Victor Motti’s book, ‘A Transformation Journey to Creative and Alternative Planetary Futures’, embodies a heartfelt plea for the creation of a planetary-wide consciousness, which the author (probably quite rightly) believes is our best hope for surviving and thriving given the issues we face, especially the existential and demonstrably planet-wide ones, such as the climate crisis.
This is a view which has developed in the author, it seems, as a result of his own cosmopolitan background, and of being a dedicated autodidact and polymath. Towards the start of the book, he describes in detail how he arrived at the idea that it is was best to weaken links with any particular culture and develop a ‘placeless, colorless, hybrid, integral, synthetic, multiple, and planetary consciousness’.
Motti is also a Futurist and in that he is fairly typical in advocating for reflection on a range of alternative possible futures, rather than a focus on a probable single future. The two ideas mesh well in that a ‘planetary consciousness’ brought to bear on the reflection of a range of potential futures, will necessarily remove much of the bias towards ‘Western’ (and indeed Northern) perspectives that occurs in much work that, in fact, affects much more than the Global West or North.
He visits ‘seven valleys’ in the book, seven chapters which each focus on different topics, but it is difficult to describe the book in this way, as unlike many others I have read recently there is no standard structure to the chapters. Some contain ‘how-tos’ – practical descriptions of how a particular piece of research was/could be carried out. Others are largely theoretical and some resemble nothing so much as a literature review.
All would really defy a simple description as to what they are ‘about’. For example, Chapter Five, ‘The United Shift of Asia’, appears at first glance to be about the rise of the East and the implications of that for global culture – and of course it considers several potential future scenarios of how it will pan out for all of us. Later in the chapter however, it segues into be mostly ‘about’ potential futures of the human body – for example the potential for ‘regrowing’ tissue – opening up economic opportunities for individuals to hawk their services as vessels to grow organs – a fascinating read if one can get past the ‘ick’ factor.
Don’t get me wrong, the chapters do have overarching themes, but Motti’s vision is so expansive, that they are stretched almost to bursting point. Indeed , as an experience, it feels quite natural, like the experience you have when following your interest from one link to the next in an enjoyable and informative web-surfing session. The sheer breadth of Motti’s knowledge and subject matter dazzles, producing a somewhat hallucinatory effect as you navigate a book which encompasses, as a brief list of what’s on the menu, Persian mythology, Sufi Mysticism, systems thinking and a consideration of how even the tiniest nuances of different language can affect our capacity to grokk specific concepts.
This is not necessarily an easy book to read, but careful attention to some of the more labyrinthine passages in it, are repaid with ‘a-ha’ moments aplenty
As someone who has just launched a project which attempts to embrace an optimistic view of potential futures, I feel that this book has come into my view at just the right time. As a child, probably fuelled by repeated watchings of the ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, and similar, I often fantasised about the idea that an invasion from outer space would make us all realise that we all live on the same planet, and that we would start to treat each other accordingly. I was quite a serious child, who felt ‘unfairness’ very keenly, and found it incomprehensible that people would hate or treat others differently because of superficial differences like race, or disability, for example. I never arrived at a solution for what we would do to throw off the yoke of our new alien overlords, but it was my fantasy, and I just took the bits I wanted from it.
In this book, Motti not only articulates, very well, the hope that I carried as a child, but also argues that such a vision of a world is possible to realise. Chapter Four on ‘Disconnecting Humanity from Killing’, for example, not only presents the evidence that humans are not ‘natural-born killers’, but also provides a credible roadmap for arriving at a future situation on ‘Non-Killing’ based on VFT (Value Focused Thinking).
A subsequent chapter on the ‘Awesome Intelligent Environment’ contains a section on ‘A Largely Jobless World’, thereby touching on another of my fantasies. A world without Jobs, like a world without killing, represents something of a Utopia to me. This is not the same, it should be stressed, as a world without work. I have always enjoyed work, but pretty universally loathed every last job I’ve ever had. That is because work can be meaningful and worthwhile, but jobs, as in the title of the book by the late David Graeber, whose wisdom will be sorely missed as we move into the future, are largely Bullsh*t. Motti mentions Universal Basic Income once, in passing. I would dearly love to enter into a conversation with him about what comes next after we have managed to disconnect remuneration from the awful grind of jobs, and free ourselves to take on meaningful work.
I am not able, in the space or time available to me, to do much more than scratch the surface of what is contained in this book. Read it. Open your eyes to a greater and more dazzling array of potential futures than you ever thought possible.
Sarah Le-Fevre is a learning professional who specialises in games-based learning and systems practice for learning design. She is also a Lego® Serious Play® facilitator. A real board games nerd, she is considering having her floors reinforced to support the ever increasing weight of the boxes. Sarah lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, younger daughter, a beautiful Bengal cat and two rats. Sarah is the editor of Ludogogy Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org