Monday, March 1, 2010

Transcript: Bruce Sterling's "Atemporality for the Creative Artist"

“Atemporality for the Creative Artist”
Bruce Sterling
Transmediale 10, Berlin, Feb. 6, 02010

I would like to talk about this slogan ‘Futurity Now,’ and how the idea of ‘futurity now’ might become common sense. Not a contradiction in terms, which it obviously is right now, but a legitimate demand. Or a claim, or a lament.

So, what is ‘atemporality’? I think it’s best defined as ‘a problem in the philosophy of history’. And I hate to resort to philosophy, because I am a novelist. But I don’t think we have any way out here. It is about the nature of historical knowledge. What we can know about the past, and about the present, and about the future. How do we represent and explain history to ourselves? What are its structures and its circumstances? What are the dynamics of history and futurity? What has happened before? What is happening now? What is really likely to happen next?

History is not a science; history is an effort in the humanities. It’s about meanings, values, language, historical identity, institutions, culture. The philosophy of history is about very standard philosophical issues, like ontology, hermeneutics, and epistemology. And I know that’s true, and I can’t help it. But we only have forty minutes here.

So I want to deliver a speech that’s in two parts. The first is about atemporality as a modern phenomenon. What does it look like and feel like, as it actually exists? And the second part of the speech is: what can creative artists do about that? So this is ‘Atemporality for the Creative Artist’.

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