This week’s selected media: December 17, 2023: Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

December 17, 2023 by Joshua
in Tips

This week I listened to:

The Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson: People have been suggesting I read this book for a while. It’s not exactly a novel. Robinson uses the book to teach about monetary theory and possible climate outcomes.

I can see why people suggest it to me. He has thought through where humanity could go in more detail and more comprehensively than most people. I agree with a lot of possibilities, though he supports geoengineering more than I do. Several scientific and engineering feats he presents, my research has shown impossible, like beaming energy down from space.

I like how he handled talking about population, how people can’t stop themselves from viewing any talk about population as hating life or humanity, stifling conversation.

It supports a view I find tempting but find unlikely: that humanity will turn around and start taking responsibility after a huge disaster. When people say that we need a big disaster to change, I hear them excusing their own inaction, mollifying their inner conflict and torment at thinking they’re a good person while doing things they consider wrong. The book opens with a heat wave killing tens of millions of people in India in days. I wouldn’t expect such events to remain encapsulated. Like cockroaches, if one happened I’d expect more beyond what he presented and I’d expect it to start wars.

But I won’t argue predictions of the future like that. The predictions are plausible enough to suspend disbelief, but my research implies the path to it implausible outside fiction. I just wish people with this level of understanding of our problems would work on leading others. Storytelling is important, but one element of changing culture.

I also watched The Handmaiden, the 2016 movie from Korea that got great reviews. I enjoyed it enough to watch it a second time to see how the characters supported and betrayed each other. Great storytelling and movie making. I’ll see if it sticks with me the way Christopher Nolan’s Inception did, which I consider similar in its rich, complex, detailed interconnectedness.

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