12/08/2006

Every now and then, someone comes up with a point of view on some current topic - something so clearly and concisely true - that it offers itself up as the kind of conversational gambit that, in the mind at least, can easily be imagined creating one of those surprised and speechless breaks in a flow of heated conversation relating to that topic.

The topic: Iraq and the Bush Administration. There's an interview with James Morrow - one of the great satirists, and author of erudite and excoriating novels such as Towing Jehovah (about a tug delivering the fallen body of God, all one and a half kilometres of him, from the Equator where he landed to the North Pole before he gets stinky) - in the new Locus, and if you go here you can read an excerpt from that interview, in which he says:

For me, the great irony of our time is that even as Bush is denouncing Darwin, condemning stem-cell research as blasphemy, and encouraging what he calls 'faith-based initiatives,' his administration is hoping against hope that something resembling a rational, secular, post-Enlightenment republic will emerge in Iraq. It's a towering irony.

And that nails it, really.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A cynic might think that Bush actually wants a fundamentalist Islamic state in Iraq... After all, without an enemy what use is the US's Old-Testament-style us-vs-them foreign policy?

Except... then they wouldn't get the oil. Which is more important? God or oil? Uhm... God... Oil... Oil... God... No, oil...

Tim Akers said...

That really is a pretty good quote. I think the other great irony of the war is that, in an attempt to distance themselves from the "Blood for Oil" accusations, the US failed to protect the country's oil infrastructure. No infrastructure = no significant economy, no economy = weak central government. All that leads to street level politics. You can't build a rational, secular state when the church is the only one providing electricity and security.

Anonymous said...

Some light at the end of the tunnel (let's hope it's not a train) is the surprising popularity of Dawkins' book The God Delusion in the land of the televangelist.

gary gibson said...

I'm on Dawkin's side too, although I'd argue as well that there's a distinct desire within our fundamental human nature for the transcendental. This crops up in sf too - particularly in Clarke, and most of the 'singularity' fiction out there, with its distinctly millennial bent.

On the subject of Iraq, a book called 'Imperial Life in the Emerald City' looks quite interesting - I saw the author interviewed on that US spoof news programme whose name I keep forgetting. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about the 24 year old commissioned to rebuild the Iraqi stock exchange, despite having no background in finance and having previously driven an ice cream van.