I am infatuated with the name of Restore our Future, who make attack ads for Mitt Romney. Restore our Future! This phrase is fantastic (literally) on so many levels:
1. How can you restore something that has not existed yet? I love the idea of the future as this object we built some time back--decades ago, presumably, if it has deteriorated to the point of requiring restoration, like a Victorian house or vintage automobile or Renaissance painting. The future is old, people. Needs a good touchup.
2. To restore a future, we would have to have had it first. And then it wouldn't be a future anymore, would it? It would be a present or a past.
3. Although in a way, the future is a real thing as much as conceptual art is. We all construct it every day, individually and collectively, as a people and as affinity groups and as a nation. The future is an idea that has been used as a tool for us and against us for a very long time, depending on which "us" one is at which time. "Our future" has been used to to establish college funds and medical research, and "our future" has been used to nearly exterminate the Native Americans. For something that does not yet--and never will--tangibly exist, "the future" has a profound influence on decisions that affect the present.
4. Which "our"? Which future? There have been so many.
5. But maybe that deliberate ambiguity speaks subliminally to the my more than the our. How many of us would like to restore our own future? How many people would love to go back and polish up their idea of what their life would turn out to be, to have everything still possible, to brighten and retouch that vision as if it had not aged a day but was still new, still now? What this imperative asks for is to give me back my idea of what life was going to be like. It's a bitter demand. It's rallying cry full of disappointment and indignant nostalgia.
Hilariously, one of the largest donors to Restore our Future is a guy who made his millions betting on the collapse of the housing industry. Also, the chairman of New Balance, noted.
I live in Williamsburg, Virginia, a town that fervently and aggressively wiped out an enormous portion of its physical present and future in the 1930s by reverting (recolonizing?) much of the town to the year 1774. Evacuated of its residents, cleared of all 19th- and 20th-century structures except reconstructions, Colonial Williamsburg™ guards a past that is constantly rubbing awkwardly against the present and battling the future (as time weathers paint and erodes brick and renders the longtime Thomas Jefferson reenactor increasingly anachronistic as he ages away from a plausibly 1774-aged Jefferson and into the next bygone century)--but I'll write that essay elsewhere.