Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Way Too Interesting...

Apparently "may you live in interesting times" is not actually a Chinese curse. According to this source it comes from a 1950 science fiction story. That's fine, because at times I feel like I'm living in an increasingly science fictional world, one in which there are way too many "Blade Runner" references. As an example, take this news report from China:
China's water crisis -- from severe shortages to heavy pollution -- is the worst in the world and requires urgent action, a top government official says.

China was "facing a water crisis more severe and urgent than any other country in the world," Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing told a conference in Beijing on developing China's urban water supply...

..."We've got to solve the problem before it is too late," warned Qiu, according to the China Daily.

China's water supply is too small for its huge population of 1.3 billion people.

Its per capita water availability is about a quarter of the world average and it is expected to get worse, partly due to falling groundwater tables, the report said.

In addition, among China's seven major rivers, five are seriously polluted.

Waste was also a major problem, as more than 20 percent of the water supply in China's cities are leaked out from the water pipe networks, Qian Yi, a professor of environmental engineering from Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was quoted as saying.

"Shortsightedness in economic development accompanied with environmental destruction is still widespread in China," Qian said.
Well, if I'm living in a science fiction story, there are other genres competing for our national narrative. "Erotic" fiction, for one. From Lynne Cheney's Sapphic Western "Sisters" (go here for a tasty sample) to Scooter Libby's "The Apprentice," which features incest, necrophilia and bestiality, the literary stylings of the Right raise some interesting questions about their attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Like, why don't their heads start exploding already? I mean, this is the Administration that let a gay male hooker masquerade as a reporter and attend White House press briefings while using the shibboleth of gay marriage to whip its fundamentalist base into a frenzy. I can't decide if it's the ability to live with massive cognitive dissonance or merely hypocrisy on a grand and blatant scale.

Digby has a post up on the systemic use of sodomy in the "abuse" of detainees in American custody. Though I somehow doubt that anal penetration made the list of "coercive interrogation techniques" sought by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and other members of the Administration, the strain of sexual perversity that runs through accounts of prisoner abuse stands out, and it's far too widespread to be passed off as an aberration, the work of a few, low-ranking "bad apples."

I don't know if this is about unresolved sexual conflicts, cold-hearted cruelty or, as Digby speculates, the unleashing of some universal, dark force from the human Id in the service of neocon imperial dreams - some combination thereof, most probably. But I also think it's about a confusion of narrative and narrative's relation to reality.

Life, in other words, really isn't bad genre fiction, as much as the Administration's pulp novelists would like it to be...

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