How the future occurs

How the future occurs

There has been the widely shared feeling in pandemic circumstance of having too much time and not enough, and to feel this almost in the same moment. This has been experienced in an overwhelming way in the last few weeks when the course teaching that structured much of my time for most of 2020 gave way to just bits and pieces of teaching, bits and pieces of supervision sessions, and relatively few of them. How to settle to anything in the chasm between these things? Deadlines certainly help, as time passes and the certainty of dates comes hurtling into the immediate future. This happened last week when the deadline for registering for the British Sociological Association conference was close and then arrived, and with the deadline for providing a recorded presentation not far behind it. The irony is that the presentation is concerned with theorising the future. Its focus is my setting up a kind of conversation between John Urry in his extremely interesting What is the Future? and Olive Schreiner in a number of letters which spell out her analysis of forwards and backwards movements in the social order of progressive and retrogressive kinds. As always, reading her most powerful letters sends a shudder down the spine because of the cogency of her analysis of likely futures. Read, for example, her letter of 11 August 1912 to John X Merriman.

Last updated:  18 February 2021


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