Monday, October 22, 2007

Why William Gibson Hates Futurists

Gibson says he doesn't like futurists. He goes on to talk about Osama and Alabama. It makes for the kind of reading that other self-absorbed and pathologically cynical writers enjoy: an affirmation of the emptiness of their work.

As one might suspect, Gibson knows as much about Alabama as he knows about virtual reality: technically nothing.

A vivid imagination is only one part of predicting the future. The other part is the chops to make a prediction come true. The rest is timing. Gibson writes pulp science fantasy. Jules Verne dreamed of rockets to the moon, but he fired them out of cannons, something even the scientists of his day knew was bad engineering.

So here I am back in the office a half mile from an engine laying on its side that once took man to the moon and five miles from the test stands where it was first fired.

I just came from the services of the man who's invention was the coating of the heat shields that saved the life of every American crew returning from space until the space shuttle flew. I sang and then watched his daughter, a prima ballerina now retired and teaching in New York dance for her mother and father's friends, a woman who would bring people such as Dave Brubeck to his home. This I watched in the rebuilt ruin of a tavern on a mountain not half a mile from where Alan Ginburg taught me the blues forty miles from where W.C. Handy, the father of the blues was born, and not much further, where Helen Keller first saw the world through the water falling on her hands.

As I looked through the rain cloud that settled around the park, I realized I am glad for the ignorance of William Gibson and those like him who know so little about my home but wish to use it as their frame for ignorant thought. It is thoughts like theirs that keep a tidy mist around my home keeping others like them from coming here as if it were Brigadoon bewitched. I wish them well and that life and liberty will keep them far from here where giants lived, where the thunder of their engines shook my house and broke my Mother's picture frames.

I live in a place both quiet and beautiful and filled with the gentle men and women who looked at the stars and in them drew a line straight to future while the William Gibson's of their day did not believe and could not go. Please stay in Vancouver, Bill. It is the right place for you. I will stay in Alabama. It is the right place for me.

1 comment:

John Cowan said...

Gibson's just the latest in an old tradition: see .

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