October 3, 2012

“I have seen the future and it works.” (But not in the future.)


LINCOLN STEFFENS’ FAMOUS QUOTE ABOUT THE FUTURE:

“I have seen the future and it works.”
      
Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936) 
       American “muckraking” journalist and social activist 
       Remark in
a letter to Marie Howe, dated April 3, 1919, about his visit to Soviet Russia. Russia had recently become the first major Communist nation, adopting a political system based (theoretically) on the doctrines of Karl Marx. At the time, many liberal activists like Steffens believed that such a Socialist system would be good for the majority of citizens and should be adopted by other countries.
       Steffens used several versions of his famous controversial prediction over the years. One of the most cited variations comes from
his 1931 autobiography. In that, Steffens wrote that American businessman Bernard Baruch once said to him, “So you’ve been over into Russia?, and he replied: “I have been over into the future and it works.” Steffens also noted in his autobiography that, by the time he wrote it, he had become disillusioned with Communism.


THE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE MOVIE COUNTERQUOTE:

“I have seen the future and it doesn’t work.”
       Zardoz (1974 film)
       Tagline used as sequential words on screen
in the trailer for this campy science fiction movie, starring Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling.


THE SADLY TRUE MOVIE POSTER VERSION:

“I have seen the future, and it sucks...Movie posters suck these days. They’re going to suck even more tomorrow. And as we shuck and jive (and text and Facebook) ever onward into the digital future, movie posters will just keep doggedly and willfully sucking all the more. It’s a headlong progression of suckage, a symptom of the mass-produced everything-by-committee mindset of our culture.”
      
Frank Darabont
       Hungarian-born American movie director, producer and screenwriter
       Comments in the introduction he wrote for the book The Art of Drew Struzan, a lushly illustrated book about the man Time magazine called "the Last Movie Poster Artist."


THE PROPHET PARODY COUNTERQUOTE:

“I have seen the future and it is just like the present, only longer.”
       The Profit by “Kehlog Albran”  
       This 1973 book, actually written by Martin A. Cohen and Sheldon Shacket, is a spoof of Khalil Gibran’s popular mystical philosophy book The Prophet (1923).


THE SCARILY-PRESCIENT INTERNET PROPHECY:

“I have seen the future of the web and it looks like bad public access television.” 
     
Robert P. Libbon 
      American writer and “Director of Covert Activities” for the magicians Penn and Teller   
      A joking comment in his computer book parody Byte Me! Computing for the Terminally Frustrated (1996) that seems to have come true IMHO.

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