Great Expectations Under the Tuscan Sun

 

You know those cliched books about middle-aged women who leave it all behind to go live on a farmhouse in Tuscany? They’re bestsellers for a reason. 

I’m here with my father for a conference on Great Expectations.

The theme: In so many areas of social, political, moral, cultural and scientific life, the great expectations of the second half of the twentieth century have not been entirely met, or if they have been met, have not been met in the way we expected. 

We’re here to figure out why. 

Here’s an introduction from my father. We’ll be keeping you posted. 

There are 13 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MTabor

    I love hearing, reading or seeing one’s expectations — great or small, I like both — for the world. Not so much about one person’s longview for themselves, but what they think something larger than themselves will be like later on.

    My high school’s cafeteria had a mural with two sections. On the left, we saw the past: a covered wagon scene of settlers and the nature around them. On the right, we saw a vision for the future that included non-traditional architecture, flying cars and — my personal favorite — a gas station selling fuel for $1.99.

    It was an amateurish mural by school kids and I don’t pretend it was more than that. Even so, it embodied a group’s expectations for the future. That we’d have new technology and new buildings, but we’d still zip around in individual cars that needed to be fueled. It speaks volumes.

    Their tiny answer to “What do we expect the future to look like?” — which was, to me, a new look for the same classic life — was painted over in a remodel a few years ago. Now it’s gone.

    Great video, Berlinskis!

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @TeamAmerica

    Interesting idea for a discussion. I can tell by his accent that your dad grew up in NY as I did.

    One expectation that I had was that technology would progress equally in all fields-i.e. we’d have advanced computers, which we do, but also faster means of space travel, lunar and Martian bases, and yes flying cars. I did see a video phone demonstrated at the 1964 Worlds Fair, and that is now a reality. (Guess I’m giving away my age)

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I wanna know where my Jetsons Autowash is: the thing that George runs through that washes, shaves and dresses him. In this day and age, when we have giant factories which can bake thousands of loaves of bread every hour without them ever being touched by human hands, it is absolutely intolerable that I still have to go through the bother of physically grooming myself. WHERE IS THE ROBOTIC SLAVE I WAS PROMISED WOULD DO THIS FOR ME??? When I was in junior high school they started promising me a Drug Free America, yet twenty or more years have passed and the only free drugs I can get are antibiotics at the supermarket, but they insist upon demanding a prescription form an actual, licensed doctor, so that was twenty bucks totally wasted. Hell, just the other day I bought a can of PAM and it had an expiration date printed on the bottom. If we can’t keep a can of butter-flavored synthetic chemicals fresh, what does that say about us as a civilization?

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KennedySmith

    David, that’s it. Was trying to remember the first name yesterday. Somehow “Irving Berlinski” didn’t sound quite right.

    In addition to the above mentioned flying cars, and the fountain of youth pill, we should note the prevalence of lousy films. However, that may be due to the increasing quality of television offerings, especially on the premium channels. Also, the relative decline in European living standards (due to intentional ceding of leadership, in the anticipation that the world would end before they started to run out of money), and the related failure of history to end. Because there’s always someone hungrier out there willing to step up. And of course, progressivism/social engineering, which has disappointment built right in, as does any attempt to change human nature.

    Sounds like an entertaining boondoggle you got ahead of you. I mean, your disappointment can’t be too keenly felt if you’re hanging around Florence at the time. Sort of like Boccaccio. Oh, well, that darned Black Death, but look at the view!

    Mangi, ragazza.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @TheMugwump

    The topics you mention will provide grist for many posts, and I’m highly interested in what your group comes up with. If I might be so bold as to ask a question of your august panel, at what point did western culture abandon Judeo-Christian values as the basis for our morality? What replaced it and why? I’m convinced that such a discussion will reveal the reasons for our societal decay, corrupted politics, economic stagnation and debased culture.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire

    I’m taking notes and trying to persuade people to speak on the record. You’d probably be quite surprised who’s here, which for now is all I can say. I’ll work on getting them to reveal more after the drinking starts. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KennedySmith

    Dang, I thought I had a scoop in noting that Walter Russell Mead hadn’t posted anything all weekend, but no, just posted a lengthy essay this morning. Still, he could’ve kept it in his pocket; it’s not especially time-sensitive. He might well be there.

    The essay should interest you, though, dealing with American reaction to the Arab Spring. Sort of in your wheelhouse. So give it a read if you have time and functional synapses during this bacchanalia. May even be able to use it. I’d work it into the conversation thusly: the revolutionary force of America, being unopposed by any other Great Power, should sweep all before it, and indeed does, but not quite in the way we ideally hope.

    Of delusional realists and feckless idealists.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Pseudodionysius
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I’m taking notes and trying to persuade people to speak on the record. You’d probably be quite surprised who’s here, which for now is all I can say. I’ll work on getting them to reveal more after the drinking starts. Don’t worry, it won’t be long. · Jun 13 at 5:42am

    Can you talk them into saying “Zenga, Zenga!” ?

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire
    Pseudodionysius
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I’m taking notes and trying to persuade people to speak on the record. You’d probably be quite surprised who’s here, which for now is all I can say. I’ll work on getting them to reveal more after the drinking starts. Don’t worry, it won’t be long. · Jun 13 at 5:42am
    Can you talk them into saying “Zenga, Zenga!” ? · Jun 13 at 6:57am

    Random phrases from this panel: “cytoskeletal structure” … “I’d like to say something in defense of DNA, since everybody’s bashing it” … “You’ve got to say how you’d microfabricate those proteins” ….

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KennedySmith
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    Random phrases from this panel: “cytoskeletal structure” … “I’d like to say something in defense of DNA, since everybody’s bashing it” … “You’ve got to say how you’d microfabricate those proteins” …. · Jun 13 at 7:30am

    And you’re saying the drinking hasn’t started yet?

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    Cytoskeletal Structure is the name of a death metal band, right?

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    I’m impressed how articulate your dad is while speaking off-the-cuff.

    Turkey to the Baltics to Tuscany… you belong in a spy novel, Claire.

    If the conference focus is invention, consider bionics and cybernetics. Meshing anatomy with mechanical parts is increasingly commonplace (hip and joint replacements, eardrum simulators, artificial limbs, etc). Combined with advancements in natural control systems, I would expect some types of bionic implants to become as common as earrings and tattoos in another 50-100 years (“would” because I doubt we have that time). Two centuries from now, young punks would wander around with fully mobile tails and aesthetic wings.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Pseudodionysius

    I hope no one is drinking Chianti Ruffino. It gave me a terrible hangover when I was 17, and I still have it.

    • #13

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.