Brief Encounter 2.0 / LUKE JONES
responding to "Where will we live tomorrow?"
For a while, it was axiomatic that the city of the future would be big, planet spanning, sublimely terrifying, thrillingly inhuman, mountainous, cavernous wonderful. But I have no interest in a modest future.
In my dreams we all live in a city without an end. The mode of inhabitation is a continuous drift: street to street, cafe to cafe, downstairs, up elevators. The city is a landscape, a continuous terrain. Nature is still out there somewhere. It can be seen.
There is a view of mountains or the ocean, at the end of this or that street. But we don’t have to go there. There are no tedious drives out into the desert, or the hinterland of sheds and polytunnels. All life is on that continuous journey, a tarmac garland around the earth, views deep into terra incognita to right and left…
Of course, rationally every question about the future hangs on climate change. Everything is downstream of that very large fact. That doesn’t mean that futures have to be commensurately big. I can understand the trend for modesty, the flight to smallness, the day-dream of peripheral and hermetic trash-farming. You tinker on the margins, alone under a lowering sky. You meditate on the reflection of a lone pine in your ancient CRT monitor. Later, you water your tomatoes. It’s all very cosy.
But it’s all too marginal. I find it impossible to imagine a future where we aren’t all, all of us, humans, in some sense connected. The whole world, entire, together, with all its conflict is where we belong. There isn’t any hiding place that wouldn’t also be a prison…