Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sins of the Futurologists

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four

1 comment:

jimf said...

> Sins of Futurologists: Life expectancy at retirement age. . .
> [is] not increasing. . . glib futurological declarations to
> the contrary, genuflecting vacuously to Boomer-daydreams of face-lifts,
> boner pills and sooper meds. . . a case with intuitive plausibility
> for pampered gerontocratic US Senators who live no longer than did
> many Senators of ancient Rome. . .

The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien's Legacy
TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities)
Published on Nov 10, 2015
(second talk, by Patrick Curry,
"Is _The Lord of the Rings_ a Great Book?")

In a way, the hippies were right. Tolkien is, and was,
genuinely countercultural. His primary commitments to
historical philology, Catholicism but also Northern pagan
courage, enchantment as opposed to power and magic,
and the literary primacy of story, remain deeply unfashionable
in most contemporary critical contexts. . .

Five years ago, one of the _Guardian's_ chief reviewers stated
that "Of all the means for professional suicide that are available
to the writer, expressing affection for Tolkien is one of the
most effective." I'm grateful to him for being so open about
it. . .

Ironically, where to approve of Tolkien was once considered
reactionary, now the fear is that to entirely disapprove of him
might appear so. . . I would like to approach. . . the
question of the critical reception of Tolkien's work through
this question, which has always haunted that reception:
is _The Lord of the Rings_, as so many readers have maintained,
and so many critics denied, a great book? I am sure of one
thing: even after the hermeneutics of suspicion have done
their worst, that remains a perfectly legitimate question
to ask. . . And although flawed, Tolkien's [book] has at least
a plausible case in its favor. It deals with profoundly
important issues. At least three come to mind. Our relationship
with the living natural world, this Middle-earth, now caught
between the retreating ice and the advancing fires that
you may have read about or even experienced. Secondly, power
and what certainly seems to be evil, its entwinement with
techno-science, and the nature of resistance. And thirdly,
mortality, both death and the consequences of a quest for
deathlessness. And if you read the rhetoric coming out of
Silicon Valley, you'll know that that quest is very, so to speak,
alive and well.

I remember mentioning to a transhumanist acquaintance (or
maybe posting on the Extropians' list, I can't remember),
before the Peter Jackson films came out 14 years ago, wondering
what people in the overlapping communities of >Hism and F&SF
would make of the re-publicizing of the Tolkienian theme
(assuming the films were successful and that they
had **any** thematic connection to the book, which did
turn out to be the case) of the lure of immortality for Men.

The response I got was "Wha...? WTF you babblin' about, bro?
What does **Tolkien**, of all things, have to do with
Transhumanism?" Oh, those literal-minded engineering types. ;->

Deathism! Deathism! Deathism! ;->