#MarilynneRobinson on the future

Interview by Alex Clark in today’s Observer

-Your new collection of essays, The Givenness of Things… [includes] this wonderful thought that … “we are less interested in the exploration of the glorious mind, more engrossed in the drama of staying ahead of whatever it is we think is pursuing us”. It’s an intriguing idea – what did you mean? 

-There’s a strange future orientation in contemporary thinking. We don’t know anything about the future; we probably know less than people have known at any given time, because everything is in flux. We know that huge technological innovations can permeate society very quickly, and yet they’re always saying that we have to prepare for the future – they use this word competition irritatingly frequently. At the same time, there’s no secure model of what it is that we have to do in order to become the societies that they see as being prosperous or as surviving as viable societies over even the next decade. And meanwhile, the most interesting thing that could be imagined, which is to be a human consciousness on a beautiful planet, this is something that is completely bypassed; that only present experience and reflection can give us access to and allow us to enjoy the privilege of existing. 

I like the idea that as a society we know more about the past than any previous one; and less about the future, technological or otherwise.

tractor with machine Pont de Lescun 713

(tractor, Lescun, France, 2013)

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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