Tabula Rasa

When I moved my website from statically generated content to Squarespace five years ago, I went through my collected blog posts and republished all of the thoughts and essays I wanted to maintain. I find myself in a similar situation now, but with much less motivation to do a migration. It's not that a migration would be onerous. Rather, I see instead an opportunity to expand on all my previous blog-based essays, and update them with my current thinking on those topics. I read some of those essays now and downright disagree with my past self.

To reflect on how much reading I've done in the last three years is startling.

First, there's the evolution of my political thinking that began with The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, proceeded through The Closing of the American Mind, and most recently explored Why Liberalism Failed and endured The Demon in Democracy. All of these books have their issues, but they all point at a fundamental problem deep within the foundational elements of our culture. This problem cannot be wished away. Nor can we presume that committing ourselves to our cultural principles will eventually correct them.

Even though I disagree with a number of specific points in The Closing of the American Mind, this book more than anything else I've ever read excited me to go read the Classics, starting with Plato and working forward through time. I spent over a year dedicated to that task almost exclusively (this is why you didn't see me posting much about speculative fiction on my old blog in 2017 and 2018).

This year, I hope to contribute a scholarly work to the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts for the first time. The theme of the 2020 conference is "Ecology and the Anthropocene", and I've been reading a slough of ecologically-oriented SF to prepare (although I'm currently taking a break from that reading list in order to read Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series, which is phenomenal so far).

I'll be exploring all of these topics in more detail in future posts. Suffice it to say, if anything from the past returns, it will be through the lens of my current thoughts.