Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bruce Sterling on Dark Euphoria, Gothic Hi-Tech & Favela Chic

This starts a little slow and has its annoying parts (Obama is not a Chicago Machine politician for example), but overall Sterling presents some fascinating concepts and perspectives. Good science fiction is always more about the present than the future. This holds true for Sterling's concepts of "Dark Euphoria, Gothic Hi-Tech and Favela Chic."

Dark Euphoria describes the sense of malaise that we feel now, on what some would argue is the plateau of progress and history, with little clarity about what our future holds other than a kind of continual crisis of energy shortages, economic stagnation and climate change.

Gothic Hi-Tech and Favela Chic both describe the continued development and push of technology (especially communication technology) within societies that are otherwise being ripped apart by ballooning inequality and conflict. Since the 1970's the apotheosis of the consumer society, the deregulation of global market capitalism, extreme inequality and cynicism about the democratic process, the rise of evangelical religion (Christianity and Islam) and the emergence of instant, sound-bite communication have all threatened to unravel the basic institutions of modern, Enlightenment - (science) based societies. We may continue to produce technological marvels, in other words, but until we gain the social and political will to reorient ourselves, quality of life measures will decline for the vast majority of society. Until we make a choice to solve our larger problems, we'll continue run away from our own individual and social mortality and toward a future defined by religious mysticism, disorganization and extreme inequality.

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