Volume 2, Number 1
April, 2014
In This Issue
Editorial: Science Fiction - The Mythology of the Future
Editorial: Creativity and Wisdom
New Essay: Creative and Imaginative Wisdom by Walter Moss
Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates
Center for Future Consciousness Website
Books by Tom Lombardo


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West Side Salon for Philosophy and the Future

After running through the summer and fall of 2013, the West Side Salon is temporarily on hold, without any scheduled meetings, while the Science Fiction class is being offered this spring. Future meetings of the Salon will be announced in forthcoming newsletters. Locations may vary for later meetings. 

Science Fiction: The Mythology of the Future

Intensive, full day course (9 am to 5 pm) at the World Future Society Convention in Orlando, Florida on July 10th , 2014. Register Here

This Month's Highlights:  
  • Editorial: Science Fiction - The Mythology of the Future
  • Creativity and Wisdom   
  • New Essay: Creative and Imaginative Wisdom: Where Is It in Today's World? by Walter Mos
  • Archive: Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page Updates   
Science Fiction: 
The Mythology of the Future

"...our aim is not merely to create aesthetically admirable fiction. We must achieve neither mere history, nor mere fiction, but myth. A true myth is one which, within the universe of a certain culture...expresses richly, and often perhaps tragically, the highest aspirations possible within a culture."
Olaf Stapledon
Last and First Men
I am watching the birth of a new reality; perhaps more accurately, I am participating in the creation of it. And every act of creation is a revelation, for the thing being created (if it is worth its mettle) always exceeds the vision of the creator. 


Since I was a youth, I have been an avid reader and fan of science fiction. There have been spurts of reading along the way, with periods of quiescence, though I have always stayed abreast of new science fiction movies as they were released. The last few years though (and especially the last few months), I have been into another reading surge; I have also been viewing a number of "classic" (often silent) older films that I had never seen. This accelerated absorption and consumption of material (of mental nourishment) is a big piece of the creative process going on within me. Creativity requires input. 


As a result of my life-long interest in science fiction, over roughly the last dozen years I have been evolving a slide presentation titled "Science Fiction: The Mythology of the Future" and have written a lengthy article on the topic, which appeared as the opening chapter in my book Contemporary Futurist Thought. Interestingly, of all my essays and book chapters on the Web, the science fiction article, by far, gets the most hits. 
Based on the popularity of the science fiction article, Jeanne has been encouraging me to turn the article into a book and the presentation into a full-length college course. And in response, I have told her that to create the course and the book I will need to do a lot more reading, since as is true with almost everything, once you understand a topic well enough you realize how little you understand the topic. The amount of science fiction literature is immense, over-powering, and as deep and wide as the expanse of the universe, in space and time, that it covers within its multitudinous visions. 


But beginning this last fall, after a brief conversation with the science fiction writer, David Brin, on the idea of writing the book, I have been moving into high gear. I have been putting together a list of novels and short story collections that I need to read (a list that keeps growing), and I have started in on reading them, and, in conjunction, I have been creating the course with a detailed outline (expanding the two-hour presentation into a thirty-hour course), which will serve as the foundation for writing the book.  




Thus far it has been a trip--the act of creation is a "rush." For one thing, I have come to realize that science fiction as an evolutionary process within the history of human thought extends much farther back in time than I realized. Long before the publication of Frankenstein, frequently identified as the "beginning of science fiction," human minds were transversing the mindscape of all those themes and topics that we normally identify as science fiction. Of special note, the speculative depth, imaginative detail, and sheer quantity of writing, in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, far exceeds anything I had imagined. Kepler went to the moon in the early seventeenth century; we were visited by aliens from Sirius and Saturn in the speculative writings of Voltaire in the eighteenth century; we journeyed to the twenty-fifth century in the books of Mercier, also in the eighteenth century; and through the cosmic and spiritualist visions of Camille Flammarion we observed the biological transcendence of humans and the death of the sun, all this before the writings of H.G. Wells. 


Of additional significance, from a futurist and philosophical view, science fiction increasingly appears to me intertwined with the great intellectual and cultural movements of modern times (running back to the rise of science and modern astronomy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries). The evolution of science fiction, furthermore, weaves together with the emergence of Western Enlightenment, philosophical and artistic Romanticism, Gothic literature, and evolutionary theory in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the last century there are strong connections between science fiction and the two great World Wars, the space and nuclear arms race, the threat of the "bomb," the counter culture and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and the rise of computer technology, virtual reality, and cyberpunk. The growth of science fiction through the centuries says a great deal about the growth and transformation of the modern mind. 


As I have proposed, science fiction is the most visible and influential contemporary form of futurist thinking in the modern world. Science fiction is so popular because, in narrative form, it speaks to the whole person--intellect, imagination, emotion, and the senses; the cosmic, social, and personal; the natural and technological; the secular and the spiritual; and human values and modes of behavior--stimulating and enhancing holistic future consciousness. Indeed, science fiction, for many people in contemporary times, has become a total way of life--a way of experiencing reality.


Though we may associate the concept of myth with ideas derivative from the past, or stories of fantasy rather than truth, I have also proposed, as a centerpiece to my writings and teaching, that science fiction is the mythology of the future, providing dramatic narratives of the future that inform us and both frighten and inspire us. (I am presently in an ongoing debate with one of my students whether this description of science fiction is sufficiently expansive and articulate enough to cover all of science fiction.) 


Science fiction is not an escape from reality, but following Arthur C. Clarke, it is the most penetrating form of inquiry and exploration into reality. Science fiction expands and deepens our understanding of how humanity fits into the vast cosmic reaches of space and time; it illuminates the present as well as the future. Science fiction, similar to the great myths of the past, provides imaginatively rich scenarios and stories that excite, educate, empower, and enlighten us. Science fiction is not just about the future of science and technology; it is about the future of everything--indeed, it is about the possibility space of existence.


The course I am developing--this act of creation--as I construct and teach it this winter and spring, is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the evolution of science fiction (there is no identifiable point in history when science fiction begins), covering in this evolutionary narrative its main themes, topics, and values. I am examining science fiction literature, film, art, pop culture, and fandom, and considering how science fiction has both influenced our visions of the future and been influenced by the ongoing evolution of modern society, science, and technology.




This last couple weeks I re-read two of the classics of modern science fiction (both of which I had read back in the 1970s), Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and The Stars, My Destination. Bester was an electrifying and tumultuous fountain of language, inventiveness, and characterization. These novels zip along through murder, mayhem, obsession, and madness. Bester was also an astute psychologist, synthesizing issues of the human spirit with bizarre and colorful speculations on technology and human society in the future. Taken together, the books constitute a creative jump in narrative form and imagination, anticipating both the New Wave and Cyberpunk science fiction, reflecting the present and projecting human reality into the future. His ideas, his flow of consciousness, his psycho-techno reality has been swimming around in my mind; it is part of what is going into this new course, the surging, pulsating, bubbling act of creation I have (once again) been drawn into. (See also my "Evolving List of Best Science Fiction Novels") 


This summer at the World Future Society Convention I will be offering this course as an intensive full day (eight hour) experience. The date and time is: Thursday, July 10, 2014 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. The location is Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Orlando, Florida. You can register for the course at: Science Fiction - The Mythology of the Future


You do not need to register and pay for the whole conference to attend this course. You can just pay for the course. The cost of the course is $249, which will include your own copy of a comprehensive and detailed outline of the evolution of science fiction and an extensive bibliography of readings and films. 


There will also be a Science Fiction Symposium as part of the conference, to be held on Saturday, July 12, 2014, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., same location. I will be participating on one of the morning panel discussions.





Charles Stross, the author of Accelerando (in my list among the top twenty best science fiction novels), among numerous other science fiction writers, will be one of the guest speakers at the Symposium.

Editorial: Creativity and Wisdom


Do we live in a creative era? Of special note, are we creatively addressing the problems and challenges within our contemporary world? And, if we are being creative in our problem solving, are we also being wise? To hit the nail on the head, are we demonstrating creative wisdom in how we guide and orchestrate our journey into the future? 


Walter Moss, Ph.D., retired professor of history from Eastern Michigan University, Wisdom Page Advisory Board Member, and author of the excellent overview of the twentieth century, An Age of Progress?, recently submitted to me a new essay on creativity and wisdom. The essay is included below in this newsletter, linked to The Wisdom Page




Walter and I engaged in a brief dialogue regarding his essay and what my thoughts were regarding its themes and arguments. At one point in the dialogue, Walter stated: "I find it very interesting that you (a futurist) and I (a historian) agree so fundamentally."  I replied, based on Jeanne's input, that: "You can't be a good futurist without a real grasp of history." Understanding the past, its major trends and themes, is foundational to the development of heightened future consciousness. 


One central issue we discussed, introduced in Walter's essay, is the need for creative wisdom in contemporary times. In Walter's mind, we don't demonstrate anywhere near enough creative wisdom in addressing the problems and challenges of our modern world. I agreed, and as my editorial for this month, here are some of my thoughts, edited and polished, as I explained them to Walter in our email dialogue. 


*  *  *  *  *  *  *


For many years I worked in an educational institution that believed and openly professed that it was a highly creative, cutting-edge organization, in continual growth and transformation. But I didn't find the organization creative at all. I saw the institution as highly controlled from the top down, engaged in group-think, and very conservative. In my mind, their basic approach to education was rather commonplace and traditional, and what they thought they were creative about was superficial and trivial. They didn't address the primary goals and issues of education (What is education all about? What is its value?) but rather secondary issues such as delivery and convenience. 


Similarly I also think that, in spite of all the hype, our popular culture and general way of life in contemporary USA are not very creative or transformative either. There is a steady stream of quick and little things popping forth--a lot of noise on the airways--but nothing of depth or real substance changing underneath. Lots of bits of data and streams of punctuated flashy images, lots of frenzy and speed, lots of stress and agitation, and yet, regarding the fundamentals of our way of life, nothing much is really changing. 


Perhaps I am over-generalizing, perhaps I am being too cynical, perhaps creativity is in the eyes of the beholder, but the issue, it seems to me, is how deeply new ideas or "memes" penetrate into the paradigm of our fundamental existence. Following Thomas Kuhn, from his book The Structure of Science Revolutions, we seem to be engaging in "normal science" (lots of little things, lots of slightly improved new models, lots of problem solving within the accepted paradigm), rather than engaging in "revolutionary science" where the paradigm (general mind set, values, and way of life) is being transformed. 




Interestingly, people are proclaiming all over the place (as they did at my educational institute) that they are creating "paradigm shifts" (an expression taken from Kuhn), but if they understood the meanings of a "paradigm" or a "paradigm shift" (as understood by Kuhn) they would see that what they are doing is not participating in a paradigm shift at all. A paradigm shift is traumatic, earth shaking, and disorienting; it is pervasive and mind altering. You can't have multiple paradigm shifts going on at the same time in the same mind (or groups of minds). If anything, what I see around me is paradigm shift avoidance, the preservation of the status quo, of power, of business as usual: Stay busy, stay rushed, stay distracted, jump from one new thing to the next, shuffle the papers and the numbers around, collect more data, and you really don't have to think deeply about what you are doing and why.   


Part of the hype and equally part of the stupidity of contemporary times is how frequently I see people proposing that: "Everything is changing." If everything were changing (which it isn't, for what about the constancies and laws of nature?), consciousness would be a "blooming, buzzing confusion." (I doubt we would even have consciousness.) In my mind, the 1960s were creative and transformative, but then there was an understandable backlash; in my mind, also, the turn of century from the late 1800s to the early 1900s was highly transformative, both technologically and culturally.


Walter Moss argues in his essay that economically and politically we appear to be stuck in a capitalist and consumerist culture, a culture that in many ways works against human well being and the highest good for humanity. Hence, our present system is not very wise, if wisdom is identified with the capacity to correctly judge and realize in practice the good life. The values being served in the present system are limited, if not destructive or counterproductive to either the individual good life or the common good life. 


Yet ways of life (paradigms) and the organizations that support them have incredible inertia and resistance to change; one could say that a paradigm has a drive or tendency to preserve its own identity and state of being. To be really creative with respect to politics, economics, culture, or philosophy, you have to threaten the very existence of the present status quo, and the status quo will resist this. Believers in the old paradigm do not want to give up their mindset, values, and ways of life; literally, they do not want to die. Proponents of the existing dominant paradigm will not only defend their way of life, but they will also attack any sufficiently strong perceived threats to their sovereignty. Or, they may "swallow up" upstarts and alternative modes of thinking and ways of life. Commercialism, for example, swallows up anti-commercialist mindsets and behaviors, commercializing them. 


Because our dominant present economic-political paradigm seems so resistant to change, Walter sees it as lacking in creativity. Hence, it is not only unwise (as a way of life) but uncreative. 


It seems to me that wisdom possesses as one of its key qualities a creative dimension; the creative nature of wise judgments and problem solving is a key feature of what we see when we recognize wisdom in thought and action. (See my article on creativity.) I would agree, though, with Walter that creativity does not necessarily produce wise actions, hence creativity is not sufficient for wisdom, but I think it is necessary. 


In so far as we agree that there is something deeply missing (or counterproductive) in our present values and ways of life, then, yes, in order to realize a better way of existence--being more wise in the sense of better serving the good life--then we have to be creative in the sense that we need to find a different paradigm of life from the one that presently dominates the modern world. (And I know lots of people and organizations have different ideas on what this alternative paradigm should be.) But where creativity and wisdom are really tested is in implementation, for we should realize full well that if our idea is creative enough to rectify a deep inadequacy in our present reality, then it will be resisted, if not attacked. 

New Essay: Creative and Imaginative Wisdom: Where Is It in Today's World? 
by Walter Moss
Drawing upon a variety of written resources in both wisdom and creativity research, and covering such diverse contemporary issues as capitalist economics, environmental transformation, education, mass consumerist culture, and politics and world peace, Walter Moss presents the argument that "creative and imaginative wisdom is lacking in important aspects of life, especially here in the USA."
Archives -
Futurodyssey and Wisdom Page  Updates

In the fall of 2012 I began publishing two redesigned newsletters:
Futurodyssey--the online publication for the
Center for Future Consciousness--and the
Wisdom Page Updates--the online publication for The Wisdom Page. There are Archives for both newsletters. You can view earlier issues of each newsletter by going to: 


That's it for this month: An editorial on my new course and evolving presentation "Science Fiction: The Mythology of the Future," and essays by myself and Dr. Walter Moss on creativity and wisdom in our contemporary world.  
Tom & Jeanne Lombardo
Center For Future Consciousness