Station Identification: Shikata Ga Nai

shirt_WESTWOOD

I’m reading Red Mars.

It is not an original thing to say that this book (like much Science Fiction) is about here, now, us – but hey.

On choosing a future

“History is not evolution! It is a false analogy! Evolution is a matter of environment and chance, acting over millions of years. But history is a matter of environment and choice, acting within lifetimes, and sometimes within years, or months, or days! History is Lamarckian!”

On thinking science/technology/engineering are devoid of politics

“So you see, you cannot just stick your head in sand crying ‘I am a scientist, I am a scientist!’” He put a hand to his forehead, in the universal mocking gesture of the prima donna. “No. When you say that, you are only saying, ‘I do not wish to think about complex systems!’ Which is not really worthy of true scientists, is it?”

On disruption and convenient limits for the disruptors

“…yet some of us here can accept transforming the entire physical reality of this planet, without doing a single thing to change ourselves, or the way we live.”

Data-point about the here, now, us – it’s the 6th of November in New York City, it’s 22ºC outside. I wore a t-shirt to work.

KSR on “What could happen if we did things right”

And at this moment, we can see futures that are complete catastrophes where we cause a mass extinction event, we cook the planet, 90% of humanity dies because we run out of food or we think we’re going to run out of food and then we fight over it. In other words, complete catastrophe. On the other hand, there’s another scenario where we get hold of our technologies, our social systems and our sense of law and justice and we make a kind of utopia – a positive future where we’re sustainable over the long haul. We could live on Earth in a permaculture that’s beautiful. From this moment in history, both scenarios are completely conceivable.

Shikata Ga Nai. I’m sure you’ll correct me. It’s often used (it seems) in resignation. In the Red Mars trilogy it’s used in the sense of ‘there is no alternative’. It’s the 6th of November in New York City, it’s 22ºC outside. I wore a t-shirt to work.

“We could live on Earth in a permaculture that’s beautiful.”

Be reasonable. Demand the impossible.

Shikata Ga Nai.

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