I like having a salon biweekly, but I also like to have a month to let the theme sink in. And it happens that our last discussion was our first to go near the dangerous waters of Time, and sure enough we were sucked right under the waves! So it makes sense to revisit The Future, while explicitly steering away from unresolvable metaphysical questions.
By "The History of the Future" I mean the future as a cultural concept, which we explore through fiction, politics, and anthropology (religion, law, commerce...the list is endless). What do various portraits of the future have in common and how do they differ? We could probably spend hours studying the futures in classic science fiction, but those who attend are sure to bring further sources. The vast majority of blockbuster films take place in future or alternate realities, and we've found film a good anchor for discussion points in the past.
We will try to "see" the future--not in the sense of what the future will contain, but rather what it means to be the future. We started on this road last time, when we compiled a list of "signs" of the future, such as traces or vestiges of the past (though the "past" implicitly refers to the future, doesn't it?) And while we're not interested here in predicting the future, we are interested in prognosticators themselves: why did Nostradamus, Marx, and Kurzweil think they could, and why did anyone believe them? (That is, could we predict what predictors will say?)
The future can have a "history." Given our approach of looking at the "future" as it exists in the present, there may be a story to be uncovered about the evolution of that portrait in historical time, but our main interest is in the comparisons necessary to assemble such a narrative; it is only very recently that some historians have become interested in trying to predict the future. Also, our conceptions of our own futures probably develop nonrandomly against our advancement through the stages of life.
I do hope that by taking this broader look at the many futures that occupy the minds of people in various cultures or subcultures, or the minds of past members of our own culture, that we will gain some insights how to regard "the Future" as we (so often) encounter it in our own very forward-looking culture. Come join us--it is not necessary to have attended the prior salon--as we venture Back to the Future...