Paul Samael’s In the Future It will Not Be Necessary, which takes place in the first years of the new millenium, deals with some of the possible outcomes of where our rapid advance in technology, especially computers, might be taking us. Despite Samael’s emphasis on the future, as I read this intriguing story, my thoughts kept turning back in time to long dead authors. Samael’s protagonist, Miles Jenses, is an emotionally risk averse modern day Hamlet. Miles does not live life so much as he thinks about it. For Miles, life is like a game of chess where the game is long because of the thinking not because of the time it takes to move the pieces.
Paul Samael’s foil for Miles is Pete Novotnik. Despite being placed on a pedestal by the cult-like followers of Pete’s messianic vision of the coming world, Pete is a man of action. When Pete gets an insight into the future, a future that moves toward a collective mind like Jung’s collective unconscious made conscious, he doesn’t just ponder it, he takes it to Miles to have it challenged. While Miles dithers about his feelings toward a fellow student, Pete marries her. As his vision becomes more real to him, Pete is willing to leave his family to pursue the ideas with which he is obsessed. Pete acts; Miles derides Pete’s actions. After a unusual chain of events leads Miles to be Pete’s biographer, Miles writes about not being able to write about Pete.
In the Future is as much a story of ideas as it is about characters. In that way, the story telling reminded me of Camus or Sartre. For my money, Samael, does a better job of conjoining ideas and people than those authors. The main idea that gets deftly discussed is a kind of Marxian ideal that is transported from the realm of communal economics to communal psychology.
Throughout In the Future there is a dark inside joke between author and reader. Miles spends a lot of time deconstructing what he sees as Pete’s narcissism. As Mile angrily points the finger at Pete’s self-regard, the reader has the opportunity to stand to the side and point the finger at Miles, who is a sumo wrestler of a narcissist compared to Pete’s flyweight self-absorption. Socrates cautioned that the unexamined life was not worth living. By turning a very bright light upon Miles’ incessant thinking, Samael cautions that the over-examined life is not worth living either. In our age of self-absorption, that message should be shouted from the rooftops. Samael does it more quietly, but in a way that is very memorable.
(review of free book)