Tuesday, May 17, 2011

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Tomorrow's theme is... tomorrow! This means we are skipping ahead of ourselves twofold. This theme will test our endurance, our anticipatory set, our willingness to lean far far far over the chasm's edge.

And so we begin with a contradiction in terms.... Rio's forthcoming Museum of Tomorrow -- an archive of the expected, predicted, afterward and ere long. Part of a waterfront revitalization project at Port Maua, the museum will be environmentally-friendly and 'sustainably-focused'. It will integrate seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, alter with changing atmospheric conditions, and take its architectural cues from nearby historic landmarks such as the Monastery de Sao Bento.

This 17th century Benedictine monastery displays a plain, harmonic exterior which belies its ornately gilded and delicately carved interior where Gregorian chants echo out across the harbor. The museum is planned to stretch out into the water, a pier of its own, its roof cantilevered like a bridge or balcony... or any other broad, wide, projecting horizontally-focused construction (such as Wright's Fallingwater.) Yet, what will be in this museum or what its futuristic focus will be is shrouded in mystery. The impetus for its creation is largely due to Rio's upcoming hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games. Its creation will also be rooted in destruction as favelas will be wiped clean and residents ousted. Highways will take over these former skid rows, tomorrow existing as much in erasure as it does in imagination. Native Spaniard, Santiago Calatrava, the primary architect on the project, has the following to say about the undertaking:
Brazil's magical ambiance radiates through Rio de Janeiro's rich past and cultural heritage, the vast forests, beautiful landscapes and most of all the spirit of the people... Rio de Janeiro has captured my imagination and through the expression of space and forms, I am excited to begin this journey.

Indeed, tomorrow is a journey. Yet, it is a journey that echoes with reverberations of a resounding past... a past with a 'radiating ambiance', a past rich with other stories, other forms, other expressions, and other people. Is our imagination 'captured' -- at least in part -- because of this hold that yesterday has on tomorrow?

Tomorrow is the material of architects and urban planners. Le Corbusier's City of Tomorrow bore almost no resemblance to the existing Parisian entity. Probably because Corbu's futuristic notions existed too heavily in imagination and not enough in the extant, it remained there... a chimerical city forever dwelling in image, fading as we near actual tomorrows like a misty, vaporous daydream. And while Corbu's most quoted proclamation is probably: "A house is a machine for living in..." ... he also said of architecture that it is "the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in light."

Tomorrow is glimpsed in glints of light, rays cast upon a storefront's glass window, flickering towards and darting away... teasing us with possibility and impulse and approaches... reminding us of what may shine and then be swept away into the shadows of a darkening capricious sky.

Tomorrow inspires. It promises of what can be. It is the possible, the dream, the fulfillment of our potential, the attainment of aspirations, the becoming of what we will become. Tomorrow realizes our dreams. Tomorrow dreams and dreams and dreams with and then for us.

Tomorrow frightens. Tomorrow can be the recognition of all that is futile, inevitable, declining. Tomorrow will always portend of death. Tomorrow exists in guesses, but can also be "smother'd in surmise." (Macbeth, Act I, scene iii)... where the blood that we have released is an ever-spreading stain. Tomorrow is a prophecy and an omen -- but of good or ill? And always, "Come what come may, / Time and the hour runs through the roughest day." Tomorrow is marked by time and is a marked time... imprinted with our footprints, our blood, our scars. Tomorrow is utter despair.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

(Macbeth, Act V, scene v)
We never reach tomorrow. Tomorrow is our projection, our outlook, our perspective over the ensuing road. For better or for worse. And so Faulkner sees through Macbeth's fatalistic eyes, perhaps seeing, perhaps blinded:
I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools. (William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, June Second, 1910)
Tomorrow is full of conditionals -- could be, would be, should be. Tomorrow moves forward, always ahead of us, always slightly out of our reach. Tomorrow is either hope or hopelessness. Tomorrow is the battle yet to be fought, perhaps never to be won. Tomorrow is us... only magnified by the expansiveness of the future. And always, we must face it... enter it... become it. We can reshape the past, numb ourselves in the present, but we cannot avoid tomorrow.

Tomorrow can be haunted -- for Macbeth, for Quentin. Tomorrow can be fresh and empty -- for Corbu. Tomorrow offers lessons we can still learn. Tomorrow offers time we can still fill. Tomorrow is when we will see each other again, even if it doesn't seem that way right now.
Jeff: When am I going to see you again?
Lisa: [angry] Not for a long time...
Lisa: ... at least not until tomorrow night.
(Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window")
Tomorrow will be will be. It will be tomorrow. Tomorrow can be maybe; tomorrow can be always. Tomorrow is a choice. Tomorrow is an intention. The past whispers a lullaby with softest music. Tomorrow calls with a booming voice. Tomorrow beckons. Tomorrow will be our question:
If not now, when? If not today, then?
What happens tomorrow? What happens tomorrow?

(Melissa Etheridge, "What Happens Tomorrow")

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