Tuesday, May 15, 2007

 

The Futurist

Over lunch today, I finished reading a novel called "The Futurist" by James P. Othmer. I very much enjoyed the cynicism Othmer used to portray his main character Yates - no first name, just Yates. Yates is a futurist, one of those trendy trendspotters who are all the rage right now. A cheerleader for the corporate world, showing businesses how to get people to spend money by tapping into our deepest desires. Only the cynicism and the crassness of this work finally gets to Yates and he muddles through a crisis that becomes a mystery. Othmer does an excellent job of keeping to his theme - right down to the final words of the book. His theme is the future, and specifically, telling the future. Nostradamus plays a part. According to Othmer's bio on his website, he used to work at an advertising agency. This, of course, begs the questions, "Did he turn into Yates while working there? Is "The Futurist" somewhat autobiographical?" In a larger sense, the book has me wondering whether we put too much stock in futurists in general, in their findings about trends, in their boxing us up and labeling us with catchy names. It's certainly going to make me look askance at what futurists do in the future.

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