F. M. Esfandiary / FM-2030 papers

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Collection Data

The F. M. Esfandiary / FM-2030 papers document the professional career and personal life of the author, philosopher, designer, long-range planner, and lecturer. FM-2030 was born Fereidoun Esfandiary in Belgium in 1930. The dates of the papers span 1943-2000 and include personal and professional correspondence; notebooks; manuscripts; typescripts; book reviews; press releases; interviews; lecture and seminar notes; photographs; and sound recordings.
Esfandiary, F. M. (Creator)
FM-2030 (Creator)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1943 - 2000
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 4846
Business planning
Civilization, Modern -- 1950-
Future, The, in literature
Iranian American authors
Technology -- Social aspects
Technology and civilization
Iran -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
Middle East -- Social conditions -- 20th century
New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997) -- Faculty
University of California (1868-1952) -- Students
University of California, Los Angeles -- Students
University of California, Los Angeles. Education Extension -- Faculty
Olympic Games (14th : 1948 : London, England)
Biographical/historical: Author, philosopher, designer, long-range planner, and lecturer, FM-2030 was born Fereidoun Esfandiary on October 15, 1930 in Brussels, Belgium. His father, A. H. Sadigh Esfandiary, served in the Iranian diplomatic service from 1920 to 1960 and witnessed the rule of two Shahs, Iran's occupation in World War II and the struggle that restored Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to the throne in 1953. As a diplomat's son, F. M. Esfandiary spent his youth traveling between European countries, Afghanistan, Iran, and India. He attended primary school in Iran and England and completed his secondary education at Colleges Des Freres, a Jesuit school in Jerusalem. He represented Iran in the 1948 Olympic Games in London before moving to America to attend the University of California at Berkeley. He transferred from Berkeley to the University of California at Los Angeles and graduated in 1952. From Los Angeles, he followed the career path of diplomacy and served on the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine from 1952-54. Esfandiary's nomadic youth and his experience at the U.N influenced his idea of a future dominated by blurred national boundaries and identities. Between 1959 and 1966, he turned to writing and published three novels, which were translated into twelve languages: The Day of Sacrifice (1960), The Beggar (1965), and Identity Card (1966). In addition to these novels, he published review and opinion essays in the New York Times, the Nation, Saturday Review and the Village Voice. Esfandiary's novels dealt with the struggle for identity amongst political, religious and social turbulence of the modern age. He was critical of what he considered underlying social tyrannies of the Middle East, including authoritarian family life and remnants of feudal behavior patterns. Esfandiary's theme of the meaninglessness of national identity, ultimately led to an existentialist critique of bureaucracy in his final novel, Identity Card. During these years Esfandiary maintained residences in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Tehran. By the end of the 1960s, Esfandiary's work turned into philosophical speculation over changes in the world as it faced the millennium. Political contests of the Middle East were increasingly difficult for him to follow and he focused on the transnational protest movements of the 1960s. His cosmopolitan claims and belief that the psychological proximity of people transcended national borders fit in particularly well in the climate of political change. As he sought an intellectual basis for the unification of social movements around the globe, Esfandiary conceived of a future in which universal dialogue was to be capable of cutting through political, national and racial barriers, and prejudices and political difference would slowly melt away. Influenced as he was by existentialist philosophy and the social tumult of the era, Esfandiary moved beyond what he thought were normative forms of expression and began to approach the subject of the future life of humans to help others deal with the changes he believed marked the postindustrial age. Esfandiary became an instructor within the continuing education program at the New School for Social Research in 1969 where he would teach courses in futuristics in cooperation with the World Future Society until 1977. In his lectures he aimed to illustrate specific accelerating factors that assisted society's outgrowth of insularity and provincialism. Optimism One, published in 1970, described a philosophical futurism characterized by strident hope and grand vision that culminated in the thesis that man had reached a new stage in evolution. He intentionally pitted his optimism against trends in social science that criticized the industrial age as an era of alienation. Up-Wingers and Telespheres completed Esfandiary's attempt to provide an overview of the social, economic, political and educational infrastructures of the postindustrial age. Technological development in areas such as genetics, alternative energy, computing, genetic engineering, health sciences, and communications provided Esfandiary with the intellectual means to announce the abundance of all necessary resources. His message of abundance of limitless raw materials was delivered in opinion editorials for the New York Times. By 1979, Esfandiary was determined to call attention to the fact that governments, churches or industrial complexes would be not be able to stop the forces of the new values in the postindustrial technology. After 1981, Esfandiary acted as a consultant to private companies and government agencies. His seminar at the UCLA Extension School, 'Major Transformations: The Next 20 Years,' was held from 1979 to 1991. Esfandiary's theories of futuristics included themes originally developed in his novels, but became infused with ideas of salvation through high technology. Unpublished works from this period, including Countdown to Immortality, evince his categorical approach to the arrival of immortal man. He embraced the breakdown in traditional values of work, family, and government and articulated his theories in a pastiche of scientific facts. His predictions leaned on historical materialism, convinced that the conflict between United States and Soviet Union would result in space civilization. Other forecasting was more prescient, such as his idea that schools would be replaced by teleducation, shopping would take place in telemarkets and centralized cities would transform into museums. He changed his name to FM-2030 in 1988 to show personal commitment to his ideas. Though a source of some confusion, the name change was intended to remind readers, students and peers that his predictions would be commonplace by the year 2030. In 1989, he published Are You a Transhuman?, a self-diagnostic test for measuring one's transhumanism. FM-2030's increasing emphasis on the physical transgression of death was informed as much by his imagination as his confidence in technology. As philosophers discussed the dehumanization in modern society, Esfandiary believed man's only limits were boundaries of his visions and ideals. Positive universal man was the next step beyond earth and the time-bound human. In the last two decades of his life, Esfandiary worked on several unpublished works, published opinion pieces in the Los Angeles Times and continued to give seminars at the Florida International University. In the year 2000, FM-2030 was placed in cryonic suspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Content: The F. M. Esfandiary / FM-2030 papers document the professional career and personal life of the author, lecturer and social visionary. The dates of the papers span 1943-2000. They include personal and professional correspondence; notebooks; manuscripts; typescripts; book reviews; press releases; interviews; lecture and seminar notes; photographs; and sound recordings. The F. M. Esfandiary / FM-2030 Papers are an important resource for the study of American literature, Iranian-American intellectual culture, the emergence of postmodernism, the postindustrial age and millennialism in the late 20th century. The papers include documentation of Esfandiary's literary career in which he published seven books over three decades. Esfandiary's personal correspondence captures the intellectual milieu of New York's bohemian Greenwich Village where lived during the 1950s and 1960s. Letters from friends and family in Iran are in Farsi. Esfandiary traveled often and by the 1970s was bi-coastal, living in both New York and Los Angeles. Letters to Esfandiary from his readers offer glimpses into the attitudes of New Age enthusiasts committed to his descriptions of the transformations of social and religious institutions. The papers include clippings about Esfandiary, including interviews in the international press, press releases, and reviews of his writings. These items provide a measure of the critical response to Esfandiary's work throughout his career. Esfandiary's literary archive includes published works and unpublished manuscripts as well as a considerable amount of research material. Manuscripts and corrected typescripts of published works include: The Beggar; Day of Sacrifice; Identity Card; and Are you a Transhuman? His unpublished manuscripts include "Countdown to Immortality" and "Guide to the Post-Industrial Age." The teaching files document Esfandiary's lecture courses in futurist philosophy at the New School for Social Research and the UCLA Extension School. Esfandiary's seminars on long-term planning were addressed to private corporations and governments agencies in California and Florida. Personal calendars span his entire career and offer insight into the extent of the enigmatic author's daily activities and social networks in New York and Los Angeles. The research files show Esfandiary's later working methods and serve as a vertical file of subjects related to the changing social dynamics resulting from scientific advancements in the last two decades of the 20th century in such areas as communication technology, genetics, and space travel.
Acquisition: Donated by Mohsen S. Esfandiary, Fereshtehl E. Jahabani, Farideh Sadjadi and Flora Schnall, October 2002.
Physical Description
Extent: 24.5 linear feet (59 boxes)
Type of Resource
Still image
Sound recording
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16573171
MSS Unit ID: 4846
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 90fcad80-748c-0139-a08e-0242ac110002
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