RQ: Sheldon, “Future” (23-53)


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Rebekah Sheldon, “Future,” (23-53). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

According to Sheldon, via Donna Haraway, what do the images of the blue marble earth and floating fetus ‘condone’ and represent?

What’s a metonym?

the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant, for example suit for business executive, or the track for horse racing.

If images of the planet in space and the child in the womb are “discursive technologies” as Sheldon argues, what threats do they pose forms of life?

What do these images obscure even as the stand for “life itself” (24)?

How is saving the child tantamount to saving the future according to environmentalist discourses?

According to Sheldon, what does environmentalism do well?

According to Sheldon, what are some of problems with environmentalism?

What is Sheldon’s response to the problems she identifies with the ways that environmentalism figures the future? How can we have forms of life and without the privileging of security, certainty, or closure promoted by popular environmentalism?

What is a ‘closed system’?

  • System with limited interface with their environments vis one determines factor
  • “’reduce all change to, all qualitative change…to spatial movement’ and all movement to ‘a mere rearrangement of already existing parts, thus the possibility of a simultaneous present and future” (32).
  • Allows for the designation of a threat that can be calculated and managed
  • Also, “suspends duration, collapsing future threat into a present configuration and cutting them both away from their moorings in the multiplicity of flowing relationships that constitute the open systems of the world” (32).

What is Reproductive Futurism?

  • “the conjunction of the figure of the child with the trope of the future
  • The infinitely differed promise that there will be a time in time that is not the present
  • The imperative to replicate the present into the future in the hope that the future will not come
  • “two-sided salvation narrative: someday we the future will be redeemed of the mess our present actions foretell; until then, we must keep the messy future from coming by reproducing the present through our children” (35).
  • Sheldon’s reading of Edelman: “the fantasy of a clean future actively seeks to thwart (protect against) contingency against the coming of a future that is neither a descendant nor a salvic redemption of the present. The clean future of descent, ostensibly the object of protection that necessitates weapons like the nuclear bomb, share with the dead future a refusal of those disorienting flows that characterize open systems” (35).

“Please Help the World,” Mikkel Blaabjerg Poulsen (2009)

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