Saturday, January 3, 2015


1. While being honored at the National Book Awards on November 19 of this year, legendary science-fiction writer Ursula K. LeGuin had a message about the future of literature and the growing threat of censorship, which she delivered during her acceptance speech upon receiving that organization's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The gist of it? "We will need writers who remember freedom." Kind of sobering that she believes this task will fall to sf authors, but I guess that's the kind of world we live in. There's a video of the speech (see below), but if you want a written version, blogger Parker Higgins transcribed it. Here's a taste:
I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write.
I urge everyone to either watch or read this eloquent and urgent literary call to arms.

2. Just in case you missed it, this incredibly important thing happened last week...
This past Sunday evening former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sat down for an interview with German television network ARD. The interview has been intentionally blocked from the US public, with virtually no major broadcast news outlets covering this story. In addition, the video has been taken down almost immediately every time it’s posted on YouTube.
Click on the link above to watch the video (thanks to the courageous folks at LiveLeak for refusing to take the video down). And if you find the concept of an America-wide media blackout distressing - as well you should - then just wait until you hear what Snowden chooses to reveal in this frankly terrifying exchange. For instance, what do you know about X-KeyScore, the program that allegedly allows even low-level agents to track and follow anybody, anywhere, if it's in America's "national interests" - note, that's not America's "national SECURITY interest", but just plain INTERESTS... which certainly leaks into the realm of economic interests, which brings up all kinds of nightmare scenarios for entrepreneurs, inventors, and other creative types. Couple this with the knowledge that fully 1/3rd of the CIA is made up of frustrated novelists and wannabe artistes manquées, and you can easily imagine a future where that old paranoid scenario of shadowy powers stealing the ideas right out of your head becomes a terrifying reality.

3. That's enough heavy stuff for today. For the next little while, I'm going to be ending these Suggested Reading Lists with a Suggested Viewing option from my favorite current source of absurdist comedy, [adult swim]! This selection is from their "Infomercials" series, and it's an almost perfect satire on where American corporate culture is at in this awful Late Capitalist phase that we're all suffering through. This is a deceptively deep satirical statement, so be sure to watch it through to the end, and keep your eyes on the margins for special "hidden" messages. This is a video that rewards close reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment