Freeman Dyson's Optimism

Brand: I was looking at your 1988 book, Infinite in All Directions, and remembering what it was that excited me about it. Ten years ago, most people I knew were in the depths of a kind of bad mood, harboring a pessimistic feeling that things were going to keep getting worse for the rest of their lives. But your book had this pragmatic and also rather cosmic optimism about it; it came as a complete counter to the cultural flow at that point. Did you perceive that at the time?

Dyson: Oh yes. It's partly a matter of what generation you came out of. I grew up in the '30s, which was a really black time. Having survived that, you can never really take pessimism seriously. World War I was the great tragic experience for England, so we grew up under its shadow. A tragic view of life was everywhere; there was nothing but tragic.

How were you feeling then?

I was a complete fatalist. I didn't expect to survive. When we saw World War II coming along, we thought it would be bacteriological, and we all expected to die of the plague. So in the meantime we had a good time. The war was so much more comfortable and manageable than we had ever imagined it could be.

What's your sense of cultural optimism right now?

Things are going amazingly well. Of course, there's all sorts of monstrous injustices in the world, but I look at my six kids and they're all doing fine; all of them have interesting lives. Younger people have so many opportunities. I don't see any pessimism among them.


Folksonomies: futurism optimism

/health and fitness/disorders/mental disorder/depression (0.631257)
/society/unrest and war (0.622695)
/art and entertainment/movies and tv/movies (0.353448)

great tragic experience (0.905876 (neutral:0.000000)), World War (0.786707 (negative:-0.253108)), Optimism Brand (0.687580 (positive:0.574874)), cosmic optimism (0.675297 (positive:0.516050)), pessimistic feeling (0.639154 (negative:-0.834660)), Freeman Dyson (0.636814 (positive:0.574874)), tragic view (0.581480 (negative:-0.432126)), cultural optimism (0.568848 (positive:0.799528)), bad mood (0.560321 (negative:-0.687960)), monstrous injustices (0.553512 (positive:0.657623)), complete fatalist (0.543147 (neutral:0.000000)), complete counter (0.525938 (neutral:0.000000)), cultural flow (0.520038 (neutral:0.000000)), black time (0.492039 (positive:0.208030)), Younger people (0.477813 (neutral:0.000000)), good time (0.463618 (positive:0.619932)), interesting lives (0.456809 (positive:0.341587)), pessimism (0.394513 (negative:-0.656084)), book (0.271145 (positive:0.516050)), things (0.259870 (positive:0.013610)), meantime (0.215058 (positive:0.619932)), depths (0.209804 (negative:-0.687960)), 30s (0.204325 (neutral:0.000000))

Freeman Dyson:Person (0.909163 (positive:0.457429)), World War II:FieldTerminology (0.818172 (positive:0.216281)), World War:FieldTerminology (0.546258 (neutral:0.000000)), England:Country (0.379464 (neutral:0.000000)), Ten years:Quantity (0.379464 (neutral:0.000000))

World War II (0.971889): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Pessimism (0.760590): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Optimism (0.693564): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Tragedy (0.656837): dbpedia | freebase
2008 albums (0.650683): dbpedia
Freeman Dyson (0.643577): dbpedia | freebase | yago
World War I (0.564480): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Nihilism (0.544830): dbpedia | freebase

 Freeman Dyson's Brain
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Brand, Stewart and Dyson , Freeman (02.01.98), Freeman Dyson's Brain, Wired, Retrieved on 2016-06-22
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: futurism optimism


    10 JUN 2016

     Optimism is Rebellious