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I Told You So

One of the reasons I like Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels is he so often confirms my worst expectations of humanity. Take his latest novel, New York 2140, for example:

‘It was that ocean heat that caused the First Pulse, and later brought on the second one. People sometimes say no one saw it coming, but no, wrong: they did […] Really. That’s how much those knuckleheads cared about their grandchildren, and that’s how much they believed their scientists . . .” (, p. 140).

But enough with outrage and anger - these emotions rarely work on politicians and other people of influence. And what about the rest of us? Are we really such knuckleheads? Do we really deserve anger and outrage too?

According to Kim Stanley Robinson (or his first person persona), ‘evolution has kindly given you a strategically located mental blind spot, an inability to imagine future disasters in any way you can really believe, so that you can continue to function, as pointless as that may be. It is an aporia, as the Greeks and intellectuals amongst us would say, a “not seeing”. So, nice. Useful. Except when disastrously bad’ (ibid).

So, to be generous, let’s go along with his ‘aporia’ diagnosis: Malcolm’s aporia. Tony’s aporia. Johnny’s aporia. The voting majority’s aporia . . . my aporia . . . your aporia ??

Somehow all this has a hollow feeling. Aporia is not quite the same as stupidity, careerism and greed.

That’s more like it. A bit more outrage and anger to be sure.

But still, aporia is so banal in the face of the climate change, over-consumption and over-population we are witnessing that it might well be on the money. Go Kim Stanley Robinson.

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