and faced with a glowering brute of a year like 2009 we probably need all the funny we can get (besides, that's what hyperlinks are for). So, rather than linking to any of our contemporary Henri Antoines - not that you'll be able to avoid them, they're like wasps in summer at this time of year - it would probably be better to end with another dose of comical retro-futurology. This time, it comes courtesy of Look Around You, Series Two:

*More the second paragraph than the first.

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