Monday, October 29, 2007

I finally listened to the Whitley Strieber-Daniel Pinchbeck showdown. There was no clear "winner"; Pinchbeck, while he made an important point and was justified in probing Strieber's bleak outlook, was unnecessarily shrill and chiding. Worse, Strieber forfeited an opportunity to engage in what could have been a productive dialogue by succumbing to what amounted to paralysis. I got the feeling Pinchbeck was seeking -- however testily -- for an articulate response.

For better or worse, I feel a degree of commonality with both parties. I enthusiastically embrace the kinds of nonpolluting technologies cited by Pinchbeck, but at the same time I understand Strieber's sense of caution.

"Dieback" is a scary word. None of us really want the human race's numbers radically diminished by callous environmental forces -- even though we know perfectly well that there are far too many of us. The explorer in me clings to Pinchbeck's Arthur C. Clarke-ian vision of a reformatted collective unconscious geared toward sustainability and long-term thought. There's certainly nothing wrong with hoping, provided one's hopes are couched in reason.

But, given that we've already experienced more than a mere foretaste of what an ecologically and climatologically devastated world could be like, it's difficult to avoid being at least a little seduced by statistics. The world simply feels like it could be on the cusp of destruction, whereas Pinchbeck's model requires a stubbornness less amenable to gut-level thinking. (Just witness the undiminished appeal of "end times" prophets and their effective sorcery over the masses.)

Is Pinchbeck correct about the negative role of Strieber's alleged "visitors"? That could -- and perhaps should -- have been a show in itself.


AJ Gulyas said...

Good summation, Mac. I kind of wonder if the show was edited in any way, because I agree with your comment about Pinchbeck's tone. I got the impression that maybe there was something leading up to those exchanges that we didn't hear.

Personally, I think the truth is going to be somewhere in the middle between Pinchbeck's and Strieber's predictions

Mac said...

Thanks for the MP3, AJ! :-)