I tweeted this the other day at finding Greg Foyster's brilliant and insightful essay at the Eureka Street website. I read it and said THIS IS IT! This is the most important literary analysis of ''cli-fi'' (also known by its longer genre name as ''climate fiction'') that has ever been put out into the ethersphere which we all breathe in now worldwide. This was my tweet at my @do_you_cli_fi_ Twitter feed:
The most important ''cli-fi'' explainer you will ever read, by Greg Foyster Australia via Eureka Street site https://northwardho.blogspot.tw/…/how-artists-can-rewrite-c…
''How artists/novelists/film directors can rewrite the climate story.''
I tracked Greg down in Australia via a couple of Google searches to find his email address and his own Twitter ID, and I found him very quickly and sent him a note. I asked if he had time for a short email interview to talk about and expland on his very good and brilliant essay about ''How artists/novelists/film directors can rewrite the climate story.''
Greg was actually writing about the arts in general and the visual arts specifically in his essay, but I found the things he was saying fit perfectly with what the global cli-fi community has been trying to say for the past few years in opeds in the New York Times, The Guardian in the UK, Reuters and the Associated Press wire services and literary hundreds of other links online at The Cli-Fi Report.
Here is Greg's Eureka Street essay linked here:
So I took a few of the segments from his piece and asked him a few questions around those excerpts. Greg was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule in Australia and answer my questions the very same day!
HERE IS OUR INTERVIEW on 11/08:
NOTE: Greg Foyster is a Melbourne writer and the author of the book Changing Gears.
1. DAN BLOOM TO GREG: YOU WROTE IN YOUR ARTICLE: ''Last month, an interesting paper by Dr Samuel Alexander at Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute argued ...— that far from being a petty distraction from the world's problems, aesthetics are a crucial part of the solution. Cultural change may in fact precede macroeconomic or political change, and art is our best tool to reimagine culture.''
WHO IS DR ALEXANDER and what is his background for those who don't know him?
and then earned a Masters of Law at Victoria University in
Wellington. His heart was never in the profession, but after so
many years of study he wanted to put his skills into practice, so
he took a job with a small firm in Christchurch. After a year
there, he decided to exchange his scheduled pay-rise for a day
off work. ‘That’s what I say is kind of my first explicit act of
downshifting – choosing time over money.’
He used his day off to prepare a proposal for a doctoral
thesis, and in the middle of 2006 he moved to Melbourne for
postgraduate study. During his research he stumbled across
Walden by Henry David Thoreau, possibly the most influential
text ever written about simple living. Samuel had read the book
as an 18 year old, but had failed to grasp the life-changing lessons
of the dense 19th-century text. This time Thoreau’s words set off
tremors of insight, triggering a genuine shift in consciousness.
In his introduction to a collection of essays, Samuel refers to
himself as ‘one of Thoreau’s disciples’.
the spring of 2008 he decided to build a rustic hut of his own in
the backyard of a Melbourne share-house. Samuel’s new home
was about 2 metres wide and 3.5 metres long, taking only three
weekends to build and costing a total of $573. The bulk of the
shed was made from reused or recycled materials, including a
wooden bed frame, a pile of abandoned wood found by the
railway tracks and some old blankets. As a finishing touch, the
words ‘Ceci n’est pas une cabane’ were painted above the door,
meaning, ‘This is not a shed.’ Like Thoreau, Samuel stayed
in his simple abode for about two years, and the experience
profoundly changed his worldview."
2. YOU WROTE: " It begins with the premise that the human condition is inherently aesthetic because reality is experienced through the lens of language. We interpret everything through concepts and vocabularies, organised into narratives — the stories we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it. 'Cultures are, and have always been, founded upon stories, myths, and narratives that are always evolving, defining the contours of civilisation,' writes Alexander in the opening essay of Art Against Empire.''
3. YOU WROTE: "Creating a new grand narrative of a more sustainable society is an act of imagination. This cultural change will foster systemic and structural changes in other realms of human endeavour. Alexander quotes the critical theorist Herbert Marcuse, who wrote 'art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and drives of the men and women who could change the world'. Or, as the novellist J. G. Ballard wrote, 'many of the great cultural shifts that prepare the way for political change are largely aesthetic'.
4. YOU WROTE: ''But to change the future, we must imagine it into existence. What we need, then, is inspiring visions of a better tomorrow. For this art isn't a trivial indulgence, it's vital work. That's why ....we should encourage novelists and screenwriters to engage with the social and environmental issues, creating new stories for us all.''