Aiglatson Definition

Aiglatson is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the future. It is the positive emotion people feel when thinking about the future.

When we stop our daily fretting over tedious issues and our obsession with a halcyon past, we can develop a hope for the future that will encourage us to fulfill our dreams.

Aiglatson is not a name. It is an emotion, an antonym of future shock.

In Futures Studies as Applied Knowledge, Jim Dator wrote, “Aiglatson is ‘Nostalgia’ spelled backwards and is a word told to me by Gabriel Fackre to symbolize the yearning for things to come; revering the future; without being disrespectful to the past (remembering that once it was all that was humanly possible), preferring the dreams of the future to the experiences of the past; always desiring to try something new; to go where no one has ever gone before in all areas of human–and non-human, and, soon, post-human–experience.”

A good way to describe Aiglatson is by referencing the 1939-40 NY World’s Fair, particularly GM’s Futurama exhibit. Many world’s fairs have focused on the future, but few had the power of visioning which the GM Futurama exhibit brought to the 1939 world’s fair in NY. The fair as a whole presented an idealistic view of what the future should be with the understanding they had at the time. For all intents and purposes, we are living that dream today, but ideals are never able to maintain their glossy finish. Today, we see the then hidden implications of this vision for the future–nuclear meltdowns, rising energy costs, pollution, burning rivers, tainted ecosystems, international terrorism, Y2K fears, etc.

However looking at the images from the fair with the art deco and the starry eyed view of science and engineering, viewers often feel a connection to the past generation’s view of what the present should be. One can imagine the emotions the visitors to the fair must have felt with their hope and optimism toward the end of the Great Depression. They felt aiglatson.

Even today, their aiglatson and their view of the future taint our own. In many ways, subsequent generations, especially in the US but also elsewhere, have been handed a “used future”, one based on someone else’s vision of tomorrow. That is why aiglatson is important for personal and organizational development. We must envision our own preferred future or we will end up fulfilling someone else’s dreams while possibly neglecting our own.


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