Things are Getting Better and Better

June 26, 2013

Gee, what happened to the future. I remember seeing Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, when it was released in 1968 and watching folks, all wearing spandex, flying to a spinning space station on their way to the moon on a Pan Am (remember them?)rocket ship to the music of Johann Strauss’s The Blue Danube. A dozen years after 2001 nothing like that has happened in commercial air travel. Last time I took a trip it was in a jet that was no faster than those in 1968. My fellow passengers were dressed like a group of DPs from World War II and they were the fashionable ones. The comfort level was that of a troop ship except more crowded and a bag of pretzels was three bucks. Let’s not forget the flying cars in Back to the Future: Part Two which was released in 1989 and showed us the world of 2015, I guess we still have two years for the cars. Wish my car could fly to avoid the gaping potholes on the third rate highways in my part of the world.

Yes, while we still have no bananas, we do have the wonderful world of the internet which wasn’t in my life or movies in 1968; mind you, Marshall McLuhan had thought of it before that with his Global Village. The internet allows me to post this on my blog from the comforts of my basement. I can also from the same place take free courses from ‘the best professors in the world’ via MOOCs (massive open online courses) without spending the quarter million dollars plus it would take to do an undergraduate degree at a joint like Harvard. My basement is sounding better all the time. Don’t get me started on the subject of online chat groups with ‘hot’ chicks from around the world. Who needs flying cars when everything is a keystroke away.

It is also nice to know that my government is able to keep track of all my calls, what happens on my social media, and anything else that happens on my land line, cell phone and computer and, even better, share it all with our best friends, the American government. Now that is progress. Perhaps the best way to have a private conversation with someone would be to send them a first class letter. Of course, in our neck of the woods, that is a very slow process. To get mail across the border to Amherst, Nova Scotia from New Brunswick, and I live fifteen kilometres from there, my letter goes a couple of a hundred kilometres the other way to Saint John, New Brunswick and from there the mail would go to Halifax, Nova Scotia, two hundred kilometres from Amherst, and then back to Amherst; all of this by truck. It is best to drive over, or even walk, and talk to someone in person, but those are the joys of centralization and Canada Post.

We sort of live in the present, conveniently forgetting the past, while thinking we know what will happen in the future. For some, the optimists, everything was better in a golden past and others, still optimists, it is the future when things will be wonderful. The pessimists, of course, think everything is horrible all the time–past, present, future–and they will never be disappointed. I think that the present is the problem. We live in a time of too much data, flooded with information, that we do not have the time to absorb much less understand. Thanks to the internet, everybody is an expert on everything. Just Google and it is all there in raw, naked, truth. Never mind that much, very much, online information is false and trying to find truth, if such a thing existed, in the maze that is today’s information network, is nearly impossible. We are information rich and knowledge poor.

Imagination_cover_December_1952The dreams of Modernist art are as lost in today’s contemporary art as those of commercial moon flights and flying cars. Modernism lost its fight long before this new century to the tenets of Post Modernism. Artists heroes fighting society’s conventions through their art are passé and have been replaced by the likes of Damien Hurst making millions off mass produced paintings of polka dots. If individual genius is lost, market value remains. Auction prices set new records every week be they for Renaissance masterpieces or, the before mentioned Mr. Hurst’s half a shark. It’s a real pain, in the you know what, if despite the effort of an artist to be a revolutionary that their work becomes the stuff of the marketplace. This is nothing new as the famous Abstract Expressionists either sold out, the smart ones, or were sold out, the unlucky ones.

The good thing about today as the super rich get richer and the rest of us slip back into a new order of serfdom that there might be a new age of art patronage. The hard part will be if these new patrons will have the good taste of those of the Renaissance or even the Middle Ages. The signs of this have not been that good thus far, but I must remember that there is always a brighter tomorrow and everyday, and in every way, things are getting better and better.

© Virgil Hammock, Sackville NB Canada, Friday, 21 June, 2013.


  1. Take it easy, Virgil. You’re sounding increasingly coherent.

  2. Well, there may be no PamAm flights to the space station, but there’s no shortage of spandex anyway! If that’s any comfort.

    • Mostly on runners and bikers and thank God for that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: