Archives for posts with tag: william gibson
In William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral, we meet a class of people, the klept, who have more money than they could ever use and play games with large swaths of humanity, often to the death. Gibson didn’t have to reach far for models; examples of the kleptocracy are all around us. The damage they do is not quite at the scale of Gibson’s klept only because Gibson imagines hundreds or thousands of timelines they can use for their playgrounds. (The chapter entitled Parliament of Birds (pdf) gives a good idea of what the klept are about.)
I’ve been considering writing about our modern klept for several weeks now and just when I think there’s nothing worse that could happen, I only have to consider the headlines for a moment. The most public members of the Klept, or maybe just their public representatives, are (not surprisingly) Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and (new member!) Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. When I thought I might be able to let this idea go, go on to writing something else, I saw this BBC headline: US and Brazil agree to Amazon development.
The world is quite literally on fire from Alaska to Siberia to Australia to, indeed, the Amazon. Instead of finding ways to protect these places for future generations, these so-called leaders are letting them burn so that the land can be exploited for oil and agribusiness. Bolsonaro’s very clever – if he doesn’t do anything about the fires, he solves one issue that he’s publicly declared a problem: the native populations of the Amazon basin. If they no longer have a forest in which to live, they’re no longer in need of any kind of protection. The other advantage I’ve read about is that he can then allow monoculture farming of in-demand commodities such as soybeans. (This becomes attractive given how Trump has buggered up the Chinese market for American soybeans. Trump’s trade war with China is one that probably could use some delving but it makes little sense to me as yet.)
And if neighboring Venezuela is anything to go by, there’s probably oil to be drilled as well. (Note that the vast majority of Brazil’s untapped oil holding is found in a region off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, rather far from Venezuela.
Man looking right forking dollars into his mouth while much smaller man has pennies to eat. Caption: When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. Frederic Bastiat, French economist.

I know that equating fat and eating with greed is problematic, but we’re dealing with the oversized share of wealth consumed by the few at the expense of the many. I think this illustration addresses that pretty well.

And if we let Alaska burn, it may be easier for the oil companies to get into ANWAR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – a protected area that contains some desirable oil reserves). At the moment there are fires throughout central Alaska, but not in the northeast corner where ANWAR is located. Difficult to access Siberian reserves are also going to be easier to get at once the place burns. (Yes, I’m being terribly reductive. The fact that these fires are starting because of record high temperatures caused is not lost on anyone concerned, though.)
This isn’t exactly the klept in a nutshell. But the high-stakes games being played with the lives of large numbers of inconveniently located people form the heart of what the ultra-rich and the world leaders who front for them are about (and have always been about).
The thing with Johnson and the mess that Parliament is trying to clean up is that Johnson’s a really minor member of the klept. Cursory web searches suggest that his net worth is about two million pounds. More than I’ll ever see in a personal bank account (unless things go really tits up, Zimbabwe style), but in the grand scheme of the very wealthy, not very much. So why is he pushing for no-deal Brexit so hard? The short answer is that the klept in the UK stand to lose a lot of money when the new EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive goes into effect next year. Pretty much all of the large-scale folks who have pushed Brexit stand to lose a lot of money. Johnson, it seems, is mostly just a front for those folks.
There’s more to address regarding the American klept, including folks like Mitch McConnell, but it’s going to have to wait.

A few years ago I wrote a sort of pseudo-scholarly essay that attempted to tie together Blade Runner (in its many forms, save for the most recent sequel which was still in simpsons-naked-lunchproduction at the time and which I still haven’t seen), WS Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and William Gibson’s Neuromancer with some extra outside references. A friend had recommended both the essay I reference in the second paragraph and Andre Breton’s Nadja. Those two, combined with a reread of both PK Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the Gibson after many years away from them, gave me a bunch of ideas that took shape over a couple of months. After receiving a piece of fairly easy criticism from a trusted friend that I didn’t quite know what to do with, I let the thing sit on my hard drive for a while (the better part of three years). I’ve reread it, done a couple of minor edits, and added a conclusion. I welcome your thoughts.

Replicants, Replication, and the Cyborg Inside

AEN_BRThere’s so much to write about David Cameron and the Duggars, and nasty trade deals, not to mention the 18-month countdown to the next US presidential election. But instead I’ve been rereading science fiction and am working up an essay on the theme of replication as addressed in Neuromancer, Blade Runner (William S. Burroughs’ P.K. Dick’s, and Ridley Scott’s) , Naked Lunch, The Matrix, and Andre Breton’s Nadja.

I hope I won’t be too long with it, though I’ve just found that Alan Nourse’s The Blade Runner (Burroughs’ source for his text Blade Runner: A Movie) is available for kindle. And now waiting on my iPad. To be fair, I’m less likely to reference that, because aside from the title, there’s no resemblance to Scott’s and P.K. Dick’s work. We’ll see.