– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Pattern Recognition


Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Pattern Recognition

Today the inaugural lecture by one of our new professors, Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer, took place at work, and he spoke well and eloquently about ‘the great transformation,’ about what can be done to transform societies into societies that can survive in the future, and what some of the problems with the whole scenario are (lots). The last time society was profoundly transformed was the first industrial revolution, and we’re arguably still struggling with that, and that was not a transformation that was implemented top-down, but rather that grew haphazardly out of a variety of confluences and circumstances. I’ve read about the dialectic of people being concerned about the environment on the one hand and not implementing any lifestyle changes in their own lives here and there (and everywhere), but a new perspective on it was interesting, especially since he mentioned some books and writers I’ve not yet read (second hand book places, here I come). I’ve also mostly been looking at it from an ecocritical perspective, not a socio-political one, given the nature of the book I recently finished writing. It’s all similar, though, from a variety of angles, and some points of his talk just made me think of Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx & Crake, where the difficulty of stopping a destructive process once it has reached a certain momentum is also discussed. Everyone’s banging their head against the same wall, trying to stop what might well be inevitable, for reasons manifold and plenty and mostly indeed psychological and socio-political.

“Change can be accommodated by any system depending on its rate,” Crake used to say. “Touch your head to a wall, nothing happens, but if the same head hits the same wall at ninety miles an hour, it’s red paint. We’re in a speed tunnel, Jimmy. When the water’s moving faster than the boat, you can’t control a thing.”

I listened, thought Jimmy, but I didn’t hear.

I, too, think we’re in a speed tunnel, or approaching it fast – even if not the same as the one in Oryx & Crake turns out to be. But we’re listening but not hearing, too. (Have you read Oryx & Crake? Read Oryx & Crake!)

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