The 1998 launch speech: A genuinely degraded climate doesn't mean that the sky is falling. It doesn't mean armageddon, or utter annihilation, or anything half so romantic. It means a conclusive end to our Belle Epoque, though. Basically, it means smoke and heat and damp, clinging filth. All our cultural circumstances will become different then. Everything we know and cherish about life will suddenly become antiquated. It will belong to a vanished, beautiful, innocent era. That will be our Belle Epoque's version of the Great War, in other words. So why is this an aesthetic issue? Well, because it's a severe breach of taste to bake and sweat half to death in your own trash, that's why. To boil and roast the entire physical world, just so you can pursue your cheap addiction to carbon dioxide.... What a cramp of our style. It's all very foul and aesthetically regrettable.
With business hopeless and government stymied, we are basically left with cultural Activism. The tools at hand are art, design, engineering, and basic science: human artifice, cultural and technical innovation. Granted, these may not seem particularly likely sources of a serious and successful effort to save the world. This is largely because, during the twentieth century, government and industry swelled to such tremendous high-modernist proportions that these other enterprises exist mostly in shrunken subcultural niches.
However, this doesn't have to be the case. With government crippled and industry brain-dead to any conceivable moral appeal, the future of decentered, autonomous cultural networks looks very bright. There has never been an opportunity to spread new ideas and new techniques with the alacrity that they can spread now. Human energy must turn in some direction. People will run from frustration and toward any apparent source of daylight. As the planet's levees continue to break, people will run much faster and with considerably more conviction.
A page of principles.
Or, as Chris Locke puts it : ...(did I say how hot it was? - Bruce Sterling thinks it's because the world is coming to an end and you should therefore rush out and get a degree in Industrial Design. did I read that correctly?)...
Archive of emailed notes
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