Baseball superhero Yogi Berra claimed to have originated the expression “the future ain’t what it used to be.” While it may be true that he put his own unique spin on the line, the saying does in fact predate him.
According to quoteinvestigator.com, a version of the line “was published in 1937 in a journal called Epilogue within an article titled ‘From a Private Correspondence on Reality’ by Laura Riding and Robert Graves.”
Riding and Graves wrote: “The human mind has reached the end of temporal progress: the future is not what it used to be, and people talk with less and less progenitive self-precipitation into the future, and behave with more and more fatally decisive immediacy. The future, that is, contains nothing but scientific development. It is an involuntary spending and manipulation of physical forces, empty of consciousness: it no longer matters.”
Coincidentally, French poet/philosopher Paul Valéry presented a similar thought in an essay that same year: “The future, like everything else, is no longer quite what it used to be. By that I mean we can no longer think of it with any confidence in our inductions.”
Obviously there was plenty going on in the 1930s to keep people’s minds off the future. Among the many luxuries we enjoy today is the ability to look back fondly on the golden age of futurism that followed such a difficult period.
The motivation to reminisce about the 1940s and 50s is understandable. A future packed with flying cars and personal rocket launchers still feels exciting compared to the modern-day drudgery of the latest iPhone update.
Thus, the fascination certain artists have with recapturing that mid-20th century enthusiasm for futurism.
Boston’s Thor Maillet is among them. His solo project Petridisch sounds like a 1950-something matinee double-feature. Leaning heavily on darkwave electronics, guitar reverb and vocaloid, Maillet produces absorbing music that is both nostalgic and progressive.
His latest, Petridisch – 358, landed this summer. The half-hour length recording is split into two roughly equal parts. Check out this week’s podcast for a taste.
Maillet is also preparing a new EP, due out this month on Japanese netlabel fushiginaniwa. Triton Suite features found tape recordings from 2001, a year of no small consequence for sci-fi buffs.