Sunday, 31 March 2013

Postactivism Activism

Physical revolution is primitive. Atavistic tendencies of unrest should be shunned in favour of intellectual warfare of the soul. Transcendence to true democratic capability rides on the back of the communal intelligence of humans and not on some extrapolated physical occupation. One will realise that the revolution is actually social evolution. Spread one's activism through speech and thought and signal. Attack the minds of the youth not deepset physical institutions or concentrations of wealth/power. Lowering oneself to the physical realm plays directly into their hands. They are ready and prepared for it. Attack in areas that are indefensible. By occupying what you are really seeking to achieve is occupation of the mind, occupying the everyhuman's thought processes, even for a limited time to somehow exact an even small change in cognitive habits. Why not directly enact modes of occupation with more prespecialised gameplans customised to achieve the role with more precision? as in occupy the minds. Activist groups may feel they are already achieving this through physical statements. All they are doing is emphasizing the simplistic thought threads of an outdated approach, and rising heckles across the divide. They need to find a mass-market way of spreading their messages without turning people away. All that is truly being achieved is self-gratification that one is doing something.

Don't ask me exactly how this is to be achieved, because I am not the one who wants to enact change. But I would say that using the internet to facilitate the spread of viral memes will be the challenge of Postactivism Activism going forwards. Or just going to work and earning one's crust like everyone else seems like a sensible alternative, and using one's income to seed new and inclusive ideas to one's fellow human.

Many say greed is the bane of human existence. But I would counter that greed is the catalyst of all human development. Bettering ourselves and seeking to provide futures for our children is the very same drive that will ensure a future for the planet. Why are activists so against capitalism anyway? Because they are jealous of what others and their ancestors have achieved. They seek a big-brother-esque/communistic rebalancing of the scales in favour of a free-for-all that allows anyone willing to work hard, to achieve. If as much energy was expended in trying to better one's own life and prospects instead of trying to be a cancer in a system that has developed itself over thousands of years of social evolution, then the human race would be a better position to evolve its way forward to a better balance. Change can't be forced but needs to evolve through collective and individual advantages that feedback into the system positive changes for the collective and the individual, because a turning away from violence is the only way the developed world can impress and achieve needs for real change. This will come from within the everyman's attitude and daily toil and not through segregated and fringe activistic attitudes that are generally regarded as ill educated and ill thought out.

If only the everyactivist was able to think of ways of catalysing long-term change through non-resource-wasting methods. Attacking the mind of the populace and not its pocketbook. Then I think we would see really positive change. At the moment all we see is a very small amount of people creating a big annoyance that self-destructs the very cause it is plumping for. A way of being an activist and flowing with the wave is what every activist must be building towards. Reaching out, without being repulsed, to the masses in a way that will benefit us all with no negative wasteful threads. Because ultimately, approaches that are unable to bestow advantage unto the everyman will fall by the wayside.

So the gauntlet is laid. Please don't ask me to offer ideas on where Activism needs to evolve to to achieve this: this essay was but a surge of cogitation spilling onto my blog.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Solving the World's problems

This article is not composed to be comprehensive:

I sometimes miff dedicated pessimists with my unswervingly optimistic take on the potential and future of humans and the planet we inhabit. My take on the developments of the world is what forges this view. When I look at not only the adaptability and creativity of the individual but of the collective it can't help but reassure me of humankind's potential facility to perpetuate itself indefinitely.

If we look at the reduction of the ozone layer and the way regulation and phasing out of CFCs and HCFCS has and is drastically slowing down the reduction of ozone molecules–indeed the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica is reduced–we observe an example of the proactivity of humans to recognise and act upon scientific data in a positive way (see Diagram).

If we look at issues that could lead to humans becoming extinct, specifically effects we have on the planet that could lead to a total breakdown in the ecosystems that support us, then this is a different issue to animals losing their respective geographical ranges due to the encroachment and reordination of ancient habitats; I personally have no fears for either scenario. I feel we will do whatever we need to do to perpetuate human existence whatever future form it might sculpt itself into. I am aware of the fact that gene banks (also seed banks) that store genomes of endangered species of all descriptions (vegetable,animal etcetera.), for a lot of people is not a happy compromise to the idea that these species will inevitably become extinct, but sadly that is the way it will surely go. At least the documenting of said genomes will give us options to not lose–and to possibly recreate–millions of years of evolved diversity and genetic resource.

The resculpting of existing ecosystems on Earth, by humans, is not something we should be worrying about as regards human extinction, or indeed the causation of the Earth to become unable to sustain human life into a distant future. Also the Earth itself has its own regulatory systems, and coupled with human ingenuity I can't see humans not continuing as a species.

The issue of CO2 increasing and our transition from a fossil fuel energy reliance is something being widely addressed throughout all walks of technological development. And indeed it has served to aid and catalyse a redress in the attitude that energy efficient systems are not necessarily important, as systems that produce more product for less energy resource input are actually more productive and more profitable, and this is something big business is increasingly aware of.

We can't, in the next century or so, psychologically rely on fusion power to save our skins, as it is not likely to be available for–from a positive viewpoint–around 50 years. We are moving slowly towards more use of renewable power generation. Nuclear power has a role to play and fossil fuel use in tandem with carbon capture techniques and ideas like using night-time energy produced by power stations to input alternative mobile energy solutions into the mix, like cars running on compressed air etcetera: will all add up to improvements. But we do need to find an abundant source of clean and safe energy that could solve the energy crisis.

Thorium reactors are an option because thorium is widely abundant on the Earth. When the choices were made over which heavy elements would best serve the energy industry, uranium was opted for as it had the potential to easily produce materials that can be used in construction of nuclear weapons: it was a doubly persuasive option. The easy enrichment of uranium and plutonium that use of uranium in reactors optionises lead to monetary backing for uranium over thorium; despite the fact there is a lot more thorium available, it is regarded as a safer substance to produce power with, and it produces a more efficient reaction, it was overlooked and left as an undeveloped thread. China is now spearheading further research into developing viable thorium reactors, with a working reactor scheduled to be up and running by 2015. And indeed due to the nature of the substance much smaller reactors are a realistic proposition. Implementation of  thorium reactors and renewables as the World's main energy sources could give us the time we need to master fusion.

If we can produce energy in a clean way, in sufficient quantities, then the issue of CO2 saturation will be widely negated. Electric cars, hydrogen cars, compressed air cars, all having their place in minimising ongoing risk of climate change. And the potential for single-stage rockets to transport people across the world for much less energy could revolutionise the airline industry. So we have a very good chance of slowing, halting, reversing negative impacts of rising CO2.

Ok, so if we look at a worse case scenario with CO2 levels rising far enough to plunge the Earth into an ice-age-type phase, I think we would see increased precipitation in regions like Australia leading to a return of rainforest, ice sheets descending upon Northern Europe etcetera amongst other environmental shifts caused by said ice age. But are these really planet killers? I don't believe so–but definitely a stronger wakeup call and–we all have something to live for.

I firmly believe in a perpetuation of human existence, though we are likely to, sadly, not lose genetic diversity itself, but the species that are able to actually live through their lives in reality will be massively reduced (at least in the real world; simulations may very well continue to offer said species a haven to continue evolving, maybe even at an accelerated rate). Maybe we will maintain habitat for a certain amount of living life, depends on finding space as the earth becomes highly populated.

This future will never be attractive to conservationalist and conservative viewpoints, but such ideologies will be swept away by the necessities of an ever burgeoning wave we call the Human Race.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Short Thought on Cliffhangers in Literature

A conversation with a friend of mine has lead to me questioning the use, overuse and style of use of this well used literary device.

I personally think a cliffhanger has to be something that isn't obviously added on. It has to be a part of the flowing story. Otherwise you end up with Dan Brown pop writing that feels cheapened. I don't think it is essential to have direct cliffhangers, just a point of interest left unspoken, an idea that intrigues.

Subtlety is definitely required. I think if you are purposefully adding on cliffhangers then it is going to feel manipulative. Something that grabs can be dropped mid chapter even and left unexplained. If done well, a hook at the start of a chapter/section can be extended out to act as a cliffhanger-type perpetuation of interest that isn’t explored fully for a couple of chapters or more; being subtly reinforced and/or alluded to through suggestion and waypoint reminders. I suppose all good writing has multiple threads like this, and to think a blatant cliffhanger is required for the end of every chapter is something that the awakened reader is going to soon latch onto negatively, and the whole reading experience is going to be plunged into an “Oh, I am reading a book” and the immersion will be lost.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Violence in Literature

Do you often include violent conflict within your art? How does one justify the inclusion of aggression and violence in writing in a world that increasingly recognises the issues perpetuated by and psychological damages caused by culture which supports and fosters such expressions?

How do you approach/broach this subject when questioning whether a certain scene or extended conflict holds up enough to be, and indeed demands to be, part of the artform you work within. How much thought do you put into this or is violence simply a thrilling prerequisite? Do you deeply analyse this process and only include conflict as part of a much broader and overarching message, theme etc. . ?

I am always very interested to hear other writers' takes on what seems to be a staple mode of modern genre fiction.

I mean direct violence specifically as well as "conflict" in its literary sense. Not just the threat of possible violence, but the direct inclusion of violent scenes as a means of expressing art. How deeply do you personally as a writer take the justification? Why be graphic when one can skim over? Do you require a deeper meaning/message to what you are doing to make it seem appropriate? Or has direct violence as you suggest just become, or always has been, essential within art?

I think that an aware writer should justify every sentence almost, and be aware of the symbolism every paragraph feeds into. I personally would say the same about inclusion of violence. Indeed, using violence as a way of highlighting the evil of violence itself would seem justifiable. The whole Tarantino crowd who applaud the violence of his films, and indeed support Tarantino's seeming glorification of violence, may very well be misinterpreting the deeper messages. Now I am not so sure that Tarantino does not employ violence for violence sake, as in he thinks it's cool, but I am certain every movie he makes has deeper symbolic meaning permeating every single scene.

I personally as a writer would like to think I could construct stories that, as one example, only use violence to directly represent violent actions in the real world, and to highlight the depravity of violence, and to never glorify it (or a similarly justified example); but I am working on short stories at the moment and it would seem to be a medium easier to hold all the strings of. When I come back to my novel and try to rejustify what I have already written with previously closed, less knowledgeable eyes, I might find that certain scenes initially included may need to be expunged as they were put there to be cool, and my conscience now demands more of my art (or I might be able to reinterpret my way around them).

I suppose what I am really getting at is the fact most people aren't able to break down violent art to its deeper meanings and may make the mistake of thinking a piece that on the surface seems to glorify violence may very well have a hidden anti-violence message. So the ignorance of the ignorant towards the complexities of art may be causing misinterpretations which then feedback into the violent tendencies of the ignorant. And maybe people who produce the art with the best intentions have some of the blame to shoulder as they are presenting an artform to the masses who aren't able to break it down and understand its nuances, and therefore understand such pieces are far from glorifying violence.

Do we as artists have the responsibility to temper our expression of such material as we are feeding dangerously into popular culture fodder for being dangerously misinterpreted (perpetuating violent tendencies), or is the onus on the everyman to wake up, enlighten himself, and learn/realise how to absorb and decomplexify input in such a way as to not lead society down a false avenue?

I suppose the character-study of despicable individuals is a seat-filler, always. And in a free society which is allowed to explore the most heinous of topics and themes it would be impossible to censor out thoughtful use of violence.

I am very interested in how others weigh up these issues within their own art, so please feel free to comment.