Letter from the Editors

With belated joy and apologetic pride, we present “After Tomorrow,” the 4th issue of FLAT. Restless in an uncomfortable present, we asked people to consider the challenge posed by Danowski and Viveiros de Castro, to take up “the colossal effort of contemporary imagination to produce a thought and a mythology that are adequate to our times.” While this task is certainly too big for any individual—possibly too big even for one generation—the submissions we received have decidedly opened up new ways of imagining ourselves in a/the future(s), and the forms these futures might take.

This comes of course with a caveat, the future is, like free will, almost certainly a fiction, but one in which we must nevertheless believe just to keep going. So a useful fiction then, perhaps even a strategic one. It is difficult to move into the time after tomorrow without dragging along baggage from the present, to escape Marx’s “tradition of all dead generations,” weighing, “like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” More difficult still to navigate the waters between resentment and nihilism on one side, and bland utopianism on the other. The works in this issue lay out the nuances that demand perspectives of “the future,” not as a singular destination, but as a staging of in-betweens. Skipping throughout time, discipline, and mode, they help us understand where we are, where we’ve come from, and the possibilities and methods for moving into tomorrow. 

Our recent tomorrows have felt foreshortened. They race by in a blur to somewhere that seems like it is shrinking; possibilities pruned out of existence at the speed of light. While we cannot with straight faces offer hope, we can commiserate, maybe even conspire. We can bear together how it feels to try and look beyond the now. And even if we cannot conjure a forgotten optimism, we can recognize, as the unnamed interlocutor in McKenzie Warks’ “Raving” puts it, that “[t]here is merit in sharing the pessimism.”

— The Editors