Discussion Board

Topic: Little Death

From: Bruce Ramos
Location: Stockton, Ca.
Date: 08/15/2008

Hello Mr. Bear,

I loved reading Psychlone and Eon, both of which I have read several times. In Eon, you mention there were two "deaths" that Earth suffered. The "Little Death" was the first. Given the current state of world affairs, do you think we may be headed for the "Little Death" as we speak? With the added tensions over the Georgian/Russian conflict, plus Russia's threat this very morning to use nuclear weapons against Poland for asking our assistanct to install an anti missle defense system in their country, I personally believe we are looking at the begining of the "Little Death" as you mention in Eon. What are your thoughts Mr. Bear? Bruce

Re: Little Death

From: Greg Bear
Date: 08/15/2008

What's happening now is more like the bad old days of the Soviet Union after World War 2, though less likely, I think, to end in nuclear confrontation. Back then, we let go of Czechoslovakia and Hungary--because we could not deny they were in the USSR's strongest sphere of military influence. The problem with the current situation in Georgia is that Saakashvili fired the first shot--and we now have no moral standing whatosever to request that Russia not engage in regime change any time it suits them. The calculations of realpolitik are not very subtle, but by putting all our strategic eggs in the Middle East, we are now powerless before old adversaries feeling renewed pangs for empire. There's one word for this squandering of our international standing, but it must be said three times: stupid, stupid, stupid.

Re: Little Death

From: Roald Laurenson
Location: La Jolla
Date: 08/15/2008

Bruce, that answer from Greg is very eloquent and informed, must feel here.

As someone who stood once on land's end of an Arctic island's interminable summer evening looking out into mild storms once long ago, while an alert level across the world decided whether it would retreat from the stage before the curtains fell in a way you worry, I would like say it seems very much less likely there will be now such a conflagration.

We were doing things to influence against it then, which a young man might have a very tiny role indeed in, that led to the SALT and other agreements - making information so both sides knew what each had, was the very human way of doing this. This information let generals know enough so they didn't allow their protectiveness get unduly worried about what the other might be able to do and react premptively, all as Greg has outlined so well in Moving Mars.

What I think changes the balance more than anything since that advance is the later knowledge that there would be a nuclear winter. That let everyone know there was no way to win such a conflict in the large.

Can other things happen? Of course. It does seem they would be likely to be much more focused -- much smaller. Greg reminds that there are always the deep aspects of our potential that make this possibility-- a kind of thing you see in understanding nature so that it's not just pretty trees and so forth. Though nature has its unbelievably generative and also stabilizing sides just as well: the two combined if the work of Walter Fontana is as true as it has been honored.

We people get our choices. My own feeling of how to work on this is to improve the possibilities for accomplishment so that very many more, and in many more places, can feel proper respect, in and for their own lives. That takes so many pressures off, wherever it happens.

Well, such topics. I'm somehow thinking of a joke a Cuban told me once, to answer a question I asked him about machismo in Cuba and other Latin cultures. I hope it doesn't sound a rude throwaway on this conversation, because it shows actually a very civilized side, especially with the gleeful smile that accompanied the telling.

Two men approach on a narrow sidewalk, beside an alley full of what you don't want to step in. They stop, and the first says, slowly, "I don't get out of the way for bastards." The second nods, steps off the curb, gives a sweeping bow to motion the other past, and says, "Oh, but I do...!"

Greg's been willing to entertain the worst, and give it all the reasoning to be believable. In doing that, he's taking fiction's job, one of them, and giving us a chance to experience what a bad choice would be like, and very importantly, how we might make one.

Then as your note expresses well, we become much more aware how we don't want that -- feel how we don't want it. That opens our doorways, to better use what we know, and what we might come to know, I think.

Best regards,

Re: Little Death

From: Jim Duron
Location: Prairieville La
Date: 08/15/2008

Greg, I agree about eggs being in the Middle East Basket. I think this administration is very single minded and lacks the ability to focus on multiple or non-predictable threats.

Russia/China had to be tickled Red when the USA started the Middle East Campaign. Most of the Middle East Countries will hang themselves given enough rope but Russia and China are real threats with real Nuclear Weapons. Russia is thriving in commodities and may be looking for new resources. Now we will see what the EU is or isn't capable of doing as far as economic pressure. Right now we are a Paper Tiger to Russia/China with the Iraqi/Iranian burden and dependency on China's trade/National dept. Sad, Sad, Sad!

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