Friday, January 28, 2011

Eco-feminist Kim Stanley Robinson at the Melbourne Writers Festival

If you've ever seen a speech or interview on Big Ideas you'll get a good insight into the collective mindset of both the ABC and the movers and shakers of Artsville, Orstraya. These bizarre jawfests, which are usually taped at various Aussie writers festivals, are so relentlessly right-on it's hilarious.

Lat last night I was channel surfing and came across yet another of these excruciatingly earnest events. The tape was about three months old, and had been filmed at the Melbourne Writers Festival. The subject was Kim Stanley Robinson, a well known science fiction writer. I caught a section near the end.

He was responding to a question from the audience about science and politics. In his answer he said that he often has to defend science against the attacks of his leftie pals, because they see it as a tool of capitalism.

This troubled him, he said, because he believes that science is actually more in keeping with progressive ideals, since among other things it's a "meritocracy".

This cracked me up. (And not because science shouldn't be as he described it, but because as anyone who has had anything to do with self-described "progressives" knows only too well, merit counts for next to nothing while powerful allegiances and ideological compliance are all important.)

He then went on to denounce patriarchy and capitalism, citing "gender parity" in primate societies, implying that they constituted some sort of collective model to aspire to. It was like Maureen Dowd and her beloved bonobos all over again!

Really, you couldn't make this stuff up. And this was just one little section that I saw simply by chance. If you want to sit through the whole thing, then I'm sure you'll find other gems of self-parody. (The particular section I referred to starts at 51 minutes and ends just after 57 minutes.)

By the way, I'm not casting aspersions on his ability to tell a story. Although I haven't read his work, I'm sure he's a fine writer. It's his predictably extreme and politically correct views that I find interesting and revealing.

From that interview it's very clear why he was made a guest of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Merely to be considered for invitation, you have to be pretty much "out where the buses don't go". Dishonestly, the site proclaims that the event offers "stories from every angle".

Yeah, sure. As long as you sit to the left.

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