An article for Uneven Earth provides timely illustration of yesterday’s reflection on imagination (rather than make-believe) being “a means of breaking out of the ‘dull round’ of the ‘ratio’ of abstract reason”. In Pulling the magic lever, Rut Elliot Blomqvist critiques techno-utopianism. “Ideas about the importance of the imagination in an age of political and ecological crisis are popping up everywhere: in the arts, in activism and other forms of politics, and in a wide range of academic disciplines and fields,” she writes. But without a critical view of these imaginaries, “we risk being trapped in the same old stories even as we see ourselves as thinking outside the old story box.”
The techno-utopian visions Blomqvist dissects demonstrate unbalanced ‘abstract reason’ rather than what William Blake would have celebrated as a vital imagination. Kevin Fischer pointed out yesterday for Finding Blake: “for all its claims to be our primary means of gaining access to reality,” reason functioning in isolation “in an enclosed ‘virtual’ world can slip into solipsism and fantasy.” Magical thinking in the service of assumptions of human history as simply a process of economic and technological progress isn’t going to grasp the complex eco-social realities of disrupted Earth systems.