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Adam Smith’s Advice on the Future, trans. from the Scottish by Janaki Ranpura

  Dear people of the new millennium, I have seen your dystopian films like Bladerunner and the one with that rich American, Christopher Lloyd, and so I argue for you to consider a contrary possibility: the future is smashing! If you have a chance to go there, seize it! Carpe diem posterum! Seize the behind […]

Photo: Gene Pittman

 

Dear people of the new millennium,

I have seen your dystopian films like Bladerunner and the one with that rich American, Christopher Lloyd, and so I argue for you to consider a contrary possibility: the future is smashing! If you have a chance to go there, seize it! Carpe diem posterum! Seize the behind of tomorrow! I can understand it might not be for everybody, but if you have a keen curiosity about — well, mostly about yourself — I think you’ll be very pleased. You’ll find people still like your book. And they like you! They really do! I think it is very possible that human beings are devolving into increasingly unsavory forms, so that people from the past seem quite sophisticated. You will find, too, that whatever time travel in a microwave has done for the tattiness of your clothes, you will still be better dressed than everyone else. I would not recommend shopping. You will find that, in the future, nothing out there is microwave-safe anymore.

You will find yourself kept in a clean institution where people come and visit you. In my experience, they sometimes grab you firmly by the rod under your skirt and shake your hands all over the place. This causes my eyes to roll from the unexpected feeling of vivacity, as if I were put on this earth for exactly this sort of interaction.

I auditioned for my place in the clean institution. I think it might be increasingly rapacious disaster capitalism that results in the shortage of beds in public facilities. At any rate, when I auditioned for a spot, I unexpectedly found myself blubbering and wanting to go to the mall, as if I were a tween again. I think this was due to two factors:

1) the prolonged infancy of today’s largely unemployed American adults has exerted a subconscious influence on me, and

2) I have 230 years of repressed disappointment that comes out under pressure.

Perceive my disillusion. You imagine people have grasped what you’re on about and after 700 pages you’ve put it as succintly as it will go, but they just reduce it even further to buzzwords, “memes,” “tropes” that grow only toward the fire of ignorance and not toward the sun of enlightenment. Who can unfasten the fetters of the fully functioning Free Market? When will the Socialist Tyrant unclench his grasp on the Invisible Hand?

I am not entirely blaming Marx. I understand history and masses of inadequately educated men have perverted his ideas to at least the same degree that they have perverted mine. He is as much responsible for today’s inefficient healthcare and virtually Byzantine pension systems as I am for zero job growth, protectionist subsidies, and the Eurozone. The problem, as we see it, is Twitter-feed.

The citizenry is creating a tide of verbiage to rival the most stalwart pressmen, so inevitably some trickle of it leaks into a position of authority. This is free press in the way that the United States practices the free market — this is your mom throwing the whole family’s laundry at you and inviting you to pair your socks. As an added benefit, you get to see everyone else’s laundry! Mother, can you please just pair the socks and leave them in the drawer so I can get on to the part of the day when I go to the coffeehouse and eat pasties?

Not that I want to be out there all the time, meeting people. I absolutely do not. I miss the good old days when I only ever met 300 people in my life and 75 of them thought I was a smart guy. Because I am. They could see that. I’m no mass marketeer wearing mouse ears and big yellow shoes. Except for the yellow shoes.

Okay, it’s easy to complain about the present, which is as close as we’re ever going to get to the future. Actually, it’s been topping working with such titillatingly intelligent and globally insightful people as Pedro Reyes and Vicente Pouso. And I never once in my life thought I’d be opening for Michael Hardt and Lauren Berlant — they are rock star philosophers. A bit like me but much, much more popular. I really enjoyed reading some of Marx’s trifles in order to engage him in witty combat throughout the film shooting. It’s great fun to read essays then go in the garden and shout at someone about them.

I hope your futures are lucky enough to hold such entertainments.

sincerely cheerio,

Adam Smith

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Janaki Ranpura is one of two puppeteers who collaborated with Pedro Reyes on Baby Marx. She builds nomadic structures for public interactions. As a designer, she values intimacy and mobility. She unites technology with the traditional stagecraft of puppet theater. Projects evolve from her experience as a performer, a community artist, and a designer for parades and stage.

Ranpura recieved training at the Lecoq School in France, has worked with Shadowlight Productions and Heart of the Beast Theatre, and studied at Yale University. She has received fellowships through the Playwrights’ Center, Northern Lights MN, Pillsbury House Theatre, Heart of the Beast Theatre, and Forecast Public Art. The international association UNIMA has awarded her a Citation of Excellence for her puppet work. She is a recipient of a 2011 Henson Foundation Seed Grant for new work.

See more at her website.