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Posted February 13, 2012
In Mind Flight: A Journey into the Future, Tom Lombardo (in collaboration with his wife Jeanne Belisle Lombardo) has written a provocative history of his personal life and intellectual development, especially during a period when he expanded his professional horizons to include the study of the future. He tells a series of connected stories mostly about his personal dreams, intellectual discoveries, periods of intense professional productivity interspersed with periods of shattering malaise, his interpersonal relationships, and his persistent, life-absorbing search for an understanding of human consciousness, wisdom and the meaning of a better future.
Lombardo, a psychologist and a futurist, is an important contributor to the emerging canon of the futures field, having written several books and many articles dealing with the future. Thus, futurists should have an interest in this book about the intellectual trajectory of a well-known futurist and some of his current views. Moreover, Lombardo’s intellectual journey will also benefit the general reader. The futurist ideas and topics covered in the book, as well as the life lessons discussed, will inform and enrich their lives.
The book contains a series of related topics, ranging from a psychology of future consciousness, human and technological evolution, and order and chaos to the importance of character virtues (e.g., self responsibility, courage, optimism), preferable futures and utopian thinking, and some major and insightful works in science fiction (a topic that fascinates Lombardo), to take only a few examples.
Parts of the book read more like a gripping novel than an academic treatise. The book is filled with honest, self-searching questioning, and contains passages of emotional and compelling personal stories. It also includes the drama of Lombardo’s conceptual and interpretative struggles and his explorations of social thought and philosophical ideas. Lombardo brings ideas to life and shows how they helped shape his existence as he fully gives himself over to a journey of the intellect.
Some readers might think that the book is too long and too confessional. But they would be wrong. For cutting back and forth between his personal and his professional lives, Lombardo reveals the human costs and benefits of the intellectual commitments and obsessions that drive him. He provides the social contexts and meanings that deepen the significance of his intellectual probes, and he gives exemplars of self-reflection for his readers, guides of where we should go in our lives, of how a history of life’s learning can help us create roadmaps to a better future, and of how we can empower and transform our future selves.
Clearly, Lombardo himself was transformed by his experience of writing this book. His readers may be equally transformed by reading it. With a bit of luck, when you complete this book, you may transcend it, envelop it and pass through it to the other side. In doing so, you will end up being more. You will see who you want to become and how you want the future to be. And you will understand why.
—Wendell Bell, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Yale University