Sequel to the vision of bangor in the twentieth century
In 1848, the year of widespread European revolutions, Edward Kent, the then-governor of Maine, published a short misogynist satire in which a dreamer visits his home city of Bangor, Maine in 1978, 130 years in the future. There the dreamer finds a robust post-industrial city of commerce, full of "splendid block[s], covered with signs of Banks, Insurance offices, and brokers." In this future United States, slavery has been abolished but papers still crow proudly about South America yielding to "the inevitable destiny of the Saxon race." Most pointedly, the "nonsense" of communitarian and socialist thought is long gone. It "died a natural death, and with it the kindred absurdities of women’s rights to participate in government and to direct affairs out doors as well as in – all this was given up long ago […] nature was too strong for abstract theories”. Women, Kent writes, “tried their hands a little at government” but found it “‘impossible to get along at all," as:
One lady had her hair to dress, and could not be in that day. Another was shopping – there were such dear beauties of silks just imported. Another must have leave of absence, for her baby must be looked after. Another would not attend because there was no looking-glasses in committee rooms.
In response to this, Jane Sophia Appleton, a housewife in Bangor, wrote her "Sequel to the "Vision of Bangor in the Twentieth Century,'" where she hijacks Kent's narrator for her own purposes. In Appleton's version, Bangor has become unrecognizable: war, colonization, and patriarchy have been abolished, and the city has been transformed into a site of collective eating houses, arcades, and cooperative labor in accordance with the principles of Charles Fourier.
Beginning from these dual sources, Sequel to the Vision of Bangor in the Twentieth Century is an essay film project by Thirteen Black Cats currently in development. Using archival materials, architectural models, maps, and animation, the film slips between times and histories: the 1848 in which the stories were written, the two 1978s that Appleton and Kent imagine, the transformed space and collapsing industry of Bangor from 1848 to the present, and the long history of attempts to sketch futures unrecognizable to the present social orders from which they depart.