vivid roilings
March 26, 2008, 4:37 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

(plankton/the great metaphysician, by de Chirico/powder ritual)

Here is a definition of the difference between optimism and utopianism.  Which are you?  I feel surrounded by utopianists, the gentle fall of the powder from their wigs, the smell of old, their polite insistence that what existed 200 years ago is desirable!, the dark press of lack of knowledge that (we are assured) is held in confidence and for the good of all by old men.  Hell, the young men only look that way; they’re old too!

Optimism recognizes an inherent propensity or directedness in any disposition of historical things (even the post-historical “fragments” or the passive drift of cultural “plankton” to which Koolhaas alludes), a direction or propensity that may be drawn out and followed, while utopianism remains imprisoned within the moral universe of what “ought” to be, and so can call on no materiality whatever on which to impress its chimerical shape.  Optimism and danger, very simply, are affirmations of the wildness of life – of the life that resides even in places and things – while utopianism remains an affirmation of the stillborn universe of the metaphysician’s Idea: transcendent, fixed and quixotically indifferent to the vivid roilings of a historical world.

~Sanford Kwinter, Flying the Bullet, or When Did the Future Begin? from Rem Koolhaas: Conversations with Students