Happy (belated) birthday, Kim Stanley Robinson! Is he the author of this podcast? Hilary says, in some ways, yes. Matt says, most certainly, no! You be the judge! Anyway, it's weird to have a podcast that people listen to and seem to enjoy...
This episode we talk a lot about art, making art, the experience of art, and the work (pun intended) of art. Language and communication seems to be a key theme in our discussion as well--between people, between humans and non-human persons (wolverine, Heather, and Click), and between homo sapiens and other non-homo sapiens humans (Heather and Click). We talk more about the dialectic between novelty and sameness, social organization and the place of the individual within the group in Shaman, and the patterns and diversity of experience available to pre-historic people.
These chapters depict the eight eight festival, Loon's meeting Elga, and a long winter in which one member of the Wolf pack dies. At the eight eight festival, the shamans have their corroboree, and we see that not only do these people have a very accurate calendar, they also, according to the song sung by Pippi, have a sense that the world is probably round, and very big. But the key thing is Thorn and Loon's journey into the cave to bid farewell to the year and to get immersed in painting and art. In what may be KSR's most extended depiction of the process of art-making, we get a discussion of representation and abstraction, naturalism and realism, and the ability humans have to communicate with each other across eons and to alarm themselves with what they make.
Along the way we also mention John Lanchester's review of Kindred, the book on Neanderthals by Rebecca Wragg Sykes, for the London Review of Books, and Matt reads a passage from James C. Scott's Against the Grain about the possible mass deskilling of early humans with the late Neolithic revolution. We also thank Shred Magazine and Sean Estelle @chitrans_plant and Daniel Aldana Cohen @aldatweets for a wonderful conversation last week about KSR's oeuvre. The full recorded conversation can be found on YouTube here.
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