We look back... well, why look back? The technological revolution has no rearview mirror. We have not only seen the future, we've moved into it. Yesterday is history. Familiar forms will disappear. Who needs fiction when we have "Survivor" and the Florida Supreme Court? And new formats will change what designer Bruce Mau calls "the global image economy." Soon the multiplexes will go digital; "films" will no longer exist. We're already consuming e-books, e-movies, e-music. Egad!
Why look back? Because it's time: This Dec. 31, the second millennium will really end. And because the past, as recalled and transformed in classical and pop art, is the wisest guide to what lies ahead. Thus we codify the year's pleasures in 10 Best lists, to determine which artifacts in the hall closet of recent memory are worth saving.
Even in an age humming with electronic innovation, the new takes its baby steps in the boot prints of the old. Many of the cyber-knickknacks on our Tech 10 Best are binary clones of old friends. PayPal is the next Western Union; the Nikon Coolpix 900 is the spawn of the Brownie. Nike will customize your sneakers, just the way your "artistic" aunt did for your eighth birthday. And Napster: free access to worlds of music! It used to be called radio.
Not just technicians but creators have that retrospective spirit. Fully half of our cinema entries are set in the past, from a decade ago back to World War II and into the mythical mists of the Qing dynasty. Some of our top CDs are replays of Shostakovich and Django Reinhardt. The hip place for Londoners to see modern art is in a revamped old power station. The best of theater includes a Trojan War epic and something called "Hamlet." And on our fiction list, No. 4 is... "Beowulf"!
So everything old is new again. And the new? If it's good, it will age very nicely.
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D'Angelo does Voodoo; Sinead expresses her Faith
Atwood's killer novel; Ambrose's constructive tale
Our rundown gives thumbs-up to Chris Ware and Joe Sacco
The year of the 'Tiger'; 'Chicken' struts too
The power of 'Boy Gets Girl'; a Seuss surprise
Reality rules from Pulau Tiga to Tallahassee
A heavenly planetarium; a serene memorial
Napster clicks; Kozmo delivers