(click to enlarge)

There’s a lot to like about this diagram from Doogie Horner’s new book Everything Explained Through Flow Charts (I found this particular one posted on boingboing). I love the way the causal chains suddenly morph into spatial maps, and I was particularly moved by the street urchin’s “important lesson.”

Beyond these details, however, the specific coordinates of Horner’s trans-historical conversation synch up with some recent thoughts about returning to Victorian culture from our historical moment. I’ve been tossing together a number of fantasy syllabi in the last couple of weeks, and one of my favourites shuttles back and forth between Victorian fantasies of the future and contemporary visions of the Victorian period.

So, I’m wondering: is the destination of Horner’s time traveler arbitrary, or is there a peculiar wormhole between modern culture and that of the Victorians? Is there a reason our (textual) time machines keep sending us back to the nineteenth century? Do the Victorians have a special purchase on time travel? (They didn’t invent the concept, though H.G. Wells might be credited with patenting the machine.) The Floating Academy has recently spent some time thinking about the retro-futurism of steampunk Victoriana. What, in your minds, are the most compelling Victorian visions of the future?

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