Saturday 20 May 2023

Utopia, the 1964 New York World’s Fair and The Dialectics of Oblivion


To mark the launch of the recent release, Utopia or Oblivion (CN5) Constructive Music have created a website ‘which will serve as a focal point for a series of essays, articles, artists work and information resources that will be derived from the same broad remit offered to the musicians’ who have contributed to the project, inspired by the writings of R Buckminster Fuller.


Their website announcement continues:


‘Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment. Humanity is in a final exam as to whether or not it might qualify for continuance in the Universe.’ (Utopia Or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity R. Buckminster Fuller) Constructive are pleased to announce a compilation of work by 10 artists inspired by and in response to the work of R. Buckminster Fuller, specifically from the essays Utopia Or Oblivion first published in 1963.


In response to their request, I have written an essay on the theme on Utopia and the Dialectics of Oblivion, inspired by the 1964 New York World’s Fair. This global event, better known for the US corporations drawn to it rather the nation states it sought to represent, has always fascinated me. It opened the same year that Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man and McLuhan’s Understanding Media were published. It was also the year that Jonny Quest and Bewitched first appeared on American TV. ‘The Trip that’s Worth the Trip’ is a tribute to this unique moment in the history of progress. It is another in my series of occasional essays that take their structure directly from Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History’.  I follow the same numbering and divisions of his original text and retain all of the extracted quotes with which he begins and ends some of the sections. I also try and keep the relative length of each entry to approximately the same proportions as those used by Benjamin, even though the overall length of the text itself might vary. I first used this approach in the essay ‘On The Concept of History, Brexit, Covid and the Paradise of Sovereignty: A fable in eighteen parts with two addenda and seven supporting quotations’ - which you can find in its entirety here


You can find The Trip That’s Worth the Trip: Utopia – the Dialectics of Oblivion on the Constructive website by clicking here.  


The Constructive album release details are as follows: CN5 Various Artists Utopia or Oblivion 2023 LP / DL


Pictured above:

The Pop Up New York World’s Fair

The General Motors Futurama pavilion

Jonny Quest gets his jetpack

From the Bewitched opening animation sequence

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