Protopia Futures

This link has come up in two different venues in the last couple of days. It very much has manifesto feel, and I deeply love manifestoes, so here are a few clips to whet your appetite to go read it. I’ve only scanned it, but I’m signing up for her newsletter. (I don’t know if she really has a newsletter.)

PROTOPIA FUTURES [FRAMEWORK] by monika bielskyte

“Within the Protopia Framework, however, we position that there is no singular “future” trajectory but rather a vast scope of many alternative futures. It is continuously shaped not just by our actions but also by our inactions and our apathy. Hence, we consciously choose to use the plural “futures”, instead of singular “future”, throughout this text. Our work is always meant to engage the plurality of future possibilities — not a singular thread but rather the ever shifting perimeter of the probable, possible, plausible, and, most importantly, desirable.”


“Instead of being productive frames of inquiry, are dystopias and utopias mere neo-religious content outlets for dualistic ideas of Heaven, Hell, and the fetish for the Apocalyptic Rapture?”


“…the best that many Futurist “thought leaders” seem to propose for the 22nd century is the absurdity of endless economic growth based on “exponential technology”.”


This essay says Kevin Kelly coined the term ‘protopia’ based on the term ‘pronoia’.

The first time I heard the term pronoia was in 2009 with the publication of Rob Brezsny’s book Pronoia, and the concept I first came across in the 1980s in a interview with Philip K. Dick, who used the term ‘metanoia’.

PKD recounts a conversation with Robert Anton Wilson about their use of paranoia in their novels. The opposite, they decide, is metanoia — the irrational belief that the universe is out to help you.

I suspect this is a coinage by RAW given his deep interest in James Joyce. Just as Joyce repurposed the term epiphany, Wilson was probably inspired to repurpose metanoia, which means “change in one’s way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion.”

And, (thanks, Google!) I just looked up where Breszny got the term and he writes —

“The actual term “pronoia” was coined in 1976 by Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, who defined it as “the suspicion that the universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.'”

Fortunately Bielskyte intentionally breaks away from the Kelly mindset of techno-utopia. (Whoops! Kelly doesn’t cotton to being called a techno-utopian. Here’s his post on protopia.) She sees protopia futurism as a kind of post-colonial solarpunk process.

“Protopia is a continuous dialogue, more a verb than a noun, a process rather than a destination, never finite, always iterative, meant to be questioned, adjusted, and expanded. Our goal is always to center the previously marginalized perspectives, especially those at the intersection of Indigeneity, Queerness, and Disability. Above all, Protopia explores visions of embodied HOPE, futures wherein we have come together, as imperfect as our condition is.”

I haven’t had time to digest it all yet, but I’m looking forward to giving it space to infiltrate my brain.

(100 Days of Blogging: Post 053 of 100)

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