20 October, 2020

Somebody said on the internet...

"I said it before and I'll say it again: cyberpunk romanticizes oppression."
I think one of the problems of science fiction in general is that we usually conceive the future in terms of what we know. Orwell's 1984 was his 1948, a dark vision based on what he saw in the present, and he said later it might not have turned out quite as miserable if he hadn't been so sick and miserable himself at the time that he wrote it. Science Fiction, like worry, is a prayer for what we don't want. If our vision of the future is dystopian, then we are likely to reap a dystopian reality. If we can imagine a future based on freedom and abundance, where we find creative solutions to the problems that threaten us, we have a better chance of surviving as a species. Martin Luther King understood the power of such positive vision when, in a few simple words, he conjured up a reality that both black and white people instantly wanted. However alluring dystopian fiction might be, it is not where we should spend our time. Yuval Noah Harari says that science fiction is the literary genre for our time. But I don't think he meant visions of doom and gloom. Solarpunk is better than Cyberpunk. The images at the end of David Attenborough's new film are pure solarpunk.

Life on our Planet

We watched, before going to bed, David Attenborough's latest film on Netflix. At age 93, he's still amazing, and this is the sort of film you instantly hope that everybody will watch. I wonder what people in the future will make of these plaintive appeals for a change in direction, pitted against hard, intractable interests? Giants like Attenborough are after all quite small and trivial compared to what they are up against, and, in a way, perhaps they are participants in the same game. I have the image of a bunch of people being swept along in a great flood of debris, each of us clinging to a raft of beams from a ruined house, or sticks of furniture; the wealthy land owner and the landless peasant caught up in the same flood, unable to do more than hurl insults at each other as they float on towards the open sea.

Bichlal, I think the best strategy in our times might be that of the Tao Te Ching, the best protection to be vulnerable but useless, a gnarled and knotted tree for which the carpenter has no use, whose only value is to provide shade for the weary traveler.

The more we get caught up in the struggles that aggrandize victors, the more we ourselves become vectors of the pathogens they disseminate. In such an epoch, we need to have the smallest possible footprint in the herd that is ravaging the earth, treading nimbly around the insects so easily crushed by our clobbering feet. In practical terms, we need to consume as little as possible, remain anonymous. Our cloak of invisibility is simply that we are indistinguishable from everyman.

Yesterday I went to the dentist and she was convinced that my magnetic health fund card must have expired. It bore no signs of activity; no visits to clinics or hospitals, no prescribed medicine, no charted medical conditions. It seems that this is an anomaly at the age of 64, but really, I want as little to do with physicians as possible. If I die now, it might be a little young, but I have no unfulfilled ambitions. Better to live out my allotted number of years, but I wouldn't put up a struggle. I've no wish to live to David Attenborough's immense age, certainly. But it's true that I should do more to maintain my body and keep it hale. I try to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle, but don't get enough exercise.

Social blogging

A Hubzilla channel is a networked blog; somewhere between traditional blogging and traditional social media. I'm not a big fan of social media. I like to follow a few people who have interesting things to say, as long as they do not grow too wordy. I've stopped following people in the fediverse who are over-active for my taste. As for my own posts, I have learned recently to limit them by making a single post for the day and then editing it to include sub-posts. The edits don't usually reach beyond Hubzilla itself, if at all. So there's a daily reminder that I continue to exist, and the link to follow if someone is more interested. But since I'm writing mainly for my own pleasure, the presence or absence of viewers is unimportant. I might even stop using this space, or making posts public, if posts begin to create more engagement.


✭ 'Military Disneyland’: a cathedral to Russia's new national identity | Russia | The Guardian
“We are not talking about the geopolitical background at any particular time, we are talking about the fact that our armed forces have sacred help from above, from God and from the heavenly saints. That’s what the cathedral is about.”

✭ Russian cyber-attack spree shows what unrestrained internet warfare looks like | Cyberwar | The Guardian
"They did not just cause confusion and inconvenience. Quite apart from their alleged role in the rise of Donald Trump, they are accused of depriving hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians of light and heat in the middle of winter, and closing down the computer systems of a major Pennsylvania hospital. Their exploits are a foretaste of unconstrained cyber warfare might look like in the real world."