“I suppose, then, that the bottom line of what I've rambled on about here, ties the stories in with what I felt in Rio (and with "waves,"

The Men Who Sold The Moon

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2024-03-28 21:00:48

“I suppose, then, that the bottom line of what I've rambled on about here, ties the stories in with what I felt in Rio (and with "waves," of all kinds): the stories that are merely stories—what Vonnegut calls foma, harmless untruths—are for entertainment. The others are to tell you that as night approaches we are all aliens, down here on this alien Earth. To tell you that not Christ nor man nor governments of men will save you. To tell you that writers about tomorrow must stop living in yesterday and work from their hearts and their guts and their courage to tell us about tomorrow, before all the tomorrows are stolen away from us[...]”

In my essay, “Science Fiction as a Tool”, I mentioned that the fight for the sort of future we imagine for ourselves is one of the most important fights of our lives. Our “future imaginaries”, the way we envision and dream about the future, are productive sites for control by the cultural hegemony; if we stray too far into imagining weird and radical futures, we might imagine one where the hegemony is different than what it is today (or, perhaps most dangerously, one where there is no hegemony at all). Therefore, controlling the sort of stories we tell about who we might become, and how we might get there, is a very effective way for power to act the way that power usually wants to act: subtly. If power (understood here as anything exerting control over how we behave and the limits of our thought) can spend less energy accomplishing the same goal, it will invariably pursue that path. Telling us tame stories, creating boring, repetitive futures under the guise of innovation, and limiting our capacity to fundamentally retell the story of our society is much cheaper than censoring books, outlawing stories, or threatening us at gunpoint to “stop thinking about utopias, damn it!” It’s done quietly and subversively, very rarely exposing the machinations and techniques of power.

The thing is, the ability to create radically different future imaginaries is becoming more and more crucial to our survival. It’s pretty safe to say that the public debate over whether climate change is actually happening, or whether it is anthropogenic, has been settled. Even the staunchest opponents of the theory of climate change have buckled in the face of overwhelming evidence and, more pertinently because climate change deniers rarely have any sort of relationship with evidence, with changing public opinion and the tantalizing opportunity for “green profits”. However, those who would celebrate this triumph (and it is a triumph; there would be no chance for us to adapt or soften climate change without this victory), are now faced with an even greater challenge: now that we agree that climate change is happening, what ought we do about it?

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