Yorick Blumenfeld

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Yorick Blumenfeld (born 1933, in Amsterdam) is an American writer and futurologist living in Cambridge, England. He has written or edited 25 books, including the best-selling novel Jenny, (1983), and more than 2,000 published articles and essays.

Biography[edit]

Blumenfeld spent his early childhood in France, moving to New York with his family in August 1941. He is the son of the photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, and he has published several collections of his father’s prints, including The Naked and the Veiled: The Photographic Nudes of Erwin Blumenfeld. He attended Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School and matriculated to Harvard in 1950.

A French, British, and Russian history and literature concentrator at college, he wrote a senior thesis, “Gogol and Russian Censorship,” under the direction of the historian, Richard Pipes. In this thesis, he argued that censorship acted as a fuel for global creativity, resulting in some of the world’s best-known works of artistry. This was to become the theme of Blumenfeld's book See-Saw published in 1969 by Harcourt Brace, written while he was Eastern European bureau-chief for Newsweek Magazine.[1]

Career[edit]

In 1962, worried over what he perceived as an increasing risk of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War, he went to the South Pacific with his then-girlfriend Helaine (later his wife of more than 40 years) and a group of friends. They founded Philia, an international community near the town of Nelson, on the northern coast of New Zealand’s south island. Similar communities had already been established in that area, including groups of conscientious objectors who moved to the region before World War I. While the community did not survive, Blumenfeld later wrote about the experience of a nuclear survivor in Jenny, My Diary which was an international best-seller in 1984, reaching number one on the British best-seller list for 8 weeks, and translated into 32 languages.[2]

Blumenfeld is the editor of "Prospects for Tomorrow" (Thames and Hudson.) The series includes his own 2099: A Eutopia, a look at how daily life may work in a metropolis at the cusp of the 22nd century, and works from noted scholars discussing methods of approaching the future to ensure the best possible world for later generations. Yorick Blumenfeld's 2099: A Eutopia is an intriguing attempt to outflank the authoritarian/anarchist dichotomy by envisioning a techno-future of cooperative, non-violent communards whose genetic and psychological makeup is benignly controlled by MI (Mechanical Intelligence). Like many utopian novels, 2099 is structured as a visit to the new world by a sceptical and self-important journalist, Deric. (He comes from ultra-capitalist "NorAm" and although he is not a complete Ugly American, he turns out to be an unwitting human bio-weapon.) Most of the book consists of Deric's gradually less hostile news reports alternating with suspicious journal entries by Ivia, his guide. These two sources throw contrasting light on the ideas and, rather abstractly, the life practices of the Yare community.[3]

His book Dollars Or Democracy (2004) presents a case why capitalism is no longer compatible with democracy, and presents a technology-driven and democratic alternative contending that capitalism is fundamentally flawed and cannot be overhauled. He provides an alternative that he calls the Incentive Economy. His proposed cooperative and ecologically sane society is a positive vision. The book gives many justifications and additional clarifications of how things would work including the transition. Personal liberation is realized in a greater choice of work and leisure time. Nonviolent cooperation, seen as key to human survival, would replace competition. “Cooperation and interdependence are central mechanisms of the evolutionary process.” [4]

He knows this is an enormous challenge, but perhaps one for which a new generation could readily adapt. Look how swiftly the once vast Soviet empire collapsed. The American capitalist supremacy could vanish rapidly as well. New systems are unlikely to come about unless people, in time of crisis, see an attractive alternative. We have the ability and duty to change an economic system that is not serving us well.[5]

Michael Thompson-Noel of the Financial Times has written that "Yorick Blumenfeld should be invited to every TV chat show on the planet. He could teach the world to sing... He says we should try to enhance the charms of life in the 21st Century with 'joy and laughter and a good measure of civility.' [6]

Personal[edit]

He lives in Cambridge and is married to the sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld. He is the father of TV Producer Remy Blumenfeld and Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for District 9.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Towards The Millennium: Optimistic visions for Change Chimera Publications.
  • Dollars or Democracy: A technological alternative to Capitalism Xlibris
  • The Waters of Forgetfulness Quartet
  • Jenny, My Diary Penguin
  • See-Saw Harcourt Brace
  • The Naked and The Veiled Thames and Hudson

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Yorick Blumenfeld" by Michael Thompson-Noel, The Financial Times (2004)
  2. ^ The Harvard Crimson, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2004/6/7/blumenfelds-brave-experiment-while-most-members
  3. ^ Name "The Times Higher Education supplement, by Ernst Callenbach"...(http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=157322&sectioncode=26)
  4. ^ Name "Foundation Earth, Randy Hayes...(http://www.fdnearth.org/essays/capitalism-cant-be-reformed-try-the-incentive-economy/)
  5. ^ Name "Dollars Or Democracy"...( http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/news.html?d=65247)
  6. ^ "Yorick Blumenfeld" by Michael Thompson-Noel, The Financial Times (2004)