Heyoka’s Workbench


Drawing: “Future”

When an artist friend of mine, Jan, asked me if he could rummage through my old sketches and drawings to find some material for his screen printing experiments it was like an exciting time travel for myself. Looking at the lots and lots of comics, cartoons and scribbles was not only entertaining but – I admit it – it filled me with some pride, too.

Moreover, it was interesting to see which works Jan picked. One of the drawings he selected was a sketch I’d made for a science fiction comic epos I had once planned but that, alas, came to nothing. Even so, the afternoon with Jan has prompted me to take the pencil and draw the brand-new futuristic image shown above.

Science fiction fascinated me for many years when I was a boy. At first classics like Stanisław Lem or Mark Brandis; later – in an enthusiastic frenzy – everything that was even only remotely related to »Cyperpunk«; and not least role-playing games like »Traveller« and »Shadowrun«.

I loved both the dystopian as well as the more optimistic variants of the genre. The first had the more intense thrill and was – well: cooler somehow. But the latter gave me role models as well as ideas that I hoped to see become reality in my lifetime.

Which lets my wandering thoughts arrive at the question: what has become of that very special brand of utopian optimism once propagated by classical science fiction? I do not talk about blind or naïve technocracy but of the belief in humankind’s ability to develop solutions.

When being popular on Youtube or shouting loudest in the street gets you higher esteem than having developed a more efficient heating system or engine – then it tastes rather like the dystopian flavour of future. Or at least like the less appetising.

Do we have any Utopia that stirrs our imagination, one that we’d love to strive for, that fills us with enthusiasm? Do we?