There are so many things to worry about, if you’re so inclined. I started watching Midnight Sun and was a bit fascinated with Lapland’s landscape, seeing as how it’s utterly different to where I live. So, I googled and found this. Mining is threatening to eat up northen Europe’s last wilderness. Oh. And it seems that Australian mining companies are heavily involved in mining exploration of the area. OH!
I checked out New Matilda and saw this article by John Pilger. Apparently, America is gearing up big-time for a possible war with China, maybe a nuclear war. Oh. So, that’s why so many US Marines are now stationed in Darwin, and why a Chinese company has a 99 year lease on the port in Darwin. Australia is probably hedging its bets, a bit each way, in order to keep in good with our biggest trading partner (China) and our [supposed] military protector (USA). Oy Vey.
And, the huge Adani coal mine has got the green light to go ahead in Queensland: “The mine will consist of six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, and will supply Indian power plants with enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people. The controversial project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed of on land.” ABC
The Australian government looks set to provide a $1 billion loan to Adani for a railway line to service the new mining operation. Of course it will, even though the project will be an environmental disaster. Many banks, both local and international, have refused to fund the project because it poses such a risk to the Great Barrier Reef, but the government is so desperate to get Queensland voters onside for the upcoming state elections, that they’d probably sell their grandmothers if they thought it would gain them a seat or two. *sigh*
I’ve been thinking a lot about hyperreality, and wondering whether we really are living in a post-reality world these days. It seems that it might be an actual thing for many people, but I don’t think I’m quite as sucked into the vortex. It seems to me that some people are treating Donald Trump’s election as a “reality show” that they’re part of, where there’s lying and chicanery and demagoguery, but no actual harm will come to them because “Trump” is somehow “virtual” and not actually “real”. I think that maybe some people invest so much of their time and emotion in social media, and the internet in general, that it’s just part of their actual life, and they don’t (or can’t) separate the “real” from the virtual: they really do exist in a hybrid world that isn’t “real life”. I’m surprised at the reactions I get when I suggest that people lock their smart phone away for a week and don’t go near it. They can’t imagine doing it, and feel a sense of panic at the idea of being “cut off from the world”.
I’m also thinking about the supposed “post-truth” era we live in now. Political double-speak and weasel words weren’t enough; now we live in an era where lies are the new black and there are no such things as “facts”. I find this bizarre and scary. I don’t think we should let people bamboozle us with words, which is what they’re trying to do.
And as for people who insist on their right to express their opinion, I often have “discussions” on this very topic. It usually goes something like this: Yes, but personal opinion is based on belief, and people believe in all sorts of things that aren’t real or true. Point me to the facts that corroborate your beliefs; show me the evidence to back up the validity of your opinion. I accept that there is no universal truth, but there are discoverable facts and there is testable evidence. You can believe whatever you want, and you can hold whatever opinion you choose, but unless you can argue for your opinion and demonstrate that it’s based on verifiable facts, then I’m not obligated to take your beliefs seriously, and I’m not obliged to listen to you. Oh, yes. I can be very charming when I want to be.
I didn’t actually intend to write any of this. I was going to post about a film I watched the other day, Lila Says. I did like it, but it was jam-packed with stereotypical tropes and it was kind of voyeuristic and I felt a bit weird watching it. Also, I was going to write about a book I’ve just finished reading, A Gentleman in Moscow, which I absolutely adore. The narrative is charming, highly allusive, slightly satirical, poignant, elegantly written, historically accurate, and gives a big nod to literature by the Russian Greats. There’s also a fantasy element to the narrative that makes it resemble a fairytale at times, but the philosophical underpinnings of the book are profound. The images conjured in my mind reminded me of The Grand Budapest Hotel, with its interplay of light and dark, and its combination of humour and seriousness. A Gentleman is just a very clever and wonderful novel that gives us memorable characters and exposes us to a slice of history seen from a White Russian’s point of view. The chaos and turmoil of the Russian Revolution and the resultant civil war, and the cruel and deadly inanities of the Soviet regime are glimpsed through the eyes of the scion of a well-connected Russian aristocratic family, but mostly we get to see the resilience and courage of a man who once had all the freedom money and privilege could buy, but who now must employ his wit and imagination in order to survive the ordeal of incarceration in the Metropol hotel. Count Alexander Rostov – Member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – always knows the right thing to do and say in any situation. He is educated, cultured, sophisticated, and knows wine. He is good with children, horses, dogs, and women; he can shoot straight and waltz divinely, and he refuses to concede to the Bolshevik rabble who stole his life and sentenced him to lonely exile in his own country. For those familiar with Russian history and literature, this is sure to be an absolute delight of a novel: it’s beautifully written and cleverly crafted and I think it’s my favourite read of the year.0