Haunt the Future

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Przemek
    October 11, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

    Interesting. If time moves from left to right, then the advertised Paradise is located at the beginning of time, which seems consistent with Christian theology (among others). If so, then Garfield’s statement that his Paradise would be downhill implies that it’s located in the future. He therefore may be seen as rejecting the theological paradise in favor of the one he can build/achieve in this world.

    But here’s what’s interesting: Paradise is “downhill”. So in his way into the future Garfield will at one point discover that the even ground he walks on is in fact the top of another hill. And from that point on his journey will become easier, as he will be walking down this hill. Or will it? If this new hill is as steep as the previous one, there’s a real risk of stumbling and falling.

    The Paradise being located in the past can also mean the beginning of one’s life. If so, the strip becomes downright depressing: our lives start in Paradise and then keep going downhill, taking us further and further from the bliss. As for the Garfield’s downhill Paradise… well, there’s just one destination one can reach when starting from the beginning of one’s life.

    Sorry, that got dark. I much prefer your reading to my own.


    • Sean Dillon
      October 11, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

      But then, is it not the job of the utopian to find the “children of Omelas” within their perfect world, and set them free? It is, after all, my belief that utopias only go “downhill” when they stop moving at all. We all change, that’s the only lasting truth, but we can (mostly) choose how we change, how we react to the world we live in. Utopia isn’t a perfect world, no. But it is a better one and one we have to make for ourselves. Even if it means tearing down the Utopia we find ourselves living in.


  2. Sean Dillon
    October 11, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

    Tell the animals,” she said. “Tell all the animals… is it a pilgrimage?”
    “Towards what?”


  3. Joseph
    October 11, 2017 @ 10:09 pm

    I read something accusatory in the insistence that if paradise exists, it is downhill – an argument that if God puts up walls around heaven, then God is to blame for people not reaching it. If there is a promised land for us, why should we also struggle to reach it?


    • Przemek
      October 12, 2017 @ 8:58 am

      A very good point. And a fair question, I think. Why do we have to prove ourselves to God?


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