Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Fantasy And Reality II

See Fantasy And Reality.

A country that monopolized space travel might put missiles in orbit or on the Moon. What might happen if demons were both real and active?

"Demons with a lunar stronghold, striking out of it with tricks, temptations, lies, illusions, disruptions, despair, to set man against man..."
-Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000), p. 265.

Steve Matuchek imagines two scenarios that we recognize. In his timeline, Jews were persecuted right up to the nineteenth century and it could happen again:

if a modern country lost a major war and unleashed its resentment on the rest of the world, starting with the Jews;

if a big but backward country was captured by an ideology that claimed human nature could be changed with secret police, concentration camps and mass slaughters.

(I believe that human nature can be changed but not with secret police etc.)

Earlier, Steve and his brother-in-law had imagined our twentieth century in even greater detail. See here.

As Poul Anderson and I have said (see here), fiction reflects reality.

12 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And I don't believe human nature can be changed, if you mean us no longer being prone to folly, stupidity, evil, etc. And I see nothing either now or in human history, absent the Second Coming, to make me think it will ever be different. And Poul Anderson was also skeptical of "transhumanist" dreams!

    Seam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sean,
      PA shared your skepticism!
      Paul.

      Delete
    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Which of us, skeptics like me and Poul Anderson, or "transhumanists" like you, are LIKELY to be correct?
      If the skeptics, isn't it better and wiser to take human beings as we actually are, flawed and imperfect, than not? Isn't it better to word for more modest goals, such as the limited state and a reasonably free economy than for unlikely implausibilities?

      Sean

      Delete
    3. Sean,
      I would agree except that technology, history and the unforeseen continually thrust change upon us. If nothing else, the world will be very different a hundred years hence - hopefully for the better.
      Paul.

      Delete
    4. Kaor, Paul!

      But I don't agree that mere "technology" will change human NATURE. At most, our lives might be improved by technology, but not made PERFECT. As the scandals swirling around Hillary Clinton's incompetent and criminal misuse of computer technology should enough to show!

      Sean

      Delete
    5. Sean,
      I agree the tech alone won't change us. We change our environment and our society with our technology. But, with opposable thumbs, brains and language, we have changed ourselves from apes into homo sapiens! I see nothing unchanging anywhere in the whole universe. We must accept change and make it good instead of bad.
      Paul.

      Delete
    6. Kaor, Paul!

      But, to paraphrase a cliche, the more things change, the more they stay the same! Which I mean, in this context, the all too obvious fact that humans remain prone to folly, stupidity, and sheer evil. What I'm trying to say is that our MORAL nature has not changed and I see no reason to think it will ever change for the better. Which means I don't expect technology to change that for the better.

      Sean

      Delete
    7. Sean,
      Some collective moral change: the rule of law has replaced the rule of men and the duty of vengeance.
      Paul.

      Delete
    8. Kaor, Paul!

      EXCEPT, we have no guarantee that will LAST. Civilizations have fallen and great nations and empires collapsed into anarchy, chaos, barbarism, etc. I see no reason to think such bad things will never happen again.

      Sean

      Delete
    9. Sean,
      Here I completely agree. There is no guarantee that our civilization will not collapse into another Dark Age and there is every danger that it will do precisely that.
      In the concluding section of THE SHIELD OF TIME, PA described a history that had failed to break out of an apparently endless cycle of slave-owning empires collapsing into dark ages. So far, we have broken out of that cycle but for how long?
      I believe only in the possibility of fundamental change and this is based on the changes that have already occurred:
      from nothing to being;
      from energy to matter;
      from matter to life;
      from life to consciousness;
      from consciousness to intelligence.
      Further changes within intelligent beings are small compared to that. Human nature has already undergone a qualitative transformation, bringing itself into existence from pre-linguistic simian ancestry. We have a universe to win. Of course, by "we," I mean all of us, not a Draka elite.
      Paul.

      Delete
    10. Kaor, Paul!

      I can agree with SOME Of your comments here. And I am uneasy about the future of the US. John Hord's analysis of how civilizations rise and fall fits all too well the pattern we are seeing in the US and the West. Poul Anderson has argued that the constitutional changes of the early 1800s (such as direct election of US senators) and the rise of the bureaucratic state has caused a breakdown in American institutions. And according to Hord's analysis the US is nearing the end of the period in which it might be possible to repair that breakdown. If not, well, Kipling's lines about the gods of the copybook headings comes to mind!

      If the US falls, I strongly suspect that means the rest of Western civilization will also fall, because of how closely tied it is to America.

      And I absolutely agree with you on how we have a universe to win, settle, explore!

      Sean

      Delete
    11. Correction: I meant constitutional changes of the early 1900s, NOT 1800s. Drat!

      Sean

      Delete