6 Jul 2013

Two Talks: What Is the Future For? & The Literary Imagination

Submitted by Kimon

Kim Stanley Robinson visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York in June for a panel discussion, as part of the MoMA PS1’s series of talks "Spec­u­la­tions: The Future is _".

Each did a keynote address. Stan's talk, "What Is the Future For?", greatly summarizes all his latest ideas on science, (post-)capitalism, the utopian process, climate change, the paleolithic way of life, our relation to the physical world... Watch it below!

Watch John Crowley's address and their joint panel together with Q&A, which covers many many topics.

The City Atlas provides a summary of Stan's talk, with a particular focus from the Q&A on cities’ role in par­tic­i­pat­ing in a bet­ter planned, more sus­tain­able future.

I have often framed this prob­lem as sci­ence ver­sus capitalism…For me, sci­ence is the effort to try to reduce suf­fer­ing, the effort to try to make life more com­fort­able for human beings, to under­stand the world bet­ter and to manip­u­late it for var­i­ous human goods…I think of sci­ence as a utopian good that can make things better.

[...] I think cities are impor­tant because they are so densely populated…and I think that a lot of city life is fairly pale­olithic in a strange way because it gets away from the auto­mo­bile. Cities encour­age face-to-face inter­ac­tions with other indi­vid­u­als, so I like it for that. And I think that rooftops need to be used for urban gar­dens and that cities need to be greened, less for the auto and more for peo­ple and pub­lic transit.

Earlier, in May, Stan participated in a talk organized by the newly-opened Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Helen Edison Lecture Series at UC San Diego: "The Literary Imagination". Fellow writer Jonathan Lethem, A C Clarke Center Director Sheldon Brown and Stan discussed the writing process and each other's writing. This event marked the opening of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

The long discussion includes both writers reading from each other's works, a highlight of the talk and a joy to watch and hear! Lethem read three "Lists" from Robinson's 2312, and Robinson read Lethem's hilarious list "Proximity People" (direct mp3 link).

The discussion also included a very interesting part, separate from the above video, in which both writers discussed a common influence of theirs: Philip K. Dick (direct mp3 link): Dick's social realism, Dick's fantastic elements, Dick's adaptation in films, favorite novels. Robinson famously wrote his PhD thesis on Dick's works, which has been expanded and edited separately as The Novels of Philip K. Dick.