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The Past is Harder than the Future

All around awesome interview with William Gibson, who seems like one of the smartest folks around. I love his answer to why he seems to romanticize articles of the past:

It’s harder to imagine the past that went away than it is to imagine the future. What we were prior to our latest batch of technology is, in a way, unknowable. It would be harder to accurately imagine what New York City was like the day before the advent of broadcast television than to imagine what it will be like after life-size broadcast holography comes online. But actually the New York without the television is more mysterious, because we’ve already been there and nobody paid any attention. That world is gone.

 

My great-grandfather was born into a world where there was no recorded music. It’s very, very difficult to conceive of a world in which there is no possibility of audio recording at all. Some people were extremely upset by the first Edison recordings. It nauseated them, terrified them. It sounded like the devil, they said, this evil unnatural technology that offered the potential of hearing the dead speak. We don’t think about that when we’re driving somewhere and turn on the radio. We take it for granted.

It’s sort of mind-bending, but incredibly true.

October 31, 2011 // This post is about: , ,

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  • Steam Engine Time | Noah Brier dot Com says:

    […] posting the other William Gibson quote about the difficulty we have in imagining the past I wasn’t sure whether I should post a second quote from his very long interview with the […]

  • Cyberspace: Origins | foxtail studio | constructing a creative "theory of everything" says:

    […] – “William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211″, from The Paris Review (via Noah Brier dot Com) […]

  • Cyberspace: Origins • C.L. Frey says:

    […] – “William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211″, from The Paris Review (via Noah Brier dot Com) […]

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