'Anticipatory history' and memories of the future

Goldthorpe, Mark (2014) 'Anticipatory history' and memories of the future. In: The Story of Memory : New Perspectives on the Relationship between Storytelling and Memory in the Twenty-First Century; 04 - 05 Sep 2014, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


“Would you travel if you couldn't remember where you'd been?” Or, rather: would we travel if we could remember where we'd been: everywhere, in perfect detail? The world is always in excess, always in process: larger than our ability to comprehend; unsettling us wherever we settle. We frame reality through filtered senses, reducing it to something we can make sense of. We couldn't cope with remembering everything any more than we could an all-seeing, unblinking vision of our future decay and disappearance: ourselves, the people and places we love. As incomplete as our apprehension must be, to travel means to change ourselves, our world, our memories of the future. Moving, we shape and share the places we pass through, that pass through us. I talk about 'anticipatory history' approaches to travels through 'placetime'. Anticipatory history is: an assemblage of research approaches; a provocation to step back from assumptions about past, present, future; a set of experimental accounts of changing places we remember, reach towards, seek to keep hold of; a book – artefact of our unavoidable impulse to fix the flux; a stimulus for work and conversation. “Where will our travelling end?” Nowhere; that is, somewhere that can only exist because we cannot be there. Cosmology has its Anthropic Principle: the universe is as it is, improbably fine-tuned, simply because, of the infinite permutations of laws and constants that could have played out, this is the only one we can be at: to wonder and wander in. If it were any different, we'd never know. Earth science has its Anthropocene: geological reality already shaped by our blind experiment with fossil carbon, making it travel back from underground to atmosphere, ocean and land. We will never know what those places would have been had a different nature made the world.

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