Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Man of the Future, et al

Tis the season (or thereabouts) for nostalgia and soothsaying, so here's a poem called 'My Back Pages' (hat tip: Bob) from the new (or, at least, most recent) issue of .brief. A few of the phrases come straight from JD Bernal's rather worrying 1929 volume The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. I think they could have left that one off the Marxists Internet Archive...


that man’s development has been for too long hindered
hill and dale and
what comes after

that evolution is closing down everywhere
summer camp or surgery
a calm collected, under dry tiger-lilies
under the lake the silver
dinner tray
that the man of the future must forsake classical form
forgive the sculptor his stone
forgive the waiter his empty plate
adopting instead a stout cylinder
hill and dale and what comes after
that the external casing must be made from stainless steel
hill and dale and
that inside, the brain, very carefully composed
to withstand constant shock
waiters who circulate as smoothly as lies
immersed in a constantly thickening liquid
of uniform depth and temperature
a cerebral spinal fluid
up to our knees, in insects
hill and
no brain a part
of a whole feelings
will instantly communicate themselves memories
must be collectivised
hill, and dale
that the new species will be the standard type
a few specimens of the old will exist, as curiousities
that even the new will outevolve itself
sky as stopped clock
moving shyly, toward the exit
from consciousness, to clarity
lake as stopped watch
that the human will resolve itself into clear atoms
hill, and dale, and what comes after
communicating by radiation
resolving itself
entirely, into light



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