Friday, September 17 2021

Quote of the Day

What a sad thing men are. Can’t do nothing good without being so weak we have to mess it up. Can’t build something up without tearing it down.

It ain’t the Spackle that drove us to the end.

It was ourselves.

Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

Will we stop? “Thinking like a planet” is so alien to the perspectives of modern life—so far from thinking like a neoliberal subject in a ruthless competitive system—that the phrase sounds at first lifted from kindergarten…This goes beyond thinking like a planet, because the planet will survive, however terribly we poison it; it is thinking like a people, one people, whose fate is shared by all.

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth

Two quotes for today

Yesterday I finished reading & taking notes on The Uninhabitable Earth. This morning I finished Monsters of Men, the last book in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series.

It’s been a journey, reading those two things together. One lays out the destruction we’ve caused out of greed, willful blindness, and the lie that we can control nature. It asks if we’ll stop, if we can change and mobilize, or if we’ll just keeping causing more and more suffering. The other lays out a story of the destruction we can cause out of a need for control and is asking if we can ever transcend that.

Now that I’ve finished them both, I realize I was kind of hoping for the YA series to tell me if there was any hope that we can change, that we can come up with an answer fast enough to keep the climate suffering to a minimum. A big ask, even for the dystopian YA novels that wrestle with these questions.

The answer seems to be that good people can do awful things in the name of love, and that there are some people with so much emptiness that can’t be filled that they will burn everything down just to see the flames. That we can’t ever be in short supply of forgiveness; that we need to know when to keep fighting and when to stop the cycle of violence.

And, apparently, to know when your leaders have gone batshit crazy and the only thing left to do is stop them from brutalizing hundreds or thousands or millions of people.

There is a part of The Uninhabitable Earth that talks about storytelling, and how we (at least we in the West) don’t have a storytelling model that even works in the name of collective action.

…the dilemmas and dramas of climate change are simply incompatible with the kinds of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, especially in conventional novels, which tend to end with uplift and hope and to emphasize the journey of an individual conscience rather than the miasma of social fate.

Essentially, our stories center around 1 protagonist who has enough agency to change the world. Even in ensemble stories, that’s still a very small number of people working together with very outsize influence. How do we tell stories of a vision of the future where we come together globally to Do A Thing?

…I guess I know some of the things to start noodling on myself if I hope to write solarpunk and hopepunk.


Speaking of collaborative efforts

An article about the end of World War II, and the existential dreads that can’t be filled with consumerism.

The Incredible Shrinking Man Saw Beyond the Material Façade of Post-War Prosperity

For a country ravaged first by depression and then traumatized by war, they not only Built Back Better, they Built Back Awesome. Super-highways; suburbs; G.I. plans for returning soldiers to access college educations and buy those assembly-line, suburban abodes. Plus, a wealth of consumer goods: all-electric kitchens, TV Dinners, Frisbees for the kids and a backyard barbecue for Dad. The cornucopia of prosperity rained down upon the American citizen, and no one would ever be hungry, sad, or frightened, ever again.

Do I have to tell you that that was horseshit? No, of course I don’t.

Dan Persons

Why is food so hard

Everyone says coconut oil is such a great fat to eat. But is it, if you aren’t already healthy?

Does Coconut Oil Kill Probiotics?

I’m not sure this is 100% the full story, honestly. But I don’t think it’s helping me right now, so I shall put it aside for a bit.


Next steps

Now that I’ve finished The Uninhabitable Earth, I am going to move on to take N. K. Jemisin’s MasterClass on SFF Writing! There’s a section in it on worldbuilding that I am really excited to go through and glean some new strategies before I jump into worldbuilding for my Thanksgiving novel.