Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Steven Erikson 2017 GoH talk

"Steven Erikson," the pen name of Steve Lundin (b. 1959), a Canadian fantasy novelist best known for his massive Malazan series, was a Guest of Honor at the 2017 International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in March 2017.  His Guest of Honor speech, "Standing Fast," appears in the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, volume 29 no. 1 (2018), which I just read.  Much of it concerns his own life, but there are some choice paragraphs about modern society that I think are worth sharing. So here are a few excerpts.  The full talk is online here

If you want the rug pulled out from under your entire life, you couldn't do much better than that.

I imagine many of you are feeling something similar, you who are Americans, that is. A country founded on the hard-won principles of democracy, just representation, and the freedom and opportunity to hold your leaders accountable, and in a seeming flash it all ceases to function the way it's supposed to. Elections are subverted, vast segments of the population are cynically and systematically excluded from the right to vote, and every institution devised by the country's forefathers to prevent the rise of tyranny has abrogated its responsibility to protect you and your country.

... for a nation to self-destruct, it must first destroy its artists, its historians, its scholars. It must reduce them to irrelevance. It must subvert language and destroy faith. It must blind its painters, cut out the tongues of its poets, and break the hands of its sculptors. The path from argument to violence, I suggest, must be cleared of all obstacles, all impediments, any and every appeal to reason, or humanity.

I don't know about all of you here today. I don't know if you're feeling anywhere near as irrelevant as I do. Reasoned thought, cogent argument, has given way to something else, something far more visceral. Belief systems are at the heart of this feeding frenzy of invective, and even recourse has lost its value, as each side talks past the other, and all that held us together seems to be unraveling before our eyes. Without the ability to communicate, what else is left to us?

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