"The only joy in the world is to begin...." Cesare Pavese

"The only joy in the world is to begin...." Cesare Pavese

Sunday, April 7, 2019

State of Fear by Michael Crichton

State of Fear
Michael Crichton

State of Fear has many typical Michael Crichton elements: Time restriction. Characters out of their depth. Conspiracy. High-level incompetence.

In it, Crichton presents us with NGO climate experts preparing terrorist attacks using high-technology to show that dangerous climate change is occurring today, not 100 years from now.

Motivation? Anxious for contributions from those crazed by such attacks, the baddies dream of donation plenty.

Crichton is particularly strong on bourgeois liberals attracted to environmental catastrophism:

....Ted Bradley looked out the window. "Isn't it beautiful?" he said. "Truly unspoiled paradise. This is what is vanishing in our world."

Seated opposite him, Kenner said nothing. He, too, was staring out the window.

"Don't you think the problem," Bradley said, "is that we have lost contact with nature?"

"No," Kenner said. "I think the problem is I don't see many roads."

"Don't you think," Bradley said, "that's because it's the white man, not the natives, who wants to conquer nature, to beat it into submission?"

"No, I don't think that."

"I do," Bradley said. "I find that people who live closer to the earth, in their villages, surrounded by nature, that those people have a natural ecological sense and a feeling for the fitness of it all."

"Spent a lot of time in villages, Ted?" Kenner said.

"As a matter of fact, yes. I shot a picture in Zimbabwe and another one in Botswana. I know what I am talking about."

"Uh-huh. You stayed in villages all that time?"

"No, I stayed in hotels. I had to, for insurance. But I had a lot of experiences in villages. There is no question that village life is best and ecologically soundest. Frankly, I think everyone in the world should live that way. And certainly, we should not be encouraging village people to industrialize. That's the problem."

"I see. So you want to stay in a hotel, but you want everybody else to stay in a village."

"No, you're not hearing—"

"Where do you live now, Ted?" Kenner said.

"Sherman Oaks."

"Is that a village?"

"No. Well, it's a sort of a village, I suppose you could say…But I have to be in LA for my work," Bradley said. "I don't have a choice."

"Ted, have you ever stayed in a Third-World village? Even for one night?"

Bradley shifted in his seat. "As I said before, I spent a lot of time in the villages while we were shooting. I know what I'm talking about."

"If village life is so great, why do you think people want to leave?"

"They shouldn't leave. That's my point."

"You know better than they do?" Kenner said.

Bradley paused, then blurted: "Well, frankly, if you must know, yes. I do know better. I have the benefit of education and broader experience. And I know firsthand the dangers of industrial society and how it is making the whole world sick. So, yes, I think I do know what is best for them. Certainly I know what is ecologically best for the planet."

"I have a problem," Kenner said, "with other people deciding what is in my best interest when they don't live where I do, when they don't know the local conditions or the local problems I face, when they don't even live in the same country as I do, but they still feel—in some far-off Western city, at a desk in some glass skyscraper in Brussels or Berlin or New York—they still feel that they know the solution to all my problems and how I should live my life. I have a problem with that."

"What's your problem?" Bradley said. "I mean, look: You don't seriously believe everybody on the planet should do whatever they want, do you? That would be terrible. These people need help and guidance."

"And you're the one to give it? To 'these people?'"

"Okay, so it's not politically correct to talk this way. But do you want all these people to have the same horrific, wasteful living standard that we do in America and, to a lesser extent, Europe?"

"I don't see you giving it up."

"No," Ted said, "but I conserve where I can. I recycle. I support a carbon-neutral lifestyle. The point is, if all these other people industrialize, it will add a terrible, terrible burden of global pollution to the planet. That should not happen."

"I got mine, but you can't have yours?"

"It's a question of facing realities," Bradley said.

"Your realities. Not theirs."


7April 2019

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