Friday, April 6, 2012

China Miéville's real dystopian London

Wow. Via BoingBoing, just found the astonishing illustrated essay, "London's Overthrow", by sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk novelist China Miéville. It's a defense of old unplanned urban spaces, a Victorian rant against proto-Victorian inequality. With rich selections of language: "sado-monetarism"; "Austerity Games"; "Total Policing"; "industrial blarings like the mating calls of old factories";  "notorious risk assessment paperwork in deciding to allow – or not to allow – musical events"; "In 1998, Tony Blair ushered into being ASBOs, Antisocial Behaviour Orders. Sharp laws, the better for society, like Cronus, like a traumatised hamster, to eat its children."; "Catastrophe generates the beasts it needs. In London, in the UK, the term ’feral youth’ is absolutely routine"; "hip decay tourism"; "neoliberalism and its banalisation of space"; "The banlieuefication of London"; "fake public spaces"; "The question is whether these new glass boxes of large size can, over time, submit, surrender, become part of the city."; "You ascend an unlit stairwell, very slowly, waiting for the shout, but no one tells you you’re not allowed." ... Amazing stuff.

We need more poetry like this in defense against chrome-plated panoptical dystopia. Manifestos that talk only ideology and policy just don't work by themselves.

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