The World of Tomorrow

July 24, 2016

Don Herzfeldt has a very unusually somber and morose feel to the mortality of humanity. Similar to It’s Such a Beautiful Day, Mr. Hertzfeldt represents the end of a human life in an absurdist manner – openly confronting the utter meaningless of the termination of one life in, not so much an outwardly expressed meaningless world, but at the very least an inflated posturing of the value of that life in the grand scheme of things. Here, in The World of Tomorrow, we see a future that does not rise beyond defining life as nothing more than a collection of subjective memories; interesting sensational impressions which are judged to be valuable more than others on the same continuum of being. Indeed, the totality of human existence in the far-off future is simply a wrestle, a struggle, of humans to collect as many of these as possible. It is, in itself, a depressant to view a human life in such a banal manner; that an accomplishment in being, or a reach into individual greatness, is not really sought after by the human race. Simply compiling more data which is enjoyable is all there is.

I won’t venture to say that Mr. Herzfelt is condemning such an existence to human life; that he proves via a reduction to absurdity the futility in a life whose goal is to simply have experienced. But perhaps that is really the case? Perhaps the extinction of humanity demonstrates the lack of reaching to become greater than what one is, to impress on the world rather than to ingest; to give rather than receive. Of course, we can clearly see that it is human nature to be self-interested and selfish in this manner; but it is to deny the strand of heroism latent within the race of those that deliver a beyondness which becomes immortalized. An elevation of what it means to be human; which may feel constraining to those who wish to absolve themselves to such high standards and simply just be, which entails defining a humanity as nothing more than a repository for pleasurably interactions.

By this logic, Mr. Herzfelt is proving the mediocre man cannot sustain the human race. We can clearly note the absence of heroes in the documentation of the future world. And heroism is antithetical to what was just pronounced, of the common man desiring to live a life which is nothing more than a collage of subjective measurements of the waking world. I indeed prefer to interpret The World of Tomorrow in this manner; as it is properly educational on how one ought to live by a clever dialectical contrast to how one ought not to.


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