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State of the World 2014 - a 2013 retrospective
Benedetti: I am curious about your reaction, positive/negative, to that Bruce
Sterling piece. [TODO: link to piece]
Paulukonis: Let me work on a better response.
I’ve been souring on Sterling ever since I realized how awful his “The Sword of Damocles” was. It’s a mid-period work, but his understanding of critical-theory was abysmal. Props for even trying to be post-modern. But no props for obviously thinking he understood it inside and out.
And thus I begin to distruct his trust of himself.
Brilliant polemicist, insightful, easy to read, makes you believe in what he’s talking about.
More recently, I read his “The Ecuadorian Library” - https://medium.com/geek-empire-1/a1ebd2b4a0e5
Makes sense, okay, I agree with what I read.
THEN I read some rebuttals.
I just don’t trust him with real-world things. I want to read everything he’s read, and I want it to make me think (which it will). And it will stick with me, and percolate, and there’s no way the “Green Days in Brunei” or “Islands in the Net” is ever leaving my semi-conscious mind in the next 20 years, I’m sure. But we he steps off the fictional page and starts really talking about real people and things, I remain suspicious.
https://medium.com/geek-empire-1/6a37c4b3361 - the Dread Pirate Nemo
Sterling made me go read up on Verne. Good thing to do. Thanks, Bruce!
Bruce asserts that Verne’s political involvement changed his writing, making his a realistic pessimist.
A cursory reading of wikipedia suggests it might have been different -- but it’s wikipedia, and Bruce is a much better expert on ur-SF authors than me or wikipedia.
Some more research -- and other sources, particularly http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/626297/Jules-Verne show some things differently.
The darker, pessimistic phase of Verne’s writing does come about at a time when he enters local politics.
But his entrance in politics and the pessimism also come about after 1) his nephew shoots him twice and is commited to an assylum 2) his longtime mentor and publisher dies a week later 3) his mother dies.
But the politics-as-depressing-realism makes for a MUCH better narrative, don’t you think?
And then, there’s this whole I CAN’T FOLLOW WHAT HIS POINT IS WITH THE ARTICLE.
He’s ranting, and I don’t think it’s coherent.
Is Dread Pirate Roberts a really awesome cool thing?
He’s an expert on markets... because he built his own and ran it for three years? (uh.....)
Maybe it will take me some more re-reading, but Bruce seems to be brushing the whole-coldly-calculated-planned-torture-and-filmed-murder thing as “you know he’s just another one of us crazy Texans” and I don’t like that. Is Bruce’s point that the whole Austin tech scene a basin of repressed homicadal tech-geniuses who will spring from our modems to kill us in our sleep? But that’s okay, ‘cause they’re Texan and S!X!S!W!!!! WOOO!!!!!!
So. there’s MY nigh-incoherent (as in “does not cohere”) rant.
I quite possible do not agree with myself throughout. I do not attempt to prove all my points. I harbor suspicious.
harbor. harbor. harbour.
Benedetti: This is a pretty serious concern---thanks for pointing it out. I’m
disappointed to see 2 columns in a row with huge issues. I won’t be
citing him on any facts, that’s for sure.
Paulukonis: As an Agent Provocateur he second to very few.