Future perfect

Visions of the future are quaint and innocent things.

As the Paleofuture website shows, these visions – whether in cartoons, academic studies or technological projections – turn out to be inescapably rooted in the culture of the time, and also strangely dream-like.

Flying cars, personal jetpacks, humanoid robots eager to please – these were less about the future, and much more about yearnings for an alternative, more compliant version of the present: a version in which our night-time dreams of being free of gravity and accessing a more-than-fleeting happiness could be made concrete.

Of course, we now live in the future every day, taking for granted astonishing technological advances and regular cataclysms, both natural and man-made – as though the Jetsons and the Book of the Apocalypse had come to pass at the same time.

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