Ken Macleod Fiction Recipe
Please tell us what the zoological education gave you. What role do you think it played in shaping your worldview?
Reading Darwin and studying the theory of evolution have changed my view of things. I did not understand this theory before. Actually, I grew up in a family that was hostile to the theory of evolution. My parents were religious, and they belonged to a church that supported creationism, at least very literally understood the book of Genesis in the Bible. And this was a kind of revelation – to read Darwin himself. In addition, from there I learned a lot about scientific work, about what hard work it is and how much you need to know the subject. Subsequently, when I began to do some independent research, working on my dissertation, it was a great pleasure for me. I studied something extremely incomprehensible – my subject of study was the calcaneus of a fossil sea crocodile. And I found, in a dusty box at the university museum, perhaps the only existing specimen of the calcaneus of this very crocodile, which was not completely flattened. So this is my answer to the question. Of course, all this had a great influence on me, and this is reflected in my books.
That is, reading Darwin was a kind of protest for you?
No, this was not, in fact, a protest. It was rather a comprehension of the world. Yes, because of this, I had some problems with my family, there were disputes with my parents – I wrote about this recently in my blog, who wants to know the details or comment – please .
How do you think the Roman philosopher Lucius Seneca is relevant today?
I have not read much to Seneca. I read more of the other Stoics, especially Marcus Aurelius: his “Reflections” is a book that is very inspiring and thought-provoking. But I’m reminded here – since we are talking about relevance today – two jokes. One of them is a common saying: “How many Stoics do you need to replace a light bulb?” The answer is: “A wise person is not afraid of the dark.”
And another statement is from an essay by one of the great English writers Thomas Babington Macauley, dedicated to Francis Bacon. Bacon was an English empiricist philosopher who, in contrast to ancient philosophers and medieval scholastics, argued that the sole purpose of philosophy was to improve human life. Macaulay fully supports Bacon in this and says:
“One acre of land in Middlesex is better than an entire principality in Utopia. One small good is better than the great prospects of the impossible. A stoic wise man would certainly be a more magnificent subject than a steam engine. But steam engines exist now. ”
And I think so too.
I like your early work more, and I think I am a little versed in utopias (in fact, for me, reading your books began with a dedication in Ian Banks’s novel “Use of Weapons”). And I was always puzzled by the fact that every time those citizens from your anarchist paradise come together, they stop doing anything and start discussing Marxism and pour mud on those who do not accept the “Truth”. It reminded me very much of my Soviet childhood. Do you not be confused by the idea that even in the future the left will not be able to overcome its terrible habit of thinking and speaking with slogans?
Yes, a challenge question. Honestly, I do not quite understand what exactly in this work this criticism is attributed to. The only book that may be suitable here is The Cassini Division, where people really argue a lot about philosophy and what they call “the true knowledge”. But there are two points. Firstly, this is not “my anarchist paradise”, it is a kind of ironic utopia. And, besides, the point is not that they argue about philosophy, etc., but that they are faced with very big questions. The fact that these characters, in particular the narrator, consider their beliefs “genuine knowledge”, is also a bit of irony. This, if you will, is a parody of the way we think.
As for the left, then
the habit of thinking and speaking with slogans is a property of any more or less consistent political worldview,
be it left, right, liberals or anyone else. And in my own experience of communicating with the left, there was a lot of this, but the left discourse can not be reduced to this in any way – at least if we talk about its most sensible representatives. Of course, I absolutely do not know what the left is in Russia. But as far as I can tell, this, again, depends on what is called “left.”
And then – what do you call “left”, and how would you describe your position? In a nutshell – or slogans?
I have no special slogans. I think it’s quite appropriate to call me a left libertarian. Yes, I am mainly on the side of the working class and the interests of the masses when they are opposed, so to speak, by the interests of the ruling class.