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Some mix of good and bad predictions about the future

But I think writing with some nuance, some mix of good and bad predictions about the future will be more original and complex than just saying that everything is completely good or bad. I know that George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury and many others have written some great books centering around a pervasively negative vision of the future. They wrote negatively about the future because there are good reasons for doing so.

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There are bad reasons for doing so too, and I want to run through some of the good and bad reasons for writing negatively about the future here. A good reason to write negatively about the future is for the chance to express a lot of depressive pessimism. Gloomy emotion, when expressed well, is quite the negative pleasure to take in from an artistic standpoint, and that was done with artistic brilliance by Orwell with 1984.

Another good reason to write negatively about the future is to have your book serve as a warning about what our world might become if we continue to follow certain governmental and social ideas.

But a warning about what our society may become in the future will be far more prescient if it isn't overstated by being excessively, melodramatically negative. The most logical thinking about the future isn't necessarily either the most pessimistic or most optimistic thinking. If you carefully observe and analyze the world a synthesis of optimistic and pessimistic thinking probably emerges, and the realism that comes from that synthesis of positive and negative thinking is worth exploring.

Besides being unrealistic extreme pessimism is only so interesting artistically. It's easy, a little too easy, for a book to seem significant when it uses a lot of brooding negative tonality. I think my book did end up having a lot of use of negativity, but I wanted at least some other flavors mixed in, at least at parts. It nicely underscores gloomy predictions if they are mixed in with positive ones.

For example, if a write talks about a futuristic society that has a lot of wealth and luxury for all, but also doesn't have much personal freedom, that creates an interesting contrast. It begs the question: is your freedom so important if your material needs are well taken care of? Or vice versa; what if there's a society with complete freedom, but where poverty is common? Can you enjoy your rights when you are so worried about your material well being?

We're into much richer territory here than if we write a story about a society with a complete lack of freedom and widespread poverty. Sadly such societies exist (i.e. North Korea), but no intelligent people defend them. However some intelligent people do defend governments like China's, where there is rising economic opportunity, even vast wealth at parts, but less freedom than most Westerners prefer.

There are a few other major reasons people write negatively about the future. One is the fear of what is unknown. Yes, our unknown future can seem scary. We just don't know how things will turn out really. The good and decent things about our society now could go away, and we could be left with a world that is much less pleasant, more stratified or totalitarian than our world is now.

Yet while some of this fear of the inherent uncertainty in our future is understandable, it's also at least a little ahistorical. I covered this in my first blog post, so at a little risk of rehashing I'll briefly touch on this: if you we're to look back at the last few hundred years it's hardly clear that everything's gotten worse and worse. In many ways things have gotten better and better. For example, human rights and political rights are in a far better state in much of the world today than they have ever been anywhere in the world before the Enlightenment.

Another major reason to write negatively about the future is to express the feeling that you are alone and the world is against you, which so many adolescents can relate to. The idea that 'no one understands and 'everyone's oppressing me.' I believe this is what is behind a lot of recent young adult oriented dystopias.

It's understandable that a lot of young adults feel this way, and I felt that way too sometimes in my teen years. If a lot of fiction for this age group helps them express some of these feelings that is great. But I think most young adults also know that there are more interesting things to say than woe is me. I hope they realize too that the suffering they have experienced may be great in some cases for those who faced certain situation, i.e. bullying, parental abuse.

However, for many Western young adults facing ordinary travails of life they should realize that many in the world have faced far darker chapters of life than they or I have. There are those who have seen killing fields and genocides and torture and the slaughter of child soldiers by other child soldiers, etc.

So I hope my book didn't have too much of a woe is me tone. At least I hope it partly had a woe is us tone too.But okay, I knew part of what I did and didn't want to create. So how did I do that? That's my next blog post.

Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 02/26/2017


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