Grading the ascent

Many writers insist that when they are writing they write for themselves, they don’t think about the reader. A noble sentiment, even a necessary one, but is it true? Even Emily Dickinson wanted to be read. Do we not all, when we are writing, have in mind if not our ideal reader then our ideal writer, the writer who drives us forward, the writer whose audience we would like to share, the writer – if we dare admit it – we would most like to impress?

It is useful to acknowledge the truth of this, because it opens a window on to the summit of our ambition. Ambition is often seen as a dirty word, but for me it is a powerful word as well as an honest one, an abstraction that is physically revealed in the very act of writing.

How far do we want to climb? I’m not talking about a universal standard, a clearly measurable distance. It is a matter of the kind of terrain we wish to traverse.

Nina Allan

Self-fulfilling mythology

It is not chaos, but our fear and visceral disgust toward the idea of chaos undermining civilization—often stemming from a lack of familiarity with what we fear—that drives us to build prisons, wage wars, and develop weapons that are the embodiment of all-consuming fire. Because we do not conceptualize the earth and its natural cycles as sacred, we disregard treaties made with the Indigenous peoples whose lands we have colonized and arrest those who designate themselves “water protectors.” Peterson’s philosophy, while it may inspire motivation at the individual level, is a deadly engine of status quo maintenance and self-justification at the cultural level. It is an ideology that denies it is ideology, hissing insults and flinging lawsuits at those who challenge its god-like powers of complacency.

Emily Pothast.

Science fiction, science fact, and all that's in between …