Where's my jetpack?!
April 28, 2009 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Is there a better word for this notion than "futurism?"

What's the best word or phrase to connote desire for the idealized future -- that romantic, superficial imagining of things to come which is the flipside of nostalgia?

It's what can make science fiction and utopia/dystopia fantasy stories so alluring, can make you cry "where's my jetpack?!" but isn't confined to mere technophilia.

In the paper I'm writing, I'm using "futurism" to describe the visual style of the film a lot, so I'd like to have another, distinct term to describe the motivation of looking into the future with hopeful, fantastic, or romantic imagination. I figure maybe one of you smart sci-fi literate cookies might have figured this out by now.

Arguments for why "utopianism" or "futurism," etc. are actually the best options are completely welcome to me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by The Tensor at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2009

Futuram-ist (Or Futurama-ist)

No, Seriously.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2009

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:22 PM on April 28, 2009

posted by box at 1:24 PM on April 28, 2009

Utopianism or techno-utopianism, I would think. (My first semi-snarky thought was "golden age science fiction.")

Now I am hearing Todd Rundgren singing "City in my head... u-to-pi-a....."
posted by aught at 1:34 PM on April 28, 2009

It's not Futurism, whatever it is. Futurism was an art movement founded by Marinetti in Italy in the early 1900s that can be argued to be the ideological forefather of fascism.

People using the word "Futurism" to describe things that are future-y is similar to how many people use the world post-modern to describe things that are kind of weird.
posted by Damn That Television at 1:41 PM on April 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: aught, I really value the precision of "Techno-utopianism," and that's very helpful.

But I wonder: is the fantasy of "a brighter tomorrow" contingent on technology? Couldn't something outside the reach of human agency, like evolutionary developments, for example, be responsible? The notion of technology thereby threatens to grow so vague as to be immaterial.

Damn That Television, Futuristic != futuristic. Got it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:49 PM on April 28, 2009

Whatever word you use, do not use the "futurism". The Futurist art movement Damn That Television mentioned is mostly known for being very racist, very sexist, and very fascist.

Just to quote one of the more well known lines from their manifesto:

"We will glorify war - the world's only hygiene - militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman."
posted by bradbane at 2:04 PM on April 28, 2009

posted by hermitosis at 2:08 PM on April 28, 2009

But I wonder: is the fantasy of "a brighter tomorrow" contingent on technology?

Yes. Technology makes everything better, so the future will have more and better examples of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:17 PM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: So, instead of "futurism" to classify things which are "future-y," what is there, Futurologism? What a mouthful. I wish that also conveyed obsession or desire, but it's more ambivalent than that, as merely the study of what may come to pass.

And by the way, bradbane, you've just given me a great "You think you're hot shit/techno-utpoianism but you're really just cold diarrhea/Futurism" concluding point for the paper, because those fascist, masculinist principles are EXACTLY what the film winds up promoting!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:29 PM on April 28, 2009

I would go along with techno-utopianism. I've also heard "positivism" used in a similar sense. According to Wikipedia, it ain't the same, but this section clearly has echoes of the idea.
posted by adamrice at 2:37 PM on April 28, 2009

If you're aiming at more radical change, the word might be "Apocalypticism". Similar to futurism, people misunderstand the world apocalypse today to mean something having to do with the end of the world. In reality, the word typically (but not always - there are other, deprecated definitions) refers to cataclysmic change which results, in the end, in a perfect world, often for the "righetous" people only. If you read all the way through Revelation that's basically what happens.

Other than that, Utopianism sounds like your best bet, as has been said.
posted by hiteleven at 2:37 PM on April 28, 2009

Paleo-futurism. I kind of like retro-futurism as well.
posted by O9scar at 3:00 PM on April 28, 2009

I like technological utopia, which I hear used most often to describe a Star Trek style future, where all of humanity's current problems have been solved by technology. It's not quite fair to call it paleo-futurism, as that implies its a future that uses some outdated designs and ideas along with futuristic concepts, like CRTs in the year 2040, or women living out gender roles from the 1950's, which isn't really a realistic future.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:57 PM on April 28, 2009

If you're writing a paper (& have the time!)you might find these useful, in relation to nostalgia for the future:

Olalquiaga, Celeste. Megalopolis: Contemporary Cultural Sensibilities.
Boym, Svetlana. The Future of Nostalgia.
Kathe Davis Finney, "The Days of Future Past or Utopians Lessing and LeGuin fight Nostalgia," in Donald M. Hassler, ed., Patterns of the Fantastic.
posted by media_itoku at 9:07 AM on April 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Futurism can refer both to the art movement and, as Merriam-Webster has it, "a point of view that finds meaning or fulfillment in the future rather than in the past or present."

Also, Futurism the art movement was many things. Saying that they are "mostly known for being very racist, very sexist, and very fascist" does not give a very full picture of the Futurists. First of all, the Futurist movement in Russia was just as important, if not more so, than the Italian movement. And while Marinetti and chums would go on to be lackeys of Mussolini, only Mayakovsky and Malevich of the Russian Futurists became servants of the Soviet state.

Furthermore, even though the politics of Marinetti et al were rather despicable the Italian Futurists left behind them some glorious works in all fields of art.
posted by Kattullus at 9:02 PM on April 29, 2009

Nostalgia for a future that never happened.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:37 PM on May 9, 2009

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