Imagination To Avoid a Dystopian Future

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Since I last wrote, we have had biblical floods and weather events, on the surface the Korean Peninsula has been brought to the edge of nuclear conflict,  Spain has essentially has tried to send a 16,500 man invasion force into Barcelona in order to prevent a referendum there for independence, the USA’s nascent civil war 2.0 has deepened (the latest manifestation is at the NFL) and then Las Vegas saw the deadliest shooting in American history. So things are accelerating to say the least.

In the Financial Times this week, Oriol Bartomeus, a political scientist at the Autonomous University in Barcelona, is quoted as saying “This is a process without a steering wheel and without brakes.” He was referring to Catalonia, but quite frankly he could have been talking about our planetary evolution. But I don’t mean this in a negative way. My persistent message has been that the current system really needs to break down. Of course, in parallel to this, a new system needs to emerge, and I believe it is.  2 days ago I watched Blade Runner 2049 movie which is thoroughly entertaining, but it paints a pretty bleak picture of the planet. As you can see from the image above, the beautiful planet earth is now a total mess.

A friend of mine forwarded a rather interesting essay on creativity recently written by sci-fi guru Isaac Asimov.  There are some wonderful quotes as he articulates some of the insights that I have spent a lifetime (half a lifetime  – I hope, as I am in my 40s) learning.

“The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.”

It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.

A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.

Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)”

So its been my mission in life to be unconventional. And I think its now all of our mission to do so.  I  think one important dimension to all of this is that we need to rekindle our imaginations.  Arthur C Clarke once said that:

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

Visionaries like Elon Musk keep pushing the boundaries. Instead of thinking about more of the same – like faster horses – we need to keep imaging more and more. Perhaps, once answer to our ecological crisis is more solar panels. But I suspect its something more revolutionary – we need to encourage more Nicole Tesla’s. There are plenty of them out there, visionary inventors.

But imagination is something more than merely inventing new technologies. Many of us remember the feeling of what it was like to be a child, even if we cannot recount all of our childhood memories. The world was alive, magical even.  We were happy to just be alive as we were spiritually whole.

I recently spent 10 days with writers and wilderness guides Bill Plotkin and Geneen Maurie Haugen. They run workshops baed in nature and some of them are dedicated to rekindling ones imagination. Geneen wrote in an article:

“With imagination, the world becomes, once again, alive and enchanted. With imagination, we can envision (and create) alternate futures. With imagination, we can collaborate with the intelligence of an animate, imagining Earth. And it may be that, with conscious engagement of imagination, we cooperate with the great mystery of evolution itself.”

Homo imaginans: The Imagining Earth

Let’s look at some of the recent trends – societal, geopolitical, financial, bitcoin etc.

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