Monday, June 27, 2016

But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman

  • THE BOOK
    • But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman
    • Published June 7, 2016
    • Other works by the author: Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, The Visible Man and several more, none of which I have read.

  • THE PREMISE
    • From the blurb: "We live in a culture of casual certitude...every generation unconsciously assumes that what has already been defined and accepted is pretty close to how reality will be viewed in perpetuity. And then, of course, time passes...What once seemed reasonable eventually becomes absurd, replaced by modern perspectives that feel even more irrefutable and secure --- until, of course, they don't."
    • His first example discusses gravity, which Isaac Newton "discovered" about 400 years ago. But what if some new discovery comes along and shows that gravity is a side effect of it? People 400 years from now will laugh at our obvious ignorance.
    • Basically this is a book of thought experiments. 
      • In 100, 250 or 500 years from now, who will come down to be remembered as the main example of rock and roll music? The Beatles? Bob Dylan? Elvis Presley? Chuck Berry? Someone completely obscure to us today?
      • Who will be remembered as the canonical writers of the early 21st Century? 
      • Will football still exist as a sport in 25 years?

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I have thought about this question in other areas of life. Such as: Who will be remembered as THE actor (male or female) of today? Who is that person in the 20th Century? 
      • In 1916 the most popular film performer was Charlie Chaplin. He is still remembered today. Who else from that era? Mary Pickford? Douglas Fairbanks? Mabel Normand? Fatty Arbuckle (remembered only for scandal attached to his name if remembered at all)? Maybe Buster Keaton is remembered because you can't have a discussion about Chaplin without giving Keaton at least a mention.
        • The older generations today, say older than 50, know those names. Maybe. The younger people have no experience of any of those people. In fact, some of them were already long dead by the time I was born in the 1960s.
      • So who will be remembered from the movies in 100 years? I think today even the biggest stars of the past are mostly forgotten except by TCM enthusiasts: 
        • Katharine Hepburn and Gene Kelly died 20 years ago. Fred Astaire died almost 30 years ago. We lost Audrey Hepburn in 1993. Humphrey Bogart died of cancer in 1957. Joan Crawford went in 1977, Bette Davis in 1989. James Stewart left us in 1997, Cary Grant in 1986. Almost all of their best work happened before the 1960s (The Hepburns, who weren't related, would be the exceptions as they had several great performances in the 1960s too). 
        • So these people died before my son was born in the early 1990s or he was a toddler at best. He knows who none of these people were. He has no idea who Lucille Ball was! And she was probably one of the most famous women in the 1950s through the 1980s. Kids these days play video games; they don't watch reruns of "I Love Lucy" anymore.
        • Here's a selection of actor deaths from 1962 and 1963, around the time I was a toddler: 
          • Clara Blandick, Rex Bell, Louise Beavers, Charles Laughton, Marilyn Monroe, Dick Powell, Al St John, Jason Robards Sr, Monty Woolley, Anita King, Richard Barthelmess, Adolphe Menjou, and Zasu Pitts.
            • I recognize almost all of these people since I am a fan of old films but I bet most people would have difficulty identifying more than one or two besides Marilyn Monroe. But then again, maybe I'm wrong.
      • "Fun" fact I found on Wikipedia: These people all died on November 22, 1963: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. Lewis. 
    • Enough pontificating. Bottom line: worth a read if you care about these things. Pass if it has never crossed your mind to care about what the future will think about the present!

1 comment:

  1. All this death talk has me depressed. But it safe to say, that except for this blog, all of those people you mentioned will be forgotten in 500 years.

    ReplyDelete