March 20, 2007
Bruce Sterling on Remembering Serenity
Known mostly as an American science fiction author, and best known for his novels and his seminal work on the Mirrorshades anthology, which defined the cyberpunk genre, he is dry and quiet, yet intense and piercing both in inspiration and in reality. He is also slightly cynical until he comes to poetry and then his free-flowing and emotional 'being' comes through without any shades. Transparent. Raw. Funny. Beautiful. Sad. But always flowing.
He rambles with philosophical undertones for the first half: "Wikipedia and Google together. It’s “over for the 80s.” The first world is the global market. The market world (capitalism), free world. The second world is all things governance. And then we have a ‘new third world.” It is not communism, it’s not the state, it’s not governance, the new third world is commons based pure production, and its growing fast. It’s a new world of ‘didn’t you just?’ i.e., didn’t you just Google that, Twitter this, IM me there, etc. The fourth world is disorder, falling off where they’re abandoning roads and the map."
Where are ya going Bruce? Yet he always manages to bring you back to where he wants you. At some point, he also talked about deviant art and folk culture and what they meant to him. "Folk culture is for hicks," he says. The audience laughs.
"We need a new form of media criticism. We may need to abandon music and literature criticism as its known today. We need critical assessment but we need new ways to do this with new realities on the ground. The electronic hick deals with the new shiny products and stuff, i.e., electronic folk culture."
He continues with slight ramble, "Just because its something we haven’t done before, doesn’t mean it has to be good, i.e., blogs. Not every blog is a really good thing. I’d be surprised if blogs are really around in a decade. When people write about, “I saw this, I saw that, etc….” its like watching someone beaten to death with croutons. It’s hard to find a blog that will make you cry or a blog that has the effect of fine art."
He's right. They're there, but they are hard to find. He finishes on a sentimental note. He says its about serenity. Yes, perhaps and also presence and being there in the 'now.' It's remarkable to me how many people hunger for not just time to reflect but the discipline to be in the 'now,' for fear that after knowing how great the 'now' can be, that it will simply slip into yesteryear once more.
He read a bit of Polish playwright and poet Czeslaw Milosz. On serenity (his term not Milosz' -- something he says, "we undervalue.")
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess
I knew no one worth my envy again
Whatever evil I had suffered I forgot
To think I was once the same man did not embarrass me
In my body, I felt no pain
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails
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