Speculations on the Future: Part I

Here at Aspire we realize how important it is to balance our nine to five routine with more expansive and far ranging visions of the future. We realize how important it is to cultivate a sense of deep time. This past weekend I had a conversation with the editor and founder of Incunabula, Ron Drummond. I knew Ron as an editor for two of my favorite novelists, Samuel Delany and John Crowley, but I did not know, at least until fairly recently, that Ron is also a multi-talented and endlessly innovative thinker. Some of Ron’s previous projects include reviving the works of several Classical era Czech composers as well as entering a design for the World Trade Center memorial contest he titled “A Garden Stepping into the Sky.”Ron’s latest thought experiment is a 9,000 word essay called “The First Woman on Mars.” The essay was described by the novelist Paul Di Filippo as “a poetic yet hard-headed cri de coeur, a mixed-media hybrid transreal fictional essay.” It was published in English and Chinese in May 2013 as the lead article in issue 13 of the Taiwan-based international art journal White Fungus. In conjunction with the journal’s recent month-long residency at the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco, the gallery flew Drummond in to read from the Mars essay at the new issue’s official launch.  You can hear Ron’s reading (from an abridged version of published text) below:”

“The First Woman on Mars” by Ron Drummond as part of White Fungus 13th Issue Release! from Kadist San Francisco on Vimeo .

Ron came to write this piece after years of mulling over his life-long passion for space exploration. As he writes in the essay:

“My father, James E. Drummond, who died in November 2010, was the founder and head of the plasma physics research laboratory at Boeing Aerospace during the 1960s, though his work there was only tangentially related to Apollo. In those years, as I grew up, our whole family was passionately devoted to the moon race, my father and I most of all. In the late 1970s, we collaborated on a new scenario for solar power satellites, co-wrote and published papers in congressional hearing reports and the proceedings of interdisciplinary conferences, delivered talks. I was a volunteer for the L5 Society long before it was absorbed into the National Space Society. And though my career since then—as an editor, writer, generalist, and poly-specialist—has rarely involved space-related activities, I continued to read about it and think about it, to mull the possibilities. In recent years, the long-term implications of certain trends convinced me that I should return to space advocacy: I believe firmly that, alongside worldwide efforts to advance the cause of peace, to rectify global climate change and growing inequalities between rich and poor and in patterns of resource allocation and utilization, accelerating the human push into space should be one of our top priorities. We need to do this and we need to do it now, but even more importantly we need to do it right: the future of the Earth, of humanity, of all of Earth’s life, may well depend on it.”

I invite you to listen in on Ron’s reading of the essay and provide questions and comments below that I can forward to Ron for a follow-up post I am planning for the Aspire Wire. I am currently transcribing the interview we held and would be thrilled to have all interested join in on the conversation!

For those who are interested in reading the full essay I encourage you to follow the link provided below to White Fungus #13:


White Fungus is a small press with a global vision. As the editors write, “the first issue was directed as a protest against building an inner-city motorway that has subsequently displaced Wellington’s (New Zealand) artists and left a hollow commercial shell where there was once a vibrant community… White Fungus is committed to localism in its most resistant forms, but conducts that engagement on a global scale.

Don Naggie is the ELL Coordinator at the Aspire Institute. He received his Masters of Arts in English Romantic Literature from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 2012.  Prior to his graduate studies Don worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan.  While pursuing his MA Don also assisted Arabic language immigrants in learning English and applying for US citizenship.  He is passionate about helping people bridge cultural and linguistic barriers and is excited about bringing these resources to the Pathways program at CASE. 

Learn more about Ron here.