Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this novel is its willingness to buck our society’s blind faith in technological progress and look to the tried-and-true past for solutions to the crises brought on by progress.
Many people think that technological development follows a path directed by quasi-natural laws that head into one and only one direction – called “progress” – which is: to use more technology, more complex technology, more expensive technology, more powerful technology.
On the other end, from the point of view of the receiver or the consumer, we are so glutted, so saturated with products, stimuli, you know, just information, that it’s very hard for people to receive, and respond to genuine acts of imagination. The faculty of attention and focus, that’s all under threat. Anyone who teaches at any level will testify to this too. It’s very hard to get anyone to calm down and focus on anything for more than the length of a soundbite.
One of the prevailing narratives of our time is that we are innovating our way into the future at break-neck speed…But I’m going to claim that this is an old, outdated narrative.
Economic life in the industrial world these days can be described, without too much inaccuracy, as an arrangement set up to allow a privileged minority to externalize nearly all their costs onto the rest of society while pocketing as much as possible the benefits themselves.
The notion that life has to justify itself to me seems, if I may be frank, faintly silly, and so does the comparable claim that I have to justify my existence to it, or to anyone else.