Longplayer Assembly 2020

in a sense compatible, in a way that the virus could pass from

one

to the other,

and I think that the

music

, and if you connect it to

tell

me more, but where the moment of a present, when an incident, when an encounter could be determining so much about how your lives would be – would evolve , and I keep on thinking about this first moment , when the virus could have jumped the species line, whether it was bat or pangolin, and moved to the first human that encountered it, that kind of microscopic scale, you know, this micro-temporality in which it curse, becomes such a determining factor on the future, that makes me think that when we think about the future, we think about these huge expanses of time, this abstract canvas on which we can draw desires for peace, prosperity , equality and equity, but in fact every moment holds within it, every incident, every encounter holds within it so many potential futures and I think that that is something that’s so bizarre, a pangolin, a human, a bat or whatever happened there, at that very like first moment, that sort of big bang of this virus, could have gone in that way, you think about the, future, it’s that it’s a very material thought moment that is grounded in moments of encounter PRECIOUS: Yes, and also how these instances, these moments are happening all the time, right? And every once in a while, they make a big splash, and we’re living through this big splash And with the closure of borders, so March, April, with all these borders closed, people not moving, I was taking sort of walks in the countryside, and many more animals, hedgehogs, that I hadn’t seen, because we didn’t have so many cars running them over, and again that connectedness, how , as human beings, our activities have these impacts, not just to other human beings, be it a virus passing from one person to another, but also the habitats, food sources, and again, we are a piece in that connected network, so there’s the communities of other human beings but there is the more global connectedness of the ecosystem , and how it’s important to realise how our actions impact that ecosystem , the insects, the snakes, the – you know, we think that what happened was we interacted too

closely, we think it was the wet markets, of us having that close interaction with all these animals that would normally be maybe further apart, and not so close to us, and then it triggered this now pandemic that will probably be with us for quite some time EYAL: So I know, Precious, that you are an epidemiologist , and there is something – you know, this kind of, there is the obviously now epidemiology is on everybody’s mind, but I think a year ago, many people didn’t know even how to pronounce this term! PRECIOUS: Yes! EYAL: So all of a sudden, there is something really that I admired about the conception of health, and the conception of other forms of medicine, and also in relation to forensics, which is something that I am dealing with Because to my understanding, and you correct me, as the expert in the field, and it has a very interesting corollary with the way that my political imagination works, and the way also by kind of concept of the future, maybe, that thinks about health as something that is collective , that is relational, that is environmental , so in the way that sometimes kind of individual forensics or medical – medicine is practised , it is kind of seeing the body as a unit, something to fix within or not whereas I always thought that epidemiology is our relation to the built environment, the environment that we create as humans, the anthropocene, let’s say, this planet we have built ourselves , rather than inhabit, our relationship to each other, our relationship to ocean currents and weather in all sort of like things that are much bigger than a single individual, so epidemiology seems to turn kind of a way of mapping health as a collective and therefore as a political category, and of course when one thinks about politics, and one thinks about some of the bad ways in which liberalism was interpreted, as the rights of an individual , looking at an individual as the smallest unit of reference, rather than looking at collective rights, of people and population , the rights of the environment , the right of people with environment, so it this moment, relying on epidemiology in the expanded sense, as a kind of set of relations, and build a future that is much more integrated – and you mentioned it, when you described your walking through the English wilderness now, and I wonder if I have maybe too romantic a view of epidemiology, or if that resonates PRECIOUS: It does resonate, because it’s messy, it’s complex, right ? Because there are so many determinants, social, economic determinants of health And the aspects of what is the definition, it’s not just about disease, it’s about our well-being, it’s about mental wellness, it’s a much richer definition And so it does mean that we have to take in so much into consideration Which of course also makes it more complex to interpret, and so people want a reductionist approach, where if we can say – you know, if you’re exposed to a virus, you will get it, but it’s not necessarily the case Some people, as we know, will not get symptoms And if you have another condition, if you happen to have diabetes or hypertension, if you get COVID, it may be worse So as a society, do we then – what do we do in our actions to shield the people who

may be worse off? And I think in terms of how I imagine our society changing, it’s an opportunity for us to remember how what we do as individuals connects with what others do negative way, it could be in a positive way The other day, I opened my door, and it was really – it was in the middle of the lockdown, and there were – and someone had left – there was a a lot of of bread outside the door and it was warm (a loaf) , one of my neighbours must have baked it, I have expected, but it was just that gift of giving Why I’m using this example is that this is something that I have heard from others, the same story I have heard from others, of how they have felt the need to connect and reach out to others , and it makes them feel good as well to do that positive action And we need to remember that and move away from that extractive – where we somehow , we structure society so when we get something, that’s when we show better So it’s moving away from the extraction to actually sharing , and I like to think that post- COVID, we have the opportunity to become more of a sharing society, global society, where we know that whatever happens , be it in the most remote corner of the earth, if there are inequalities, if health is an issue there, we need to support to overcome those issues Because actually, when we don’t share, it eventually comes back to us anyway So the way we have lived our lives is crumbling around the edges, it has had to, we have had to change so much And that creates that opportunity, so instability I see as – in these moments of flux, there are opportunities to remake, to guide , to some element that works better for us as human beings EYAL: That’s really beautiful And I think that – let’s say I hope that that moment of crisis is not a moment where narrow expertise kind of becomes the single kind of – you know, sort of mode of addressing an issue I think that hearing you, Precious, it seems to me that we are at a moment where we understand that perhaps there is no even a post-COVID, perhaps there is kind of a life with COVID, or COVID -like viruses, perhaps the vulnerability and exposure and interconnectivity is going to make human life deal with that reality for a long time, even if there is a vaccine here And that the – a time of emergency is a time where people somehow become single issue, and address the question through one of its aspects, but an intersectional approach, that would say that we need to address that issue through the change of our environment other, the way we live, the way we organise the relation between us, and the countryside, between cities, the way in which we move through space, the way in which we consume, what we eat, how our relation to nature, to animals, is going to be rearticulated And it seems to me that only an intersectional approach, that kind of sees in this moment a possible future, through this vulnerability, a way in which we must reconfigure the

parameters of our cultural culture, the perhaps of our built environment, the parameters of our consumption habits, of our lives, of our digital culture, is what is important And conceive a world out of that crisis that is different, that is much more relational, much less extractive, like you say, but understands that there is no digital domain that is not physical PRECIOUS: Yes, yes EYAL: That the mental well-being is not disconnected from the physical well-being, and the economical one And also, all those issues that are to do with – all justice-related issues , human rights, civil rights, racial equality and equity, etc completely holistic manner, rather than say, OK, now we are all silent and we need to deal with one aspect of this pandemic, this pandemic is kind of like an opening into a future that is precisely conversations like that between strangers in disciplines and in life, that can open up or unlock the possible future PRECIOUS: Yes I agree with that, that really resonates with me, and I wonder, when you look at cities , for example, are we going to have more green spaces? Because actually, when we are outside, we can interact with our neighbours , and when we spend more time outside, when there’s pollution, we notice it, because we’ve slowed right down, and realised what it was like to breathe in clean air, for example, because there were not so many cars And that in turn has an impact on greenhouse emissions, etc So working together is really the only way we can tackle this We can’t create a vacuum where we just look at lists we have to tackle If we say, for example, we have to tackle COVID , and if someone has coronavirus symptoms, they should stay at home and not go to work, the questions that keep coming to me is: OK, so when we live in a gig economy, where if you don’t work, you don’t get any salary, how are you then going to pay your rent, or the food on your table? that means that person, who may be symptomatic, enable them to do the right thing for the rest of the community, so already , we have gone from health to connecting it to social security EYAL: Yes, universal basic income PRECIOUS: Exactly, and so I wonder whether, are we going to accelerate that trend towards universal basic income , and at the same time, with more automation , there are people who are possibly no longer in work. You know, what happens to them? So in as much as we are grappling with the virus, but the virus just – it seems to just, it’s as if we pressed the fast-forward button on things that were happening anyway So we have to deal with them in a more rapid – in a shorter timeframe EYAL: And it’s similar to, you know, your demand for more green spaces in cities, and I would argue that we have now, on the dry surface of the earth, one city I mean, we tend to think about cities as kind of dispersed geographically , but both sprawl and

interconnectivity, somehow made a certain kind of urban planetary system , a planetary city, with open spaces in between, some forests that are still left, some lakes or oceans, some desserts within – deserts within that, but we need to understand that if we do need, if our survival is based on our relation to what is unbuilt, what we used to call nature, what we imagine as this untouched area, which doesn’t exist any more, it’s kind of like parks, right? That the forest would be as big as it is, but still a park that is managed to a certain extent, we need to find a way to think about that relation, and to preserve it, because if we don’t, there is simply no outside to the social reality which we are And I think that the issue that you mentioned, that a complete transformation of our economy, our relation to work, to ask, what is work? And who – in what way contribution to culture, to conversation, if work is about maintaining the interaction between people, by being in connection , one creates value, and there has been a lot of discussion on the digital economy, how value is connected simply by clicking, by liking , by sending posts, etc, we increase somehow the collective intellect, that is now being siphoned and owned by a few corporations, a few mega rich individuals, but if we do think of it as the property of humanity, rather than of those particular companies or individuals, we understand that that is labour And labour, we need to be able to reward different kinds of labour, we need to be able to reward life, for its being, and the economy, the relationship between work and pay needs to be transformed, if we are to survive that particular viral crisis, and whatever other viral crises are coming immediately after, I suppose PRECIOUS: Yes, and how are the people who support – you know, the carers in the community, expected the nurses , when you look at how we compensate them, and yet the care, that connection to another human being, is one of the most important aspects that we need And its social value , in terms of dealing – and supporting people, encouraging mental wellness, reducing loneliness, is so important, and over the years we have , I guess, rejected that But I could go on, and I think actually we are coming over our time! EYAL: Yeah, great speaking to you Precious. I hope we continue PRECIOUS: I hope so too. All the best. Thank you EYAL: Good morning, Brian BRIAN: Hello, Eyal, how are you? EYAL: Very good BRIAN: Can you see and hear me OK? EYAL: It’s a Saturday morning. I hear you very well, yes It feels like we, you know , just spoken a few weeks ago, a few days ago actually strangers to each other, that we do know each other separately. Anyway, it’s nice to see you What’s that picture behind you, by the way? Is that the church of the Spilt Blood? The picture on the wall EYAL: This is actually – it’s a poster by a friend Sacha Brodsky, one of the Russian paper architects BRIAN: Oh yeah believe, took place

during the time of the Soviet Union, when architects like him that kind of withdrew from dissident architects, that somehow wanted to withdraw from what they conceive as – what my wife calls the total meltdown of the Soviet system, withdraw into kitchens, and were drawing fantasy architecture The idea for them was that architecture should not be part of the support of the state structure, and that there is another kind of more fantasy dimension to it that should never be built because the world as it was, and just about to end, you know , imagine the end of the Cold War, our imagination is not really seeing around corners , it’s kind of seeing continuity , and they just thought architecture had arrived to its end as a possibility of building, of making, of supporting economies and regimes, and to a certain extent , it’s a reminder for me, and again this kind of belongs to my wife’s body of work, but that architecture has other potentials than serving a client Becoming a commodity or a property, etc Something I was trying also to exercise in my work BRIAN: Have you ever heard of that – talking of the end of the Soviet Union, have you ever heard of that book which is called Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More and it describes the last few moments of the Soviet Union, when the whole thing suddenly overnight collapsed? It’s very interesting to me, because it shows you how fast those changes can be in a society We always sort of expect rather long gradual advance , but actually, things can happen overnight There’s a very interesting part in that book where he says: major social changes happen in two stages, the first is when everyone realises things are wrong, things aren’t working right any longer , but the second is when everybody realises that everybody else has also realised that So the second is when you realise that nobody has confidence in the whole system And then things change And that’s sort of what happened in the Soviet Union, I think This sudden switch into a realisation that we weren’t in the world that we had been telling ourselves about, we were in a different world EYAL: Yes, and I guess it’s pretty apt for the situation that we are I mean, also the organisers asked us to think about the future, and obviously , we can only think about the future as kind of a gradient of the present, going – radiating on the same wavelength but further out So it’s very interesting to think, maybe that is kind of an interesting subject for our conversation, about radical shifts in history. About those hinges that happen Take also the Arab Spring, for example BRIAN: Yes EYAL: In Tunisia, one incident , in one country of an entire region , all of a sudden, creates an effect that is completely contagious, so ideas are like – are like the virus also, but history needs those kind of doorways It needs those incidents that fold into themselves , potential futures, and I think it’s really interesting to look at those triggers What’s in them that allows us to imagine things differently Is it just the outrage of somebody burning themselves in a main square? Is it something else? How does it spread? And I think that this is

the relationship between the long duration, kind of a longplayer conception of time, the endlessness almost, and the incident, what’s in the molecular level of time that can affect that sort of long duration? that does that Certain tones that become hinges, and kind of open up a different evolution of a certain tonal sequence, for example I don’t know if you see that as at all relevant? saying, but I think I know where you’re going So for me, those incidents have to be very easy to communicate, and very easy to describe Because then everybody can take a position in relation to them, they are sort of – for instance , the guy burning himself in Tahrir Square, that sort of started the Arab Spring, was a trigger, a moment, which everybody could see, everybody could talk to each other about So in a sense, those have to be very specific visual easily describable incidents, everybody knows about them and everybody can take a position in relation to them And to me, that’s a little bit like the way artworks operate Then present you with something that you can share, a lot of you can share, and you can look at as a cultural moment and say, how do you feel about that? What’s your position in relation to this? It enables people to take a position in relation to a known entity, if you know what I mean It’s not like reviewing a long philosophical argument, a polemic of some kind, it’s: what do you think about this incident? Expected I mean, I can remember, when I was young, one of the key questions to art students of my age was: what do you think about Jimi Hendrix and what that meant is where are you on the line of experimental music? Are you with him or are you not? And I think a lot of historical incidents that act as triggers are that kind. It’s very easy for you to locate yourself in relation to them EYAL: I think that for us also in Forensic Architecture we have a kind of intellectual diagram, if you like, when we engage with incidents, with particular cases and we call it the long duration of a split second So it comes to really resolve to, let’s say, historeographiccal model, how we understand , so let’s say in the mid 20th century, history of the long duration, the history that people were writing historical books that described periods that were longer than a human – the duration of a human life The history, like The History of the Mediterranean over a millennia, etc Then the response to that was what was called micro history, so people like Carlo Ginsberg were looking at the life of a particular individual in a small around it the world of which it was part, and I think that firstly, inspired by both those historical conceptions, when we are looking at an incident , say an act of police, we spend usually upwards of a year, or a year and a half, looking at one second , I think that the second that in which Marc Duggan was shot, in North London , August 2011, was one second From the moment he left the mini cab in which he was driving to the moment he was shot by policemen, is one of the biggest gaps, one of the most important gaps, one second is a gap in London history But around that gap of one second, did he have a gun in his hand when he stepped out of

the mini cab? Thus according to the police shot rightfully Or was he unarmed when he was shot, and therefore this is another of the police murder – murders Is something that around that gap, the entire relation of us living in the city, of the relation between north and south, east and West London, race and social relations in the town are kind of revolving around that So I think that when you dig into the molecular level of time, the more you Zoom in to the smallest molecules of time, you find the long duration, so – and I’ll give you kind of one example on it At the end, when you have shown whether it is in our investigation of Marc Duggan or the killing of Augustus by the Chicago police department , or the killing in Palestine by Israeli police, at the end, when you show the police that you know that they have killed an innocent person, they would say, “It was a split-second decision, it was a mistake, it was simply an instinct, that we thought, in the heat of the moment, that that person was posing existential danger “, and then you would ask yourself, why is it always, and again and again, that Palestinians are being mistaken as existential danger by Israeli police? That that pedestrian in Chicago is mistaken as existential danger, imminent danger by the Chicago police? And in that instant, you find the entire history of slavery, of segregation, and of the racial nightmare in which we are And I think that that kind of interstellar relation , that you have to dive into the absolute small, in order to find the vast , is a diagram that I think exists for us , but I also see it in your music, in the kind of – in the way in which, through a particular sound and tone, you get into somehow the kind of infiniteness of some of your compositions BRIAN: I watched your Marc Duggan piece the other night actually And it was extremely interesting, I must say underneath Which made it very clear that they didn’t understand that a moment could be freighted with so much history and background A lot of people were saying, “But that doesn’t mean he was racist”, or these kinds of comments, they were sort of dismissing the piece as though you were extrapolating far too much from what you had seen in that one second That famous piece by Steve Reich called It’s Going to Rain, have you heard that? EYAL: I have heard of it BRIAN: It’s a very interesting piece, because it’s just a tiny little loop, about 1 5 seconds long, of a Chicago preacher saying “it’s gonna rain”, and they have looped it, so it’s repeating quickly, like that And what’s really interesting about that is as you listen to this tiny moment of time experience in America, both the kind of pain and rage and frustration in his voice, but also this feeling of “we can find glory”, he ‘s a gospel preacher, you know, so at the same time as you feel all of the anguish and the agony of the situation, you feel the sense of hope and we can make it You know, the agrees message of gospel music is “everything’s going to be all right” (the great message), that’s why we like gospel music because that’s what it’s saying and to hear that voice saying “everything’s going to be all right” is a very piquant mixture, and so I’m quite tuned into this – I mean , as you know, I’m a big Forensic Architecture fan, and I’m very tuned into this idea of looking at the moment to see the big picture Going down to the atoms to see what the whole chemistry is like What I would like to see

is that this – that we extended our ways of looking at history in both directions, so we do the Fernand Bordel huge picture of how a society works from the granular to the huge level, but we also do the microscopic level too At the moment, it seems that all of conventional history is stuck in one band, in between those two, I can think of some very nice exceptions I don’t know if you know that John Keegan book called The Face of Battle? It’s a very, very interesting book He looks at three British battles, famous British battles, which are Agincourt, Waterloo and The Somme and he describes the experience of an individual soldier in each case What they would have been wearing, what they would have eaten, what would happen to them if they were injured, what their clothes were, and suddenly going into the details of that again opens up a whole world picture in each case So I think we – I always say of history, if we’re teaching history in school, I would always think the best thing would be to start from here , you know, say to the children, “We’re now going to do history, go and talk to your parents , find what the world was like when they were young”, and then find out what your grandparents , how they lived, sort of work backwards from where we are now, not start with the Romans or the Egyptians or the Greeks and work forward Start from here, and work outwards if you like It’s a different way of thinking about things And you could do that with every school subject , with geography, start from here, let’s start our geography in the school playground EYAL: And that’s how the world is folded, in the playground, where is the material in the playground coming from ? What economy, what labour relation, what form of exploitation or other kind of phos lifed actually within the objects (fossilised ), to a certain extent, it’s kind of a Marxian idea of the fetish , that in a sense, the commodity fetish is two things, it’s both that which generates desire as something – as a product to be bought, as a luxury product perhaps, but it also, in there, there’s so many – there’s relation between so many people, and their minds , that have been mined in order to produce the steel for that (their mines) We are working now with another human rights organisation called ECCHR in Berlin, on the issue of European export for arms in Yemen So what we are doing is we are taking one bomb, a particular bomb, I don’t want to mention which one it is , because we haven’t yet published, and we are looking at it and we say, this single object is an assemblage, it is a composite object, that is produced by several hundred components, each one is produced in a different place in Europe, a different industrial estate, outside one of the major or minor cities in Europe The material from each one of those comes from several raw material providers, so the size of that bomb is the world Is the world folded into that product BRIAN: Yes, yes EYAL: Now that bomb lands in a place, on a hospital, say, dropped by a Saudi or European fighter jet, falling on a hospital in Yemen, and it breaks again It breaks again, not exactly in the same arrangement of the things as they have been produced but in a way that approximates them, and those fragments burning and flying faster than the speed of sound, are tearing flesh and buildings and medical equipment, etc And in a sense what you have is kind of you assemble the world into an object and then disassemble it, and this is where you

could enter a history of the world, or a political reading through one object, and an object, like a moment, like the moment in Tunisia, like the collapse of the Soviet Union or like the moment in art, is to understand it, you need to see the world of which it is part, and I think that this is – to do that, there is an interesting category by – that is now being used, or popularised, by a really fantastic anthropologist called the world BRIAN: Yes, that is a great book. I know that book EYAL: Have you read it? She speaks about something called interscale ar vehicles, and of course you say that something is – you can trace back and you can build a relation that is fossilised into it, and that is one thing but you need to travel along very intricate circulation , to the labour, so you need to do that work, and that work is really important and that work requires us to think differently about scale The traditional way of thinking about scale, you know, talking about the architectural way, to say here is the scale of the room, because I am an interior designer, here is the scale of the house, I am an architect , here is the scale of the city, I am a politician sometimes you need ways to short-circuit it and build from the vast to the small direct. You don’t want to go through all those stages And so it is also with time And I think that in history, we learn about it chronologically as if every period gives birth to the next one. It’s a very humanistic conception of time. As succession But in fact, sometimes to understand that moment here, you need to go directly to the Roman period, or to another, and the jumps could be much wilder, BRIAN: Yes In fact, you must read, if you haven’t done , a book that was published in the 60s by an artist called Daniel Spurry, I think he was a Swiss artist, and he wrote a book called The The aapology of chance or maybe The Topography of Chance and it starts with a picture of his dinner sitting on the table, just a picture of the plate with some food on it, and he traces the history of each piece of flood, and of the plate, and the clay that made the plate kind of an explosion back in time to how all of these things arrived on his plate. It’s a fascinating book And it reminds me of something else, when I was in my 20s, I got very interested in conspiracy theories, in how people constructed conspiracy theories I mean, at the moment we have an amazing one in this QANON thing which is possibly the maddest global conspiracy theory ever to appear But I got interested in the Kennedy assassination because there were so many theories about what happened before the moment of the assassination, and about what happened straight after it So you saw this picture of all of these different routes that led to this one incident which we had on film , with the Abe Zaprudah film, so the one incident, like the guy in Tahrir Queer, was clear and de- Tahrir square, was clear and defined and photographed, but around it were all these theories about how people got to the grassy knoll, that person was there , that policeman was on his bike there, so all these threads resolve into one moment and then what happened afterwards, Lee Harvey Oswald ran away, this policeman was there and he shouldn’t have been, and this and that So I got this picture of history being defined by a few specific moments, like the guy in Tahrir Square, the shot of it being a sort of network of speculation, of different theories about what could have happened and what didn’t happen and what may have happened, and I think

what’s fascinating about your work is that it looks back into that net, that web and says, OK, well if that happened there, then that must have happened over there at the same time, so therefore those two things kind of cross- varify each other This is very interesting to me, looking into the murk of speculation and starting to fix a few things together, starting to build a fabric One of the musical ideas I had coming from that was to wonder whether you could make a piece of music that was not a single identifiable precise being, but was a sort of set of possible musics , and at any moment of listening to it , you were hearing one expression of that set, in that set, but in fact there were several other parallel existences that could also happen, you know, this is this generative music thing that I have been talking about for a long time! To everyone’s intense boredom The idea of creating a structure that produces music rather than making – specifying the music itself, specifying the machinery that produces the music. Machinery in the conceptual sense. Sorry, that’s probably not very clear! I am aware of this clock counting down EYAL: No, I think that what is really helpful in this description is that also in our conception, the facts are like the tip of icebergs You know what you see but you don’t know what is the shape underneath it And you need to understand, and you need to always take into account that there are multiple ways in which those facts that we see, the moment the trigger is pulled, the moment of escape, those things that we know could be connected in almost infinite ways The problem of conspiracies is that they say, there is one way in which it is done, it’s my way, it shows that these people were involved , these bankers or this, whatever group, there’s always a group of Freemasons, Jews, whatever, knowing that they are kind of behind it Whereas the beauty, and also the beauty of the way you describe the piece is that there are infinite multiple ways and you need to keep all those infinite multiple ways in which those tips of icebergs could be connected, and to imagine the contours of the reality underneath, I suppose BRIAN: Yes, are you hearing quite a loud noise, of a kettle boiling or something? EYAL: I don’t know why just today, right out of my window, a compressor is starting to – it’s really! But that’s also speaking about our time, no, that kind of like all the roads are being dug up, because nobody is – fewer people are driving along them BRIAN: Yes, it’s a conspiracy, obviously I think we’re supposed to finish very soon , but I’ll go on a little bit longer, nobody is telling me yet to stop So the Duggan story that you told, is that now publicly available for everybody, the Duggan movie that you made? EYAL: Yes, it has been now published widely and it has been submitted to the police watchdog in the UK, who is taking it and reconsidering the investigation, so what they have written that investigation I think that would be absolutely the right thing to do , because I think so much of the trust and sociopolitical racial fabric of London has been torn in that moment, and the way to amend it is to resolve that one second in the history that includes so much in it Of course it is not only Marc Duggan, the racial nightmare in which we live is ongoing and much wider but within that, we need to engage it as part of an entire system Then there is also the work that we are – BRIAN: Good work

I think we have run out now, so good work and good luck with the Duggan thing and everything else you are doing Nice to see you. I’m not sure what happens now Oh, a countdown AMIA: Hi Brian BRIAN: Hello Amia. Can you hear me OK? AMIA: I can hear you very well thanks BRIAN: I can hear you well I sometimes was having trouble hearing Eyal there Some parts of what he was saying went missing, I think we held it together back stage, as it were BRIAN: Good. I am pleased you heard it. So thank you for appearing here. Nice to meet you AMIA: Nice to meet you too BRIAN: I have to say, I didn’t – I knew your name, but I didn’t know much about your work. So I watched a couple of interviews with you AMIA: Oh, no BRIAN: They were very interesting My own relationship with philosophy has been quite strained, in a certain area because, for the period that I really started becoming interested, there were a lot of philosophers around Like Quine and Nosec and so on, and who were writing things that made no sense to me whatsoever I was thinking – I just try top understand what these people are talking about. They are obviously not stupid relationship at all to anything in my life, whatsoever the people I was looking to for philosophy were actually natural scientists, really about how it got to be that way And it persisted until I found Richard Wroubhty and I found somebody I could understand He was talking about literature And he brought me back to philosophy and thought that there was a reason for these discussions When I looked at your interviews, I think possibly a Anne Fitzgerald, an Oxford person Some of the things I warmed to them, because they might have had their seeds in Rorty and those kind of philosophers I think that seed is summed up in something that Rorty said, which is that – I’m trying to remember exactly how he said it, something like, “Truth is a property of sentences ” And, “It is us who constructs sentences , therefore it is us who construct truth ” I thought, oh, that is liberating and quite dangerous That is sort of what I started hearing from you , but perhaps I have misconstrued you, are there any resemblances between you and Rorty AMIA: I don’t September Rorty’s view of truth. Not because I think it is dangerous kind of post-truth politics on basically post structuralist and post modern thinkers like Rorty, where I think Facebook with his multiple parallel realities has much more to do with the shaping of kind of a post-truth logic But Rorty does play an important role in my intellectual biography, in that Oxford is a place that is philosophically very much in the grip of a kind of philosophy that is examplified by Quine or NoseC, which as a graduate student I felt very removed from the things that brought me to philosophy , similar to the things that got you to look into philosophy

So there were a secret group of graduate students who had a reading group on Rorty It turned out all of these graduate students doing these very Quiniane or Noesician projects, had a philosophy more engaged with literature and the world A faculty involvement found out about the fact I better than you But it was a space of intellectual liberation Even though I didn’t really remain particularly enchanted with Rorty, because of to first -order practice, he had reverence for the people artists, political artists But he is completely talk about politics Or to do politics. And when he does talk about politics He ends up being a boring Liberal in many ways and doesn’t say anything particularly radical So I think he is freeing at this meta level but he is weirdly, politically constipated at the first order level And a time when he is most politically interesting is when he is talking about feminism But he is not doing any work himself He is just reporting how feminists think about the world So the desire for the first world engaged politics, is inspired by but I certainly do BRIAN: Yes, well I think what Rorty did, in his reportage of feminist theory and actually of working class life in America, in the 20th Century and the role of unions, for instance, which is something that nobody talks about in America, any more, unions have completely disappeared as a subject It’s like – don’t bore me with that old socialist shit But actually he says, he talked about unions in a way that really made me think differently about them, and about feminist theory So I think he has to be credited with making people like me pay attention to things I probably wasn’t noticing otherwise I think there is a role for people who take ideas, and repackage them and offer them to you in a way that is quite easy to understand Those people often get dismissed as the playman’s version or science light Somebody the other night was saying to me, that Dawkins isn’t a real scientist, he is just a repackager I was thinking about that and actually most of the people I described as ” repackagers” then I thought with a great moment of shock. And actually – so I am! I am a repackager A lot of the ideas that I’ve used in my music, which is a relatively popular music. It’s not academic It’s not off in the back are in the back shelves of the record shop You know, so I’m a repackager, too Then I took some consolation in the thing that Picasso said about , something like “Mediocre artists are copyists, the best artists are thieves.” They just don’t pretend, they take it AMIA: There is a time lag I was going to say someone like Harold very good way of distinguishing between different kinds of poets , good pro it’s, strong poets, he says basically steal, they take things, but then they reconfigure them In a way that often involves denial of the borrowing Whereas, weak poets, simply replicate

It is an interesting model not just for art but culture, including politics of language We already take up a language that already giving to us, a language in words, a conceptual repertoire, a set of practices and there are implicit choices between simply going on with them, and innovating, but, innovation, it seems to me, are only intelligible, against a background of familiarity Right So it has to be some intervention in something that is communally shared So there is distinction between being, you know, being a repackager and being genuinely novel , I think in some sense, it is a bad distinction BRIAN: Yes, yes, I completely agree But this brings us to a very contentious area, which is the question of cultural appropriation, which is a hot topic There is no medium in which it is easier to cultivate and appropriate, music , it is very easy and the whole history of music of music is written in 600 years’ time, there will be a little area called “pop music”, it will be a tiny leaf on a branch of this huge area called “african music” You know, African music is where pop music comes from, with a little bit of appellation, Scots and Irish music thrown in But essentially, the thing that distinguishes pop music from Western classical music , the thing that makes it new in the West is its embracing of African music So, you know, I am working in an area that is cull actual appropriation On the one hand you could say – that is terrible, you should stop doing that and come up with something original. But what, whoever has done that? Who has ever come up with anything original? Who has ever come up with something that didn’t have roots, somewhere else And in fact, what would be the value of coming up with something that didn’t have roots? It would be, it would be entirely abstract As you say – there would be nothing to gauge it against You notice novelty when it is a difference between it and something else What we are alert to are differences not absolute intrinsic qualities We are alert to this piece of music because it is more jerky or ragged or smoother or longer or shorter or louder or quieter But there are always comparative differences So me, the implication of everything we do, has to be cultural appropriation for it to make any sense to us It has to be in reference to something else So, I am having a lot of trouble, lately thinking about that argument Of course, I realise the money Actually his manager made a huge amount of money, colonel Tom Parker and the people that he copied like Arthur Big By Ccruddock didn’t make a lot of money we trace those roots and pay them? How do we send something back to them AMIA: Yeah, I think you have got to the heart of it I think critics of woke, cancel culture ignore the kind of material reality that gives rise to this Imagine a genuinely egalitarian world, in which everyone had equal access to things, like cultural, like the music and cultural production Equal access to the basic means of production but also cultural production, esteem, recognition for creative output I don’t think you really would have anxieties about cultural appropriation The anxiety comes from

precisely the kind of differential benefits that I give in to people, in cultural form. So that needs to be corrected So there is always a very legitimate material complaint at the heart of, you know, everything that people would like to dismiss as woke politics It is not necessarily specifying how things would be in the ideal situation In the ideal situation, we would just all free pay all of the time and we also wouldn’t be property as we are, right But, I think the worry about cultural appropriation entirely comes from, you know , the non-ideal reality we have of racial and economic oppression and its uneven distribution of recognition and money in the scheme But, you know, there are different ways of addressing it, right So you are someone who throughout your career, always points to the roots Both within – your music, itself, I feel contains these pointers, always but then, you are also explicit about t right, because you have so much to say about the process of making music And that seems to me an extraordinarily effective way of thinking in a more complicated way about these issues of appropriation, distribution of esteem. The money thing is outstanding, right Do we owe repairationses BRIAN: Yeah. I think it is a real question I think we do, actually, yeah and somehow or another It is very difficult to think how, technically, that would work. But it is not impossible You know, one of the interesting things about the music business is that it has developed the most sophisticated system of payments of any cultural form that exists, I think If you look on a single you will see the title ina artist and then you will see the writers And I remember the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight It has six writers but it doesn’t include the African man that they stole the song from You know, it is not impossible that we would relook at that and say – people have said – OK we have to pay something to this guy, his family. He is dead now But his family received some money for it But, because of the copyright system in music, there is a sort of mechanism for dividing up moneys Any record that exists, there are probably 25 people earning something from it , producers and people in record companies, artists, writers, so on and so on. So it can be done I think problem is that culturally we make such a big distinction between the person who has the name The creator who has the name answer all the other people who existence interests me a lot: How does an idea come into existence? I have this notion in my head that your ideas are generally articulated by one person , but they are almost always the product of a huge community of people This became very clear to me, a few years back, when I went to see at the Barbican, there was a show of early 20th Century Russian painting Now this is an area that I thought I knew a will the about It was my favourite area of painting. I had studied it closely In that show I saw about 75 artists I had never heard of, along with the ones I had, who were really good, who were obviously working in those scenes in Moscow and St Petersburg in the early 20th Century and who got lost in history But then I started read being that period and discovered there were various critics that talked it up, in the way I was saying about Rorty, people who repackaged it and sold it on, there were

Salonists. And girlfriends who cooked for everyone But, of course, who never enter the history Those kind of people are never talked about as being part of the scene. I came up with word then that I have used since It is the collective form of genius, which I called, scenius I like the idea that we acknowledge that certain things are inherently fertile There is the right ecology for things to come out of them There are many of them you can think of Liverpool in the 1960s for pop music New Orleans in the late 50s and early 60s, also for pop music. Paris in the 50s for film Zerox labs in the 80s for technology. Sill convalley now Palarnford Stanford These are all places where the chemistry is write All it means is that there is a fertility of people working together, which make it the right place to articulate new ideas The place where, once an idea is articulated, a lot of support will go into it. It’ll take root immediately People will try it, in lots of different ways I don’t know if you have read a great book about the Manhattan Project. It was one of the Although it was directed towards producing the atomic bomb cooperation and achievement in human history If only we could – if only we could revive that now and put that kind of AMIA: [inaudible] revive that project. Sorry, I interrupted BRIAN: So, yes, well, it is because I have been having this idea, later on in this series of talks today there is a lady called Mariana Mazzucato , a brilliant converse, and talks about this idea of where value comes from, where ideas come from One of the examples she gives in her book is She has an iPhone and she points to all these important technologies in the iPhone, GPS , Touchscreen, Siri, all those kinds of things and she traces where they all come from Do you know where they all come from Dalpa? They come from taxpayer money, they are social projects. They come from defence spending Lately I have been having this idea, instead of this money on defence, partly because it’s the laboratory for bluesky thinking about technology Why don’t we just decide to refocus defence on the things we need defending against. Not the Chinese. Not the Russians But pandemics, for instance Climate change Why not take all of that system, all of the Manhattan Projects going now and say: OK, here is the problem you want to be looking at So, my headline is, Brian reEno reschedules defence spending AMIA: It is so interesting this question of how one as a creative producer like yourself possibility So, I think, for example , of the women of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the US and the UK, incredibly intellectually and politically fertile, and intense movements, right Taking place in particular, physical spaces, with a huge amount of kind of emotion and intellectual and political energy And then what we receive from those movements are, you know a few key texts written by particular women Sometimes written by collectives but often written by particular women and Sheila Macpherson becomes the kind of stand-in for the entire movement and the dialect of that is an extraordinary text but it is produced by a huge number of women whose names are often forgotten for history. I think that is interesting

And actually that produces a certain amount of tension within the Women’s Liberation Movement, right How much should be oriented around the cult of women intellectual leaders and how much was a communal practice But that also makes me think of – OK, there is the question of, I have an iPhone, to parts come from and where materially does it come from and these are precious metals mined under bad conditions, causing huge amounts of ecological and human harm And then, these objects are pieced together in profoundly exploitative factories And it seems to me that it is an ideology of the individual labour and intellectual labour that supports the whole producing these things are, in no sense entitled to the benefits of that production And so, it is interesting because, of course, there are artistic geniuses and I’m talking to one right now, at the same time, the cult of the genius is very tied to the logic of capitalism The logic that says that, putting in just the hard labour, physically in making these things , or cooking for the man who then goes on to write the great treaties. None of that really matters It is either not labour at all, it is done out of love if it is labour in the home, or it is labour that deserves very much much more compensation Yeah, it is an interesting puzzle there, I think But I like scenius How do you spell it? SCENIUS AMIA: Very good Burybury have you called of an economist called Kate Rayworth , she wrote a book called Doughnut Economics. It is a brilliant people Part of the message of that book is well, I will state it very simply: Traditional economics, sort of sees an axis between the individual and the state OK, so if you focus on the state, and make that the prime actor, that is Communism If you focus on the individual and make that the prime actor, that is sort of libertarianism, and most of the economic thoughts we’ve had are somewhere on the line in between those two What she is saying of those and that is the axis between care, caring , the stuff that women do traditionally and don’t get paid for And the big scale of caring you cans which is the environment — — the big source, which is the environment that we don’t replenish or pay attention to She says both of those have a financial tag attached to them. We don’t know how to value them. So, therefore, we don’t value them. They don’t appear in GDP They don’t appear in economic discourse, as a result So, what she is talking about is saying – we need a new economics that includes both of those as well And I think that thought is so important, because it is the same thought that you are having when you say this issue of attribution, where all the attribution goes to one name, is clearly wrong And it’s morally wrong and it is economically wrong as well you know t shouldn’t be the case that that person gets all of the benefit of the process So, I can see we are running out of time but what you were saying had a lot of relationship to what Eyal was saying earlier: Understanding that what we are always looking at is an ecology It is no use looking at this thing separate from everything else It is always embedded in an ecology of some kind And it could be an intellectual ecology or a physical one or an economic one Sorry, I went on a bit too long AMIA: It is amazing, we almost went half an hour without evening mentioning the pandemic BRIAN: Oh, yeah AMIA: But the pandemic BRIAN: Or the future AMIA: But the pandemic reveals the contradiction at the

heart of the late capitalist state which is, you know, where we are all supposed these individuals, but we are more dependent and we are dependent on precisely those people whose labour we don’t pay for, and pay hardly at all I suppose there is really some hope contained in that thought Bye Brian. Oh, no, you have been muted. So sorry. It is very nice seeing you FARHANA: Hello AMIA: Hi FARHANA: Hello. Am I on now? AMIA: I can hear you. Hi Amia Have I said your name directly? AMIA: Yes FARHANA: Well, your book shelf looks more tidier and colour-co-ordinated than mine AMIA: This is the Home Office, not the real office FARHANA:Er the home office is much tidier and you leave your mess, in All Souls AMIA: That is right FARHANA: Well for me it was a venerable, esteemed sobering be kind of building. Today I feel almost like I’m at a tutorial For me, this is like a, a feel like how I did when I was 18, you know, that I have come to another one of those fucking tutorials But, the delightful thing is – my God you look nothing like the professors that I had at Oxford and I did PE So I’m sandwiched between you, this esteemed professor. I cannot tell you how delighted I am I never saw a professor that looked anything like you when I was at uni in 1986 1983-86, a long time ago and would never have imagined it AMIA: How was your experience at Oxford? FARHANA: Absolutely the happiest days of my life but also, really, really difficult, you know, I have got sort of – looking back at some very mixed, but for me it was actually an escape. Everything I was the first woman in my family ever to get to university. My brother had gone before He was the first boy to ever get into uni The whole education, education, education thing from my parents I was a Muslim, a migrant, I came to Oxford only as a result of a special scheme that Red Ken Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London , a post subsequently abolished and re-established The whole of the London Authority was abolished, right So I went up on this scheme where a few Oxford colleges established close links with state schools, essentially in London, and you didn’t have to sit an entrance exam You just came up with some interviews and did a short exam So, I did that You know, I think it was – I only later found out it was the colleges that weren’t getting really good applicants from private schools who decided they would cream off all of the state school ones. That was sad At that time it was a very optimistic time because I thought at the time we were smashing glass wave but, you know , the lack of diversity and racial barriers still at Oxford and Cambridge is phenomenal, you know. It is like it has gone backwards So it is very welcome to see you, as a professor of a subject, that, you know Actually I would have loved to have done a tutorial with you That would have been amazing, anyway, this can be that tutor tal AMIA: This will not be a tutorial If anything I’ll be having a tutorial here I see your things about philosophy and politics and the certain point these questions are questions of political judgement, right

So, you know, you can theorise about , you know, what optimal just arrangements would be, or how we should respond to injustice, and how we should build institutions and so on, happen is a question that requires something like, a certain kind of skill and snow-how, political judgement, that we don’t really teach I don’t know if you can teach it in a kind of classroom context, the way you get it, if it is something that you want to acquire, is by having the kind of career you have had, which has been one of extraordinary political agency And, so I’m hoping we can talk about that, and your reflections on the question of agency and power going forward and maybe how the pandemic has made you kind of rethink the prospects for, specifically climate justice And other forms of justice, more probably FARHANA: , yeah, when I left Oxford, I always said that I would do a PhD, when I came back at 40 Because at this time – I don’t know how old you are – but when you are 21, 40 seems like a very long time in the future AMIA: I’m not 21. You asked if I was 40. I’m not yet FARHANA: Part of me me has always wanted to return and do that kind of deeper thinking and distillation. But part of me is very opposed to it Because I feel, you know , yeah, the work I’m currently doing and have been for the last sort of year, based on that understanding, is to dissolve the power differentials between the thinkers and the doers And that, pat of that is, you know, the essays that we did in the second module of general philosophy The mind, body distinction, is to stop And for me, that has become a fundamental starting point of how we really truly dismantle the toxic structures of power and where we literally devalue those people who are not then the thinkers Not the strategists, not the geniuses You know, I caught the tail-end of your conversation with Brian Eno You know, the thing that I set up, you know, because I believe that true progress comes from the embodied versions of the ideas that we have and that there is no mind body distinction. Our mind sits in the whole of our body It doesn’t sit in the brain part, you know that one crucial organ amongst many So I have started, last year, it is called Camden Think & Do The most important word there is “and” obviously Philosophers, you know those little words are really the most important words And it is basically to turn disused and underused premises into community action hubs. That is what we are doing But the ideas behind it are to create co–owned and more new forms of governance Where everyone self-involved in both the thinking and the doing thought of. You create the space, you create a new community You create, then, a political unit , and a political network from that And, you know, it is focussed more on community actions relating to climate and social justice You know, that these things are very intertwined And, you know, it is that is on everyone’s minds and it is something that hasn’t been – you know, we don’t have any community centres doing climate work. So this is adding to some of those things So, yeah, I feel like talking to you, I’m kind of you know, theorising and able it say what some of the theoretical understandings of my work are and I should go away and write about them too Last year and the year before when I decided to give

up my academic title I was a Visiting Professor at UCL I thought my involvement was not to write a book and go on a book tour and be less invested in academia than I was, and to give up that status and to be a doer and feel that I could validate myself and be considered important if I didn’t have those sort of things. I feel I’m a slight living experiment But, yeah, I miss it a bit, you know. I quite like the status I would love a room and this opportunity to talk, you know, thanking Tate and Artangel and the Longplayer Assembly organisers, it is a great thing We do need to come together We do need to exchange world to chip away at and, you know, maybe some tools are more useful than other tools for chipping away or knocking away or demolishing some of those big things. Yeah, your work is brilliant at doing that. I had a little look. I was very curious I was told we weren’t supposed to be very curious but I was So, yeah, I would love to know more about your new book. The one about sex AMIA: The one about sex Can I just say something about what you have just said? I think – I so agree with the mind, body, both as an intellectual process I think our bodies are thinking things, but also as a kind of important kind of political principle to break down Because the amount of thinking and knowledge and understanding us so-called activists or organisers have, I think just outstrips, by an order theorist , a peer theorist has about how politics actually works, right And also knowledge about what is possible, things like that And the way I think of shouldn’t say this in a public forum, I don’t really think that they are here to solve problems I mean, I don’t think for COVID , but, I think the reason you have a philosophy able to solve problems, but because they are a sign of what a truly flourishing society has. Right A truly flourishing society has space for not just the people who make it to Oxford but for everyone to gather together and have, frankly, fairly pointless conversations Like, that is the sign of something that is responding to what makes us fully human So I think as universities as kind of holding a space for a society, hopefully, to come But I think things go very badly when universities start thinking of themselves as the kind of intellectual leaders of a world that often they are quite divorced from and don’t understand AMIA: Well, that is such a wonderful vision Yeah, I have little tears in my eyes at you saying that Because how do we then have that vision that you have? Because everywhere you look, in the brochures and the fund-raising drives and recruitment, you know, Oxford , like any other uni, will say – we are the powerhouse of the new thinking We are going to be the ones to solve all the problems. Send your children here You know, we have achieved all the brilliant changes They all came from us, La, La, La. So, how do we stop that? And what is our personal contribution to that? For me, as I said, I’m still kind of like – there is a part of me that still wants the trappings of all of that I sort of want to be as have iting professor again, you know I do, I do. I really do — a Visiting Professor title and I feel more important or listened to or heard, you know In a world where there is still such systemic, you know, racism and sexism and, you know, we live in the patriarchy, actually having a title and dropping

into the conversation, “By the way I went to Oxford ” Oh my God, it still elevates me, I still have to play that fucking card, you know. I still have to do that How do we, who feel frustrated with that, you know, elevate everyone’s voices and give their due as thinkers, as valuable members of humanity? You know, you were saying COVID, you know, showed us, so vividly I felt so upset, I wasn’t a keyworker on any metric I wasn’t like – what the hell – and like home , who had to be physically out there doing stuff, you know And putting themselves, their body in the line of risk and danger And we undervalue that so much, because we undervalue bodies and we bodies , women’s bodies, trans bodies, you system I’m trying to find how we personally navigate those sort of systems? And being, you know what is the difference between specialised bodies of knowledge and experts? We are asked to think about: What is the contribution within your fields of expertise? So we do have something – there is something brilliant that humanity is, that people went off and specialised, right. And you are specialised in thinking You have got that covered But how do we equalise the different forms of expertise or not. You know AMIA: Where do we have a more pluralistic understanding of expertise of knowledge? I mean, I think that there is – well , of course my answer would be, there are certain bodies of theory that are really good about talking about this. sort of fem this theory You know, really concerned with the kinds of forms of knowledge that I institutionally recognised or prized that often come through, during forms of labour. Right What forms of knowledge about human relations, and human capacity and human need come from doing all of the grunt work in the house, right? For caring for bodies? through that process And there is always this risk of , then venerating a kind of women’s knowledge and centralising a kind of women’s knowledge that can have the sort of poor women of colour, who do the vast majority of the world’s care work and reproductive labour I do think that COVID maybe has had the effect of making some people more aware of the kind of epistemology dimensions of what they think as of menial practices, things, like take care of children at home and the amount of knowledge and expertise that you need as a carer for young children But how do we institutionalise that revolution? I mean I think a complete overthrow, a revolution of the system. I mean, until we start I mean this is why you need a mass labour movement, you essential work in the world And that is, you know, poor people and disproportionately women, and women of colour very unphilosopher thing to say, understanding only comes after the material change happens And what philosophers often want or kind of presuppose is that we need to first persuade people rationalely of a certain view and then the change will follow from there Whereas, I think, the way politics often really does happen is, you first have a change and then people are able to see the world correctly a FARHANA: Yeah I love – I’m absorbing that, thoroughly. I think this whole thing for me I definitely think – the whole Marxist theory of Labour and Lock’s theory of labour, you know, you go and

sign something and your add your labour to it and it becomes yours., it is so wrong body, which is adding the labour, adding the value is something else to the mind, the idea, the intellectual realm is different different view of the world, the very, epistemic foundation, you know, we don’t have them, and that is, in a nutshell, why it is in disarray because it shares all of the same toolbox right to the ground, right to the DNA and it never has, you know, looked at the world in a very different way And it can’t, you know, then rely – I feel that we can’t rely on the labour unions, you know look at the word “labour unions” What the hell, these are people who have ideas and agency about their world. They are not just devoid of capital built community They had a whole different way of supporting and seeing each other that was much more marvellous than just the value they added to the former economies So, yeah, it is a noddy, I’m sure, but I feel like what I’m doing is trying to find that I think you can find that, sometimes, you know , in different cultures, in ancient cultures as well as present cultures, where they are valuing relationships, first and foremost So, cultures that are based, essentially on social foundations that recognise different roles and give them, you know, value. Actually we all have them So I don’t know what your cultural – I’m from a Pakistani, Muslim family We have names for every single relative, so the term “auntie” which we use all the time there are eight different words for auntie AMIA: And not related to you FARHANA: Depending if she is your mum’s side your dad’s side, the oldest auntie and youngest, and there is a gradation and nomenclature of relationships and my younger self felt trapped in that, you know, the hierarchy But actually I think there is a very different way of navigating the world if you look at your sort of social nature , which is really what a has most interested me. I think it was because my parents were both Children – they were both young at partition So they moved from their land, they were farmers and landowners, very small scale, not rich ones. But they moved They were farmers for many generations before that and moved to what became Pakistan And then we moved to this country So actually I feel like there is something about the trauma of never belonging to land that migrants like me have. You know And especially recently, I have felt like – I would say, I love England more than England loves me. It is a very hostile place I feel like I have grown to love this culture, this land, I love bluebell woods, who doesn’t, it is very beautiful and all very green And I love some of the cultural be concepts but I feel actually we don’t have a vocablery or even epistemic evaluation of our relationship to land in a very political way It was one more impetus, basically I’m sure Helen, I will have this conversation with, I’m going to ask her what it is You are supposed to have figured this out, so I can experiment and go out on a plight So that is what some of COVID and the hyper local movement, I call them movements, I feel I’m constructing and part of one of those movements, is about Like, people have discovered, or rediscovered how utterly dependent they are on their locality, on their neighbours, on their neighbourhood How nice it is, or how horrible it is that they don’t have access to green space They don’t even have a balcony They don’t have, you

know, they live miles from, you know, amenities, green or otherwise. And how awful that is You know how bad for the mental and physical health that is So, yeah, I don’t know It is a bit of a rambley thing We only have five minutes. I feel you should take up the rest of the five minutes AMIA: Get a cup of tea FARHANA: I have ranted so much AMIA: You have said so many interesting things FARHANA: I would love to continue this conversation and hear more That nexus between land, valuing people, hearing people equally and being rooted and not having to worry about universalism People keep saying – why don’t we roll out the think and do spaces. I want there to be bespoke ones There isn’t a blueprint. I don’t have a blueprint I don’t want to even put forward the idea of a blueprint and the notions of disablability and replicatability, is what I’m fighting against But for funders I need to put all that stuff in AMIA: It is funny to hear you, of all people, who is one of the great intellectual architects of the climate change law, say, express this scepticism and anxiety about the universal solutions to scalability So, I mean one thing I’m kind of consistently torn about and have been more torn about over COVID, than even usual, is the question of how radically democratised should responses to crisis be , versus how much of a mass movement is required to respond to crisis. And for me the sticking point is always climate change, I always think Can you have anything but mass topdown response to the climate crisis? Of cows you can have lots of people at — of course you can have lots of people at local levels and communities changing their patterns of life and changing their relationship to the food supply and the lands they are on But it seems to me, especially given our extremely limited time scale for pulling us back that you have worked for , for, you know, many, many years But at a government at and inter-governmental level. Do you think that is right Or do you think that, actually, no, we don’t need – where do you think is the lever of change we should be pushing on? FARHANA: We have done three rounds of treaty making. I have been part of three treaties Each one took sort of roughly five years to negotiate, five years to ratify and implement and twice those treaties have been trashed and walked, diminished, delayed, derailed So we are sitting now with you know the grief that I have over Paris Agreement, for sure, the US is going to legally come out on 4th November It is possible that they door could, with a going to come out, just like what happened happened, it is deja vu, it is really painful for me So I feel like those are absolutely necessary, but they are always addressing the current systems of power They are using, as has been said. The master’s tools The master’s tools, and they’ll never really and as I understand and as I have gone back to my younger self, they will never misdismantle the underlying structural basis until you attack the values new forms of relationships and trust to allow people to stop seeing the Eye of Saron in the Lord of the Rings If you keep staring at the Eye of Saron to create the community you wanted, the alternative community So I feel like devising spaces where people are saying with integrity, migrant, a Muslim, a Hindu a non-believer, trans, whatever else Come and share your stories and see if we can create see what solutions we come up with from here onwards, and if we all did that, all over the world, that is what is going to really topple, frankly, capitalism. That is my theory at the moment It is what will topple capitalism and

it is the compliment tools that are necessary for really radical change, because the politicians, carbon taxes, permits, that is not going to do it going to opt out of them And it is for us to opt out and create the society that will be the real vehicle for change. Kind of what we were asked to do But I will leave the last ten seconds for you to figure out, you know, what is the next step we do You have to say goodbye. You have been muted. I have to say hello to Helen now! HELEN: Hello, Farhana You have just moved position on my screen, that slightly bewildered me FARHANA: And you have moved on mine too. Fantastic Welcome, I am going to hand it over to you HELEN: I was going to start – because I have been watching and listening to your last ten minutes or so of conversation , and finding it really interesting And obviously I come at it from a quite different place in some respects, you know , not least because I have got my head full of all the things that fossil fuel energy has done to world politics for like the last century Or so, and what its economic consequences are But I was trying to think, OK, how does the way that about these things, and there might seem, and what I wanted to start with is this relationship between energy and capitalism, because it , that your view is that capitalism is in some sense the original sin, to use that language, in this , and that if we had a different economic system , that we would have a different way of living with energy And that we would have a planet that wasn’t, where climate is concerned, so destructive I just wanted to really push you a bit on the underpinning of that conviction, what that is, because if you look at it from where I’m sitting, it is what happened to the world in all kinds of ways, not just ecologically, but environmentally and I would say politically as well, once we moved from a way of using energy that was fundamentally reliant on the sun, as it came to us on a daily basis, to one that relied on basically stored ancient sunlight, from before there were human beings on the planet, and that that is the dramatic change that happened with the Industrial Revolution And that Industrial Revolution then played out the organisation , not least Communism, in the Soviet Union and China So I struggle to see how you change the economic system and get a different energy situation, or outcome, that would be a better word than “situation”, because it seems to me that the fundamental issue is what we’ve done with using energy, but I’m interested in like where you’re coming from, and thinking that actually, you have economic transformation and then that need FARHANA: Yeah, wow! So power is what this entire conversation for me is about, power, not just political power, but actual electrical, coal, gas energy, what we say energy, we describe as the power industry, right? So for the last 400 years, we have, as you say, been powered – literally, we have built empire, political power , from the power of stored carbon , and the stored carbon was originally in trees, in living trees, which we chopped down all over the UK, the rest of – before it was even the UK, and Europe , and used to explore other people’s lands You know, smelters, the Iron Age , moving from – so actually it was still stored carbon but it was stored in trees, and then we discovered coal , and that stored carbon from dead trees and living things

So I think the scale and the fire power and literally power to control ago And they changed something fundamental because this distributed energy, the distributed power that was there all over the world where people lived, became concentrated If you had access to essentially land , trees and coal, you just were up there You were able to dominate, because you got a resource that no one else got And you could then carry on extracting and controlling other resources, gold, diamonds , precious metals, you name it, the world runs on resources that are physical The power that we have through our financial and economic and our intellectual property rights systems developed to support the concentration of power , so I think power is at the source of the way in which capitalism, globalised – you know, this global system of economic things right now, and geopolitically, the very industries from now 100 plus years back, the world was reshaped, the empires were shaped around these resources, oil and gas are a dominant reason why the Middle East is the way that it is, why now we have explorations in different parts of the Arctic, and the North Sea, and so forth. So it plays a really fundamental role So I think for me, the reason why – I glued myself to the headquarters of Shell as part of Extinction Rebellion because these industries, which also have a massive financial footprint as well, are at the root of not just the climate crisis but the capitalist model actually They prop up most of that financial ecological geopolitical system that we’re fighting against And which is now on the brink of turning the world in a completely – it has already done that actually So it’s a “has”, it’s a past tense, done that So I feel that’s not something that other empires that we look at before had access to , they had access to essentially human beings and other resources, the Roman Empire , the Mongol Empire, they had other resources, it’s the trapped carbon in trees and coal that really unleashed a very different and distinct way in which we control other human beings and other resources that has been unmatched Until now, you know, because now we have the ability to capture sunlight and store it in batteries, and to be able to harness all of the energy that falls on the earth in one hour, is enough to power our homes right now, and power anything that we might need, so we’re able to return to a different way in which we use essentially fire, now there’s a massive relationship with fire , so yeah, I feel like – you know, understanding and acting on this relationship between power , fossil fuels, and the Industrial Revolution, and the destruction of lands essentially and clearance of lands, which was originally to power our armies and navies and the rest of it, is absolutely vital if we’re going to go forward and understanding why there was this rupture, this huge – a hugely different way of organising the global economic system is really crucial , so understanding our past is really important to trying to unlock the future and weaning ourselves off these fossil fuels is absolutely essential. I don’t know if that answers everything? HELEN: Yes, I agree with the importance of history to this really very much, and I think I agree with quite a bit of your history With a couple of caveats, and then I think I’m more sceptical than you about how quickly any energy transformation can take place But on the history, I think what’s said, the European empires without coal You can come up with any number of explanations about why it is the European empires that end up with maritime empires on the scale

that is like unprecedented compared to any past empires, and I wouldn’t want to be a complete energy determinist about this and say, coal is the only explanation, but it is clearly a pretty significant part of the explanation, including it being the basis of British naval power during the period in which the British Empire is at its height And then I would say you could understand quite a lot, a great deal, in fact, of the geopolitical history of the 20th century, including the rise of the United States, and the Soviet Union, as powers, because what has been essentially a coal-run world, not least in relation to military powers, became an oil-run world in relation to military powers If you started at the beginning of the 20th century and said which two powers are likely to be the most powerful by the middle of it, and you were working on energy, you would Union and you be in some difficulty, regardless of their empires, because of the fact that as oil was becoming much more important, they didn’t have it And so then I think you can understand very – like the British and the French extending their empires into the Middle East after the First World War in a quite desperate desire to break dependency on American oil, I think you can also understand some of what went on in inter-war Germany , Italy and Japan, in the 20th century, and you’ve got these two dominant powers being the ones that have the most oil at the beginning, the United States and the Soviet Union commodities which were essential, so one is sugar, and sugar and cotton, obviously so these commodities become crucial, and are part and parcel of the way in which then colonialism and racism go hand in hand, and so actually it wasn’t enough for the Europeans just to have this coal and use it domestically they actually also then needed to feed their populations and to clothe their populations, and sugar was really toxic, I have read a bit about sugar, as a – which was called black gold, you know, because it was based on then a massive – it was based on the slave trade, it was the slave trade that made that possible, and for us to literally have the finer things in life And land became then essential So the whole of the Liebensraum mentality, that we’ve got to acquire more and more land for ourselves, and it doesn’t belong to these to them , they all belonged to us in some way, is a really important part of the story, and I am not – I haven’t read enough about all the different theories about the linkages but I feel like we see them right now, the linkages between – essentially, the legacies of colonialism, racism, imperialism, in this version of capitalism, and I feel that’s the version that is now fully exposed, and COVID has exposed it even further If you didn’t understand the intricacies, you didn’t understand what was lying beneath , COVID – I think Arundhati Roy has said, it has given us an X-ray understanding , exposed all of the flaws, the differentiation of impacts and who is doing what , and how undervalued or exposed they are to actual risks, and made us realise, actually, those were devaluations that were there already, we just chose not to see them or care about them But yeah, coming back to climate change, because it is this massive global issue, because everyone uses carbon in some way, everyone always used carbon in some way, some people just used UK are the highest per capita emitters, if you take historic emissions into account Even China’s emissions are low compared with the UK’s per capita historic emissions, and is open

up a coal mine, so it’s like still absurd , this country still wants to use coal , Germany is still obsessed with coal, Poland still is relying on coal, so part of, I feel, my failure is that these European countries, which are the heartlands of the European industry, and manufacturing still, are still unable to wean themselves off from coal essentially And the coal industry is predominantly a white industry, in the US and in the UK, it’s not a lot of black people work in the coal industry , in all of those things, so it’s a very privileged, highly-skilled manual work, and we’re kind of – I feel it’s quite complicated, my feelings are quite complicated because I support the just transition, but actually, there ‘s a racial element involved in whose jobs would we see as impacted and by and large those communities, that sector has voted for the alt-right and has voted for Trump or Modi or whatever else, it’s sort of complicated, so it’s once again, black people and communities of colour that have lost out, as we move to try and wean ourselves off coal in the Western world, actually it’s a huge amount of resistance being put up by those communities Europe , certainly in this country and in the United States, is that like for a long time, it gave the trade union movement the basis of its political power So that is why the struggle over the miners’ strike in the 1980s in Britain was not just – in some senses, it was much more memoly existentially – emotionally existentially important for the country’s politics than the actual material issue at the time of closing the pits, which wasn’t at that moment in the 1980s – I mean, the pits had started being closed obviously a long time before the 1980s, it wasn’t tied government as no longer essentially value for money, where energy was concerned you take this country , to say that coal kind of like got deep into the national psyche, and into the political imagination, not just on the Left but at times as something that the Right – after all, the Thatcher government wanted a confrontation with the miners, but oil didn’t really industry for a long time, in Britain when the domestic oil industry came along from the 70s onwards, it really mattered in terms of Scottish politics, you could argue that it provided the basis of – the material basis for Scottish nationalism, particularly once the Scottish Nationalists had understood the significance of the EU for in the oil industry, what the conditions of work were in the oil industry, it being a site of, if you like , political conflict, the actual production and distribution of oil, didn’t really happen. It didn’t really happen in this country And I think in some ways, that has had a legacy in terms of why we can find it really hard to understand the immense political significance of energy, and obviously in the end, the climate change question is, as you said, an energy question It’s like, to deal with climate change, we have to have an energy revolution We have to do something monumental in terms of the way in which our economies and our societies are organised , and that has all kinds of distributional implications in terms of class and race, as you have said, and I think in lots of ways we’re entirely unequipped for doing this, because we just lost seek, if we ever had it – to some extent, as we did with coal, but we just lost sight of what it meant to talk in politics about energy FARHANA: Yeah, so my first job, Helen, when I left university, was to go and work for the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1986, when we knew – British Gas had just been privatised, and British Coal

was being broken up, and the CEGB was going to be broken up yet, so my own personal that’s why I’ve found climate change – I understood it as a power problem, literally as a problem of how we generate electricity, and know all about history personally I feel like, I would love to know from you, what does the new geopolitics and the radical way in which we think about power look like for you? I feel like the conversation in the UK never really happened We didn’t have a sovereign wealth fund like Norway, you know, like many countries did We just all gave out all the tax revenues and tax cuts and all the rest of it, all our money, we now have – our subsidies are going to essentially decommissioning and picking up the pollution and the end shit that comes with the oil industry declining, we just gave out the money in terms of tax breaks We never had that conversation, I feel, other than privatisation and nationalisation It was a very Noddy, binary, stupid conversation, when I look back on it, you think, what were the more democratic ways that we can control energy? I live in North London, and we have a really brilliant Power Up North London community interest group that is creating essentially energy co-ops, and putting solar panels on school buildings, and on local churches and allowing the new kinds of energy which are essentially decentralised , and don’t require digging up anybody’s land, ours or theirs or under the sea or anything, and I think that’s where the resistance democratised , you can put up solar panels, you can have wind turbines, everybody can repower their own homes and essentially also feed in the surplus, and the old centralised engineering based players can’t really get their minds round it, you know? They can’t get their minds around the fact that they essentially don’t belong in this future. They’re not needed in this future How do we do something which is less cruel and frankly less horrible and more efficient than what we did to the miners , where we just kind of threw these hundreds of thousands of families on to a scrapheap, without any real just transition arrangements in place, I don’t know what that all looks like So I feel like that’s – and why don’t those conversations happen properly? HELEN: I think the thing is that I am more sceptical and pessimistic than you about how quickly an energy look at the places, the countries that have tried to do this most seriously , Germany in particular, that they have struggled to meet the targets that they set themselves for shifting away from carbon get electricity often can’t be used at the moment, or at least on scale, isn’t being used So I think that the issue in Germany has proven to be that the really strong commitment to the transition came – let’s say from around 2010, and it was accompanied by same time, so that was ruled out as an option, and really that has been the they do , and the fact that they have doubled down on Russian gas dependency, because you now have got more gas being used – you’re electricity generation So it seems to me that required still require the energy companies’ technological know-how in order to deal with some of the very issues that transition brings about, and the fact that we are still looking for some time in any realistic scenario about using oil and gas And I think anybody who really doubts how long we’re

going to be using gas in particular needs to look at how much time governments spend – how much bandwidth of government time goes on dealing with gas geopolitics , and it’s really quite considerable you said, and I think this raises a really interesting question that Adam Touze has spent a lot of time on in the last few months, what does this mean for our relationship with China? In some senses, the future of the planet might depend, climate-wise, on how much longer China is going to carry on burning coal and over the last few years China has gone back – has really moved back towards more coal production, and that particularly in the context of what has gone on during the last few months in terms of the attempt by the US to decouple from China, and the much more confrontational relations of Hong Kong, and I think it poses really tough ethical dilemmas, because if you take, say, Adam Touze’s position, it is essentially we have to pursue terms of these severe not to But that also though – and I’m not sure what I think about that , but I think that it also really captures the reality though that this is never going to just be a matter of what people do in their individual lives I think we can all live our lives that are really much more aware about the ways in which we use energy , and the consequences of doing so, in some sense perhaps leading lives that use energy much less fecklessly than I think we have often done, but we are still going to have to have some answers to these big geopolitical questions that push back into the world of governments FARHANA: Yes, on China, so a few days ago, President Xi Ping announced update and revise more ambition and present a more ambitious target under the Paris Agreement so I think there is a very trying to do than what the US is currently thinking and saying and actually doing That’s not to say there aren’t thousands of coal plants and fossil fuel and dirty infrastructure that’s in the planning pipeline in China, there really are, and there’s a sort of mismatch , and I think coal and gas and oil have bought up political power. And that’s the big difference In the last ten years especially, they know the game is up, and they have had to directly intervene in a much more overt way to take over the political whether it’s the US, whether it’s Turkey, so the oil the global economy in many key geographies, Australia, I could go on and on, but I think that’s the last gasp of this elite, this particular elite, that happens Historically, they have to come out behind the curtains and say, and the young generation, they haven’t been taught it but they have understood it , the children’s strike yesterday, all over the world, young understanding and saying no to these sorts of politics and I think that will profoundly influence the way in which the present-day CEOs of the companies , large numbers of – including the Chinese political hierarchy, understand what they need to do I’m not saying I’m optimistic some days technological alternatives are already cheaper and better, as they are now, and they weren’t ten years ago, then I think there’s no stopping what happens It’s going to be possibly a bloodbath , possibly later for the planet and for social justice than we might like, but it’s an inevitability and they understand that inevitability, and it’s happening anyway that the write-downs of reserves and the re-evaluations of oil stocks is happening already, and it’s just going to

happen in that unplanned, unjust ways, which will leave probably workers and shareholders and others at peril, rather than – you know, in a better way. So yeah, that’s what I think happening already They can’t put solar and wind and cleaner technologies back in the box, that’s not going to happen. HELEN: Goodbye, Farhana! I’ve lost you. Will? How are you? WILL: Good, how are you? Nice to see you HELEN: And you WILL: You asked an interesting question at the beginning to Farhana about how – I guess, how she thinks about time, and how she thinks about the future, and I was thinking something similar when I was imagining how this conversation might go with yourself, because you are kind of political, in an economical world, where I guess you’re thinking about the present tense and the very short-term future, about the longer-term future? How do you make sense of that? HELEN: Yeah, that’s a good question You could argue that that’s – I have to spend a lot of time thinking about that, and that in some sense, that the COVID crisis, I think, has accelerated the need to think about the question of time for the future, in terms of the next few years, the next ten years, and much longer than that I mean, I think that there are several things I would say My instinct is always – and this is as much temperamental as it is anything else, is to start with the past And then use that as some kind of basis for thinking about what the future might look like There’s obviously dangers with that , because it risks not recognising when things have changed so much that the past is no longer a guide And I think there are a number of areas in which debt is absolutely another of them, where we have reached the point collectively in the world, and I think we can talk about the world both in relation to debt and to energy, where we are dealing with really like unprecedented complexity and problems, and the past isn’t really any kind of guide Nonetheless, I would say that doesn’t mean that human beings before us haven’t dealt with massive transformation, and particularly in politics, I think there’s quite a lot of continuity in terms of the kinds of political predicaments, that rapid economic and ecological change bring about So I try to be very hesitant about making predictions, whilst at the same time thinking that you kind of can see – I mean by that specific structural forces working themselves out, and I think you can – which is what I would usually want to do, say: we can see from the past are utterly unprecedented, or at least utterly unforeseen, like who knew a year ago that we would be locked down you mentioned unprecedented complexity which is kind of frightening – volume, I can’t hear you as well as I was difference You mentioned unprecedented complexity right now , which is kind of frightening, and I mean , there has never been a time in our lifetimes, has there , that we have had such a short foreseeable future I mean, our parents, our grandparents might have known like that, but we never have, so that’s a brand new thing for our era really So I guess how we navigate a period with such a short foreseeable future is, certainly in my line of work, is a major, major issue I mean, I’m constantly trying to build things for the future As an archivist, I’m trying to project things into the future all the time, for people to make use of, and if all the assumptions that I’m building on

are beginning to crumble, I mean, they always have been crumbly, in the ways you said, but they’re getting crumblier and it makes things an awful lot harder So I guess both of us have a slightly different perspective in that sense I’m drawing on the past a lot, but I’m pushing into the future more I’m trying to – I guess I’m trying to – a custodian of things in the future, in some ways, in ways that perhaps you’re not HELEN: Yeah, I think it’s a really interesting question I would like you to say a bit more about the way you think about the future I think that in some sense, time and our relationship to the future has in some sense become a fundamental political problem of our time So to speak And that one of the things that has happened, I think , during COVID, in particular, is that faith that a lot of people still had, that the future had a certain direction to it, has shattered Now I think for plenty of people, in some sense, that shattered before we got to the pandemic, but there’s something about the confrontation we are having at the moment with disease, and the fact that dealing with that has had such immediately disruptive consequences in so many different kinds of ways to our individual lives, and to the economy, and indeed to the way that we could even think about time, and the future That is, as you say, it’s not like anything that any of us, our generation certainly, have been through before It’s interesting, I think, the people who lived through the wars, whether that was their sense as well than the Second World War, because obviously the Second World War came after – only 20 years after a previous one, and just a set of disasters raises the question, can we all function without some kind of faith in the future? WILL: Yeah, I mean, in my area, it’s a bit like yourself, like everybody who does this, I suppose, and extrapolate forwards from there, but in my particular corner, in the sound archiving world, we’ve actually not been at it for very long You know, my great, great grandad might have had a gramophone but actually it’s really young technology, it’s really immature technology that I’m working with , despite the fact that it has been around for 130 years or so So nothing has really settled down Everybody has assumed that what they have is – I guess it always is, the cutting-edge but they assume and things in my area have only ever become more complicated and less foreseeable. So my area is in preservation. My job is to care for the old stuff As an archivist, I’m not a curator, I don’t select things or interpret things for the users so much, I’m more about caring for the older stuff, digitising it, teaching people to do that, and moving it forward and trying to preserve things for the future , but if you look 100 years ago, a gramophone record from then is fine It’s nice a stable, and we know how to play it , it’s Planet of the Apes technology, you could find it on a post apocalyptic modern you become, the less stable and interviewsive and the less – intuitive and the less reverse -engineerable they become, so the highest priority formats media , so things like CDRs and mini-discs and digital audiotapes and so on are far more precarious than things that are 100 or 70 years old So the past isn’t a great measure in that sense We can see a strange curve, we can see an acceleration of technology, and a shrinking of lifespan in that, but that’s not very reassuring for us But we kind of imagine now that we’re in a slightly new paradigm, the kind of digital file-based environment, that things are on the verge of levelling out , but every generation imagines, they go, oh my God, how wrong we were, so I think there’s some causes for optimism in our world I mean, digital systems are super-immature. They’re really,

really immature We have mass preservation systems for storing information , but they’re evolving so quickly, and they’re so unstandardised in how they operate, and they’re so untested, in the bigger scheme of things I mean, a digital preservationist might be screaming at the screen right now and saying “no, we are actually really good at it” and yes we are in many ways but it’s still so new, still so immature I think in terms of car technology, when I try to find a model to explain it to people So in terms of internet usage, we’re 25ish years into domestic use of the internet, so think of 25 years into the development of cars, and you’re not much after the Model T Ford was invented and when they had the Model T Ford, they thought wow, this is it, this is the iPad, or whatever, everything is sort you had out now, we’re got it, but it’s a very early stage in an immature technology, so I’m constantly aware of things moving, and of the precariousness of things And another issue I have, one of the main things that keeps me awake at night , if I explain how I came across this , about 13 years ago, I was at a meeting in Amsterdam them, a guy from Austria, mentioned – he just casually said, “We’ve got 20 years in which to preserve all of our legacy sound recordings, because after that time, none of them will be playable We need to divert them all from their original format (convert) into a newer format, a digital file-based format, because if we don’t do that, the old carriers will have crumbled and become unplayable, or more worryingly, the technology to play them will no longer be serviceable” And particularly this applies to analogue tapes, both in audio and video, video much more so actually He said, “We’ve got a ticking time bomb basically” That was 13 years ago and I still use that in my head So we’ve got seven years left, very simplistically speaking For some formats it’s not an issue stuff against that, by stockpiling equipment and spare parts, and the expertise to maintain the machines , and so on, nonetheless, it’s an existential crisis really, that has been following me around! So that’s kind of the world that I am living in So my version of the future has this big kind of Doomsday clock in it I guess not everybody thinks in those terms You could say the climate crisis is in some ways a similar thing, it doesn’t have a seven-year clock perhaps, but it’s a similar way of thinking about the future yours though, is because archivists are constantly trying to push things into in the future, but they are am constantly opening tape boxes or my colleagues in the past, all the time And one of the curious things about that is I’m picking up on their assumptions about what the future would be like With “we did this in order that this might happen” but I’m seeing how often they were wrong They assumed that we would still be using reel to they are great understand that market forces would drive tape machines from the world And there would be no serviceable tape machines machine now. No one is making many of the important spare parts No one is training the people to maintain the machines So it’s a slightly weird world where I’m aware that other people – made the same decisions they made, they did the best they could, but I’m and I’m making the mistakes or the same false assumptions So this stuff keeps you awake at night! HELEN: That’s really, really interesting, Will I was thinking, as you were talking about the ways in which – thinking about politics isn’t like that, but one thing that I think I would say is that the 90s, I think, were really, really distorting, like political understanding was concerned, and obviously in some senses you are then talking about the beginnings of the revolution and the

destabilising situation that you are talking about, because if you go back to the years – the 20th century, before then, whether that be the pre-Second World War world, or the Cold War world, there’s a lot of pessimism in the way in which people talk about politics , like analyse politics, with very good reasons, because you can see that the 20th century in particular just produces this sort of succession of disasters Where politics is concerned It’s not uniform disasters, it’s not that there’s no one , say about Western Europe after the Second World War, you run into the 1970s when it looks like everything is unravelling It’s just the 90s, when there’s democracy, and it’s not just Fukiyama who can be blamed for this naive assumption , that there is this form of government, liberal democracy economies and fundamentally stable societies And that some people are going to get bored in the end and that might be potentially destabilising, the Nietzschean problem, as Fukiyama puts it, at the end of history, but this assumption that in politics, things could get better and better, worse , and that catastrophes now belonged to the past I think that was really problematic, and the interesting thing as well is I think it’s problematic both ways the 2000s , even I would say before we get to 2008, and the crash , and everything that’s happened since, but I would say it’s also produced an overly pessimistic sort of obsession with catastrophe and potentially with apocalypse now Everything has to get framed around the world coming to an end, and you can see that in quite a lot of the climate discourse, now I’m not suggesting that all that means that there isn’t a massively important problem with climate change, but it seems to me it is a little bit too easy sometimes to fit it into these apocalypse narratives and they seem to be tied into having invested in the way that many people in the West anyway came to the conclusion that it would in the 1990s of like saying, well actually, this technological progress, the kind you’re working with, technological innovation, began, and it was supposed to be something that was going to deliver something and it has turned out to be, in any number of ways, much, much more complicated than that WILL: And I wonder, I became a teenager in the early 80s , at that time there was an awful lot of apocalyptic thinking, there was an awful lot of talk about armageddon, and worry about – CND were massive at the time And it was a formative period for me, I was just that age , and there’s an awful lot of thinking that way, and my generation are broadly in power now, and I wonder if that’s what we’re seeing now, is the flowering of the thinking that was born then, the children of reading about imminent mutually assured destruction and so on So there’s that funny cyclical thing when whatever is the mode of thought at a certain period of time among young people being formed, however rebellious and poo pooed it is at that time, give it Dylan was kind of a rebellious young poet who young people liked and old people scoffed at, but as soon as the Bob Dylan fans were old enough to be poet laureates or Radio 4 commissioners , all of a sudden, Bob Dylan is an absolute marble-clad genius, so there’s a flowering of thinking which happens when a generation go from being a grumpy teenager to wonder if there’s something of that CND era that is now kind of emerged out of the top of people’s thinking but also, Yuval Harari says – you talked about how the acceleration of change has dissipated politicians’

ability to have any real kind of vision of the future, that they’re no longer really in positions of leadership, they’re kind of in positions of they’re administering how things go, rather than having a big clear vision of how things could be or should be with – you know far more about this than I do. Is that how it looks to you? HELEN: Yes, but I think that the fundamental issue here is that the predicaments that politicians are dealing with in regard to climate, in regard to the economy, particularly, I would say, the living in since 2008, make it really, really difficult for any politicians to do much more than try to crisis-manage So I would say that what happened after the 90s was that period , those illusions that took hold, people’s ideas about it, it really didn’t last very long. It really didn’t last very long at all I would say quite some time before the crash, so by the middle of that decade, you can really see that governments are just dealing with a whole set of things that they have really out of China’s – I think China’s return is a better way of describing it, than China’s rise, and this is a big shock to – it’s an economic shock, it’s a geopolitical shock , it’s part of the climate story as well, particularly in the United States, it has really significant domestic political ramifications , I think you can tell some of the story about Trump as an electoral phenomenon via the China story So it looks to me that ever sort of since then, that politicians have basically been trying to find ways, in terms of the ways that they talk about politics , that in some sense disguise just how deep and difficult all these problems have turned out to be And in some senses then, what we are living through, since the pandemic, is a curtain being pulled back on all this, even more so, I think, than was true after 2008, and seeing that having a vision of the future, people in want to say it’s completely impossible, but it’s getting on for impossible And yet at the same time, the very nature of democratic politics encourages people to think that that is what should be on offer Is that they want a story that says, this is what the future is going to be like, and they want that, despite the fact that they often know that there’s always kinds of conflicts between the ways in which different people might benefit from that future, lose from that future, believe or not in that future WILL: And yet there seemed to be a lot of people about who do have strong visions for the future, but they tend not suppose if country , then they don’t have to worry about welfare, as they go along Meanwhile, in my world, we’re trying – so I am being a bit mean about politicians, having to guide us and give us some vision about such kind of unprecedented times but at the same time an archivist has a responsibility for they are, with COVID , for example, my colleagues, not me so much, but my colleagues are heavily engaged in working out what to document, or what documentation to grab and pull into the archive So we have a kind of COVID collecting group at the British Library, and they’re at the moment grabbing, I think, about 17 TV channels, 60 radio stations, something like 5,000 web pages, that are all directly related to the COVID crisis And trying to navigate, is this in any way representative of what’s going on? Is this what future generations will need? And answer. I don’t really envy them that

that we don’t know why people want our stuff We don’t know the questions that they will ask Real proper innovative thinking old questions of new stuff. Or old questions of old stuff. It’s really about asking new questions So we have to somehow second guess what those new questions are, so that we can present data or information in a way that they can find and pick up on I guess the whole digital humanities world is really about finding innovative ways of looking across archival information , and interrogating it in new ways , so we’re as vulnerable and as open to criticism in the archival world as the politicians are, I guess HELEN: I think as well, I think for the politicians, is that they also, living in a world in which their own responsibility for these questions, in some sense, is fundamentally changing Perhaps not fundamentally, but certainly it is changing So if you take what’s going on at the moment, how many politicians in any democratic country would have thought, OK, I get to become – fulfil whatever it is in the year 2020, and I will be spending my entire time trying to work out how to manage a pandemic And how would they even – and I think in some senses, the problem goes deeper than just the fact that the pandemic is so overwhelming, it’s that it poses really fundamental existential questions for us as individuals, for us as societies, for us as the whole of humankind, that are very hard to reduce In fact, impossible to reduce to the kind of material conflict questions that have so dominated democratic politics for so long Obviously, there are other issues, particularly in the cultural sphere, that do long time, decades and decades, has centred around the economy And now what we’re really seeing has been – happened actually been subordinated to something else So the thing that the politicians are used to thinking about, used to prioritising, they have agreed essentially that that comes – goes secondary to the health question understanding what they’re doing in making that decision. I am not saying they are wrong or right I just think it’s so different than what’s come before I don’t think it’s so different than what’s come before for societies in the past, where you have long had to – long engage with the issue of pandemics and endemic disease, it’s just that at certain points in the second half of the 20th century, the idea that this was in any sense part of politics kind of went away, and now it is back with a vengeance WILL: And you’ve got an idea that nobody is going to be OK until everybody’s OK And that’s not an idea that politics in our sphere has engaged with all that much, at least not in spirit. Maybe in word but not in spirit. That’s the interesting bit to me about the pandemic And the bit that’s kind of – there’s a bit of optimism from me, in that everybody well, and everybody means globally, not just everybody who is going to vote for you HELEN: Yeah! bit more pessimistic about it, we haven’t ways in which this has been dealt with Outside certain aspects of the economic side of it, where the Fed has acted in a very internationalised way, in the financial market crash crisis part of the pandemic crisis, but obviously, one of the things we have actually seen happen at the same time is that the between the United States substantially,

from an already deteriorating position during the last six months, and the nature of the pandemic itself, its origins, go to the heart of why that relationship has deteriorated, so I think those who kind of are putting some hope in what in the 90s used to get called in academic circles global governance, I’m not sure that is that positive WILL: I don’t know what will happen, science will wait Lovely to speak to you, Helen Hi, Vibeke VIBEKE: Hi, Will WILL: How are you VIBEKE: I am good. It’s lovely to see you Do you remember we have met in another world, it seems by now WILL: Back in the days when you were allowed to meet humans VIBEKE: It was in the British Library, speaking of hearing you speak made me very curious in hearing you touch upon the time of the pandemic, experiencing it from the eyes or the ears perhaps rather of the British Library Sound Archive and how it is being stored or also being experienced from that perspective And perhaps it was because we had just met before that whole shutdown of institutions of the world in many ways That it had been so much in my mind that collection, that sort of cacophany of sounds, how it had been in a time when we were talking about silence so much The silencing of society and then there was this loud archive sitting there, resting or perhaps waiting to speak again WILL: Yes, it’s an silence and create spaces We are now putting the pandemic aside for a nano second, we are now, with the Black Lives Matter and we need to make space for other people to speak and we need to make room around the table and room in conversations and so that, we need to encourage or create our own, we need to not fill silence and allow silence to develop and let other people come into that So, that is an interesting one I was just, last week I went to the Orkney Islands for the first time. It was absolutely amazing I was able to, because it wasn’t windy there, uncharacteristically, it was very still and super quiet and I was able to just stand by a bit of water and hear it was a completely different listening experience It’s great that I am talking to you, because I know that you love the static VIBEKE: You can go all out with me WILL: So, I mean, to give you an example, we were, I was standing on a small jetty early in the morning and there was another ruined jetty not far away and I could hear what I thought was running water and I was that it was actually tiny fish Maybe this size. Millions of them They were just jumping to the surface to catch a fly There was so many of them that it sounded like running water them So that is the kind of sonic world that we would never experience. You would never know that was going on around you We could hear porpoise, we could tell where porpoises where a quarter of a mile away because of the sound of their breathing sound You can hear it a quarter of a mile away So, finding silence and embracing silence like that is a really lovely thing VIBEKE: A great example Also, because it’s so greatly, or so perfectly describes also when we speak of silence, it’s such a, we easily think that it’s the

that makes space for another to be heard, which entirely is in line with what you spoke of, the time we live in for future in so many levels layer of noise or sound away and all we are doing is revealing something underneath it VIBEKE: Yes And I mean, you might have encountered it, I mean, we got to speak about that silent, that one silent document in the British Library, the silent whale sound recording, which really came to the surface in our conversation about how archiving always is trying, always fighting the limits of categorisation, the sort of challenges of that And speaking of how sound and what we consider sound, our ears just leave out this incredible spectrum of sounds heard by other species, other beings perhaps. Or present in other ways But, yeah, that you have that one silent recording, one that does not have, is not audible to our ears, but does carry sound. That of a blue whale That was so incredible and just briefly after that being in the times of the pandemic where the ocean is silenced, meaning there was so little shipping and so little movement on the oceans that actually the whales spoke up I thought that was just coming to mind, seeing you of course and speaking of such topics WILL: I love, in our hemisphere the fact that the pandemic really took off at the time of, in spring, so for wildlife it would be very interesting to know what effect clearing the airways had on mating rituals and on, has it resulted in a boom in wildlife? I a would love to know People will be researching this now, but the fact that we could hear birdsong in late March, where normally we wouldn’t have heard it. I don’t know In fact, I am not by no means a wildlife expert, but I know there is some really the sonic spectrum within rainforests, so if you assume, if you understand that species have evolved over many millennia to find a space in the acoustic spectrum and fill it So a certain species will communicate on one because they fit in there, there is room for them If you analyse the acoustic spectrum and you find a gap in it, there is a goods than that that indicates an extinction, it indicates that a species is no longer prevalent in a way that it once was which is really fascinating VIBEKE: Absolutely WILL: We have quite a few silent recordings in the British Library, we have the infra-sonic ones ultrasonic recordings of bats, of bats, the bats didn’t press record I love the fact you have engaged with that whale recording I have seen online about your correspondence about ways of exploring the poignancy and the resonance using an metaphor is fascinating As I said in archives we don’t really know what our stuff is for and you have illustrated it really beautifully It’s a recording of wildlife, who love the sound of wildlife, but actually the most interesting uses are completely unanticipated So we do try and make things available across, or are discoverable across different fields and so on So finding, hearing about you using that is really heartening You use time a lot in your work don’t you and sound, but not only time-based things which are not really about sound which I like VIBEKE: I would say so Actually I was holding myself back a bit to jump off this very noisy chair when you mentioned you

were at the Orkney Islands especially looking at the water there, because that particular water has been in my research lately And very much time-based in the sense that that is a particular geographical area where waves, ocean waves are being measured at the Orkney islands because it’s a place where waves reach after crossing a large patch of uninterrupted ocean. So the Atlantic be shaped on these long uninterrupted at that spot where you might have been standing. I am not sure But, it has been incredibly interesting because these swell waves have been so much on my mind since I have been in conversation, in collaboration actually with a specialist on ocean wave analysis And it’s been, it’s really, for from such different disciplines because indeed what you mentioned, the questions that are raised are so different in these different why he looked into these wave data there was to see what the effects of those waves would be on the ports, on the docks, on the human-made structures around that area where I was really interested to look at those waves for the purpose of looking at the waves But we, I got to do that through his research, through his analysis WILL: Whose analysis was that VIBEKE: So this was a specialist on wave, ocean wave analysis waves, these long-lasting or long travelling waves is that really they are an incredible example of a ripple effect on this global scale Since these waves can be, in many places they can originate from a different part of the globe place several days before So here you stand experiencing that wave that has actually been shaped in another time and in another place So those waves became very interesting for me, for that purpose It’s very nice for me to think that you witnessing that and working with it for a project WILL: It’s funny how the sound, you have reached into the infra- sonic with whale sounds which are below the area of human hearing but then you could say the wave patterns in the apt loonic coming across there are the same phenomenon in a sense Something, the frequency of that so much lower than anything a human could hear VIBEKE: Yes WILL: So, is it sound or is it waves that resonate for you as an image or an idea? How do those things coalesce in your mind? VIBEKE: I think in this case with the waves it was of course having sort of an association with wave lengths from sound, but I really wanted to work with sort of the transportation of that movement and I got, speaking of sound archiving, I got really interested some time ago for another art project I have been working on in the instrument of this automatic pianos and these pianos So they have become really interesting for me, both in the role they played in reproducing sound, in reproducing music most often, but also reproducing movement since they are recordings of Rachmainov playing Rachmainov, which were not made on sound recordings but perhaps were made on these musical rolls between

those, that reproduction or that wave animating at the same time that became really interesting for me But, oh, yes, there is so many, well there so many things I would love to speak to you about, I have at least one thing that came to mind in sort of the anticipation of this conversation WILL: Go for it VIBEKE: Which was, also, like I have been looking into your writing also and your thinking, the things I could find online, you are thinking about sound and archiving, which has been so interesting I was curious how you think of the sound document as something that is a sound recording, or can it also actually be an object or even perhaps to push it a bit, can a sound document also be a landscape? WILL: The object, the physical manifestation is really important don’t need to go very far to find people fetishising sound carrier, disks and tapes and so on If it’s important to people then it’s important to an archive, because we are here for people. How do you mean landscape? VIBEKE: Maybe I should say more about that I have been, a dear friend of mine, she is an archaeologist and she works on an archaeological site which they are now exploring through the way that sound travels buildings there might have been shaped so Just thinking, that for me was entirely mind-blowing to think that could be part of an archaeology sound and how sound can be of course the way that sound travels, can be the same in a landscape now from what how it was or similar, more or less, how it was centuries ago So how a landscape is a very solid archiving system WILL: And how the acoustic of a location may have been a key factor in its use by humans So a lot of acoustic archaeology has been done around Stonehenge at the moment to try and work out how it might have influenced how and why it was built, how people experienced it and so on So those kinds of questions are really intriguing aren’t they? It’s intangible stuff, it’s literally intangible, you can’t see it, but you know it was a factor In the same way that stained glass pays a very particular role in a church in how people perceive that church and how it mystified and magnified the connection with something up here. Sound, likewise would have done the same thing. Why not? Maybe the acoustic properties of Stonehenge are similar to the visual properties of stained glass. We don’t know Another Orkney connection, you think a lot in the Orkneys I visited many of these standing stone circles, so they are absolutely fascinating, so full of wonder and they have been standing there for five millennia in some cases and you feel this kind of wonder and you feel very grateful and humble just being there and yet you realise that we have no idea why it’s there, we haven’t a clue We have, to some degree we have protected the stones, they are still standing in many cases and we have, we are very deferential to them now, but we didn’t at the time context the information around them So we have the data on the stones but the metadata is missing We think it was to do with worship or the sun, but maybe it was a drunken bet made by two very wealthy people that resulted in a stone circle It’s so a strange lesson for recording, protect all the information around it. All the context Always the context has its own context and that has context might face, like, how really anticipating the ears of the future of what they might

want to, what information they might want to extract from that archive? Also the idea of how a document, how an artefact sort of, I got a sense at some point when you were speaking that it kind of grows throughout time It gets all of these little things that get attached to it in its, in how it is passed on and it made me, it some time ago and there were these pots that were dug up at a certain time and that the time when they were dug up there were etiquette attached to to them, but those etiquettes had also been there for two centuries by now, so they had become archival and so this sort of object just kept on growing and I thought that was such an interesting thing about archives in a way It must also be quite challenging of how, what can you peel off? to me and what you do In my area we, because we have to kind of make ethical decisions, or principled decisions I should say all the time We aim for objectivity, we try not to leave our fingerprints or any audible, but we try to leave things or represent them as they were In your world it’s entirely want to leave behind? There is not just the artwork, but what contextual information? Sometimes, from any artist, the ambiguity around your motives and what you were presenting is actually, that is where the richness lives, sometimes. Do you want people to know? How much context do you want around it? Do you want to strip it back or? VIBEKE: That is an interesting question I think I have been recently doing a lot of research in infrastructure of electricity, the generation, the transmission, the distribution and so I have come to think a bit in those terms of vocabulary, of the art practice or the art as a space of a substation, perhaps, or of a place where there is a transmission that takes place Not one of, let’s say, from low to high voltage, not as simple as that, it’s a bit of a more difficult alchemy, I feel that the art often plays It’s perhaps a strange example, but some time ago I spoke to a person who developed sense, who composes smells Sometime to wear perfume, but also a sense by themselves He had been sort of putting together the scent of a Jaguar E-type, don’t ask me why, but a sort of mixture of petrol, oil, leather and as he spoke about it, he said you know, when you want to make the smell of leather, you actually have to use celery I thought that is wild Perhaps that is the alchemy that I am referring to, sometimes, in order to say leather, you have to pick celery So that might be there is not that direct relationship in the transformation, but that is often how the world is experienced You might see something and it clicks with something entirely different It’s not Hart to do in a way is to really create these connections Ways of relating to ourselves and our environment, but also things in our environment to one another and really to have this sort of sense of connectivity of the most, in the most wild place perhaps WILL: And in that example you gave of the celery and the leather I mean the reason celery smells of leather is inside us

We are the conversion unit that turns the smell of celery into leather It’s like, I guess camera lighting If you want to look natural on TV you have to put an really unnatural make up and then with the lighting and the camera lens it turns it into something that looks like a natural human being. A weird kind of filtering process We always forget those lenses that we are looking through and in the celery leather example, we are the lens that turns leather into celery VIBEKE: In that example, I think we are, but in that example, there might be a very chemical connection right which perhaps we can call objective, that I feel we are constantly surrounded by How we are connected to other things in our environment by this very actual profoundly chemical connections and just perhaps to quickly mention another example, because to take it out of its abstraction, is that for instance we call whale species, as you by now know I am very interested in We call them the most polluted animals in the world This is because they carry all these traces, both because they are getting quite old, so their bodies have a long time in which to store that information, those elements, but also because they are at the end of the food chain, so they really accumulate these elements good reason for it, you will find traces of the goldmining and you will find traces in elements of mercury, or you will find traces of our shopping bags There is also that connection which is less associatative and really profoundly intimate WILL: Not only the knowledge that the information is is there, like in tree rings but that the whale had to live that The whale experienced chewing a shopping bag or absorbing goldmining detritus VIBEKE: Yes, I am very aware also that the ability, and I am happy that you can join me in jumping from one topic to another Are you planning to return to the Orkney Islands? WILL: No plans but a big desire to do so. I would love to We are running low on time but I want to ask you a question about the Longplayer because I know you have engaged with it I am curious to know whether the ideas around Longplayer impact your thinking about time and art. The scale of it is the exciting thing for me I wonder how, what it means to you? experience it in my time in London, which I am very happy about, that I could I think what is very interesting when I recently read something Jem Finer said about that project is how it started and how it has turned out to be and how, it’s in that time period it has already become a different work and I think that is the power of it It really has these different complex layers to it and I think about it now is that it is this piece that just holds space, that holds the space for itself, but also in general it holds a space for in an environment where so much is, so much space is filled and so much space is being occupied, especially in that urban surrounding So I think that is many of the things that I take from that work I am very curious about how this is, what it is for you WILL: Well it’s that really It gives you temporal room to dream and to think and to plan

and to, it gives you permission to think on a grand scale I need remind you they have a responsibility to do so as well I don’t know Long-term thinking is part of my world. Lovely to see you VIBEKE: Thank you so much for this WILL: Maybe I will see you in the Orkneys sometimes VIBEKE: See you there Take care VIBEKE: Are you joining me, Theodore? THEODORE: I can now see you I am very happy to meet you, the mission we have been given is to say what sort of future we want And I ask myself do you expect other people to have the same wish that you have, to be capable of doing what you are doing? can I ask you something briefly, there is certain sets of ideas of how people of different ages should address one another and I would you like me to address you? THEODORE: May name which is Theodore VIBEKE: Wonderful. I really like that you describe at first we are on a mission This gives a sense of immediate community And to answer your question, I truly hope so I hope that and I think so, I feel so that THEODORE: You have no grounds for thinking so I will tell you why, you are connecting many different branches of knowledge and you are trying to see beyond the obvious And if I am answering this question of what I want to see, I see that our educational system has been a failure For several centuries we have thought that education is a solution to human problems. When everyone is educated everything will be perfect Yet we have seen in recent times how people are unable to distinguish between truth and lies, are unable to think about the future, have very false ideas about the past and therefore they have not been thought how to think Now, what you are doing, as far as I see is telling people that these are things that the brain can do, but doesn’t normally do, it’s so lazy it doesn’t do it Am I wrong? VIBEKE: Perhaps You call it lazy and perhaps there is part of that, but there is definitely a certain way in which the brain tends to be automized by the environment that it operates in, whatever discipline or whatever family or whatever environment that is I think perhaps what I enjoy much about operating within the art world is that I like to think, at least, that there is a very, so many things are a question that it keeps the mind a bit active So perhaps the opposite of, as you call it, lazy, or the opposite of perhaps operating in automated capacity VIBEKE: Laziness is something that humanness adopt towards

the brain, but the brain has built inside it obstacles to admitting unfamiliar information into their minds and people have many, most people say that thinking is a painful activity and they do other activities and I think that is why I am saying that educational system has been like many other systems we have invented over the last few decades, few centuries, we invented agriculture of a new kind about three centuries ago and it has been a disaster We have invented the Industrial Revolution and it has been a disaster Likewise we have invented education and it has not prevented people from being unable to say when some aspiring person will in your great grandfather’s time, which was also a miserable time but you don’t know it And so, we are, when we say what can we, what future can we expect I think we have to do something very difficult? We have to start all over again, we have to say, how else are we going to eat? Not by the present way of agriculture which destroys the soil Not by technology which has ruined the atmosphere Really big things to do and that is only possible if people like you can encourage others to do what mindfulness does not encourage, mindfulness encourages, which has become a sort of epidemic itself of saying just prevent anxiety coming into your head, keep calm, which is very useful, but it’s not the solution two ways of thinking about that, at least two ways I think in many ways being calm and not in the British sense of keep calm and carry on, but really being calm would be extremely radical So in a calm state of mind, I think so much of the action, of the agency that has led us to many situations that we are in now has been shaped by the opposite of being in a state of fear, of anger, so I do think there is some, if we would truly have a calm state of mind, I would think there is another future there THEODORE: Are you normally calm? VIBEKE: I can only say that I consider myself slightly calmer than many people around me is fear. Now, everyone is born with fear Every living creature has fears of death, of being eaten by someone else and so on We have not helped people to overcome this basic obstacle, which is in fact the fundamental of all freedoms Freedom is not just having a Government which passes, which doesn’t annoy you, freedom is being freedom from fear, having freedom from fear To me, you illustrate how you have got out of, solved this problem by curiosity are what they are and how they could be different VIBEKE: Well, I would say that in that regard, Theodore, it seems I am in good company, because I don’t think you have ever stopped questioning things, if I look into your work, if I hear you speak online THEODORE: Tell me why VIBEKE: Why I see that, or why you have? THEODORE: Why is it because Young you share it, why? VIBEKE: I think what I observe about your work and what I really care for is how you create settings of conversations,

which, at the base, hopefully has that you are curious to hear, to know about people and their stories There is this project of yours that I like a lot, which I encountered that you had your, a birth day celebration where you invited strangers I think it’s great to use a personal moment of getting older, yet another year and to celebrate it with people that see you for the first time. Why? I would be curious to know from you, why do you maintain curiosity in people’s stories? THEODORE: You see I would say young people, some young people have a tendency to be rebellious and one form of rebellion is to insult one’s teachers and so on, or one’s parents But another one is to escape from the rigidity of the syllabus which one is taught in order to pass examinations and I have always had this feeling that what I see is not everything, that there is more to it than that. Things are not what they appear to be That is exactly what your work is showing, that things are much more complex and the more information we learn, we acquire, the more ignorant we become, because things So it is, it becomes an adventure and so one has no time to be nervous when we are so excited by being able to see things that no one has ever seen, but I do not think that in answer to this question we have been given, what kind of future can you look forward to I feel that a large number of people do prefer to be certain about everything, to have no doubts and to me they are people who live in fortresses Keep everything which will disturb you out We have the books we believe in, we have the teachers we believe in and we want to be calm. No doubts Other people want to live as it were in an open port by the sea and to explore and to find out, but I think the people who live in the fortress are in the majority VIBEKE: Yes and sometimes that fortress looks like a very boring little house in a suburb in town I think what you just said made me think of the other day I was reading this incredible book by Robin Kimmler, Operating Sweetgrass She is a botanist and also a native American scholar, or scholar, practitioner She was very critical about the word sustainability and I thought that was such an really what that word implies We use it in a context of something to thrive for, to pursue, to sustain in order not to fall further apart, perhaps Actually sustainability is also an excuse, related to something you just described to perhaps find other ways, new ways to remain the same THEODORE: Exactly. Remain the same Can you answer that question of, I would like to know why you are able to do these very original excursions into electricity, for example, how have you obtained that form of freedom from the constraints of your own ignorance and fears? VIBEKE: I probably have to give my father,

or my parents some credit for creating space for curiosity, or not limiting space of curiosity from an early age In fact I think they are among the most curious people that I know I think it also has to do with, curiosity has this sort of notion of being effortless, being light and not taking effort I also think it’s a decision, I think it truly is a decision of being and one that pays off into becoming more curious for reasons that you just describe The more we look into things, the more we consider, or realise how vast the depths are of understanding them, or grasping them THEODORE: What you said was interesting, you said first of all your parents I think that is very true, but then we realise that in the past people’s future was determined by their parents You could not, if your parents were peasants you had to remain a peasant, if your parents were uneducated or drunk your future was limited and therefore it places on their parents and the sustainability of this limitation will go on forever Where do you start? people have parents who are not interested, what is the solution to that? VIBEKE: I think just from experience I think the best way of maintaining curious is by finding other curious people to interact which which makes me also happy to sit here with you and the two angels surrounding you so beautifully in the back satisfied and don’t do anything, you have got teachers and they should be and are sometimes a source of inspiration VIBEKE: Yes, I mean you have teachers, actually be more curious. Who knows? You have your neighbour’s kids, you have the dog that might live in the household, yeah, I think THEODORE: The dog is very important VIBEKE: The dog is important, I would say so If you would look back, in a way of relating to the question that you raised yourself right now, who have you learnt or who has taught you curiosity? THEODORE: I don’t know that anyone taught it to me I could not help it. I think actually it is a natural phenomenon, which everything, but then they are taught not to be curious and I think in the bible it says “do not be too curious” So, because it’s not your business, you are just a small person, it doesn’t concern you and people are always afraid of curiosity and that is why we have now, this hang up about privacy You don’t want anyone to interfere with your privacy and I have been asking myself why? I know understand why, because at the moment people are defending themselves against advertisers, against the police, against the CIA, whatever it is, but they are not taking a reaction against it, they are not saying if you want to find out everything about me and I don’t like that, they don’t say, instead, I am going to tell you who I think I am activities, you are getting a false idea about me, this is who I am nothing

wrong with your, with talking about one ‘s self because you have an idea of who you think you are or would like to be That is what I really like to discover from people, but we are stuck we, obsessed by technology becoming the enemy VIBEKE: It’s an interesting differentation that you mention who you are and who you would like to be Definitely the algorithms, who give us a sense of who we are, and who respond to how we act give us very little possibility to become who we want to be, if that is anything different shaded from how we might now act because it responds directly to that and feeds it THEODORE: We talk about self-made men and women Self-made To think about that, what it means to be self-made, I suspect it is to be open to external influences not to make one’s self, but to be made by other people, self-made Other people have made one and import little pieces of other people If you live in a fortress you keep other people out VIBEKE: Imfeel that you are giving a new definition of self-made there THEODORE: Yes VIBEKE: One that is more in line with at least how I think, because I don’t really believe in self-made or I have strong suspicions against such a term, because it focuses so much on our individuality in a way of ignoring or denying our connections THEODORE: Well, if we try before we are turned off to give an answer to the question we have been put, I think that, this definition of self-made means to me one is Then what can we do together that we could not do alone? VIBEKE: Have a conversation, I would say THEODORE: Yes, but how are we going to make the world less disgusting? VIBEKE: Yes, that is a real question Well, you know, there is this expression that the incredible ocean, an American Vietnamese poet, we tend to say how the future is in our hands, but he reframes it or rephrases it and says the future is in our mouths I think that is what we are, in some way doing, or at least starting here or continuing probably But of describing it, of shaping it in thought, in conversation, in dialogue U THEODORE: I now find the answer to the question I asked you I have got to study you a bit more, I have got to understand how you jump from one thing to another In other words, you will have to provide me with those, the best places where I can follow that and words are often not enough, one need to see the bit behind the words I am very conscious of that artists are so absorbed in discovery of what they are doing, that they assume everyone can understand them VIBEKE: Actually I am confronted quite often with being misunderstood, so I am aware of that, for sure I think perhaps, or possibly, like I feel that perhaps

in the, artists are being criticised for that or being made aware of making that miscalculation when so often I look at people from other disciplines and I wonder if they wonder as well how they communicate what they do to others THEODORE: What I immediately see in my desire to learn from you, is you seem to be a very good intermediary between the humanities and the sciences and you have, even though you rightly say that they don’t agree with how you interpret them, but you seem to have produced a link between the two and I think there is a link and I think art and science are in fact closely linked, they are about the use of the imagination and this dichotomy is a false one But each subject is damaged by being placed in so much jargon and that, like a defence mechanism. It’s difficult VIBEKE: That is true and it sort of loosely relates to something I would really, even know we are already counting down, but I would love to ask you, Theodore Since I know, or I have heard you speak about the value of being multilingual and I see that as not only something that might manifest in speaking different languages, but also being aware of different vocabularies and with that different ways of describing and seeing the world I was curious, if you feel there is a solution or there is a suggestion for actually how we can consider the future? THEODORE: When you mention languages, you know Britain has the lowest rate of people who can speak a second language You who come from a smaller country have to speak a second language and Britain is very backward and the Americans likewise want to forget their original language and the one thing that young people can do better than older people is learn languages That is one example of how education has been a failure and why we are so afraid of strangers now that we vote for Brexit Therefore it applies also to the languages of other disciplines VIBEKE: I think there is something, I have heard you speak on this a bit in the introduction to The Night of Ideas where I was actually present, so it was very nice to hear your introduction there and it was very much about this, about how really and that relates to how, how we think is embedded in our language and how, in order to expand our thinking we could also expand our language and our vocabularies THEODORE: Yes and speaking another language is like being tennis, it’s a different kind of game, there is something exciting about it and we have reduced in this country, we have reduced the teaching of foreign languages VIBEKE: Sorry, what did you say THEODORE: We are committing suicide. Cutting ourselves off from the world VIBEKE: Is there any language that you would, if you could choose now, that you have particular interest in mastering VIBEKE: THEODORE: When I did my degree at Oxford I learnt absolutely nothing about China, about India and I would love to be fluent in Chinese At the moment I read an awful lot of books about China, but there we get a different In everything I do, I go to China, Japan and so on to get a different perspective on

any problem and it’s always good to have one ‘s opinion’s challenges They started doing this a long time ago and had a different opinion interested me. What happened to that in China? Do you know? (Laughter) THEODORE: OK MARIANA: Hello THEODORE: Hello MARIANA: It worked. Very happy to see you, Theodore THEODORE: Very happy to meet you, a great fighter against tremendous odds. Very difficult to defeat having there, about languages I just came from my lunch table , in my home every sentence seemed to be half in Italian and half in English I realised, at one point, one of my kids said: Can we just choose, one language THEODORE: It is nice to speak in two languages MARIANA: It is But in the same sentence, it goes in and out, two or three times. It is quite funny THEODORE: It seems to me, in the countries which do not, that claim to dominate the world, their own language is enough MARIANA: , and they are honoured It is interesting in Italy where I’m from, terrible , the Italians exor embrace them and say – that’s wonderful I have not had that experience in France, for example THEODORE: Well, Italian and French is MARIANA: Anyway. Why did you call me a fighter? THEODORE: Because you are trying to find the same things in economics which annoy everybody And that is something that I wanted to discuss with you Because, you are , you pointed out rightly the role the state has played in innovation. I would interpret it this way In the beginning, it was of the state , it was the potenttate, the rich persons who were able to ask great engineers, whatever, to do something, by their own free will And the snag I find in your argument is that, the state is now managed by people who, quite often, have completely different ambitions And secondly, of the state, most states are bankrupt MARIANA: Good point. So, I mean where to begin? First of all, the state doesn’t exist in one, you know, big blob form. There are different types of states. They are managed in different ways might have, if we, instead of using the word state think of the public sector, right, as different as the BBC in the UK, which is funded with public money, to the Department of Defence So, I think coming to your first point about maybe the lack of management, capacity. That is not inevitable If you think of a private sector company , they are able to manage production lines, and innovation because they also invest in that capacity There are business schools all over the world that teach CEOs how to do strategic management, decision sciences, organisational behaviour, all these sexy words And the state because – I mean this is my take – because we often pretend that it is just there to fix problems when they arise, in economic speak we call it “fixing market failures” justification for being really ambitious and investing within the state in dynamic

capabilities and capacity And in fact, that is also with the outsourcing of the capacity, for example, to the love how much getting, the big four, PricewaterhouseCoopers , KPMG, Deloittes, who are managing it or mismanaging it for the UK Government, hospitals to also something as complicated as Brexit THEODORE: Do you agree that the motivation of people who seek to manage the state, is maintenance in office? They have got to win the next election? MARIANA: I think, broadly, that is true, of course, in the sense that there is an election every four or five years, depending on which country we are looking at But I think that would be unfair to argue that people enter the public service just to have a job and to have the job again and again I think actually, at least in principle, the reason people do enter the public service, even though their salary might be much lower than say, if they were working at Goldman Sachs , is actually a sincere belief in the public service in a civic sense The problem is that, we actually don’t have, you know, coming back to this issue of also capabilities , capacities, metrics, limits , an open discussion within society, which is the state – what is it for? have states – forget the bad states, the dictatorships and malignant, you know, explicitly malignant states but you can have a lot of uselessness should be doing but is not doing properly and fill that gap Or do what they maybe should be doing, but in a very unambitious, bureaucratic, boring way. But there is nothing in the DNA. State that should make it so, right Coming back to that word you use “imaginagement ” we shoulding — — management There is no reason why the word bureaucratic word should be negative I say it is such a bureaucratic system But there is no reason why as an adjective, it is it should be negative THEODORE: Have you spent time in the Government? MARIANA: I work with governments all the time THEODORE: Not as a civil servant but you have experienced governments setting up some institutions in Scotland. We set up a public bank in Scotland actually doing? You know, in theory, let’s pretend we are in complete Utopia, what you could have states doing today is say : Hey, we have agreed to 17 have, we now need to rethink or tool procurement policy, grants, loans , price schemes, to crowd in bottom-up experimentation across society, through, you know, well-designed created public levels , like procurement, that people often forget how big it is in the public judgement, to be as creative as possible to tackle those goals and have moon shot emissions within them That is kind of what I have been doing recently THEODORE: The question I want to ask you is : Is it possible that the 1% who own a great deal of money and who are unsure with what to do about it, can be persuaded to do what the state does not do? very often is to do with thing to do? MARIANA: In the private sector or public sector? THEODORE: Private sector. 1%, half the wealth, whatever it is Well you have had experience of both sectors. What is your opinion? I find that the 1% have so many bees in their bonnets, that you cannot, you can very rarely tell them that this is more important than building , you know, a new chemistry laboratory in some university MARIANA: Well, for a start I’m not sure that the The first question is why do the 1% have so much wealth? actors but not only the public sector, we have under that, for example, socialising risks, in different sectors, including in digital sectors and in the health sector and increasingly in the energy sector but then privatising the rewards

So it is not just about factors like deregulation that many have written about The narrative and the story we actually talk about, in terms of where wealth comes from, has been very siloed, very narrow and that has been used also managed to have so much wealth If you look the a, you know, in my book Entrepreneurial State, the technology that makes our iPhones smart and not stupid, it was state-funded Internet, GPS, siri, such screen display Every time your kids mess up your phone CIA So the question is, take Silicon Valley for a moment, the 1% are not just in Silicon Valley but a lot of those companies are One could argue, not so much what should they be using their money for, you know, but where did that money actually come from? result of a social infrastructure, and a social investment, and very much a public investment, have managed to capture so much of the rewards? I do think that is the first question The second question is: Given what they have, what should they do with the money? Firstly, definitely reinvest A lot of, you know in the last ten years, $4 trillion have been used by the Fortune 500 companies just to buyback their own shares to boost share prices, stock options and executive pay That is definitely not a good use of the money But even to the investment when it does happen, the question is: Who should decide how these massive pockets are spent In sectors like if you think about the COVID moment now, the healthcare crisis, in sectors like big pharma, where something like 75% of the drugs out there trace their research back to public spend, you could actually have a bit more of a deal, a negotiation between the public and private on all sorts of issues, including directionality Where are the big kind of areas that funding should be going to , for example, antibiotics and vaccines that are very much underfinanced. Should we decide that about values, which I find very interesting You talk about subjectivity being introduced into this And what you say is very valuable And how can one develop this further? What is your idea about how this can be developed further? MARIANA: Well, just, you know, so our listeners understand sorts of different things in different fields Basically what I argue is that the theory of value , how economists have actually thought about what is value used to be, in the times of add am Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx, tied to objectives, of production This is why Adam Smith was obsessed factory in the labour would increase productivity, growth and the wealth of nations labour , so did David Ricardo They were all very concerned with rent, rent in terms of value extraction Anyway, in neoclassical economics, the current type of economic theory that drives, you know, what is being taught all around the world, they transform this interest in the objective, not as a deterministic objective but an objective meaning literally who is doing what in society, and who is earning what from that, to the subjective So all the attention in modern economic theory is on individual choices So consumers are maximising their utility Another word for happiness for a price. Firms are maximising their profits You know, workers are assumed to be maximising their preference for leisure versus work THEODORE: I think this is where economists have gone astray MARIANA: Exactly But the focus on individual decision is sort of a subjectification of value that everyone is maximising their own kind of individual decisions and then we aggregate that up and form the famous supply and demand curves which form equilibrium prices and what we have been doing recently, including how we calculate GDP, we assume that the price reveals value So we reverse the causation, whereas in Marx, Smith and Ricardo, they had a theory today a theory of price that determines what we value That confusion, you know, messes up a lot of things

THEODORE: When we have more time , we can’t today, I would like to discuss with you further how one can develop this idea of subjectivity into what it is that individuals can profit from their work, and what I really wanted to talk to you about was how we could change work so that – because work is where we spend our time , and how most work is boring, or damaging to the mind, or of no point And this is the issue which I would like economics to think about MARIANA: Very good constitution is “italy is a country founded on work.” I love it THEODORE: Really? sentence, there would be a huge debate about work, its quality, as you say, the level of alienation people might have in work is something on the periphery in terms of what we talk about, but it is central, you are absolutely right THEODORE: And I would like someone like you, who is an open-minded economist, to look and see how you could reinvent each profession, each occupation, with a purpose of making it something which enhances the life of the individual, which makes it more intelligent, more sociable and interested in other things Whereas at the moment it is only about earning money in order to have money in which to live in your spare time moment and to answer the question we were imposed, I would say we have to reinvent work this theme is: What is the modern-day equivalent of the weekend? If you think about it, the weekend exist as does the 8-hour work day because those organisations defending workers, trade unions, fought for it. We all enjoy the weekend but it was fought for People died to get us the weekend I often wonder: What is the equivalent today of the weekend? Right Which mod modern day progress Griff trade unions would be fighting for, so anyone , and that… Would benefit from allow and therefore what the state will contribute to, because financing reinvention of work is quite difficult That was why I was thinking of one ought to get the 1% to do t rather than the state, which has so many obligations and so many debts and so on MARIANA: Debt is a manufactured concept At least in countries with Sovereign currency, money is created all the time When countries go to war, including the UK and US Government Whether it is World War Two, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc You never here governments say – sorry, there is no money, we can’t go. They create it. The real question is what are the priorities we have today So, for example, a green transition, is has to, of course be financed by both public and private but coming to your point about work, there would be all sorts of new jobs and skills required And how to make sure that they are as purposeful , or purposeful and that together we reimagine the kind of society we want to work in, I think we need new forum. Like citizens assemblies talking about this It shouldn’t be handed down from above, whether it is the so-called 1% Or academics like you and I THEODORE: Academics are supposed to think freely but also, in my view, to remember what has happened in the past And that is what modernity prevents Modernity says what in the past should be forgotten and we need to see all the mistakes our ancestors made And how we have got into this mess of people sitting , spending their lives looking at a computer MARIANA: Yeah David Greber who unfortunately passed away recently, an LSC historian THEODORE: Did he? MARIANA: Sadly, he wrote the wonderful book, Bullshit Jobs THEODORE: It was much too limited… The whole

possibilities of humanity into account MARIANA: Exactly I think, I am not as familiar with his work probably as you and hopefully his students can, in his memory, also develop this work further with imagination, as you say But the question is – who to fund ? What, you know, what kind of jobs we have , also very much depend on what kind of society we are building So I do think there is a question about what does a sustainable, inclusive economy steer towards, again coming back to the STGs and what are all the different, you know, work and skills that we require to really tackle these challenges head-on I think many of those jobs haven’t been invented yet developed by seeing, experimenting, discovering what has been tried in many different places, over many different centuries, and enhancing our vision of what the future is about I believe that one cannot have an idea of the future, without having memories of the past Because, it is from the past that we see what has gone wrong And when we have no memories, we have dementia MARIANA: Absolutely Unfortunately within the economy, we keep making the same mistake over and over again, and we absolutely have a demented economy in that sense Crisis after crisis But I think one danger in looking too much at the past is, we have had a very narrow group of voices and experiences which have defined, you know, what the problems are I was working – speaking recently to Francis Norris, the head of the TateEd who earn, we might be working together on the concept of thinking about how do you measure the value that is created by a museum, like the Tate Modern A public museum, the Treasury has to do evaluations of where to put its money, what to give the different types of institutions, whether it is an art museum or again, a health agency And it is incredible how narrow the, again, value, something like art and the role of the Tate has been very much to bring new audiences, people who have never been to the museum, who are going for the first time But also new artists, to exhibit very different historically has not been exhibited for all the reasons we know. Power is the incumbent Looking at the past but being willing to disrupt it with new voices and be quite questioning about how we view, how we even understand our society. I think we require both THEODORE: Well, perhaps speaking to you can stimulate the Treasury to have different kinds of thoughts more I often say that getting to the(? ) and back again, the big feat of 50 years ago, a lot of interesting things happened along the way not randomly but by mistake, serendipity , the whole software industry emerged from trying to get to the moon How do you measure that and evaluate what we call dynamic filler, feedback effects, these loopy things, serendipitous things that happen along the way, which got us the software industry discover things by searching for a particular thing, you find it on the way MARIANA: Exactly THEODORE: You end up When publishers say: Please going to write a book about, you will find out when you finish it know about get the grants which we do, but it is very stupid to ask an academic: Tell us what your outputs will be There is no point doing the research if I know the output! Or what will be the deliverable? I don’t know, we will see We have to put something down, and we do but along the way, all sorts of weird things occur THEODORE: Let this be your next ambitious, to make the grant people, with the 1%, able to think about how new ideas are created MARIANA: With you we need to be careful. Don’t let the 1% do the grants I think think it is a huge risk, the New York Times has a great article, five years, ago called the Privatisation of Science, because we are

cutting public budgets constantly for the wrong reasons debt and deficit , that actuallily a massive gap has humanities, brings us back to the Middle Ages, the medieval times, exactly as you began, your wonderful beginning when you said – back then we had the kings and the Queens, you know, funding science Yes, that was full of secrecy and random things, they had their pet projects They wanted to be known, so they funded things with no peer review So, what was good in the modern grant system is that there is peer review If that peer review, though, is too narrow, of course we need to fight against that You don’t want just the rich and famous funding, I don’t know, garage fusion, I say that because my father has dedicated his entire life to nuclear fusion in big laboratories and nowadays it is quite common to pretend you are going to do fusion in the garage and this is getting huge amounts of money from the 1% You wonder where they are getting their knowledge from, by funding these strange experiments THEODORE: The big problem with peer review is, of course, if you have a new idea, everybody will, or all the people in the established speciality, will say – this is rubbish MARIANA: That is the point about the disruption, absolutely That is the tension You want the peer review, you want some sort of rigour but you want it to be very open and permeable and allow some craziness admit people who had no qualifications because I thought they were bright And that was stopped by administrations and so on But, if you just judge people on their qualifications, that is not enough MARIANA: Yeah THEODORE: We’re talking about imagination, and imagination is often wrong, often mad And so, one is looking for people who are willing to break away create , I’m sure when we create t we will still be quarterliing and doing stupid things like we were before It has to be more than the green world and who is preparing that MARIANA: And who is defining it, like in the work we are doing with cities Back to this point of bringing as many different voices and citizen groups, students, and again trade unions and different voices to the table. To define – what is a green city? What is a sustainable city? Who is defining that? THEODORE: You have to trust individuals to experiment. You give them small experiments Only then do you see what one out of 100 will work, perhaps MARIANA: Don’t you think there is a saying , the individualisation of the concept of value, if we focus there is this overreliance on some sort of bottom -up process that doesn’t have a direction, so it gets dispersed answer the parts don’t sum up to anything interesting? So there is constant tension between providing a direction, we are allowing as much experimentation and serendipity and crazy enough to happen bottom-up, it is that very difficult tension You sometimes have societies that are two directive or ones that end up again, too bottom-up THEODORE: Well one of the things I did when I wrote my History of French Passions, I went to the library and read all the doctoral thesis about the application of laws and regulations I discover they never achieve what they claim to achieve MARIANA: Interesting interpreted? THEODORE: All kinds of laws And nobody had looked at these thesis. And they go back a long time And because the results of any state activity is seldom what the state intended MARIANA: Yeah THEODORE: They didn’t intend to produce all this inequality MARIANA: It is true for Viagra, it wasn’t meant to do what it is doing, it was for the heart and something else went up That is true of most innovations we have today are due to a problem that was set, that wasn’t focussed on what we end up with, including the internet

The internet was not focussed on as the internet The question was, we needed a satellite to communicate and the internet allowed that to happen, but the question is, what are the problems we are asking ourselves today that need affect also the type of THEODORE: You are a very influential person , and one has to influence influential people in order to produce exceptions to the rule MARIANA: How nice to see you, Laurie LAURIE: Are you MARIANA: Is your volume on? LAURIE: I think I am there MARIANA: You are. Hi there This is wonderful, isn’t it, it goes in and out? LAURIE: I just jumped in, in the middle of your last two minutes I heard something about from the bottom-up, I heard something about Greening and I heard something , so, which way would you like to go right now? MARIANA: Anyway LAURIE: Unintend consequentials, unexpected MARIANA: Unintended consequences We were talking about funding, if the state funds something, how does it then evaluate whether that funding was successful Morris, you might know the head of the Tate Modern, how the Tate gets evaluated by the Treasury? LAURIE: What did they come up with? How did they evaluate that? MARIANA: We need a better evaluation This notion of cost benefit analysis and all these sort of static costs and benefit metrics don’t capture, we were saying, all the random stuff that happens along the way So as a museum, it is trying to redefine what does art mean, who is an artist, with the much wider community, than those who have been allowed to exhibit art in the past and also bring in new people to the museum, who have never been to the museum that Is a very important, you know, mission — that is a Tate which of course will be much higher with blockbuster shows, the Picasso and Matisse, exhibits, then it is difficult Tell me about your LAURIE: What is this mandate for policy that people in news have decided to do — expanding., or do you think it is just happening? MARIANA: I don’t know. I don’t work in the museum people that I have heard, talk about how the funding affects what they do You know, the big point point that finance isn’t neutral How money comes in, whether it is public or private money, into a museum, or any form of art, or the health care sector, how the money comes in, the structures of that funding, how it then gets evaluated, whether it was a success or a failure, actually affects what happens on the ground And unfortunately there is not enough recognition of that , so you might have a sector emerging and they say – we need more money, we need more finance, without paying attention to what is the form of that finance LAURIE: Yeah I have watched the number of museum goers in New York , you know, more or less become ten times what they were when I first started going to museums It’s overwhelming, I would imagine it is hard to evaluate the effect of expanding your audience like that MARIANA: Those are private museums. Don’t they mainly charge very high MARIANA: Well, um, some of them are free moments But I think it is – I had to confront my own snobbery , I guess, to when I had to fight suddenly, you know hundreds of people who were , you know, getting selfies with works of art MARIANA: Oh yeah LAURIE: Yeah, and now, of course, we are back to empty museums here in New York It is quite wonderful, again in a snobbish sort of way. All the tourists have gone I imagine it is like that in many cities across the world

You realise who lives here The people who live here are really, like, like oddballs, you know MARIANA: You mean New Yorkers MARIANA: Well, you know, To come to a place that is kind of quirky, with such strange arrangements for living, I think has to put up with a lot What is your feeling with that in other cities? MARIANA: I’m in London, but it is like that now, in Rome, where I’m from and I brought my daughter to the Sistine chapel and we were the only ones Imagine that Not every city, for example, has a sense of public space or spaces where people actually have space to meet. London has the wonderful public parts Italy has wonderful public squares but so many cities , I think and the US kinds of lack that, New York obviously is different, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston you don’t have those kind of, you know, places where you might randomly meet where you have, where there are fewer tourists or just fewer cars going around streets, how it has been experienced and the kind of conversations it might are talking about cities or places where everyone is in their car, verse us where they are work walking like New York City. Do you feel like you have met new people? LAURIE: Yeah It’s also, it does remind me of the ’70s here Because it’s darker earlier People are getting knocked on the head more often. A lot of muggings But it is also a much friendlier place. I like it a lot months, I have been outside of it So each time I come, I see another version of what is going on We are trying to do a lot of events now because writers and musicians in this city have been very quiet in the last few months And we are just realising, with our election coming up in a few weeks, that it suddenly is really shocking how little people have, from the cultural world, have said and contributed to the national argument MARIANA: That is interesting. I feel like that is true. I don’t know about in New York, but in London where I live I have been asking a lot of my art friends but also architects and designers why they are so silent , always, even preCOVID, as an economist, where I was writing in the Guardian or whatever, about opinions, whether it is debate Is it that the papers and news media are not asking the feeling the urge to have a more explicit debate? I am not not talking about the kind of arts world but for the general public to know what you think For example, in London, how the City itself has been changing architecturally, you never read the architects’ writing saying – that was wrong because we should have done X, Y and Z LAURIE: You don’t MARIANA: You don’t hear that, when I ask them why they say they work on commission, so they don’t want to make a fuss. What were you saying? LAURIE: Yeah I’m not sure I know the answer as to why artists and writers are so quiet I think perhaps because the speed of communication is so blindingly fast that, as soon as you jump into that, it’s gone on to another topic, completely MARIANA: Ah LAURIE: So, I think that is part of it And also, there are so many things going on simultaneously, here, right now, to fracture everybody’s attention

That is sort of the way, a catastrophe on many different levels I get a lot of calls, every day, from my friends in California, who can’t breathe, you know MARIANA: Because of the fires LAURIE: Because of the fires So, yeah, we are really being pulled from one emergency to another And we are just beginning to think how we can begin to shape some other kind of story because the whole technique of how stories are being produced here is make, make them very fast, make them very frightening And, he said “what ?” you know, really shocking to people another, I would say MARIANA: Do you think that has changed over time? Artists whether you think of the movement within the arts, confronting a social, economic, political situation, why don’t we have , or maybe we do and I just don’t know, I’m probably quite ignorant of what is happening in the arts world , do you feel that this seal lentness that you are talking about and why it may be , have changed over times, because surely back in those times, there was maybe more commitment other, working together, reacting together, or not? LAURIE: I think the romance of speed at that point attracted artists and that it seemed futuristic And now, I think most of the people I know are not interested in trying to define some kind of future They have had it with a billion TED talks that is trying to say the future is going to be X or Y. And realising that we are in it right now. This is it. Minute by minute And realising people are running out of all these kind of predictions I really think that speed has a lot to do about it right now I hadn’t thought about until you were just saying the unintended consequences of the internet which, you know are fracturing minds And for example, the future futurists, how engaged they were. I’m not the person to comment on that. I’m not sure how engaged they were I would say artists I know, I would say kind of burned out on speed MARIANA: But story-telling LAURIE: I was just MARIANA: I will let you finish good formula which I like Which is: If you think technology can solve your problems, you don’t understand technology and you don’t understand your problems MARIANA: That is awesome LAURIE: And the speed, if you want it faster, go right ahead, knock yourself out, find all those great solutions But most of the people I know, now, I think have deeply appreciated things becoming very slow And genuinely don’t want to go back on the merry-go-round of progress progress and predictions, also And I would feel the same way What about you? Did you enjoy the slowdown? MARIANA: I did, in the sense I spent much more time with my four teenagers, which was a pleasure and they seemed to even want to be with us. Or at least they pretended. We went every day for a walk, at least during the lockdown It was one hour a day we were allowed out It was just such a nice thing to be expecting to come I don’t know if you remember in the book The Little Prince, I think he was yelling at to come, so I can warm up my heart “, in expectation, I felt every day I was warming up my heart and go and walk in this wonderful park here in London called Hampstead Heath. That was fantastic government of South Africa and the level of inequality that many countries,

you know have, that creates a massive problem when you have something like a pandemic. You know, that inequality just gets worse So, yes, I had more time with my kids but I was reminded everyZoom call I was having with a different COVID task schizophrenic moment on the one hand of feeling cosy with my family but being reminded of the difficult social, economic, political situation outside Not as a philosophy, not something abstract but literally with the people I was speaking to MARIANA: So you are coming up with a strategy for the future, for a situation like that going and to shape it, somehow, how do you approach shaping something like that? MARIANA: Well, coming back to your point about speed, think of the language quick, a vaccine and then we don’t govern it properly, if a going to have to govern the patent system and the sources, in particular ways, to when have to grow again, we need to get people back to work The problem is how that recovery, literalry the recovery package that a Government is a massively missed opportunity There are trillions being thrown into the system right now, aren’t structured to actually build a better future, then we are crisis So, on that, what I find refreshing in this is the difference between experiences So France, for example, and Denmark have put strong conditionality around the bailout In Denmark, you cannot get a penny from the government if you are using tax havens, how smart is that manufacturers and airlines they have to reduce their carbon emissions if they are going to get something out of the recovery fund Anyway, I’m very interested in those details, how can he we, in some ways, slowly think about this Even though we immediately provide the help between the state and business, in such a way, towards a goal of having, say, a more inclusive, sustainable economy And it is possible to do, but not if you just say – we need it bail out business LAURIE: I mean, the relationship between state and businesses is tilted in a way that the the US is, for example, because our state is being dismantled MARIANA: Exactly Mar and you don’t have public health is being dismantled. Our structure is being dismantled When you talk about the balance shall it’s all market share MARIANA: Yeah. It is also like that in good times in the US They often socialise the risks with public funding and privatise the you rewards The Silicon Valley experiment, the fact that the public school system is so bad in that part of the world and yet, the wealth of those companies, toager extent came from public funds — to a larger extent from public funds, it is crazy LAURIE: If it doesn’t make a difference to you weather it? MARIANA: No, no We have to look at private institutions and corporate governance is important Companies driven by shareholder value, that is a problem but also how these interrelationships occur, all of that can be restructured, we can change government work to have much more public purpose We are talking with Theodore about public value. We can change the relationships Literally at the contract level, we need lawyers to help write better contracts LAURIE: We need to understand the issues overwhelming to try to move into government to change it You know, it’s you have there is federal level

? Would you agree that the city government is LAURIE: Well, I don’t know, I have been active in my little town running against a very entrenched Republican And she is a scientist and was find of selling that as her main skill that she could see where , particularly in ecology, because that part of Long Island is very much about erosion and the ocean and so she’s kind of an expert in that But the , and we tried to support that as much as possible but the smear machine is really powerful there And, so, every single point that was made about that was kind of dismantled through a huge and powerful campaign of ridicule So it became, very, very difficult to – I don’t think she is going to win. I shouldn’t say that. She is going to win! You know, but with our greatest efforts of trying to point out that the actual situation , as opposed to this kind of fictional idea of what is going on with – let’s just use ecology there, for example, it was so overwhelming for us, because there was so much energy coming from the other side to kind of erase her message MARIANA: You said before, you used the word story and story-telling Do you feel behind that kind of anger and propaganda, in some ways, that came her way, there is also, that the stories have been captured, the ability to tell stories have been captured by particular interest and that progressives aren’t telling stories that are understandable enough , and maybe simplicity and simple don’t have to be the same thing A simplistic story is not the same thing as a simple story but if we don’t know how to tell simple stories like, you know, make America great again, which is a very simplistic, terrible story, but what are the big headline stories and messages that progress in the US? You know, what is Biden’s story that people could actually understand? LAURIE: That is, the point is that these stories are very, very simplistic and going to tell the best stories here who are going to win and when he said – OK, because people, in Government never thought that a good story was important before he kind of went – we are going to control the narrative So, we are going to give you a very, very simple story to understand And gossip is, gossip and anger and blaming are stories that have a lot of punch, you know So positive narrative, it is very much about what people don’t want, you know And that is very appealing at the moment because people are very frightened that it is really out of control I guess the dominant story, being super simple, is that the world is getting hotter and smaller and more dangerous and so, what do we do about that? So when there is a simple solution, people take it and other things about generosity get drowned in that So, we had a series of events called Ruckus, which we are organising now in collaboration with Get out the Vote people A lot of artists and musicians and writers in New York, doing a few days of events Not with – here is the thing, partisan is a very weird word here now Because, after the last election, I thought – well, we just spent this whole time slinging stupid slogans around, without ever

talking about anything, with any kind of depth So, I, at the end of the election, I made a proposal to a bunch of libraries in the United States mainly to the very big ones Because I thought – OK, what really connects us now? Not the internet any longer It is just a bunch of sales and gossip and fury, but how can we connect the country? Libraries We have a huge New York Public Library, a huge one in LA The major libraries are big and they branch out into all sorts of tiny ones, and ever little tiny town has a library I thought – what if we have a year of national conversations that were one thing a month and they would have be ecology, they would be human rights, they would be women’s rights, and mass incarceration So, anyway, I began to get a lot of energy into that project course we can have these discussions – good idea, but it could not be partisan I said – OK, let me just ask you a question: The first one we did was freedom of speech, you wouldn’t consider that partisan, would you? And they said, “We would.” MARIANA: Wow LAURIE: So you can see the frustration There is no way to have a dialogue that isn’t a screaming argument with intelligent people on bun side and other people kind of like, no! So, I don’t know what to do about this part I don’t know what to do about the screaming in the people are just uninformed MARIANA: You know, we had a similar idea here, well, in Europe, but also specifically in the UK around both strengthening public libraries but also connecting them more Exactly As you say the British Library, famous all over the world but not really connected with small neighbourhood libraries Imagine the British Library where Karl Marx wrote – actually he wrote in the British Museum but anyway, they are connected But the problem is a lot of funding that has actually gone to the public library system, has been cut in the last ten years in the UK LAURIE: Oh, OK MARIANA: Unfortunately all the attention was just to save them, which of course is very important, we need them But the bigger ambition was actually, the most dynamic 21st century debates and use them, not the obsession with the internet, as the vehicle by which you foster debate but connect them to other public institutions Like in the UK, we have government digital services which has set up the great government website You have the British Museum, the British Library, the Turing Institute but they are not together, working connectedly to fire up this funky debate LAURIE: Shaping a community is so key, I think the fracturing of that is what we are seeing now, and the narrowing channels, so it is harder to choose, too I remember, when I was growing up, there were a lot of different beliefs in a little town in the Midwest Some people were Republicans and some were Democrats and everybody really got along, even though live in the world and how to be part of the community, but everyone was more generous People are less generous now Do you feel that? MARIANA: Yes but also more siloed My good friend, Cornelia Parker, an artist, I don’t know if you know her work, I have one of her prints back there, anyway, look her up, she is wonderful LAURIE: I will and the kind of people who entered the arts, it was easier for someone like her, a working-class background in the north of England, to become an artist, today, it is much harder, at least in the US, there is very much a class system LAURIE: Really, how so? MARIANA: Well, I don’t want to sound obsessed about public funding but the public funding of the arts has reduced What we opened up with in our conversation, how permeable the arts are to different classes, to different

backgrounds has unfortunately, at least for the training, the ability for people to come from very has been reduced when you have such a fall in the public funding, which is supposed to open up the babilities that creates our ability to access the best. — our capabilities of people to get funding now And you have to have different goals as artists. Are we out of time? Goodbye much This is so crazy LAURIE: Hello. How are you? MULINDWA: I am okay LAURIE: It’s kind of a trick question now, how are you? MULINDWA: Yes, it is Definitely LAURIE: Where are you today? MULINDWA: Kampala in Africa I believe you are in America? LAURIE: I am in New York City, it’s different. It’s very different MULINDWA: Yes LAURIE: We were just talking about, well I floated into the conversation, I think around the time when I just heard a little bit about greening and bottoms up and the internet and this and that, so I just tried to pop in, but I don’t know if this has a long flow Have you been listening in on the conversation so far? MULINDWA: No, and talking about creating awareness and education LAURIE: Yes MULINDWA: That is different LAURIE: What are some of your thoughts on that? MULINDWA: I think it’s something that we basically need at this moment, like more than ever Because, when we talk about these problems , let’s just say, climate change and in most cases people don’t know, actually they don’t have anything about it, they are so ignorant about it, so basically when you are talking acknowledge the fact that the problem is there and then you will be that problem, so how are we going to tackle it, what are we supposed to do and how is it supposed to be done? So I think creating awareness and strengthening the education system and informing people about what exactly is happening. What climate change is, how they can go about it? I think it is something that is very vital in these discussions and actually even in climate, in taking climate action at large Here in Africa, I would just say Ghana only, in Africa, there is a major problem that we have now is ignorance about the climate crisis basically The people are supposed to be telling, like portraying the climate crisis to the general public are not doing so They are informed about it, they have that they know about climate change or any catastrophes that are being caused but they are not sharing that information, so the public is ignorant about it If they can’t know that there is a problem, then they can’t solve it because they think there is nothing LAURIE: Of course, there is no problem MULINDWA: So creating awareness, educating people about, I think climate change will be a very vital step towards mitigating and adapting to climate change LAURIE: I have noticed here that even if something catastrophic happens, for example, we have constant hurricanes now and constant fires, even people who are in the middle of that say it’s not due to climate change So is it, what is

the most physical and obvious change where you are that you could point to and say that is climate change there, that is what it’s doing Is there something very obvious? MULINDWA: Yes LAURIE: Like something MULINDWA: Yes, there is something that is very obvious When I was growing up, I am not that old, I am just 23, but when I was a little kid it was very hard to hear about floods and landslides hitting a place, unusual Uganda we have had over 20 massive landslides Something that would take 40 years to have that number, has just happened in one year and most probably it hasn’t ended we are just starting the heavy rain season So it’s something that is happening and I think that the something that they emergency and we need to do something about it I believe one of the ways that they will be able to tackle something like that is addressing it, portraying it accurately to the public, because most people have done like, I have a done a lot of awareness creation, but in every area you go to, even the areas where they are mostly affected by landslides they definitely don’t know what is politicians, they just tell them, oh, that is another landslide, I mean a few people died, or we are going to shift you somewhere to stay, you will be there for a while and after they will redistribute you and you start suffering So I think they need to create massive how they can go, the ways they can mitigate it, maybe adopt it So, there is like, there are those actions, there are those catastrophes and you can say whatever you like, that is climate change It’s not just that, the floods and the landslides are happening in three parts of the country That is eastern, western and central But then, in Jordan, they are definitely being hit hard by droughts Those people are badly off, they don’t have it, they are basically creating man-made starvation So you can, there is no denying here that we haven’t seen the impact and effect of climate change LAURIE: What do you think might motivate people to tell that story? I think that it’s a very difficult story for, to tell, it’s not good news, you know, but and I think people are not sufficiently motivated to tell that story In our country we have a lot of information that is being , I think wilfully withheld, in the example as the Covid virus was, is largely spread through the air and this information, this very simple piece of information was suppressed at the beginning of March and then alternate explanation was given So this is even beyond withholding information, it’s changing the facts for political, we believe political end When, do you think the lack of information in Uganda is wilful or do you think and controlled, or do you think that people could press for more information/action MULINDWA: I think the lack of information in Uganda is spreading the information, informing people about what is happening, because like right now in a campaign where there is Government organisations that were formed to

protect nature in the forest, lakes, rivers, everything that is connected to nature and recently they sold a forest to a sugar cane company, to plant sugar cane So, I think that there is, I don’t know whether I should call it corruption, or these people are money-motivated consequences that are going to come out of that, those actions, so we are fighting because, I mean, if done this, it was down to individual responsibility, what can you do? I mean as a person, can you impact a few people around you and maybe they can impact to fight for saving nature? So that is something that is being done I believe the people that are supposed to be spreading the information to the general public and telling them what they are supposed to be doing to stop this catastrophes that are yet to come, much worse So they withhold the information, I don’t know the motive behind it, maybe the is happening, but I would definitely say these people are willingly holding information from the public It’s quite sad to hold information from the general public Another, thing that would maybe motivate people to get involved in the action taking it would be lifting them out of poverty LAURIE: What MULINDWA: Come again LAURIE: I didn’t hear the last sentence motivate people to be actually motivated, like to take action would be lifting people were poverty, because I go to communities where I am going to plant trees and talk to them about climate change, but when you are reaching those communities you do realise that it’s not just talking to them about climate change, it’s not just getting them involved in taking climate action, but these people are bad enough, they need something more literally cutting down trees to burn They are going to maybe get something for their children, some funds to buy like basic needs you want me to die? My kids don’t have food to eat I literally get school fees for them from this activity I am doing, however dangerous it is Then they are telling me that is where they are getting the funds LAURIE: I agree understand what they are going through So I believe we need to come up with a sustainable activities, but if you are telling someone that you know what, don’t cut down trees, but then we can do this, there is like cleaner, clean energy that you can use, energy that is not as dangerous as what you are doing, or that is you can sell what you have made from here, for the children, give money to a sustainable business Even the youths, I believe that we also have owe pressing cultures, we have youth where they don’t even believe in themselves they can say something or do something and it does matter So I believe that we have to change the taboos and the cultures where youths are motivated to build their self-esteem, to believe in themselves so maybe they can do something, or it doesn’t matter they can change the world One of the complications I have formed while I was travelling, engaging the communities and in climate, taking climate action was, I found that so many young people are not even interested about climate change or interested in taking climate action and when I tried to find out why it was like that,

they, they say the same thing that I have known since I was a child When you are in Uganda or in Africa and most probably you are below 27, you are not going to be heard, your voice doesn’t matter and they feel like, they don’t have anything much to offer So they would rather maybe stay at home or not do anything about it So, that is why I had to come up with an initiative for empowering youths When you lift these youths from the poverty they are in and maybe platform where they can share their voice to, you can make a connection for them to the political leaders and the Government leaders, the Government leaders or local leaders, so you motivate them to, if you give them that self-esteem that their voice does matter and they do matter they can be motivated to take climate action, but if we still have the oppressive, those owe pressing cultures that we have maybe a child is not supposed to be educated, when a girl child reaches 17 they have to be married off at the right price Those oppressive cultures that demean society and put it down So I believe that if we get rid of our oppressive supposed to be doing, and inform the general public about, accurately about the climate crisis, I believe we and of course when you are motivating, empowering youths you have to give them jobs or projects that will earn them something, that they will be taken out of this bad poverty they are in and when they, there is research I read about that I think it was in a to care about the environment more. So I believe that LAURIE: I think you made a good point that people don’t care about things unless they have a real investment in being there and why would you care about something if that guy is going to just come and buy it and destroy it So, I was recently in New Zealand and one of the things I was so impressed about was the relationship to rivers So there was, I had come from a country that loves lawyers and we love courts and we love adjudicating things and we love lots of legal fights So what happened in New Zealand was a group of lawyers, who were concerned about the environment decided that rivers were actually people and their rights should be protected as if they were individuals That they had the right of, that natural resources have rights So they decided to represent the river, it’s legal rights and I thought, because it belongs to everyone and is being destroyed, so they decided to take it to the courts lot if they decided to represent the Rocky Mountains, the rights of the Rocky Mountains, the right of the resources of the country and to do that in a way that is very aggressive, because otherwise people will just come in and buy it and sell it and destroy it and the people who live there, they are not going to get involved in that, because they have no stake It’s not theirs, so they are going, yeah, climate is being destroyed, it doesn’t belong to me, what can I do? So of course they are going to be helpless, so I like this, the approach of the Maori and it’s really quite effective to see nature that way, as something we need to aggressively protect, not sit around and wait for them to cut the top of the mountains off

This is what is happening in the Appalachian and strip them down Should people be allowed to do that? So, but I think motivating people, like you say to get information and then to take action is a really difficult thing to do MULINDWA: It’s something you have get to do As we are trying to create awareness about climate change and maybe do it like an individual basis, that maybe can impact a few people, that around you they impact others and before they go societies are informed and transform the world I think, given the countries that are inclusive, America, they need to take responsibility of their actions Actually I think I saw it in the news, the United States is going to be, it’s going to be bringing plastics and everything that is polluting to Kenya Okay, Africa is becoming a dumping site, so I think they should take action They should take responsibility for their actions and as much as we are talking about taking climate action, we have to acknowledge that it’s a complex issue, because we have most probably three worlds in one, where we have like developed countries and then we have developing countries, so basically all of those countries have to take different actions, they are universal actions we can take all of us, but then there are actions that have to be taken by their own actions they can take So this is something that is complicated, but I believe if people, if humanity was to people are willing to do something, if they need to do needed to be done they can I think it’s just getting, changing the political inaction of every country or every, all of those categories of worlds we have in one If it’s, the country, basically they have to reduce their burning of fossil fuels because they can actually friendly even in middle class countries I think they can afford that, the alternatives Though it’s very hard for developing countries, they don’t even have funds, the finances to do like let’s say wind energy or solar energy, so basically they had have to rely on natural climate solutions only, like planting trees, or polluting the oceans and the rivers and those climate natural solutions that are the only ones that are developing countries are supposed to be, like in my country So all we need to do is to tackle this issue with, okay tackle it critically with a lot of I mean we can do these, we have seen it, the world is managing, tackling Coronavirus, I wouldn’t say very well, but well, I mean good. So far so good like affecting the whole world affected right now, then they think it’s something that is very far away from me When you look at it from this perspective of where my children, where am I leaving my grandchildren?

conscious mood, you would love to take action, but I don’t know why they LAURIE: I am glad you brought up the question of garbage, because this is a huge thing that we don’t have any good solutions for now at all and should be of course a global discussion The furthest we got here was the latest idea was take all the garbage and put it on the moon That was one of NASA’s initiatives and they also, there was another one had to do with manufacturing which is of course another way that the US pollutes many of not only our own continent but other continents as pollution of, industrial pollution and so that issue was just move all of that industry, the stuff that spews all of the junk to the moon Put all the factories there and they make everything there and ship it back down to earth so we can repair ourselves It’s a completely unrealistic, let’s say, proposal, but at least I think it begins to address such a huge issue of garbage and nature Do you have any hope for this being a global discussion? MULINDWA: I don’t really think that there is hope that it’s going to become a global discussion very soon because, maybe human nature is something that is not attacking them, they are not seeing tend not to mind about it It’s something that basically people think that garbage is affecting particular animals and let’s just say a few, okay a few people, there are grow their crops, but in the areas are filled with garbage and they can’t have like a successful harvest or a good harvest So basically when the world is nursing a great let’s say the fires in California, if the world is not scared that this is so huge, this is something that we need to, they don’t usually tend to care about it So basically I think the garbage issue is something that is being left out, but it needs to be addressed It’s a topic that the world should address, but then something that I don’t see them addressing it in the near future, which is so sad LAURIE: Yes I am not sure that I do either, but it’s very hard to get people to think outside of their MULINDWA: Can you hear me? LAURIE: Yes Did we lose you? I think we might have lost Moses. Temporarily, only I am sure. But we will see if he comes back I think we were trying to find out a garbage solution for the planet and I don’t think we got too far But I would be very curious about his other concerns Anyway, I see another person coming in here, Young we might have lost Moses, so maybe we are going to move… let’s see Okay I know a few jokes that I could tell, but I think I am going to just hold off on those while we are waiting for some cameras to come back or maybe some satellites to readjust

I think what Moses was talking about in terms of ownership has always impressed me Recently there was a suit in the international courts that China decided to sue, to say that they owned the moon It went around the courts for a while, a few years ago moon? We were there first and then it became a kind of arguing about who saw the moon first, so who owns it I think it was won by Italy who saw it first I think I am going to go now, because oh, wait a second I have a question I see someone here called Sukhdev. I don’t hear him though SUKHDEV: Hi LAURIE: There you are SUKHDEV: I wasn’t expecting to see or talk to you As usual the seamlessness of technology has shown to be rather a joke You did almost promise a few jokes LAURIE: I only know two SUKHDEV: I was listening to your great conversation with Moses and I was thinking about all of the challenges that cognitively, conceptually are faced with grappling with the idea of future I am not future inclinend I am a great morubundist, I am happy marinating myself in the dirty past It was chastening to hear Moses talk about maybe there isn’t a generational uprising in Uganda There isn’t necessary a cadre of teenagers who can supplant the old order and get rid of the old ways That was disappointing to hear, if that is the case It also reminded me of what are the tactics, what are the strategies by which we can get people, wherever in the world, to kind of engage with the future that looks often so dark and so perilous The question I would have asked him, but I think you would speak to possibly just as well, what is the role of humour in thinking about the future? Is there a kind of abdication of realities what role can humour do? LAURIE: I think it can help you survive I am not sure it can come up with some tactics for that, but at least it can give you a moment of relief, which from the, it’s very heavy to be here right now It’s a very heavy time to be alive and so I think that anything that can lighten that, even just for a moment is so appreciated I am just seeing if we have Moses back We have, let’s see I can see some pictures going on SUKHDEV: It’s a very dashing picture of him LAURIE: It’s fantastic. I like purple pants a lot. They are really cool Anyway, I will tell you, one of my two jokes. He is back Okay I will hand the baton away and thank you, Moses, so much, I am so glad to see you again MULINDWA: Sorry about that LAURIE: No problem SUKHDEV: Hi, Moses, can you hear me MULINDWA: Yes, I can hear you very well teacher and a writer Where I am now, if I look out window I am in front teacher and a writer. Where I am now, if I look out window I am head The question I was keen to ask you is I was really struck by your conversation with turn their heads away from questions of climate justice, social

reform, they are not necessarily this young vanguard of people ready to change Uganda and that was troubling in many ways. What are some of the things that are needed How can you get people to change? We were about to discuss the role of humour, even though climate change and climate activism is usually seen as very serious, sometimes we need humour, Laurie was saying as a survival mechanism, maybe we just breathe differently when we laugh, maybe we feel more bodily enabled, but is comedy part of your political life? MOSES: I think it’s something that is very complicated to do in African countries Most claim that they are democratic, that they have democracy and all of those things they talk about as democracy, but I think it’s something very weird, because recently in our country the Ugandan communication, UCC, okay the organisation that allows people to be on social media, do whatever they do TV and say whatever they say, put a restriction on how you, take it to them, they censor it and then they let it be on the internet, which is very complicated because not only does it restrict people from expressing their freedom of speech, but it infringing their human rights So that has limited people from using humour, because sometimes humour is directed to politics and sometimes they do, I don’t want to call it attack, political leaders who have been inactive, but they tend to properly address these people that have been inactive in various disciplinaries They are supposed to be perform, they talk about Government either arrested or you are shut down completely And, it’s something that is putting the youths down Even most people, not even youths, but people are trying to build a society where they their voice can be heard, their impact can be filled They are put down, so basically, I think in my country, humour is something that is seen right now to be evil political , something that has, something that is socially impactful They tend to demonise it and that is not something that is supposed to be done If you are addressing something that, let’s say you are talking about sectarianism or tribalism then these problems need to be addressed To be tackled they have to addressed We are blessed with diverse cultures, I think 67, 68 tribes so if we don’t address the problem of tribalism and sectarianism, it’s like we are not reaching the end of the tunnel, we are going to stay in the dark We need to see the light soon Any way that we have the hopes of seeing that light is we don’t know the problems. You have to first tell people this is a problem here then you can move on to, to see their lives, you can move from the darkness to light Humour would be a very good thing to, actually it’s very impactful, I have seen it in the United States, one of my favourite shows that I actually watch in the United States is, I am sorry I don’t know whether I am supposed to say it here, but Patriot Act SUKHDEV: Yes MOSES: It’s a very good show, it’s filled with humour, but it

also puts across, it addresses problems that are being faced by day-to-day people, communities and maybe the problems that the Government and the political leaders are supposed to be addressing. I believe that humour is something very good It’s a very impactful tool that we can use in transforming our world SUKHDEV: You mentioned the challenges of working in the country with lots of sometimes competing tribes In a number of western countries in the last, I don’t know, maybe five or ten years, there has been an increasing interest in tribal knowledges, in indigenous knowledges, forms of resources, intellectual, spiritual resources, that maybe get brushed away, sometimes violently in the pursuit of some notion of progress and futurity So people are now going back to things that they might have been embarrassed about in the past or regarded as old-fashioned and folk like What are, in your work and those of your friends and your colleagues, what, in a way are the indigenous resources or maybe even indigenous tactics that you can draw upon for your struggles ? MOSES: I am going to talk about myself right now getting them involved in the climate action and actually other activities like creating gender awareness among people, because one of the problems and the challenges that we have in my culture, is that the girl child is still left out very bad But reaching out to these communities they are like like we are supposed to stand up right now for what is right, all right, and everything But, you are literally still kind of like, I don’t know if, they are bringing it in this context and okay, how about you? Why can’t you runs a member of Parliament So, I decided to run in 2021 to be an example to them that it’s not all about age, or maybe money or something like that, it’s, it’s can do it at whatever age, it doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter, if it’s something wrong, stand against it, if it’s something good push it to that everything goes, okay, transform the world the way, the best way you can So to be like, to give them the motivation, the morale, that you can do anything at any age, I standing in my home district, so that is one way I have come up to motivate these people, but then there are young people, the team that believe and businesses and they are doing well, their lives are transformed up to, they are like, okay, this person is 21, this person is 22, this person is 20 and most probably they have a business that is a lull bit flourishing and I can pick from that, at least I can start something of mine, maybe this person is friends with someone who is standing against female genital mutilation, it’s a big problem this side So, I have this team that has really believed in itself, that young people can do something and transform, the world, so by them living as an example, doing all they are people to take action, stand against what is wrong in every area SUKHDEV: Was it difficult for you to go down that road of thinking of yourself in parliamentary terms because there is, sometimes a lot of righteous scepticism about what you can achieve by conventional political means Sometimes it doesn’t seem especially cool, sometimes you can do a lot when you are doing things in a more guerilla or do

it yourself fashion Did you have to juggle those questions for yourself MOSES: I didn’t have you to somehow get somewhere and be able to pull the crowd behind you In Uganda it’s very hard to maybe have a petition, it’s very hard to go there If you want to go to anyone in the ministry, it’s very hard if you are a normal person to meet them come the other month, come after four days and you never have an impact Like you can’t be part of the policy-making, you can be a decision-maker You will be having so much that these people are coping from you, you are giving them your problems and you are going to address them, but you as a person, I don’t want to say useless, but you are hopeless It’s something that is very hard So I thought about it, just like you said, I shouldn’t see it from that angle, but I saw it like, if you have, of course if someone has failed from outside, of course all the sorts of striking and everything, maybe take it inside, see what is going to happen, talk about this thing every day I mean maybe you can find you in the Parliament or anywhere So it’s something that I saw as an advantage compared to what you were saying I acknowledge the point and I definitely get it I think I will have done a lot of great SUKHDEV: We seem to have disappeared and you are frozen on my screen I don’t know if we are going to get you back I am sure there is lots of work being done behind the scenes to rescue from frozen pixelation To liberate you into digital life streams I am not as good as Laurie Anderson in improvising I was thinking of maybe reading extracts from Geordie Punter ‘s fantastic book by Lionel Messi, which I just got in the post this morning Exquisite epigra, tiny fragments, attempts to create a biography of this genius and now semi tragic football player who is a prisoner of his own contract, a prisoner at Barcelona, trying to get out, forced to play with the team mates that he loved and mostly loved for so many years but now he wants to be away from Feels like a bad marriage, will he be able to get away next season and be able to give his all to a cause or a team or unit that he no longer believes in. I am not sure So I could get that and ELLA. I am live. I am your unknown participate! SUKHDEV: Hello ELLA:Sorry, you have so had so many different people, hopefully Mulindwa will come back at some point SUKHDEV: It’s hard to get people together for anything, for a political rally, a party, obviously how many people have you got today? 20, 24? conversation in particular, between you and Mulindwa, because I was thinking about your work Maybe you could speak to it, sorry I should say my name is Ella space Finer I am Jem Finer’s daughter who composed Longplayer and also a trustee, so also head sub

SUKHDEV: Super sub ELLA And your work about writing cities and who gets to tell the stories of cities or narrate cities being made through writing really made me think of Mulindwa’s work, standing at the roadside solo protest, climate change protester and thinking of other ways of writing a city through embodying that protest SUKHDEV: It’s heroic In a way it’s one of the most elemental choices that one can make, just to stop In your own tiny way, arrest the flow of noise and images and other kinds of circulation Maybe nobody will notice, maybe you will get pushed or beaten up, but, those tiny gesture, I do believe in vibrations and in invisible molecules of social change and it’s slightly depressing and I am sure you found this as well in which the, just the imaginative and creative thinking that goes into his work and those of his colleagues is still relatively inaccessible in the west At best it’s registered as famously in the sort of Ugandan context, it’s oh, a person, an actor, a very important activist Vanessa Kanto, is excited from a photograph of Davos of issue, the missing representation, rightly so But to the actual substantive questions of what she does and how she does it and maybe the way they is, maybe the way she does it, that could inspire us or that we could learn from, so that it’s not just us dispersing ecological wisdoms or tactical advise to other countries other people often don’t seem significantly bigger than in the predigital era Then again what you are doing quadrupling the number of people allowed in social gathering, more than in real life and getting us to open up our living rooms and whatever squalid hovels that we live in and talk to people that we wouldn’t automatically and creating this kind of temporary 12-hour unstable coalition, almost an intellectual tent community of voices, younger, older, in the international Hopefully something comes out of that and certainly I know a lot of people who are listening, that it would be great I don’t know if they are able to contribute to the conversation or if they are mostly listeners ELLA:There is a chat alongside the YouTube feed, but also what you say about an unstable coalition of people together and this coming together and falling apart, it does kind of strangely echo this time in which we are only allowed to meet with certain restraints and rules What you are saying about believing in vibrations or believing in the kind of potential of vibrations to reach us from other places even alone body, a resistant lone body on a roadside in Uganda really speaks to this We are meeting as, well I am now by default with my collapsing bookshelf We are meeting in this way, which is a body to body and SUKHDEV: It’s linked with some of the ideases unherent in the Longplayer project, thinking about duration and just taking the time, sometimes that they made to to get to the listener, or so transmit I mean one of the metaphores which is always dear to me, why write anything, why write a piece of music, there is no audience out there or reason, any love, no money? But it’s messages in bottles, it’s just going to the shower and putting it out there and dreaming of the future Also reading those alarmist articles about glaciers melting and about gases being

released or mammoths possibly being reanimated, but also viruses, old viruses being retriggered which understandably is a hideous thought I try to think about it optimistically, maybe there are again unknown forces, jolly viruses that could positively contaminate a future that has casketed itself off from a past So the future, in a way, is about the reemergence of things we just boxed off This will be terrifying, maybe exciting ELLA This duration of transmission you are speaking about and this idea that even you talk about viruses in the ice Someone who wrote for the Longplayer Letters, Hellie Goldman was talking in the letter, I edited, it felt like she was talking to me! About ice, ancient air trapped in ice and this kind of archaeology of this air to go back in time through thousands of years to access this air and what is in it So now to think of this virus as the experiments happening to see how long it stays in the air, I just read that yet and thinking ghosts are very fashionable these days But as a way of thinking about hospitality, what are our obligations to things, forces, people that we thought were dead and things that refuse to be dead but they are there, sort of hovering around us If we could only but here, if we could only but talk to them or be talked to by them I spent a lot of time, usually fruitlessly traying to think positively about the virus and think about the virus of being in the orbit of thinking in different forms of amimism these days and maybe moving beyond animalism and if we think of the virus in its own vulgar clunky teenage boisterous way as someone we have to admire, respect, listen to, that we have a complex relationship to That we shouldn’t just think of it as something destructive, we have to extrapolate that the virus is a message in itself and a message giver We absolutely have to, in a way, maybe it’s like clonialism or post colonialism, we can think of it as blowback, or just as people like me often used to say we are here in this country because you were over there in our country With the virus, it seems in part, if not necessarily this one, but the virus is here because we are there ELLA:We are talking about global interconnectedness that a few of the speak verse spoken about Like who was it, I think it was Amia who was talking about that moment of transmission? that moment when the virus jumped from the pangolin to the bat to the human Someone else talks about the blindness to the blood We are blind to the blood that is being spilt thousands of miles away that has an effect on us and what we here and there is something much intricately and critically together SUKHDEV: The very table I am banging my hands on It may have come from Indonesia which has been hacked a way at visually in the name of people like me It’s hard to constantly be thinking relationally and thinking expansively. It doesn’t seem all that healthy But we can’t not do it ELLA:I know that my special

15 minute was fame with you is up and I know it’s been a shock for you speak to SUKHDEV: Yes, thank you so much I can see, Saskia Sassen, looks like she is in a forest or a wood SASKIA:Hi. It’s been a long time SUKHDEV: Yes SUKHDEV: I have been thinking about you a lot in the last few months and how you have written incredibly and sometimes extrapolating and pro-sizing how things sort of turn out for cities , in the West, and not just in the West — professising I think the first thing is, what is positive about the last six months for you? What is it, what have you encountered, rather than the litany of righteous doom we can all illuminate . What are the positives? Sacks sacks the positives partly have arisen out of a spirit of consisting some of the horrors that are also sort of appearing I’m not just thinking of the virus, I’m thinking of a whole variety of issues It is quite notable to see how the outside world is engaging us in many ways In ways that I don’t know, maybe 20 years ago, you and I were both already on this planet then, it maybe engaged us less We were more preoccupied with our own experiences, our own thinking, and now we are really engaged by this larger planet I see it in my students as well I don’t know where it goes, frankly but, it is a first element. Should I just keep on talking? SUKHDEV: Yes SASKIA: The second element to me me has become really important that cities have The capabilities to keep a certain type of peace a very special kind of peace in a setting of such major inequalities, of such major injustices, of the rich, the very rich and the very poor And what is it about urban space, or a city, really, that makes it possible? You know, we should really learn to respect that possibility, because it tells us something about us, people. It is not just about the buildings and the cities, you know It really has to do with how we connect with each other, etc We may be a bit rude at times But, it’s not war Even if you just threw me on the floor by accident, in a mad rush to catch a train or whatever, it is still, when it happens in the city, it is different than if it happens on a highway So I have sort of been thinking about the capabilities that the urban condition has produced At the same time, one also has to say – well, if a city doesn’t have that, it becomes a warzone, right It becomes a very dramatic either/or, one would say, you have to more or less get it altogether or you have a kind of a war zone where people just hate each other We have some cities where this is beginning to happen but in very partial ways, but, you know, it is not always peace We are very lucky, I think, those of you, which is the majority of cities, you know who live in cities that are more or less reasonable No matter the extraordinary inequalities in each of our cities Are you going to be asking me some more questions? SUKHDEV: We can just kind of riff off each other, I guess I guess, I spent most of the last six months caught up in New York

Both thrilled by certain energies being released, maybe there was a perfect storm in a way of political violence and police brutality and together, because the only thing you could do for the summer, nowhere to go to, no third space, no space indoor And an outdoors that you are discouraged from going out to, but you breakthrough that out, en masse , in a way that I have never seen in my 20 years or so that I have lived in New York And to your point, also , about the very excitement , in the mornings of going in a street and seeing banks broken, bank windows broken. Police cars (Laughter) And the good people of the West village who are normally quite censorious, of being almost understandous this time that something has changed, something needed to be changed, normally the next morning, after a litany of rioters, who are these people, where do they come from, this is not good politics, there was an understanding this time SASKIA: Absolutely It is also partly because the conditions have become much harsher The illusions are the expectations that in the near future everything will be better for me and my family or for my children, etc. It is gone. We know now too much. Under those conditions, I think Once you drop the illusion and, of course some of us have very good lives, etc, etc, we love the city residents of the city have a hard time, long trips, long times at the workplace, etc So in that sense – how is it possible that such a mix of people, where we sort of hit each peace, not war? That, I think is an achievement And, I think across the across the centuries, that city has had that capacity at all, it can be harsh But it is a harshness that we humans, in a way, can sort of accept The other issue that I’m sort of really interested in, is the capacity of a city, a working city, it doesn’t have to be a fancy city, but a working city, is to render conflict into the civic The civic doesn’t fall ready-made from the sky It emerges often, I think, from situations where it is necessary to live with each other to work with each other and so it forces us, in a way, to be a bit , how would you say saria”(?) I am thinking in Spanish, how is your Spanish? Any good? SUKHDEV: Not very good SASKIA: It is a kind of wisdom, a partial wisdom When we are in a crowded city but a working city, s is quite interesting to see how we sort of acquire a bit places, you know That is sort of one of the issues for me SUKHDEV: Can that sustain? I mean one of the about , it feels like living amongst highway men. You know, the friend or foe You can’t see people sometimes, suspicious of other people, in some work situations we are encouraged to report people for not obeying the codes these days Do the value, and the values of intolerance and enganglement and an embattled sharedness that seem to come to the do you think there will be fundamental changes? SASKIA: I think in the cities where I have lived, lived in Chicago It seems to me there was a time in the 1970s , when cities were mostly bankrupt because the city was not the main space for operations, or engagement

The city was sort of a decaying condition Certainly it was the case in Manhattan and I know in serve other cities when the cities were falling apart, there was not money, they were poor Then comes a new epoch and it has to do ironically with globalism And at that point, all kinds of actors began it see the need to exist in the city, to operate in the city, to have access to the variety of advantages that a city offers, to do their global trading, their global, whatever financial operations So, what has happened now, where we see so many businesses in the city, it didn’t just fall from the sky I think it was a transformation of the kind of economy that inhabited a major city like New York, like Paris, you know And you see, in all of these cities, a certain type of modality, which is also one that connects to the outside world, yeah? That connects with other countries, so, I think that internationalism, to put it, about , not that other good, internationalism , but given the commercial version of internationalism, cities were significant spaces, became significant spaces in a way that they had really lost that role I like to mention – how many cities were broke in the 1970s? I don’t know where you lived, but cities were really stressed out, so to say and then comes this new epoch, internationalism, where cities suddenly become these sort of hotspots from where all kinds of things can emerge That didn’t mean that everybody was nice, yeah Now, one of the issues, of course for me, is this whole question of high financing. I do a lot of work on that In high finance, brilliant people, extraordinary concentrations of wealth. They don’t really, they don’t exhibit that. You know they sort of keep it rather quiet They are not exhibitionists about the amount of wealth that they have And that, to me, has of course been a bit of – this is the angle which I criticise – that the city becomes a space that is more and more expensive That still needs food, etc That those sectors did not get , you know, better conditioned, better economic conditions They were stuck with the modest working classes They were stuck and they are still stuck, with very expensive prices, that they didn’t invent. And they are neglected. They are really neglecting I would say that the last 20 years have been pretty brutal, as the cities become rich ever and richer, more and more significant, partly because of globalisation And then you have this misery of people who have to work very hard to have extraordinarily long trips and all of that. What do you think about all of this? I’m just chatting away here with you in many cities all around the world has been usually around 7:00pm or so, where people go into their kitchen cabinets, get some saucepans and kind of bang away cacophonously, to notionally celebrate both the real and almost the symbol of the frontline worker SASKIA: Exactly SUKHDEV: The frontline worker who often lives maybe two hours away from the centre of the city The frontline worker who has to go, use public transport with all its perceptions of danger and contamination And, to the extent that wartime situations, dark situations are an opportunity to create new myths of togetherness, new symbols that will sustain us going forward I guess I’m curious about, if there is some kind of symbolic realignment going forward, about – forget the CEO, or maybe diminish, well put them in their place, and think about the people in the hospitals, the cleaners , the janitors, the person who works in the checkouts desk city It is not just the 1%, the famous 1%. They have long-existed. They are not going to go away either But it is another 20 or 30% of very high

income households that put, create a kind of crisis, even at the level of consumption because most shops are catering, food shops are catering to these households So very low income worker, they also get to pay these very high prices, you know I would think – I have spent quite a bit of time in Europe – I think Europe just manages that better. Most European countries And it tells me that it could be done better I think the United States – I don’t know where you live by the way SUKHDEV: I’m in New York most of the time SASKIA: Where? SUKHDEV: I’m in New York SASKIA: OK, well, then, it is a kind of basic food injustice I would say. I like that image of food injustice Because low income workers also are stuck with higher and higher prices that we now pay for a tomato, or whatever we want to eat And how do we get traction on creating a bit more solidarity, etc? Sometimes I do think that many of the rich would be happy to make it easier, to survive in a city for their lower income, whatever, shops and all of that. But it is so difficult to get going. You know I have a long list of things that we could be doing because they are not exceptional, etc, that would make a little you difference to a lot of people A little difference that counts It’s almost impossible to get that going. Why? That is what I would like to know Why is it that in a large, in a big city, you can’t quite get that together There are little partial initiatives like, you know , in New York City , there are some neighbourhoods that have really tried very hard, etc, etc, by is admirable. But it really is difficult. Why is that? What is the failure? Is it that we, we, the residents of these cities , don’t have voice in a which that we can connect with other people, you know? I don’t understand why it is so difficult to get something going that the majority agrees for but – and then you look at the European cities Look at Paris – I love Paris, you know, the six-minute, or whatever 15 -minute city So, they think – let’s just do that. You can walk to the shops and they do it. You know, it is the mayor. It is not the president of the country And so, that is just one of many of these types of items What we cannot do, that is what really interests me right now, that should be possible to do. I mean, not going to the moon, in other words. Not that But what we could do, why can’t we do it? When I was in Chicago, in Chicago, the university there is close to a very, very poor black neighbourhood Our students, who were activist students, etc, in my class at least, they started to work in the poor neighbourhood They brought food-to-plant, you know planting food , etc and they just used any little bit of terrain that was available to grow, and they actually reinvented a whole side of that part of the city, which is close to the University of Chicago It was just wonderful These were students in my class who said – yes, let’s go do it We should have more of that, you know. We have all these planners I don’t have anything against planners. Are you a planner? SUKHDEV: Certainly not SASKIA: Can’t they do something more. You know I’m Dutch. I look at the Dutch Little country, half the country is under water, ocean-level, you know. Look what they do They set up a huge platform to have cows , you know, on the river, the big river , that river, how that moves They just throw themselves into projects that we would think, you know, we could do in any place SUKHDEV: Chickens are getting taller and Americans are getting smaller SASKIA: It is another issue Dutch men are out of control when it comes to height SUKHDEV: I’m interested in statistics about childhood happiness And to your point, disproportionately, all of the top 15 countries where children are happiest, are in northern Europe SASKIA: Yeah

The story of the history of Europe is interesting, because let’s remember in 1600 , they were all these war zones, all these separate kings of the kingdom And they got tired of war long before we in the West got tired Of course we had World War Two and World War Two It was interesting to see, after five years of war they said that is enough. You know they thought – this is as bad as we can get There is something practical about that modality Look at the wars we see now in some regions of the world Wars with no end because they are asymmetric wars You have a formal army, and the other side does not have a formal army, so there is not going to be an agreement SUKHDEV: I was born in England And when I’m in England now I’m struck by how much of the news, good or bad, comes from across the Atlantic And this absorption and kind of – one rarely hears about what is happening in the Netherlands , or what is happening in other areas I don’t want to say, the Netherlands with the future But I wonder, taking a broad view at the moment, if part of our lurch towards something a bit more optimistic, something a bit more of a future that is usable, has to involve a relegation at every level of America,&as any kind of even magnetic centre SASKIA: The US, the Americas in general, actually because I also brought in Argentina, we all know about Brazil, the horrors of Brazil. The Americas, they are in the North The United States and then from there down on, it is of a brutality Some of the worst Central America , for instance in southern parts of South America. It is brutal And we also have, of course, that very problematic And one doesn’t have a good sense as to where it goes, you know. How does this end? It used to be not north of Africa, you know the part that is sort of We worried about that moving into war Whereas in fact it is other parts that are much worse off, I would say And the whole Iran, Iraq situation, for the longest of times was terrible Bangladesh, also in deep interest. India, I find India very problematic. Are you from India? SUKHDEV: My parents are SASKIA: I find India, with all its brilliant, brilliant minds I mean the scholars in India , that are extraordinary, but it is so brutal. All that poverty You know, why can’t not more be done? Do you have an answer? SUKHDEV: I certainly don’t. I have a question, though As people in my profession often do If we think about institutions, or kind of modes of some kind of resistance , how does the university of the future look like? Does it have to change? Must it change? SASKIA: I think many parts must change, yeah I think that – and for starters, I’m not even talking about the intellectual aspect, I’m universities should have vis-a-vis the students, to enable them grades, out. You disappear, I don’t care. Of course, some of these universities are enormous, they are big But they also have, if they are very big, they also have a lot of props, a lot of assistance, and there should be a way in which the university becomes an enabler that goes beyond the university I mean, we who are in good universities, we know how privileged we are I mean it is just an amazing life, you get tenure at whatever, 23 or 28. And that is it, you know We know that in the United States, the majority of professors, when they get tenure, they just don’t work any more. You know And then if we could then use it – OK, you

don’t want to go on writing books or whatever, fine, but then how about enabling the poor neighbourhoods their time but You know the story, right in the United States, most, most retired, most people who get tenure stop really working seriously I mean they might teach, but they don’t do books, they don’t do anything That is a rather disturbing data, I would say. And it’s unjust, you know economy , and how people get paid and how people get status or are allowed to do the great things that they do, the monopolisation of resources, in some respects, of the modern private university is terrible Incredibly politically, socially and intellectually utilitarian. Of course, we have a role in sustaining it SASKIA: We evidently have been very good at sustaining it, right, universities foundational in many to this earlier I mean, we have both been living through, in a way, the redemption of the Maybe we think of our work in parts as the centring of the city, and and it is a cause, or it felt like a cause to some extent compared to the social situation in the 1960s and 1970s in many countries months, do you feel that we are about to move into a different kind of episodic shift, where as a city we have conceived it It isn’t a great tell-off, in a way, it is the centre of our dreams and or ambitions? SASKIA: I think that what we are also seeing, here , in the United States, in the Midwest especially , is the desirability of smaller cities You know the Midwest is very well-functioning. It has all the great universities. You know what I’m talking about It is a particular region, we call it the Midwest but, you know And so, what you have there is an effectiveness of the educational system that projects itself well beyond just the university You know, when you think of the States. Have you ever been there? SUKHDEV: Just a little SASKIA: Those are really working cities. And they are moderate sizes. You know what you don’t want is the Sao Paulos That is great for the rich, middle classes and the not so much middle classes but it is a horror for the workers. So Latin America, I find very problematic The United States, in the big cities, have that same syndrome, though, that people have to travel enormously So, I think that we should try to disassemble and create multiple centres, so that is becomes more reasonable You know, it is not reasonable to ask from our workers, in our major cities in the Americas, you can say the same thing for the big Asian cities, that the workers are just paying an enormous price I don’t think anybody gains from that, you know And the top rank in the big businesses, because we have done some interviews. You know They are just – oh, oh, really they have to take these very long trips Of course they arrive very tired and that is not so great for the business. It is unbelievable But they are honest They honestly haven’t thought about the notion that their workers have had to travel two hours or something, and then they arrive tired, so nobody gains. It takes quite a bit of effort Most of these people, they exist , in these high inform firms, you know, they are so busy making money, they don’t even think of other ways of organising, as long as it works So these are the real issues, especially in large cities When you have a medium-size city, it is all simpler I love a big city, though, I conconfess being able to hear the wind or hear breezes, or to talk about the extraordinary

sound of birds Simple, almost banal things Sometimes it is almost sort of trivial , quotidian details , which contained within them, another way of living or another kind of urban, another urban scenario SASKIA: My concern, really, is how do we get out of the modality that we have now in big cities, which means that all the top -level brass want their offices to be in the centre, tall and 100% disregard for the trips that they are working at That is the basic thing that needs to be changed. I lost visual I think they are telling us that it is done RUPERT: Hello, can you hear me Very nice it meet you you were having about the capabilities that cities have, my background, well my current preoccupation is, of course this pandemic I wondered what you thought about the utilisation of those capabilities, have certain cities been able to mobilise those capabilities that they have successfully, are have some done it better than others? SASKIA: Absolutely I think, for one, the European city, are you in Europe, right? RUPERT: I’m based in London At the moment I’m in Cambridge SASKIA: I am in Cambridge, too We are probably around the corner from each other I think we need urgent transformation in cities, there is no doubt about that This is not – the utility function has really gone down for the majority of residents in the big cities and mid–size cities , are in a way, the way to go The parcel of the mid–size city, is that most people who live in big cities, think that the mid-size city is a bit too sleepy, to put it candidly, you follow what I’m saying? RUPERT: I do SASKIA: And right now, there is maybe some truth to that But we should really work the a bringing full life, it is beginning to happen in some mid-size cities, that you have the excitement that you want, you know. But it is a tough one The big cities really have dominated and in a way, what we are seeing with these large cities, is an earlier epoch, when you needed those massive concentrations Today, given the strength of communications, etc, we don’t need everybody that is a significant worker, or addition, to live in the city What do you think about it all ? I am meant to ask you questions now, is that right? I thought so, because I just talked my head off before, so I am now assuming I have to ask you questions. Yes I gather that your work is about the Covid virus, right? RUPERT: Yes I have been a cell biologist of infection for some while SASKIA: A great title, a cell biologist of infection RUPERT: The Crick, my institute, likes you to make up a title for what it is you do I’m too much of a magpie, I get interested in too many different things, with the central theme around infection and immunity I settled on this very wide term which allows me to sort of explore influenza, another virus I’m very the pandemic. But, I’m also a medic It also sort of does relate back to my clinical practice, where I’m actually a kidney doctor, where the immune system comes into play a lot SASKIA: Ah And this word, autophagy it is not my main language, English ≫: RUPERT: , well, we are discovering that it looks like this auto pha go, y process,

complicated, got t it is definitely that, it wasn’t, and it is something slightly different SASKIA: What is it that does not appear where one expected it, in your domain, to appear? What is it? Do you understand the question or not? time. That is our job Frequently in molecular and cell biology, there are tiny little things and we try to make them visible and tractable so we can look at them One of the main markers people use they tag a fluorescent protein to another one, you see, so they can , they can spot little things which would have been invisible but are now green, and one of the main markers being is usually a, Mcer for autoophogy but it can mark other things going on during infectious processes, so that is something we are interested in over the past six months, it has been an all hands to the pump given the crisis situation and we needed to do our best to help very closely resemble lg the previous crisis situation, you know. Who knew! SASKIA: What do you mean when you say another crisis RUPERT: Well we are starting to have a second wave in the UK, of the pandemic, it it was the first time around but already the hospitals getting admissions and intensive care units getting admissions and cases going up and testing and situation over the next six months much that we are now back curve up, etc Is that rare, or does that actually happen very often with other types of RUPERT: It is absolutely expected Nearly every time there has been a pandemic or a virus, it tends to go in waves, whether there is one, two, three or four sometimes, it is often difficult to predict. The size of the waves can vary quite substantially And the sort of dynamics that underlie that are difficult to understand Some of it is very simple, mathematically quite simple I must say I’m not a modeller, so I’m not in on all the details of this But how those sort out is maybe easier to understand than how they level off and come down again And why they stay flat for ages and suddenly take off, it is the subject of lots of active research from all sorts of colleagues in molecular biology SASKIA: One question I had, I understand that this is a very young virus, is that correct or not? November last year We can sort of tell that from a molecular clock-type approaches It would have been circulating in bats for a very long time SASKIA: That is it China? RUPERT: Bats are a diverse set of species. There are an awful lot thing is unclear is whether there was an intermediate host, in other words, with the previous SARS pandemic, it was known it dropped from a bat to another species and then humans, with this we suspect pangolins but we don’t know that Fundamentally this is a bat virus, presumably circulating in bats in China for many years and then through , some unlucky chance, jumped into the human population, October November, the Chinese officials did nothing about it, initially and then a big response and here we are It is quite extraordinary in one sense but in another sense it has been a remember expected event We have always known it is quite likely that there would be a further set of pandemics from coronaviruses, but it is a question of when and it happens to have been late last year SASKIA: So, a question that I also have is: We have had these events, in different versions across eapochs, it is not that I have read a lot, but

I’m asking you this, but this one has spread, it seems to a very, very broad zone of our globe, in a way that maybe others, earlier ones did not, it was more of a measure? I’m wondering is that correct, or is that something that I misunderstood? RUPERT: It is absolutely correct, it is the greater on, mean they can spread much more quickly than centuries past. — international flights You can go back if you are a historian and look at the Plague of Jutinia , those must have taken place in just as a frightening way but the and so the spread boo have been slower through the — the spread would have been much slower So greater connectiness of people, many more of us, living in higher density and much easier travel than has been the case over previous times SASKIA: Can I return – I hope it is OK I ask you all these questions RUPERT: I’m happy to SASKIA: It is very specialist RUPERT: We are passing the parcel SASKIA: This term, autophagy English is not my first language, if I mispronounce RUPERT: You have four more languages in my case, I’m not use in linguistic, they are auto, self-phagy, the broad idea behind autophotgy, if a cell is starving, it has a way of eating itself and digesting itself to get nutrients It has been adopted in lots of ways but one way in which it has been adapted is say, one part of the cell is damaged, one of the my tow condoia that produce energy , and autophagy also produces that, it engums that damaged organal and infuses it with a damaged one, so it is self-eating, either to get rid of defective parts of the cell or to generate starvation SASKIA: Is that, because we are using this term now, autophagy. I’m having trouble pronouncing it round autophagy SASKIA: Is it an old term or is it a new term? RUPERT: It is quite a new term, coined maybe in the 50s or 60s, in the early days of cell biology It came to the fore more recently , and in particular a series of Japanese scientists have peeneered a whole series of genetic studies on the mechanisms and there was a Nobel Prize awarded in 2016 processes So important for things like neurodegeneration , for infection, immunity, almost everything in fact I mean, I suppose, one way of putting it is that it is a way of taking out the Rubish, taking out the trash is, try the experiment of not removing rubbish from your house for a month and think how much fun it is to live in It turns out to be very important for all sorts of reasons SASKIA: That sounds like a practical Dutch way of putting it And so, what do we know, now, right now in this period, about the curve of this virus? Is it going to be – because it seems to have, it came down and now it is back up a bit? What do we know? RUPERT: Well, some bits are easy to measure, or relatively easy to measure We have quite good tech to tell you if you have got the virus on you, as it were. – quite good tests caught it, are likely to be infectious sort of do it And we can measure whether you have the virus or not, by doing antibody tests, — whether you have had it Some people are rather seriously affected and it becomes obvious they had the virus. Other people are mildly infected It is almost like having a cold or perhaps a slight chill, a

fever, etc other words, have no symptoms But we can measure quite accurately, not perfectly, but accurately who has had the virus, and you can make a prediction based immune for a period of time, not always, we have had cases of reinfection now various predictions about when the virus might be likely to pop up again and so be o the really difficult thing to measure is human behaviour SASKIA: It is always RUPERT: It depends on us interacting with each other If no human being interacted with any die out. You know gives you either a high or a low or a zero risk of that being spread So crowded environments, where people are talking in close proximity , with a lack of ventilation and so on, it is a very high-risk environment A lot of the so-called super spreading events seem to have been this kind of situation And normal human interaction, but from a short distance, that is also risky but less risky than those other events, perhaps when we are staying 2m apart, wearing masks, doing things transferring it like, that you can reduce the risk right down To a large extent the problems we are having, the difficulties are getting people to behave in such a which that the virus had will no longer spread We can measure immunity, we can measure the virus, measuring human behaviour is really difficult SASKIA: Yeah One would think that the capacity of the city to respond to this type of crisis should be a significant element of how a city sees itself, it is not just about the virus, it is about all kinds of other contagious mishaps In the medical profession or in your – I don’t know, scientists, etc what, when you think about what makes things more difficult to get a handle on, is it mostly us humans? interfere, you know with RUPERT: I’m not a behavioural scientist My expertise is in the small things, as it were, really what is happening at a cellar level, when the virus infects, what does it do And so, we rely on colleagues from different disciplines to give us ideas But, you know, it is easy for me, as a sort of scientist who concentrates on the molecules to say – look, there is a molecule, look , it is behaving like this, but I think it is comparatively much more difficult for someone in a behavioural science field , towards sociology, your field, to give me, as it, were definitive information: If you go on telly and you say everyone needs to wear a mask, what proportion of people will do that? It is very, very hard to know. If you ask people – are you wearing a mask? They will say, yes, sometimes but not actually be doing it Human beings don’t always tell the truth Thain is also another sort — that is also a sort of confounding factor disciplines, so sort of, as it were, feed into, to get the best response I think it also really requires leadership I think, it almost doesn’t matter how many experts of decisive, clear leadership I think what is something that has come out Whether it is at a city level, or at a country level or at an international level I think, you know, at some points human beings like to sort of follow what is going on, especially in a crisis for them to sort of go in the correct direction, I think SASKIA: Where we are at now, let’s go to the United States, which is actually a disaster situation, a rich country How do you, as a scientist, how do you United States? I live mostly in New York It is a scandal that a country with so much wealth, so much intelligence, isn’t it one of the worst in terms of measures the best bio-medical infrastructure Of course, there are huge inequalities which perhaps really cut that in for testing , for vaccine production, for all of this is enormous. You

know And it has been interesting I’m obviously not an American, I have a close colleague who is a New Yorker And he has been telling me about the behaviour in New York pandemic when it was, you know and that now, if you go to New York, everyone is wearing a mask Practically if you don’t wear a mask, people will shout at you in the street. People are being very careful People, are being, very, very intolerant of people breaking the rules That is probably meaning the virus is more or less at a other parts of the country that were not so badly affected SASKIA: This is happening in other areas I have one more final question and that is, I do a lot of work on high finance, high finance represents a vast concentration of wealth Is there any sort of emerging, possibly debate, within your profession, where we have all these needy people We need, you know it is going to cost a lot of money if we really want to help more people, vis-a-vis this illness, is this at all an issue that is raised? The same thing for London, London also has a very rich financial system And I am sort of scandalised about how little high finance has actually, across all kinds of crises, not just this one, literally been willing to enable. We have seen that in other countries. I’m Dutch In the Netherlands you are seeing areas where rich actors actually try to enable. What do you think about this? RUPERT: Well, you can point to examples where very wealthy individuals have donated large sums of money, the Gates Found Idation and so on SASKIA: They are exceptions in a way, would you say? RUPERT: I don’t know. I presume they are SASKIA: I don’t know either, frankly. I don’t really have an answer else , you know someone says – I will give awe very large sum of money towards your research : — I will give you a large sum of money fairness later I should state that I am not funded by any touch such, you know, sorts of donation The funding we have is either charitable or from government With a small amount of this other kind of funding that does come in But, yeah, it would be nice to think that, perhaps it is easier or could be easier at a city level to, I will use the word leverage, because I think some people, in that world, they like the world leverage, to leverage that local capability a little bit more straight-forwardly immediately that what they were putting in was having a big effect, than, you know, perhaps it would help I was struckably something you said earlier about, I think in your conversation can with Sukadev, you know about the business that an awful lot of worksor workers have to travel one or two hours to get to city centres in these large concentrations It is not just problematic in terms of they will be very tired, etc, etc and takes a vector for spreading disease If you have people all crowded into a Tube this with each other, you know, sort of in a way, it is not surprising this disease has gone for the big centres, London, Paris, Madrid, New York Not so much Tokyo or Beijing SASKIA: The Japanese, I have seen quite a bit in Japan, I did big research there, they all wear masks anyway. You know It is reasonable, because it is a small country with an enormous population, so they are But that little difference amount, can make that difference. That to me is extremely interesting RUPERT: I think masks , very tire somesome have become political They are not a panacea, but this whole business , really is about small incremental victories that allow you to suppress the virus It is not just doing lots of tests helps, it is not

like wearing masks tests, certainly not just things and very careful calibration of when different sectors of the economy are opened up And, you know, some countries are are doing it much bet he were than others very well RUPERT: The example people use is South Korea You could look at New Zealand and and Taiwan These are the countries where they are getting the levels right down implement I wouldn’t say impossible but more difficult to implement in more Western populations, but in Europe, you can see the way that Germany has done much better than France and the UK. Some Scandinavian countries have done well, so far We have to say “so far” because we are about for start a second wave of this I suppose Italy having started off and being the early , the sort of country in Europe earliest and relatively under control going to happen over the winter SASKIA: We don’t really know RUPERT: All we can say is that it will be a lot more difficult The opportunities for the virus to spread, when people are in confined spaces, you know, more likely to be indoors, etc, those opportunities are much higher SASKIA: So looking at the infrastructure, you know practical term, and it seems to me that the infrastructural , as a condition, as an option, as possibility, as a capability, etc, is sort of rising. It is a rising condition And it might also be that people become more aware of what it takes, say, to build a tower, it is a lot of infrastructural stuff In your profession and vis-a-vis or not at all? RUPERT: I suppose we don’t think about it in quite the same way, but it certainly exists So, for example, at my own institute the crick institute, you know , the way it was all put together very rapidly, we could deliver testing, say with the NHS, with very high precision over a infrastructure , both in terms of building but also, maybe more importantly, in terms of people, to really, you know, be determined to put that thing together over that very short period of time And, of course, the institute, it is a research institute, it is not set up to do diagnostics but we were sort of able to repurpose ourselves in this very short period of time because required and the work SASKIA: I mean, I find the term “infrastructure” increasingly useful in my kind of work, also, which of course is a totally different angle But there is something about that, you know I grew up in Latin America, but I’m also Dutch, etc and talk about infrastructure differences, you know, we do have the Netherlands, which is usually infected with all of this stuff , compared to arrange Tina, where we have brilliant engineers, where the outcome, not so great and I’m just really captured and interested in this concept, it seems to me it has become a live concept And also in the sense of new versions, new interpretations, a kind of utility function, you know, that you can trot in, in a whole variety of situations, where you are analysing, discussing, etc and I’m just wondering , just curiosity, is infrastructure a term that you use in your work at all? Probably not? RUPERT: A little bit, maybe When you are writing, say a grant proposal there is always… LAUGHTER SASKIA: Right, OK RUPERT: Complicated infrastructure I suppose part of our brief, if I have understood this correctly , with the Longplayer, we are supposed to think pandemic, we have had to be short-term Say the grant, you have given me, 18 months, maximum We don’t care if you will solve this in five years’ time, we need you to solve it now

The next thing we have to think about is how come we were so badly prepared. We didn’t in many places have the infrastructure we needed So lore the long term, this is what we really need to build and not to always be fighting, as it were, the last battle We were well prepared for flu, maybe, we weren’t prepared for this different kind of virus Who knows, the next pandemic could be completely different So, I think, yeah, infrastructure, investment and preparedness is very, very important. We are about to run out of time Very nice chatting to you SASKIA: Really nice. I learned a lot actually. That doesn’t happen all the time, you know HOLLY JEAN: Hello! RUPERT: Hello, holly. Nice to meet you. I’m doing fine I am not sure if you caught the previous conversation? HOLLY JEAN: Half of it It made me wonder if you are exhausted about talking about COVID! ? RUPERT: I have the stamina to carry on if necessary The way it structured in the last exchange, it was a little like an interview I don’t know if that is something you would like me to do? I can interview, if you like, or prefer to have a more bi- directional conversation, I would be happy with that as well ? I don’t know what your prevents? Or maybe you don’t mind? HOLLY JEAN: I don’t mind. It is great I am towards scientists in the field who are scientific work, I think It must be a huge amount to think of RUPERT: Thank you I must ask you, obviously I’m not an environmental scientist but we know it will affect us over time, the response to the pandemic as it were, economic and in carbon emission terms, is this something that has given yourself or other researchers a big insight into how reduction in carbon emission may help, where it might help, where it may help immediately, where it maybe be a long-term problem? Is this something where there is an opportunity to exploit in research terms? HOLLY JEAN: There is a lot of stuff coming out, in the past few weeks, I feel like a lot of people just feel grim about it We had a reduction and emissions The reduction and emissions from the pandemic and it was such a small blip compared to the reductions that we need So, you were like, wow, a huge example of voluntary behaviour shift but look how little it moved the needle. So RUPERT: Right HOLLY JEAN: Sorry I can’t be more positive on the question On the behaviour question and the social norms changing rapidly, that is an area for hope, personally RUPERT: Right So I think, sometimes people trying to say, “Let’s look on the positive side ” It always sounds glib, when they do they list, “It will be good for the environment, at least we are not travelling so much on planes ” So we can cross it off the list, can we? Not even that good for the environment, great! OK! Has it had any short-term impact has is measurable in a useful way? Or are we thinking about the wrong things, it is only over the long-term to assess the impact of these things? HOLLY JEAN: I mean, I think that it had, you know air-quality impacts, those kinds of things and people were looking and definitely studying it But in terms of climate change , at large, I don’t think so I maybe the wrong person to ask that as I’m a sociologist from training but from my colleague it is is what I glean RUPERT: Right So how has the pandemic situation impacted on your research? Has it been disastrous from that point of view, or are there opportunities that emerge? doors anymore! So, I mean, this is that shift to the virtual that everybody and in every field, I think, that can, has been doing I think it made sociologists

aiming the work at the time cycles of publication , as a teacher, and thinking a lot about how students receive information, the role of media point In Lariam interested in if social media, how it is meeting the relationships between the science and policy now If you think it is affecting how science is done, or what has been your experience and observations scientists a bit At least, in my field Some people pay a lot of attention to it, some people pay a little attention, some either ignore it or hate it, that scientists have no business doing this kind of thing As far as I’m concerned, I am more towards being engaged with it There is a plurality for different ways of doing this, actually It can be an enormous distraction, you can get into, you know, pointless arguments, and this sort of thing, trying to explain concepts, have their own views and, you know, I expect you find it a lot in the climate change field But on the other hand, it is a really nice way sometimes of sharing information in an informal way, getting informs from different fields you otherwise would not What I like about the Longplayer it is that it has a very interdisciplinary nature this, it was with two people that I encountered first on Twitter, one a historian, one an archaeologist, they happened to be in Cambridge for different reasons We decided to do interdisciplinary research at the pub, it was excellent! We had a great time It is those sorts of thing, and I am still very much in touch with them, it is nice to interact There is a facilitation thing of those kinds of dialogues that otherwise happen in very narrow settings or in specific circumstances, where someone tried to set it up a bit like this. So there are advantages there I don’t know, it is the sort of thing that you become interested in, or has it been for you in the course of your research? HOLLY JEAN: I am interested in it, probably in terms of how different publics understand climate change So that interest is transferred a bit on to how people understand COVID I’ve been paying attention over the years to communities of conspiracy about chem trails and vaccines and now COVID, so understanding those dynamics is really interesting RUPERT: It must be really difficult Some conspiracy theories, you think, OK , I see how you got hold of that, it is a bad ideas others it is like what? Why on Earth would anyone think that? This 5G business, you would have to understand nothing about anything to come up with the idea, yet, there we are. You have to tell people, no. 5G, I mean, wow So, it is, do you I have any new ideas about how this kind of phenomena take place? data to back it up besides my own observations at different protests and events The theory is that people are, experiencing ecological loss in decline but cannot narrate it in those terms so narrate it in terms of these conspiracies So, it is, you know, with chem trails, that they are spraying us, the poison is falling down on everything It is putting it on some other actor that is manipulating it, so also a way to not have to reckon with your own part in it, or your lifestyle or any of that It is this externalising the changes that u you have seen and not just ecological , changes in the social dynamic growing in inequality and class has been a part of the conspiracies that people have not focused too much on

There is a reason Bill Gates is a central figure for the chem trail people and vaccine people And several others, it is the symbol of unattainable wealth RUPERT: Do you think, so, I suppose maybe we should be a little self critical as an academic community, are we doing enough to communicate with people in the right terms? We saw this in the UK with Brexit and so on , that academics, they were good at being seen to be talking down to people Is that a problem that you think also exists in the US? Perhaps it is a problem in the climate change debate and, I say debate, I mean there in perhaps lies the problem! But do you think there is more we could be doing? HOLLY JEAN: Definitely! I think it could be even worse in the US I am not sure, there is such an antielite strain that feeds into an anti-expert strain I was thinking about this because there is a great meeting yesterday, it was on social scientists that work on climate They did something great, they invited Sheldon White House, who is a is a Senator who has been proactive, the hero legislator to talk on climate change And they were asking him what can we do if we want our results and messages to be heard He laid it out, to speak in language that people can understand To get your messages out in the right ways … I mean … and even to ask a policy-maker, to help you. I think it is a good first step I had not been in a conversation like that before I have been in academia a while now, so! So we are slowly learning as the stakes are so high. Everybody can see how high the stakes are RUPERT: Yes Is it possible in the United States at the moment, to reach, as it were, across the political divides there? Are there enough people from, say the Republican Party, conversely, let’s say in academia and the social sciences who have what it takes to persuade people who may come from a very different political, philosophical perspective? need. It is not just I mean there is a big commitment of time and those kinds of things are not incentivised RUPERT: I mean, we are almost actiful discouraged because of the impact if something goes wrong HOLLY JEAN: So that is one part of it, the reward system The other part, some people don’t even want to engage I can see why, in a privileged position, you know, I am white, I am middle-class, I can knock on doors of people that could be Trump voters and they may answer the door to be willing to listen That was a research project I was doing last year in Texas and Kansas and Nebraska and Iowa If I had been in a different position, I don’t think I would have felt comfortable doing that RUPERT: Well, that is tough, actually! That is tough, isn’t it? HOLLY JEAN: Yeah. But I think we need to. I mean, there needs to be more dialogue. It is just somebody has to begin it RUPERT: Yeah, I think that the more we get into the culture war, the higher the chance that everyone looses. I don’t know I mean, perhaps it is a lot worse in the United States than it is here It just seems to me that both, as it were, “Decides” in narrow the space in the middle of that which people need but I think it is something that collectively we do need to be concerned with right now HOLLY JEAN: There is a big value in listening People care about a lot of the same things but talk about them in different terms I know people deeply concerned about their water table, and the water scarsity , having good-quality land to go hunting on, different ways It is not like everybody is anti-environment so, I think there are meeting points that we on the left, I will be explicit, must be willing to go and meet people

And it is hard on social media with all the images that you see on the other side where people are hostile and hateful, so the algorithms or the feeds I think are also playing a role there RUPERT: You are studying now? HOLLY JEAN: I started a faculty position in Buffolo in New York I am two hours from Toronto, near the border of Canadian RUPERT: I have never been to Buffalo Is the way in which you are delivering teaching, there, presumably it’s been moved all online? Or are you doing some inperson teaching and a mix of things? my students about what they would prefer I would say that 80% of my colleagues are fully online RUPERT: Right HOLLY JEAN: The students have been so great and so conscientious and the campus is like a ghost town It is a very different experience of feeling, being there, they have really decareered the … presence of people, right? — decreased the presence of people, a huge amount RUPERT: So people are taking it very, very seriously? HOLLY JEAN: They are here. New York State in general If everything knows if we go above 100 cases in a 2 -week period, the campus will short down from the governor’s order so. Everybody is monitoring that There are 33,000 students, I believe, so it does not take much to ruin it for everybody RUPERT: Have you started then, a completely new position for you? HOLLY JEAN: About a month into it enjoy it despite of everything in HOLLY JEAN: I think that people take their education seriously They know it is such a different context, I think I feel like they are valuing the experience a lot more than in the past I think that we took it for granted we could sit in a room and change ideas RUPERT: Yes Are you doing anything, as it were, within your university, that is very interdisciplinary? Or is it early days, and you are teaching and researching and keeping it on the straight and the narrow? HOLLY JEAN: Well, we are founding a new department. So that is exciting. It is pretty new The Department of Environment and Sustainability So I was the first cohort of hires around that RUPERT: That, presumably, it is bringing in people from different disciplines, is that right? HOLLY JEAN: Yeah, we have historians and sociologists and ecologist, and chemist, all of that. It is pretty great RUPERT: It sounds very exciting So, I think that our brief, it is to be thinking very, very long-term I think that we are supposed to take some degree of inspiration from the come position, from Jim Finer’s piece, the Longplayer. Have you listened to it online? HOLLY JEAN: Not much, no RUPERT: I went to it In a former Light House They have these bronze bulbs as to how the noise is produced It is striking, these beautiful objects, lease large bronze bulbs, you can sponsor one. People have a word on it that they have chosen The music is very , it is very eerie in a way It is this long, almost whale-like noises that you get sometimes from the deeper bulbs and this very pure sounds that come out of them I was sort of trying to reflect on this, trying to be thinking long-term about it I suppose what struck me is that it is a very clever piece of music But in a way, it sort of sounds the

same at any point you come into it, although it is different, it is very much the same sound world So in a way, it is able to be very long-term, because it has done something in a quite, defined and almost a Conservative sort of a way you know, every field has a contribution to cultivating that sensibility Yeah, it is not easy. I have been thinking about this. How do you teach that I mean, you need to teach about a sense of scale both spatial and temporal, I think, at the same time You know, we have models that can show us long-term projections but how to make it felt, real, a habit you are thinking about. It is so different. Maybe religion play as role, I’m not sure What about things like architecture, the structures that have survived, the pyramids or the coliseum or the cathedrals, have we positioned ourselves in a state of solidity? HOLLY JEAN: The mannediate is to be adaptive, resilient and have something that is flexible , given the climate chaos that is impending, right So how to have that, the stability in the long-term view I suspect that there are definitely other cultures Past and the present that have done this much better than ourselves RUPERT: The music is really interesting. It is very eerie You could not listen to it all, obviously! But it is a beautiful set of sounds, though that get produced I would quite like to hear a live performance, or to hear what the singing bulbs sound like when they are together The way that it is produced now, it is electronic and it completely takes into account the resonant effect that one bulb may have on another. Depending on where it is positioned given you that sense of a long-term perspective? RUPERT: Well, music is definitely one of them At some points in the order, I was going to be talking to Brian Eno, unfortunately, I know nothing of popular music but, renaissance music I like very much and sing quite a bit Which, I suppose, is why I am rabbiting on a lot about this sound installation at the Longplayer So, my and actually, thinking about the pandemic, it has been interesting in these musical terms When you listen to, say a piece of music that was composed 500 years ago, let’s say , and when you sing it, it is still absolutely as fresh and as totally to the point and speaks to you emotionally, actually, as it must have done 500 years ago And there is a kind of sense of long-termness about that, with I is impressive OK, partly it is a selection artefact in the sense that someone who composed a piece of music 500 years ago that was rubbish, it probably would not

have survived or if it did, no-one performed it a lot to be learned from it I mean, it is my particular hobby and interest of mine, that is this , the renaissance music and so on So, there is that I don’t know if that is the sort of thing you are thinking of? HOLLY JEAN: I don’t know! I was just curious what sparks sensibility in people I think that for me, there is definitely places with particular geologies in the desert in the west, that give you that sense of the long-term. But it is quite different to something that is human-made I guess that I am thinking about around , if, if where I live, Buffalo where I live, this are gigantic structure, and they have been there for 200 years, and they shape where I live now And I think about how the future and the generations and how they are shaping. And what we can do have significances for you, or is it just really the visual aesthetic of it? HOLLY JEAN: That’s a good question I think when you are a child, you pay a different type of attention to your surroundings I think it shapes you more or you develop more of a relationship as you are still living in this imaginary world where things take on significance I guess that places I have been later in life have a different feeling RUPERT: You are not native to Buffalo, then? You moved there? HOLLY JEAN: I have moved to a lot of places I grew up in a town that was designed in the 1960s So, living in somebody else’s vision, I guess RUPERT: Was that, did that work for you? Was it a good vision? HOLLY JEAN: It was a great place to grow up They had designed it with certain values of, you know, instead of church, there were faith centres in the centre of neighbourhoods for every community, that each community could use The housing was all mixed income, all together, so you didn’t have people off in gated enclaves that So it has been with me my whole life, what does it mean to design an environment for somebody, or a climate for somebody else, as my work is exploring, lately RUPERT: You never felt trapped in a particular vision There was leeway that people could have enough space and manipulate their own space to suit them in their own way in that environment? HOLLY JEAN: There are time it is felt overdesigned But there, the things that they planned in a lot of green space So, you had that as your own imaginary land RUPERT: So a nice place to grow up, then? HOLLY JEAN: For a year When you are a teenager, it all becomes different! RUPERT: Yeah so we have about a minute-and-a-half I suppose we should think about what we didn’t say that we probably out to have done or ask a question that we have been wanting to but have not yet done COVID that you have not talked about, that you want people out there in the world to know? RUPERT: Oh! Yes, that is a very good question, yes, please do your bit! It is incumbent on absolutely every one of us to do everything we can to stop this thing from spreading which we exercise our freedoms You know, we really have to not spread this from one to another The other thing I would say, also, if you can and would like to contribute to COVID research, that is also

excellent Not just in terms of money but in terms of being a participant in the research, if that is vaccine trials or if someone , if you have had COVID, there are many research programmes that would love to hear Friday you If you are able to donate blood to the research programmes, it will really help Thank you, that is as a broadcast message, please help with the research and so on Yes! HOLLY JEAN: Well, thank you, it has been a pleasure Hello. How are you you, Jacqueline? JACQUELINE: I’m good. How are you you? So, I heard most of your conversation with Rupert I think there are some cross-streams between the work that we do, which on paper you would not think that but your environment, how it contributes to who you are, what you have to say, what you are running from, where you your aspirations, how they have emerged on the basis of your origins It is something that I am interested in when it comes to those who make music, irrespective of the genre It can be your route out, it can be the: I absolutely don’t wish to live like this anymore I can talk about how I lived in order to live a better life and how that better life can have an effect on the planet but primarily on your psyche, if you move yourself as far away, mon tearily, creatively, from something less distressing yours are deemed to have scheduled So I am interested in your expertise on the way that the arts impacted on the environment Everything has come to a halt in terms of the festival season, and so forth The income for musicians, the music-makers, it has altered exponentially over the last few years Touring was the thing, touring cannot happen at the moment But all of those tours, the stadium, the fields, it all had an environmental impact HOLLY JEAN: Yeah, that is actually I don’t know, I could answer that in a few ways From a personal stand point it is like like if there were suddenly birds gone, or something like that Like something that was there and that it is absent But on a, I don’t know I think about it a bit as my partner works in the events industry So, it affected our household quite a bit And also the community of people that he knows and people trying to figure out what is the way forward? How do we bounce back? I guess I’m curious how you see the future there? JACQUELINE: I have no magic third eye! I am constantly, I am interested, then scathing about some of the solutions put forward But that is as I’m not directly impacted by it They have talked about social distancing concerts , where you are in mini platforms surrounded by scaffolding, as if, COVID can’t … navigate scaffolding! As no-one is in a pod But the real, the reality being , you miss the socialisation of it , the ability to going to a live event is what you miss, to see your adored artist, to catch their eye, for them to say something, for you to possibly be picked to go on stage You miss the whole production of it, getting ready, selecting who you are going with So, there is a real sense of social bereavement in this aspect of music being taken from you And yet, at the same time, certainly in terms of Black musicality, there are so many different way, the nostalgia and the legacy of Black music is brought to the forewith a number of different initiatives that have taken place on Instagram, Spotify , and online radio platforms creating bottles between particular artists or eras, so there are

ways in which you were going out but staying in but, you know, I want to think about how our kind of fields cross-pollinate You said something earlier to Rupert about your interested in the way in which media has an impact on the way that science is viewed? And what were your thoughts on how not necessarily in relation to COVID as we know that Greta Thunberg has been libled and, you know, undermind and criticised and slurred by adults in positions of political power to undermine the reality of her statement and her concerns HOLLY JEAN: There are a few different interactions that are concerning I guess that I was thinking first about how this meeting environment changes the science that is being produced In this academy, people have to prove impact and so scientists may be focusing on research questions or jut puts that they know will fulfil that impact and or policy, it is media impact that is standing in as the indicator of, you know, what your science did So I am watching the dynamic, wondering to what extent studies are crafted around that as the goal Like with the tweet in mind, when you are designing the study I don’t have data on that but I think it is interesting and concerning Then there is, you know the media understanding’s of the science and it becomes quickly, not just polarised but one single narrative, when really, science is about, not finding a single narrative but looking for the questions and the flaw, maybe, and that is the process So it is very different than what social media is doing JACQUELINE: So it is about oversimplification, about homogenising some kind of solution or argument and presuming that people will, well, they will not get it, it is complicated sew we just generalise and people can make their own presumptions & run with it? Is that what you mean? HOLLY JEAN: That is what seems to be happening they like a little bit of Stevie, a little Bob Marley, maybe two songs by Nina Simone but the investment in the genre and the genre sets have evolved from that. They have not been along for the trajectory This is easy to accept a media that is not specialised in its concern or its focus on responsibility and understanding of cultures and where people originate from and why they speak in the way that they do, why they are politicised in the do, why they are sexist in the way that they are It is easier to homogenise, to say that all Black music is this, all rappers are this, all female rappers are that, so the ways in which those who are oversimplified , they end up being, recurrently proving who they are to the media that does not listen until they do something that the media approves of, and then it is like, “We like you! You are a nice rapper. A nice reggae artist. You are different to them ” Are there elements of that in science, where there are some elements of the field that are not necessarily easier to digest but prefer to talk about the successes or the near- accomplishments or the reality of the absolute devastation that is already here anded is to come? HOLLY JEAN: Yeah, I think that is definitely the case The tricky thing with signing is that you know you need to do experiments and it is still important even if the finding is negative or inconcluesive. It is worth it to do it It is part of your life, you don’t want to just go looking for a finding that you know will blow up Twitter or whatever! But, the ecosystem of media , I think it is changing some of the practices So, it is changing what science is, possibly JACQUELINE: You were quoted on YouTube, you have, I

talking about one of your recent publications, talking about the use of the word “geoengineering ” how it is oversimplified or weaponised to be used in a particular context when people don’t consider the multiple ways in the ways in which that word in itself is utilised Are we geoengineering the planet in order to or by highlighting so many control , that way we can fix it, when we are front and centre the problem that has caused alof these kinds of things So if we can be entrusted or that business is entrusted, that they are entrusted to engineer to a solution. So the use of language, I am really interested in In the vernacular of your field , what words, phrases, terms that you have found have become bastardised , overcomplicated or oversimplified so that they have no meaning and now the meanings have been galloped away with somewhere else? HOLLY JEAN: I think sustainability? It is empty of content! That is maybe the most obvious one JACQUELINE: How would you define sustainability? If someone says they are sustainability How do you clarify what the word means within your field and expertise? HOLLY JEAN: I mean, coming to the theme of the event, this event, acting in a way that does no harm for future generation, maybe. But it has become a corporate term So if you look at when people are searching for this word, this are searching for it like, you know, 9-5, when they are at work It is like a work phrase now I don’t know, what words or fundraises have you found? JACQUELINE: Are you ready! It took them years to acknowledge that the word existed, woke, so now they are talking about you are a “woke warrior” they try to undermine the word saying it sounds juvenile but it is whether you are aware if it is social privileges or inequalities, that you are fully aware of some of the constructions that bedevil people’s lives socially So talking about musically or not, the idea you are talking from a civil rights perspective, say, oh, you are just woke. You are a woke warrior and the N word. Who is allowed to say it? So, when racists say it, when racists issue it Of course we are a allowed to say it, as if rappers say it, as if rappers are all Black people in all context Even though words are delivered, as we know, and we hear them, how they are emphasised relates to how this are spelled, if you say the N word with an A there is a different context to it, when utilised by people of colour Not always but the idea, there one rule, who is allowed to speak This is about rank privileges Who can utilise an epithet You are in a situation, this is a situation where this is an epithet The grabsing of the origins of those who use it to demonise, to belittle , to get grade, if it is taken from the concept, you no longer have the power, so the counter argument, is not an argument or just saying it, no! This is a collision course So the way that music, you know, takes this journey through language, it is really quite fascinating. How it takes ownership of it How it separates generations So, children are teaching their parents grandparents. don’t say that! That is my generation’s language! So you have to teach them how to pronounce things so that they don’t embarrass you from having now new meanings and becoming more powerful and useful? JACQUELINE: I bet you there are, I may be doing myself out of work by not being able to record them immediately. But I think that

I think, certainly in this climate, those three words together, Black Lives Matter, that they will now forever have a different collective impact The idea there is an argument to be had about who Black Lives Matter, you have all of these memes and gifts, saying we are not saying that other lives don’t matter And how the three words change the temperature of a person’s mood … if you issue it And what that then says about your right to make such a determination when we are on a planet we are all sharing temporarily For me as a has been, there was a presumption, personally for me, that musicians would be a lot more proactive. A lot more angry I wanted them, liaiseily, to do the work for me — lazyily, to do the work for me They have a platform Go out, make the music, give us the anthem of the rage I wrote an Instagram post last week, by and large, the rage has been there in contemporary music When you hear Steve-O Wonder, when you hear Nina Simone , when you hear Billie Holiday talking about Strange Fruit You are hearing about racial inequalities, systemic murders that go uncovered up and unpunnished You are talking about the lynching, the images that were put on to postcards and the postcards traded, and what that does in the society to generations of people those who share, those who are Black and those who are not, it tells you who is in power. Who is not in empowered So, to have three words that remind you that power in itself is a construction, that is systemically upheld, violently so, and the power that we hold over the planet and the idea that we are here for a little while, not all the time, a little while, and we are just going to do what we want, some more than others at any due time somehow, I had become entitled to thinking that musicians had to tell me exactly how they felt, when they have been doing it all along. Some morning others Some are not equipped, for some it is just music is fun. That is OK But the idea because you are black , and because of inequality, that is globalised, it is wedded into the way in which a colonial power still has financial reach and control over former colonised territories, it is there, it is everywhere, it is in the National Anthems, it is in the fact that carnival exists as a form of protest against and subversion against those who enslaved you. It is everywhere So Black music has been talking about it all along I think that going back to one of my earlier questions to you about media, I feel that media has failed to remind people of this I think that tells us something about systemically who is in charge So, we are talking about things that are really chipper today! HOLLY JEAN: Well, one thing that I have been struck by , when teaching about environmental racism and previously people understood racism as a hostile, individual, act Now my students understand racism to be structural. So that has changed That has changed just like now! The meaning of the word and how they use it has changed I think that’s inspiring! JACQUELINE: I think you are right, structurally, systemic and Kimberley Crenshawa intersectionality. 3 terms you hear used And there are things that some people say, yeah, I’m woke, I’m sustainable, no, you don’t have to use the pick and mix all at once. Every single term of reference! But you are right, the labour of understanding is to

stopping where, stopping in your tracks, stop yourself in your tracks to think, why do I think this? Why have I got this opinion of this area of the planet, the people who live there, the food, how they eat it, the music that they listen to, oh, it is not English, it does not make sense Look at the way that they are dancing, it is disgusting! All of the ideas come from somewhere, they fall down a system view of self Globally, only, it is regionalised, it is ethnocentric, here it is eurocentric but it takes work But how better to understand where you are, where you are living and how you are living than to not? But this real resistance is to then create this kind of alternative dictionary where you undermine language and you oversimplify and you minimise expertise and degrade artistry Yes … again! Depressing! You have to cheer us up now. To take us out of this gloom! HOLLY JEAN: It is, the language is so powerful One of my students was talking about going to a conference where they talked about settler colonialism and themselves as being settlers, and that one word changed how we thought about his place, it changed how he thought about the place in where he lives, in the country, everything Sometimes, when you have the word it can unlock a whole shift. So I don’t know, if we can think about doing that more intentionally? JACQUELINE: Given the fact that President Trump has called to arms his opposition to critical race theory, is there any concern about what he will do in terms of expanding that kind of control, not kind of but that control to the sciences? Given that we know he said maybe COVID could be tackled by bleach or by sunlight on a children’s play ground, a child’s slide? Are you concerned if there is any success, and, fundamental success in the bang of critical race theory studies in the United States, that it is just HOLLY JEAN: I am concerned more on the impact of case V12 education. Primary school in particular What it looks like under a second Trump administration Particularly in districts where his base is strong That is, I mean, we shouldn’t be having to teach our students about this in college as they should have already learned it when they were younger That is the main area, not so much in the sciences as I think that they will stay fairly independent. for various reasons. But, really, in our schools JACQUELINE: You know, for people watching from outside of the States, can you explain what the differences were pre-trump for that demographic in education? What they were expected to have learned by that age versus now in HOLLY JEAN: I’m not sure if I know about enough about that to say in authority My experience from my own childhood, I guess I am about to find out, I have a kinder Gartner , so, we will see what she goes through But I know that, it means things like how history is taught Does your school celebrate indigenous people’s day or is it deliver Columbus Day ? Those types of things that could be the narrative of the history present in this country JACQUELINE: It is structural It is deliberate, not accidental That critical race theory is the testing ground, the taste tester for this administration’s determination You start with race, and then you creep on through other disciplines, through other mine European Court, and even thinking and which departments were going to go, race studies department,

specialist race studies departments were the first to be culled in so many institutions want From them there has never been such a demand to learn about this, possibly. At least, in my corner. In my corner of the world. The students are passionate know So it is like one of the things that I say on the first day , is that, I mean it sounds tripe, to save spacious as it is, as no-one wants to be laughed at about what they don’t know, as I teach music sociology, I mean, what do you know about that jam kit? There is always one guy are girl, usually a guy … oh, my dad that is lovely but you don’t penalise people for what they don’t know but for what they choose not to learn about, when they have the access to know, and then the way in which they mount a defence against their ignorance in order to try to minimise your knowledge but you are absolutely right I have more students wanting to learn about Black British music as they think there are only legacy , the worldwide, the Black Atlantic, et cetera, so it is deeply worrisome it happened in the United States as America sneezes and the United Kingdom UK catches a cold The idea that happened there, nothing like that will happen here … I think it is naive So we look to the arts, to the sciences to pull it, to utilise their expertise, to utilise their atick legislation to pull us out but it is a lot of labour for people, and it is not possible, this are more people who are not scientists and artists, so what should be done by those who are not experts but who benefit from your expertise ? HOLLY JEAN: (Laughter) JACQUELINE: How can they help you? HOLLY JEAN: I mean I think that there is so many basic things about being critically obliterate in the media ecosystem and this you know I think that the main thing I want to do, that doesn’t even have to do with science, it is just like helping students and people in the world learn how to read and to interpret what is in the news, how to check claims, that kind of thing. So, that is the first order JACQUELINE: That is a beautiful endeavour And you have mot lost any of that desire, obviously HOLLY JEAN: No JACQUELINE: That is cool. That is imperative. It is imperative You know, I gave reference to the interview you did with about the presumption that the elites will benefit of the findings for themselves to enrich themselves, so forth , to have more of a democratic way of sharing knowledge , obviously through education, and we have talked about the idea that a sickle is being taken to particular disciplines , that made me think about the push-back that Black music almost always gets, “Why is it called Black music? ” Because it is music of Black orangein You don’t hear it called white music? No, because all music is ethnocentrically in Europe So when you highlight that is something that is not of the elite When you highlight expressions, experiences, when they gather a momentum it extends beyond the origins of the artist, they become these global movements, if that is jazz, or if it is rock and roll, if that is rap, or it is onward with grime and so forth The idea, that we stop calling it Black music that the mainstream has accepted it, as you are now elitist, separatist by calling it what it is Do you have a parallel within that, within the sciences there by those who make the work share the work are then expected to say, “Stop calling it that intelligence? HOLLY JEAN: That’s a great

question I think, I guess that I think of climate action lead’s responding to that And seeking That’s a great question, I drivers and the leads responding to that and also seeking legitimacy from climate justice movement (CHIMES RING) JACQUELINE: Yes, that is a great example. It has been a pleasure talking to you Our topics were depressing! But a reaction to all of our interests Hello! How are you? ALEXANDER: Excuse me, I haven’t really spoken yet this morning! It’s morning on my coast! JACQUELINE: OK. Where are you based? ALEXANDER: I’m just outside of San Francisco JACQUELINE: Is it bright and obscenely sunny? trees JACQUELINE: Look at that, I can see it bouncing off that wall! OK, we won’t talk about weather envy here ALEXANDER: Yeah, we just moved up on top of a mountain and a forest up here JACQUELINE: Stop it, stop it! because of the smoke, so! It has been quite a wild ride of a summer as far as climate goes out here, for sure JACQUELINE: And given COVID, how are you actually working on the variety of things that you actually have your fingers in – I will say your fingers and your toes, because you are busy! You’re really busy ALEXANDER: Yeah, well this time has been busier than most Certainly I’ve kind of self spent- aboutrunning we’re different now having to pies that I work reinvent so in many of and most of them them were So I did a lot of live events I worked with Jem Finer and this type of conversation series, we’ve done versions of these long conversations yeah, we host a lot of live events around long-term thinking, so inviting speakers, and that has all changed, and we run our headquarters is actually a bar and cafe and we run a live salon series and that’s all closed. We haven’t been opened for six months We are open now a bit for table service but we don’t get to do our live events JACQUELINE: Does it work online sfr? Has the migration online worked or does it feel confining? ALEXANDER: At first it did not I think part of it was the shellshock of everyone being at home and turning on a camera JACQUELINE: Oh, people! long! So we started changing the format a lot, the speaker, and then we work with them to find all kinds of historical footage and imagery and then we kind of mix together a kind of a mini-documentary of them, so we will record someone for an hour plus, and then take all that and spend that and then mix it down to about 35 minutes So it is a bit conciser that works better online and also a lot of visuals documentary , rather than giving a talk, and then in the editing process, we kind of get some of the – we can put together the ideas sometimes in a way that is more helpful than the speaker did originally, them back into the original talks to make it clear So it is working better in some cases, and I think, you know , before our talks were primarily for the live audience, but even then our largest audience was online Eventually, you know, the talks would get up to thousands and thousands of people audience, which kind of made them less interesting online So I think now that we’re producing them primarily for an online audience, I think it’s it with a gun to our head! we furniture on the, ship right that? we were sailing and now

ocean it are really positive , and we’re starting to pull in a much more global audience and also speakers are, in a way, more available, right? You know, if you had to fly somebody from Australia it was always such a scheduling snafu, or Europe or wherever, and it always kinds of bugs me when I end up flying around the world to give a 45 -minute talk JACQUELINE: The conscience kicks in, hey? ALEXANDER: It is clearly not a good climate move! So I always try to make them longer trips and do other things and be careful about those, but you know, permission the ability time has permission to give the talk, and permission to try new formats , new things, and I think that’s a general positive that we’re seeing out of this. And you are in the UK right now, is that right? JACQUELINE: I am. Can you not see the dull…?! Yeah, we’re here! It’s pre-autumn or autumn, I don’t even know what it is What you just said there about reconfiguring the format of a live event, it’s not the same but it has made me think about the way in which musical artist, especially artists who are not heard as the big democratiser of that is, of course , the internet, but not only in terms of they don’t necessarily need to have an A&R sign them who will not come down to a particular rack jam or they won’t come down to a poetry night where there are several R&B singers singing the hook to a poet’s material some successfully for years But one of the things that COVID has alerted me to all the more , because it happened before, was just the way in which the PRs have actually receded for some artists and how artists will go on to Insta Live and do an Insta story and they will debunk a rumour or do something like Tori Lanes did the other day, which is to – how do I say this? politely He will legitimatise his violence against another rapper , and use that to sell his now-number 1 album in the United States, and yet when the alleged victim of his violence went online to debunk rumours that she’d made up the violence, she was accused of capitalising on it And so, you know, you’ve got – you’ve got this new platform that’s reminding you of things that already exist about sexism, about hypocrisy, about the idea that within rap way in which before, I remember growing up in the old days, even before fax machines – no, actually – no, I lived in fax machines! But no, where PRs would actually issue a through via the record label – all of that is gone So a rumour can start, even by, you know, a self-appointed blogger who wants attention, and it can gather world talking about it on Insta Live and often sometimes the management have no say, “No, I’m going to do bed , like, really just lambasting this rumour and how the rules of professionalism and engagement and I don’t think that’s a really good idea, but they’ve all changed ALEXANDER: Certainly JACQUELINE: So you’ve got this not famous – am I making sense? ALEXANDER: Indeed I mean, you know has had companies marketing companies music on them, until that went away, and then they realised they were really just a marketing engine, so who they choose to market and who they choose to lift up is still the main fillet their we get, because — filter that we get access gets you to that is – you know, becomes the kind of non-democratised part of music that we still have media aspect is really interesting For better or worse we have people who can conduct

themselves professionally and with grace, you have people who can’t and you watch someone having a breakdown, effectively, on social media, like Kanye or something like this, where there’s zero filter, obviously, and then you have people like – someone like, I don’t know, a Taylor Swift who probably runs all their tweets through a media engine saying that you certainly see that there’s some people – and it about what they put out and it could be that they run it through media and marketing engines But you know, it’s politics now and obviously we have the unfiltered brand of the US President on Twitter but we see that less in a lot of other countries where they clearly have people who Who check out what they say beforehand careful and probably ran that through social media JACQUELINE: I think what’s consistent is – are the ‘ -isms’ that still exist within any of these contexts So I remember Katy Perry, in one of her – I think it was her previousal lockdown of invited to just watch her explore her pain and her vulnerability and it was just like, this is not how you sell records, actually The telling is in the stories that you write , but there was something so very – not contrived but something so you weren’t sure, are you crying on cue, and then, hold on , she is looks damaged, this doesn’t look like this is – this doesn’t seem to be the right thing marketing engines , they always were and they relied on the ‘-isms’, because they kept Black people from being the primary beneficiaries of the art that came from their lived experiences, and what we’re seeing, certainly in the United Kingdom, and we know it my God, that guy, that girl, she sounds black! That’s really interesting! But that guy or that girl is black – I know, but isn’t it more interesting that they who are not, and they sound like the music that they’ve been influenced by is far more interesting than they that are? And that has everything to do with the power of media about – restructuring, recalibrating how things are delivered the way society was operating, which was already sexist and racist, and so who got through and, you know , how charts were measured – they would call race charts All of this just migrated into the system and so what we have here is we have this democratising template, you know, engine, that is the internet, and yet we’re still coming up against all of these things that are constructions and which tyrannyised people In this country there is a rapper called Retch-32 who uploaded material about his father who was in his home and the police raided the home and threw him down the stairs – his father is a pensioner And I was thinking, look at what we’re watching We’re watching the abuse of an elderly man, you know, no charges were brought against anybody for this, and we’re seeing so much violence and yet if he were not who he was, that would never have made the news So the rank still exists, despite all of the evil that we’re witnessing, as to who is more important and who is told and who is sold If he had had a record out – which he didn’t that, you know what I mean? Everything’s a mess! having the skills to determine what is contrived, what is heartfelt, what is natural, and given what you’ve talked about with your own work about working with the Longplayer, you know , the long view of the Longplayer, you know, having extensive conversations and really burrowing deep down , do you find yourself hitting a lot of the same markers about the way society is run, the way people suffer? ALEXANDER: Well, I mean, I think the thing that we have

this much more direct access and so vulnerable, at their most angry, at their most unfiltered, is now – it’s now happening in real-time, and ranging from people committing suicide on Facebook Live, to, you know, really great things that happen when people have access to someone at their most vulnerable, and so we see people at their best and their worst, all simultaneously So it’s – I don’t know , I think it’s a weird and wild time to be live that we have that, and I think that humans have always evolved to be social species, an audience of thousands and millions simultaneous to our every – kind of our every word or every bad action or good action, so recovering from those can mistakes could kind of, you and you is you had a wrong idea and, you know, coming back from that is very difficult now And I think also it causes people to entrench much more heavily in their ideas, because you either kind of double down in some ways, I think, for people But I think that’s – the curious thing is that we, you know, we just aren’t – there’s nothing in our evolution that would make us good at being a perfect person in front of everybody all the time, and so how do we live a life that allows us to correct, you know, the way we think, the way we act, and feel as though, you know, we can be understood for doing that? I think that’s the part that we still need to figure out Some day there will be a president or a world leader that grew up where, you know, parents were posting pictures of them from their baby life on , and every stupid thing they ever said or did will be part of that record, and so it might be that, you know , going back to this idea of permission, that we might give people a lot more permission, you know, to have had stupid things that some way Or it could be that we pull back from this I’ve already seen, you know, my daughter’s generation and – and she’s 11, she doesn’t get on to friends, like, they don’t want to even be on it because it is a thing their parents do! (LAUGHTER) So it could be that this social media is shiny tool we all right and then the kids were like, well, that them watching me on this thing and they flock to newer tools, with TikTok and what not, but it could be that they really walk away from it, and I think that my that doesn’t quite work – yet So when electricity was a technology, it was a new technology, you know, and it often didn’t work. You would invite people over to your house just to turn on the lights! But now we just turn on the lights and it’s just like air that we breathe, that we assume it is always there California during fire season! Now it’s turned back into technology again! say about technology because you work, you know, your investment in it creatively is quite broad – you work in about surveillance and when we think about some of the tools that can be utilised, whether it’s in the studio to alter people’s voices, people who don’t – who can’t sing but they’ve got great ideas and they feel that they want a shot at stardom, et cetera Are there any kind of – there are technology or – what are the main ones that you are guided by? ALEXANDER: I mean, the robots that I build, that’s kind of a weekends and evenings pastime where the kind of robots

I build are for entertainment, so I build robots that fight other robots on television! And I build robots that make Mai-Tais and things like that! And to be fair, the things that we’re calling robots, I think the robots I build are really telepresence divisions You control them remotely, but they don’t have their own intelligence and choices But I think whenever you’re building things in technology, in some way you’re building them as a reflection of you, the way you think, your dreams or desires, you know, and think it has this kind of cathartic anti-technology things to me where you kind of get to build a technology to destroy a technology and when we live in a world where so much that we do is mediated by technology I find it cathartic to have this destruction thing of years, but to build something that destroys – that destroys another kind of accelerated ageing chamber for the way technology may play out over very long periods But, you know, it’s violent and entertaining and no-one gets hurt, which is the fun part, right?! So you get the gladiator ial thrill JACQUELINE: High ALEXANDER: it’s just fun JACQUELINE: But I’m farefully cynical, you see! So one of the things that I’m concerned about is , are you not worried – are you not responsible for when people take your creative brilliance and use it for harm? Because there was some footage just yesterday of that kind of dog-walking robot, but it ‘s not a dog, because it has got more legs than a dog – it is not a dog, it is a robot, anyway, but that dog-shaped robot That was walking around a protest march the people around it, and so the idea that, OK, work that you do, the legacy work, because it’s finite, it’s fun – it’s wasteful! But it’s fun Are there any concerns about your creativity being duplicated for harm? ALEXANDER: Oh, for sure I think, you know, any technology can be used for good and bad and we see it in the protests, too We see protesters with drones video taping what’s going on and we see cops with drones trying to collect information on the protesters so that they can use it against them later , so both those technologies are clashing in that way, or that same technology is going to be clashing in that way, and of course the authoritarian regimes are able to say, you know – pass laws or just dictate who can use what technology in a protest and who cannot, and some are easier to chase down You see protesters, for instance, using these ultra- Hong Kong but we’re seeing it now where it can use long-lasting blinding effects to the cops and it’s very difficult and so , therefore, you end up with cops, you know, escalating that violence because they don’t ever like to be – kind of anyone have the upper hand in those situations JACQUELINE: Yes, the police squads that are militarised that Hmm ALEXANDER: Do you mean the protester shields or the cop shields? JACQUELINE: The cop shields, they actually look like Captain America shields, but they have the ability to actually Taser you You can be Tasered by this, they can be used in that way and you are starting to see it in some cases, as to basically , as a way of doing protesting and even peaceful protesting would be to have a whole – a well- trained group of people wearing all-white armour and white shields with peace symbols on them and stand in front of the protesters think , would be extremely powerful, of kind of the cops, who always have these kind of universally menacing Darth Vader outfits and then you would have the very obvious peaceful

protesters who are trying to reduce harm to the people that are protesting behind them and to stop that escalation of violence But also wearing armour, and I think my fear of it of course is that again, whenever the police feel as though they are outclassed, then they’ll up the kind of JACQUELINE: Violence ALEXANDER: and the tactics and start using real bullets rather than rubber bullets or something like that a situation like that. But I think it could be both powerful and useful We saw some versions of this, and it’s always curious to me, you know, how, in some case, the police, I think, react to it well and in most of the cases they don’t JACQUELINE: Yeah There was, of course, a time – I’m talking about it as if it has passed – where rap music, where jazz, were declared immoral entities that were corrupting the youth Jazz itself, you know, the name’s a euphemism for ‘sex’, rock’n’roll the same thing President Bush Sr, the late, he compared Eminem, I believe at one point – polio And so even ALEXANDER: It’s an interesting parallel to social media I mean now social media and screen time is where we’re telling our kids – or we’re saying that our kids are being damaged by these things and it’s going to melt your thing that was immoral There was a time when printed books were considered immoral because, you know, people would withdraw from conversation and read this hand-held object in their hand, and social society, you know, a printed book. So now you see the same thing about phones So I’m always kind of – I’m always a little bit dubious of these statements, and obviously they play out over racial and societal things, especially if it’s a thing of another culture that you don’t like, if that’s taking over, you know, your children’s technology on it, or the music on it social media now that I said that it ‘s – your audience is kind of a one-to-many audience and the many-to-one has been flipped of the normal television or music cultures that were always kind of one-to-many before and it has flipped to many-to-one and I don’t know that people are very good at that, yet people retreating in shared company , in a book, and going to the cinema in a dark room with strangers, it ‘s sordid, it’s disgusting, and dancing with the hem of your skirt above your ankles, what kind of woman are you, dancing to the Charleston in that way , et cetera, et cetera, wlifrning to music where there is profanity and violence is used as a term of reference for entertainment even though it is fictionalised like you say, the technology that brings it to you makes it accessible and portable and tangible, but this is entertain, and there ‘s that – so we keep coming back to the ‘-isms’, no matter where the technology originates or how it evolves as to who has the right to talk to my children in this way? And the people who are the most resentful of these musicians coming in and stealing the innocence of my child are those who don’t actually or subculture, because it’s too much work but one interesting to me is how we do storytelling in our myth-building are culture, and I know that you’ve studied kind of historical music in this context, and so I’m interested – in our last minute, I guess , what’s your take on the way that we’re telling stories and history through music and how – where you see that going and the way that we’re doing it now? take my own and realise

that they are there to express for themselves, and if I am frustrated at their narrative shortcomings, it’s because I haven’t made those shortcomings my own work and duty, because musicians are here fundamentally to express for themselves if we understand it and they magnetise what our experience is like, “I love you! ” But fundamentally they are here to get out what is inside, and it has taken me decades to understand that! ALEXANDER: It has been really nice talking to you JACQUELINE: And to you, enjoy the sun! ALEXANDER: I hope your weather improves in England! JACQUELINE: Thank you! ALEXANDER: Take carement — care. (CHIMES RING) Hi there MEEHAN: Hi there, how are you? ALEXANDER: Good, how are you doing? MEEHAN: I’m fine, that was a fascinating conversation you were just having I feel like there was an opening at the end there about stories and myth-building that I would love to keep talking to you about in terms of technology, actually you about some of these things from some of your work as well know, as someone who engages with technology, and you were can always be used for good or ill, it will always be used for good and ill, probably. That’s kind of in the nature of it technology is and what it does and doesn’t do for us or how it does or doesn’t threaten us seem to be particularly destabilised right now and crystalising into something potentially new For me, I think of it in terms of climate change, but I’m and how they’re changing? ALEXANDER: It’s an interesting question I mean, first, you know, how do you – how do you build new myths is an interesting question and it is something that I wrestle with a lot One of the things I’m working on is, you know, this multi- millenial clock that’s meant to change the way people responsible we are for future generations, you know, are we being good ancestors? None of these things are going to be solved with a conference or a white paper, and so, you know, what we’re trying to do is do this kind of intervention that is in its own mythic – at at least a stories about that and how it makes them feel and hold that kind of reflection up of a deep future in front of them, and I think often our thinking of ourselves story, you know, if you look at the last MEEHAN: Excuse me, but did you already tell the story about the oak beams? ALEXANDER: Oh, I didn’t tell that story amazing ALEXANDER: It’s great because like many good myths it’s not true! (LAUGHTER) MEEHAN: I’m so disappointed, that’s terrible! ALEXANDER: So it is an apocryphal story, but I will tell you some things about it at the end The thing that really got The Long Now Foundation where I work started, it was told, but when New College Oxford was building built and it was the ‘new’ college in the 1200s, they had these huge oak beams that were put over the main dining hall and 500 years later they were found to be rotten and infested with beetles in the 1800s and they didn’t know what to do because you couldn’t really buy trees like this anymore in Europe or England MEEHAN: And they didn’t really grow anymore, right? Like they just sort of weren’t growing? ALEXANDER: Well, you could grow them, but they would take – size that school forester who that , you know, an act as simple as gathering acorns on the ground, leveraging over 500 years, could solve an intractable problem in the future cultural while it seems that this particular story, ace — as I mentioned, is not actually true , the forestry practices were in place and that did happen and we’ve seen other stories like I think it ‘s the Swedish navy where the royal forester called them and said, we have the trees you planted , they’re ready, and this was 200 years after they were planted, and they were trying to solve an intractable size that they needed for masts but naval technology clearly had moved to the point where they were worthless Well, not worthless, they were great trees, but

the Royal Navy no longer needed massive, straight pine trees to make masts out of But I think, you know, going back to the New College Oxford story is it’s kind of a myth, and it doesn’t really matter how true it is, but something simple over time, and how you can have you forgot it, would be kind of an intractable problem again There’s stories like this in Japan. There’s a lot of these, for instance Hundreds of years ago, as old as 500 years when there was massive tsunamis they would put markers and say, “Do not build below this line” and that was where the tsunami would get to and they did build below that line and they are now time and they failed to become a myth But there was a small little temple built on a rise and the temple’s story is that people ran killed that water could come in and would focus and then actually took this high ground out, and so that was always the story of that temple, and so when the last 2006 tsunami hit people did not the myth saved the lives of people , you know, 600 years after it came here that, for me , as a person who thinks about climate change and sort of deep past and deep future, and also very near future, one is the idea that there’s a lot of talk right now about how sort of like human nature and/or human cognition make us incapable of thinking long-term or understanding geological time or planning in these very long-term ways, which I think if you look at history, you can see that there are different eras under different contexts where deep, long time was built into the fabric of society , and therefore this idea that, like, it’s just human nature, minutes strikes me as incredibly dangerous right ourselves, which is an incredibly self-defeating mythology The other thing in these stories as you are telling them to me that I hear is this question of communication It’s making me think about – there was the book that John de Gada wrote incredibly toxic material into the ground, that’s going to be in the ground for, you know, like a million years or something at which point it will begin to degrade and become poisonous so they had to figure out a way to communicate to humans so far in the future that we can’t actually imagine what, like, symbolic patterns they’re going to be using to communicate with each other, right, like language, written language, you know, English? Is that around? Pictorial instincts ALEXANDER: If you look at the markings on kavp king Tu it’s tomb, dump – you will get sick, the family after you will get sick, the curse will be on your family for generations MEEHAN: That kept us out! gold on the other side of that! MEEHAN: There’s gold in there! ALEXANDER: We worked with DoE on that particular storytelling issue and I’ve done conferences with all the some of them, there is the 100,000 year facility in Helsinki and the very strange for thousands of the same scale and with a lot of science and budget and rigour But they all agree, behind closed doors all the managers of these repositories all agree that the right answer is to not mark it. Don’t mark these repositories because they’ve been handed this kind of mandate of, “You need to give,” you know, “100% assurance over 100,000 years, or 10,000 years or 100 an

for their efforts in this but one of the best solutions I heard to the suggested the whole, let’s say, the south-west region, if you were would really be a kind of a cultural test and a once you solve all the puzzles, it would tell you where the nuclear waste is. By solving all of the puzzles danger of what you’re dealing with, before giving you the location, and about distances this deep in time is you have to kind of set some cultural kind of touchstones that allow you – like, are you the same kind of – do you care about the same kind of things that I cared about? And what does safety mean in a be, you know , largely robotic, or heavily modified from, you know, what we would consider a normal human, and so and then express what the danger was to at least MEEHAN: Has anyone turned this into a film yet? Where humans encounter one of these markers and have to figure out what to do with it? This sounds like a fantastic plot for a novel or film! ALEXANDER: Yeah, there’s a book called Cantacle for Leibovitz, which was a book about people encountering artefacts far, far into the future and making all kinds of suppositions about it that we as archaeologists and you who do your kind of work – you know, we tell ourselves a story that makes sense in our world, with very scant evidence of that stuff I’m trying to think – in 2001, in an think that anyone’s done one with nuclear waste There was a book by Neil Stephenson about nuclear waste but he used the mechanism of the clock that we are building as the way of keeping it to a society that were paying thaengs to things over time about the detains of nuclear waste MEEHAN: It is not expedient to say, “Stop making the dangerous waste,” right? ALEXANDER: We already have it We have to do something with – you know, we have a huge legacy of every nuclear power country has this legacy of, you know, we think of it as like, oh, it’s nuclear waste from nuclear plants – no, it will be like the entire Oakridge facility has a layer of radioactive dust over collapsing and they don’t know what to do, so right, it becomes this super-fun site, so it is the dispose of and that’s also part of that So it is a highly variable kind of space of dangerous material I do also think that people – that we’ve used it as a way of, let’s say, arguing against nuclear power , which, you know, also, I think, has a lot of benefits, it being a largely green power in terms of nuclear power off the waste problem, you know, yes, you could bury the waste and someone might – you know, someone might find it in the future and they might get sick, but you know, for instance, the number of people who probably have been injured in, or died in a car crash going back and forth to conferences talking more than the number of people that would get harmed in the future and burial and all of those kinds of things is that it almost – it rarely goes to plan, right? because there not that given the currently have, doing the best we can do, but I think the problem is the idea that, like, OK, if we put them into these barrels, it will basically be fine for a million years So for every way we look at disposing waste it turns out , actually we planned poorly because, you know, sea level rise We didn’t think this site was going to be under water in the to erode all of the structures we put in place thinking it was going to be in the desert This million-year sort of sense of safety seems to me actually part of the problem ALEXANDER: Yes, but I also think it’s worth assessing what is the true risk Yes, if you put it in a place that could end up having water flowing through it, that is water supply for a city

in the future, that would be really bad, right? and as you say, you know, above sea level But I also wonder, of the things that are dangerous in our world, like the effects of climate change, I think they are vastly more dangerous and global than this highly regionalised problem where some people might get sick if they unbury this thing at their own great effort concrete and steel and all these things Like, we’re harming ourselves in much bigger and faster ways than that exploding ALEXANDER: I’m curious, in your work it sounds like you’ve done archaeological work in Fiji, is that right? doing! I was basically a reporter tagging along different islands around Fiji , and they were looking in particular at to figure out a way to basically save their reef because the reefs are its income, its culture, its food, and without the reef the whole culture kind of falls apart and so this one particular village would fall apart looking through the waste of the past cultures, right? MEEHAN: Yeah ALEXANDER: It’s interesting to me with nuclear waste this we actually do want to unbury in the future, that we will get nuclear material that’s very difficult to build from scratch at the history of reefs through the trash middens of past cultures MEEHAN: That was kind of a fluke, because the scientist I was travelling with, his name is Joshua Drew, he was at Columbia at the time, and a friend of his who was an archaeologist was at a site for this village in Fiji, called the Lapita people, and we got on a car that went on roads for a a while to this huge beach, where we got out and sort of helping them out there, so we were trying to get them food and toilet paper and some things we were just sort of and we get into these little wooden boats and take these wooden boats out to the area where they were sort of on a peninsula looking at this archaeological site and the archaeologists and scientists are chatting and she is looking has these cardboard boxes, like big square cardboard just full of shells and bits of pottery and, you know, things that they’re kind of slowly sorting through, and he takes a look at this one shell and, like, his face just drops and I see him pick it up and I was like, ” it ‘s a giant clam shell,” you know, I don’t have maybe the size of a soccer ball, maybe a little bit bigger and he is just astonished because this is the he is working in, you know, two islands away, but there they are so much smaller and he realises – you know, part baseline. So you have to figure out what it is you are trying to save And he realises, looking at this giant clamshell, that the baseline, after only even already these shellfish are growing smaller and smaller and smaller , either because they’re being fished out younger and so they don’t have a chance to grow big and old, shells are weaker and so they can’t grow as big anymore But I watched him have this epiphany of this across- centuries, people living in similar ways, job is try and save enough of the food source that’s left , and it’s just – it’s a very sobering sort of look at the long view of how people lived and may or may not be able to continue to live in this area this problem all over, you know , the rarity of the giant blue fin tuna and the giant lobsters that were kind of just a

just increasing and increasing and that was from thousands of years ago, the trash middens that they were looking at JACQUELINE: Yeah — MEEHAN: Yeah, yeah definition and believe it’s from our childhood You know, it’s like, nature was the thing that – you know , nature stopped at my childhood and then – or at least my definition of it, and so often you will find of in its natural state actually was changed radically , you know, even here in the United States, there’s the fire – the way that the Indigenous people used fire to change the landscape and in fact to garden the landscapes the way we garden in square plots of land, they were gardening the entire landscape, and that changed it radically before Western culture arrived to document what they saw But we kind of considered that state to be natural and I don’t think we even know what the natural state is MEEHAN: There is a name for this – shifting baseline syndrome conservation what is the – what is the point at which you are trying to sort of halt some kind of environmental degradation? Is it today, is it ten years ago, when things looked better? Is it when you were a child? And you’re right – every generation, including of scientists and conservationists has what it should look like and therefore people tend to put bring things back a little bit more to what they were when they were a child which may or may not be meaningful ALEXANDER: Which may not be the natural state this idea that there is some fixed mrat tonic very long time ≫ Is it pre-human contact or what it is? MEEHAN: Right, and I think that is just a profound misunderstanding of ecosystems and life on earth and I think and that for the last, you know, what is it, 5 billion years or however long we’ve been relatively conducive to our survival so when you start looking at bliens and thinking about, what is the thing that we hope — baselines and start thinking about what is the forward, values than nature is beautiful and nature is something that deserves saving on its own – or, you know, saving on its own terms, regardless of what it does for us And this is an ongoing argument and like, what are the make the decisions that we make about the resources that we have? the work of trying to understand ecology for many, a place that was the best, that was the most natural, that it mabs towards, that this is our baseline It’s a, given what we have now, what are we going to try and save? It’s reminding me of when I was interesting one The word ‘conservationist’ means that you are trying to just save stuff in some state, rather than creating a new state that is the desirable state I think the bummer about that idea is that not only is it kind of – it’s non- creative, the idea of conserving, but it another generation I mean, you know, my daughter’s 11 and I don’t want to tell her that – you know, she just wants to be – you know that her whole future is putting a fence around nature and trying to make it less bad than my generation did, that’s not fun But the idea of creating new versions of nature or new versions of the without being degraded by it, and are more interesting I think is something that you could to build that world MEEHAN: Well, it also feels more honest, right? I mean, at this point, we are changing the earth’s atmosphere, we are changing the – these, like, fundamental climatic systems, we are changing weather

and what species are or are not living The idea that we are not, in fact, actively creating the planet at all times is actually just sort of not true anymore true, but sort of acknowledging that we are – I think it was John Llewellyn had this great phrase that it is back to gardening , we were everywhere with white gloves on, there is plastic at the bottom of the Mariana Trench So if you admit that, however sad and profoundly – however much a profound loss that we feel, wanting to believe that there is a world where we are not somewhere on this planet , I feel like you kind of have to go through that grief and accept that we are, for better or worse – often worse – everywhere, so then what? What do we do? How do we change the effects that we’re having? the question is , like, are we going to be good at it or not, right? And are we going to do it with care for the natural systems or disregard those natural systems? But animal species change the environment, too, and humanity has been changing – you know, that layer that you can find from that time as they core down into lake beds and what not and they know these things were happening, and they know that what disease wiped out people when European settlers happened , the oxygen content went up so it was the forests coming back from that against and trying to pull resources out that benefit it or not, it’s just that humans have done it now at a scale that it’s obviously so massive and so unsustainable, you know, normal systems off because it overused its resources, and so we might be up at that point where the caring capacity of the earth starts getting limited by us up pretty well with the graphs of how much resources we may have left somewhere in the next 50-100 years human populations are going to start going down think that the ways that – the way that ‘carrying capacity’ is calculated is incredibly use when you of number of humans, you actually remove the possibility and social, which have to do with how we are organised and how we use resources that seem to me a far more humane set of levers to be pressing, before pressing think that there is a large and vocal and, to me, terrifying contingent on the very far-right that has sort of taken up this, “There’s too many people on the planet” argument to make arguments I mean it’s not even u — eugenic, it’s genocidal hemisphere are the global north, the beneficiaries of climate change will be places like Russia, where they have more agricultural land – their agricultural land is not getting pushed across a border, where in many places in Africa and South America and Central America, their ripe agricultural land is getting pushed across a populations are growing So you are absolutely right in that the different – the graphs don’t line up in that sense at all, in a political sense more and more people are having and so it feels and also to say that scientists who have tried to calculate some kind of final carrying capacity have been flummoxed There is no number that is the number of ideal humans on the planet – or, given what we know, the number that we can actually sustain. It’s 4 million. It’s 7 million. It’s 12 million Sort of depending on who you ask, so decisions feels to me sort of like absurdly cart before the horse, you know? At the very best, and at worst, sort of profoundly racist and xenophobic solid on this

There isn’t a number MEEHAN: Hello! NAOMI: Hi! MEEHAN: How are you? NAOMI: I’m feeling, this is what I want to talk about I feel disgusted by the human race after listening to that.I have a theory to try out It was great listening, thinking I can be in this conversation My theory is that the situation is that we are not in a position to make a positive change from I feel like we can often start believing things, I am trying to write a novel so you are helping for the next half an hour MEEHAN: I’m here for you! NAOMI: Excellent. Hi! So, it seems that we end up sort of, I don’t know, thinking about our urges and drives that we evolve to have, that have made us successful on the world stage as inherently wrong and problematic and I want to talk about my guinea pig! MEEHAN: Please! NAOMI: I have a guinea pig. 6.5 years old. Old for a guinea pig I adopted her 18 months ago from a friend The guinea pig, loves to hide under a blanket. That is her natural drive The drive is to being covered up, not being able to seen while eating grass. That is what she likes. I thought the real problem with humans is not that there is anything wrong with wanting to have more children, wanting to get through to your children, to explore the planet , wanting to be extremely good at occupying lots and lots of different ecological niches, the problem is we are exceptional good at it! Exceptionally good at changing the world to fit what we need, you know? If Nutmeg the Guinea Pig, could create the world as she wanted it, it would be covered in a blanket and that would be super bad and end up destroying everything! So, I guess, I don’t know if it is a question MEEHAN: You have the two problems in here. One being questions about human nature, right? I tend to be deeply sceptical of stories about our essential natures, whether that is gendered essential natures or human essential natures NAOMI: I’m in favour of scepticism MEEHAN: There are too many exceptions to talk about what humans are, what humans do We have a particular history of human activity on this planet but we have an end of 1, right This is what the humans do given the circumstances that humans found themselves in on this particular time line, right? We are living the effects of planet in profound ways, if that had not happened, let’s say, you know, human nature may look very different NAOMI: This is a different question. I want to ask you this question as well! I am not writing the book but I have a book I wish to write one day on the subject: What would the world be like if nobody had done Michael Howard reduce colonialism to anybody else MEEHAN: Better! NAOMI: But would we recognise the people as people. And really asking. I think it would be fun to write the book To know, what it would be like, if all we did, every time we travelled somewhere we went, “Oh, here I am. It is great to meet everybody. Here is what I have

to offer. Here is what you guys have to offer. Let’s share ” Obviously, you know, on an individual level people do that all the fucking time. They said I was allowed to swear! MEEHAN: Great Yeah, I think what you are saying ties into what I was saying before, the question of “we” right When we generalise out , “We” are very good at shaping the planet in our desired image My mind goes”no, no, no” this was an image decided on by someone else who’s history we are continuing to unpack and currently the planet is shaped by forces that are both profoundly complicated and powerful, there are powerful forces I don’t think that we would describe as”we” so talking about what it is that the planet looks like and how it is that humans behave in the structures we have built, to my mind it shatters into the and ways of being that are suppressed, given the stems that we have built NAOMI: You are talking about we have certain norms in the West, let’s say, about how to own a land, it is by settling it, doing agriculture on it, putting a fence around it, rather than how you own the land maybe by walking it and being involved in it or understanding it? MEEHAN: Or what if you don’t own a land? If we had never come up with the idea that certain humans should have control over certain areas of physical geography and there was a Commons that existed and that was the direction that human history had taken? Who knows what human nature would be in that timeline? NAOMI: Now you are talking in the language of a novelist here So, OK, then! MEEHAN: Write that one! NAOMI: Let’s talk about it, what would it look like? Honestly, if we had I mean, I guess that my, I want you to tell me I am wrong, right? My sort of sad, cynical, I am so depressed to be a human, feeling, that I would like to first alleviate in myself, then in all of my readers! MEEHAN: It is a great impows! NAOMI: I try to do that. — MEEHAN: It is a great impulse NAOMI: I try to do that but the sad feeling of it, is that the logic of it, even if I and everyone in my community decides to share, all it takes is the one, horrific bully who comes with weapons and other bullies and then the logic of violence is that if you are not willing to do violence to others but others are willing to do violence to you, then they will take overment tell me how I am wrong? MEEHAN: What you are making me think about is the abolition movement. Right? I find it incredibly moving, a framework, for a way to think about the world or to think of action in the world The idea is that not you get rid of police and prisons and it all stays the same The idea is to change all of society so that the prisons and the police are not necessary We have examples of cultures that are cultures in which people don’t go to prisons for crimes I was reading a piece in the New York Times, it was a prison, an abolition neuroscientist interviewed a couple of years ago, it was great, I cannot remember the piece NAOMI: I can Google that! group of children She was a keynote speaker at this conference, a bunch of children had been brought in to engage in the conference, they called her in before the conference, and someone said that the kids wanted to talk to her, he is went in and they were standing with arms aKimow, looking sceptical — akimbo Saying I hear you wish to get rid of prisons. Yes, they do What about the bad people? What about those who murder people? This is a logical argument, we need somewhere to put them Her response was to point to Sweden or whatever it was , to say, that they don’t have prince as people don’t murder each other They created a social system in which not only are people not so desperate or so mentally ill they are driven to such things, they have such an unviolent culture that the idea to get what you want to do violence to someone else, does

not occur. You really want something, that you should kill someone! NAOMI: Are you telling me that Scandinavian noire drama is lying to me? MEEHAN: Maybe! Let’s go with yes! threat of violence is not so only any present as it is in ours By ours I mean the Western, the Northern Hemisphere, culture or London or New York. Let’s say I think that to disallow the possibility that it could even happen before you begin trying to imagine a more Utopian vision of what a future can be like for humans, it is cutting yourself off at the knees before you trying to figure out creating the culture of care, how to create a society that maybe would not really need prisons, or where you are not murdering one another over a patch of land This is going back to the question of human nature If you accept it is not in the human nature to resort to violence, to feel violent urges, then, then you are accepting, either we are doomed , or you are accepting an infinity of struggle My pessimistic self tends to believe more in the infinity of struggle. I don’t think we are going to win! You know? But I think that we have to keep fighting! ? But, but, I find it personally emotionally very important to entertain the possibility that everything could be different in ways that I am not capable of imagining, or that I don’t have enough faith to be able to imagine NAOMI: Have you read Le Guin, The Dispossessed? I think it is the best version I have seen of trying to imagine a society in which and the way in which you can be educated from a tiny child, to, she has a brilliant thing, where, the mother is constantly saying to the child, who grabs a toy and says “mine” the mother says “stop egoising” that I believe in I cannot believe in a culture, a humanity when a child never has an urge to hit another child But I can imagine humanity, just as we have all said: No stealing So therefore, we don’t go into the supermarket to take the food and take it away. We pay for it Money is a construct Money is a thing that we made up but we all like to think it is real So I believe in a world where we have all said no owning land, no owning animals, or something like that MEEHAN: This is not imaginary I think that Ursula Guin did a profoundly incredible job of imagining a human society that is almost impossible for us to imagine and making it feel real and possible But there are in fact extent human societies that are very different from what you and I consider normal I know there are first nations indigenous groups in Canada I was reading where one of the communities had to do with violence, whether a child had an urge to do violence, and throw a mother, the mother would pick up the stone and say to the child calmly, “Throw the stone at me ” It was so calm, none of my friends would imagine doing that in New York City! But the way of managing the child’s urge towards violence and training over time this kind of calm that is just a sort of cultural calm that people don’t, as they age in that culture, tend to feel as much of a propensity towards a violent response to things, it is taught away I think there is great power in that and potentially it can be problematic as well, right? If you are interacting with culture’s whose response is to be violent, that interaction may not go very well NAOMI: I think, I have almost no knowledge of archaeology I did one undergraduate module in archaeology I was looking, when I was doing it for information

about cultures that had been very non-elitist So, typically they say to you when doing archaeology, what is a city? A city is a big lot of settlements, that has a set of elites Elite dwellings, larger properties, whatever. If gold is found there, rather than stone Whatever it is That is mixing up several different archaeological theories! But, so there have been a few Mahendra Daro in the Hindras Valley, had a remarkable dwelling, the only large building was a temple where it seemed nobody lived That is an interesting way of organising thing but those cities that existed like that, they are in ruins because the cities which were run by some autocratic ruler who you did what he said or you were beaten by the soldiers, were the ones that could come and attack the, let’s say, the more peaceful, egalitarian cities, I don’t know, nobody knows what life was really like. I am making it up But it is what I mean with the logic of it, all you need is one horrible city amongst all of the beautiful cities and it is just ALL screwed So, I don’t necessarily think that we will sort it out in the next 14 minutes MEEHAN: No, I don’t But it does sound like you are arguing very much for a certain internationalism, though But that seems to make a lot of sense NAOMI: Say more about internationalism MEEHAN: In a simple way, the Socialist Project, the idea you can’t have socialism in one country, you must have it in all countries if the others are not doing it, it does not work We so far have seen that socialism in one country does not always work and the other powers are messing about with things So, it is a good argument for something like socialism in all of the countries! NAOMI: You have given me a good idea! idea, how it relates? NAOMI: The novel I am currently working on is, for 2 5 years, it is a novel set during a pandemic MEEHAN: Oh, my! That got complicated NAOMI: It will need a re-think It is a novel in which a bunch of tech billionaires flee from a global pandemic to get to their bunkers in New Zealand But they never make it to New Zealand, they are stuck in the jungle It is kind of about how well the values of the technology billionaires play in the jungle of the Papua New Guinea I have not been MEEHAN: A tech Lord of the Flies? NAOMI: Kind of I don’t want to reveal the twist but there is a big twist. Which I should not have said MEEHAN: How does the context change what you are doing? Do you know in? NAOMI: Interestingly, it involves thinking long-term Which is useful So, it seemed clear to me, it can’t be, that the novel that was going to be set 3 years from now, and currently starts with a lot of like – do you know what happens in a pandemic-style and now know that you have to explain? NAOMI: Right, what is an R number? All of that It cannot happen in the same way 3 years from now So the novel will have to be about the next pandemic along Which, means that people remember this one as having been quite a kind pandemic, because it doesn’t take children That, I think we have all taken that for granted as just a fact of the situation It is, we have forgotten what an incredibly miraculous fact it is I think that the state of the world right now would be a great deal less hopeful than it is, if we were in the midst of a pandemic that, I mean, many, do disproportionately take children, so, yeah. That’s, it is dark!

Then I often do write dark. I want to ask you a question! I have a question in my mind. How do we come out of the pandemic better than before? MEEHAN: I mean in an ideal world, we have invested in green infrastructure for technologies that are going to revamp our economies and create a new workforce and you know, do the work of the departmentisation. That would be to me, the ideal outcome We have precedent for this kind of thing You know, nationalisation of the rail roads, nationalisation of NAOMI: Did you know that the UK nationalised its rail roads at the start of this? ! MEEHAN: I know! Countries can do! NAOMI: My most hopeful thought about all of this but I want your hopeful thoughts as well, I feel if we keep thinking about ourselves, as a terrible awful species that just destroyed the planet, we will not be able to do the work we have to do My hopeful thought is, that I think that the kids who lifed through this will be phenomenal I think they are going to be kids who know that you can make enormous change in 24 hours You can, you know, you thought you had to go to school , you thought mum and dad had to go supermarket and you thought you could go around places not worrying about wearing a mask All of these things and they changed in one evening MEEHAN: It can all be different It could all be different at any moment NAOMI: Right! I have a fantasy in 15 years’ time, the kids who are 12 now, will be in charge of everything and will go, “OK, everybody …” MEEHAN: Scrap it, we have better ideas! come out, we will have fixed it Just stay home. Do what you remember you did in the COVID Stay home, when you come out, you will be sharing one electric car between 8 people and it will be accessible via an app Don’t panic! MEEHAN: That will be nice! Yes I think that my most hopeful thought about this, is actually that the feeling you are expressing, the feeling that humans are an awful pox upon this planet , that you, in particular, probably, are a terrible influence on your environment with the trash you throw out, with the bus you ride, or the car that you use , this idea that we, that we just pollute By being alive, we are just these pollutant, unfortunately creatures This is a story sold to you by the fossil fuel companies BP is the company that invented, or rather, not invented but plucked from academic absecurity, and popularised the idea of the carbon footprint It is deeply embedded in our sense of that we are right now, that I think it is just, it is a pernicious mythologies to get outside of. My hope is to get beyond the idea Not to say that people are not individually responsible in various ways, that the choices that we make, I don’t want to say that those choices don’t matter but it is very important to row focus the attention on the structures that exist currently and particularly fossil fuel companies and the work they have done to make us believe we are the problem, that we have to change It is not them that must change, it is no the structures that have to change, those things are fine but we must be smaller We must all chip in, Second World War style , to shrink carbon footprints and buckle down , be smaller on the planet, billions of dollars off of the structures and the industries, that are the things that are making us shrivel in our souls and feel this self loathing! It is important to redirect that self -lothing and the rage to the especially parties that is the fossil fuel companies, it is the politicians, I think we forget that we live inside structures that we have built and that we can change those structures. Like you were saying with the kids I think it is a great insight that the kids are going to live in a world where they understand that what is

, what seems fixed it is not so, it can be changed It is an incredibly powerful place to start that Couple it with the idea that me, personally, it is not the problem, actual Italy is the structures that are the problem So let’s put our energy to changing these things — me personally is not the problem. That is a good outcome NAOMI: That is brilliant and surprisingly helpful for my novel MEEHAN: I am so glad NAOMI: So pleased to the people who put us together here MEEHAN: I say this, this is my passionate eutopian heart speaking but I also have to say nothing in the current trajectory suggests to me that this is the direction that we are headed the trillions of dollars of bailout that happened for COVID have not gone towards creating a new, a green new deal or creating a workforce in the US that could jump in to start creating the infrastructure for technologies that decarbonise our economies, that would be great But we are in fact going in the opposite direction Fossil fuel companies have gotten huge bailouts, people are out of work, the economy is crashing, there is no end in sight, Government is lying, we are moving to a liberalism where you have Government researchers who say what is actually happening with the science and changing what is on the official White House Government websites Crazy, crazy things are happening! And at the same time, seeing a new chapter in the civil rights movement in our country, right? So both things can exist at the same time I take hope from that, that while looking a the larger structures, not changing looking at the energised youth, the my lifetime, being willing to protest in the streets, being willing to say that this is not right tradition, that I find helpful when I think about these things There is a Jewish saying that goes: It is not up to you to finish the work but neither are you free to refrain from it That seems a very good a good mind state for an activist It is certainly the dued that I take to these things I have been handed from previous generations some problems and some that have been solved, the problem of trying to get education for women was solved before I turned up MEEHAN: For you. for some NAOMI: For me. Yeah That problem in a middle-class family in London, that problem had been solved So it exists in other places, and it is my job to try to hand it on a little bit better than it was handed to me It is not up to me to reach the far shore it is, and not to expect to reach the far shore but, therefore, I am also not allowed to go , “Well, it is all screwed, I’m off.” MEEHAN: I think about the thinking of ourselves not as like the heroes in some activist narrative but really thinking of ourselves as ancestors, right? That what we do now is going to be, we are going to working with So, to leave the best set of tools , whether those are ideas, or community networks or technologies or they are good at creating and thinking of yourself as already an ancestor , it is a useful, for me, at least, a reframe of what my work or responsibility or life can be about NAOMI: I think it is absolutely right It is one of the, obviously, the huge benefits of a bit of long-term thinking Also in the long-term we can look at human history and say, “Oh, we have gone down blind alleys regarding consumption but we have made some amazing things We have created, discovered, learned, grown The things that we know about now that people did not know about 1,000 years ago.”

I feel that is worth celebrating MEEHAN: It is easier for me to see the darkness I find I have to actively work to push myself towards seeing the wonder and the lightness and the joy in what we have built and what is potentially to come I feel that is an active work that I and people that I know have to do Particularly those who work on climate issues, it is very fucking easy to see the darkness there. to hold the light to keep going NAOMI: It is what I will try to do. Great talking to you MEEHAN: Take care. Good luck with the novel NAOMI: Hello SAUL: Good morning NAOMI: Hello, Saul. Where are you in SAUL: In Sydney in a quarantined hotel! NAOMI: Oh, my God! this NAOMI: So you were in a hotel, and the hotel is in quarantine? SAUL: When I scheduled the talk I thought I would call in from San Francisco but as it is, I am in a quarantined hotel in Sydney, at 4am, talking to you in London? NAOMI: London, it is 7.30pm How are you feeling? SAUL: Fortunately, the jet lag says it is the right time of day for me NAOMI: Well, then, everything is coming up Mill House SAUL: Expect cheerful children, there is no privacy in the hotel suite, if you don’t mind that at all NAOMI: I will enjoy that So, when you are in a quarantined hotel, is this a sudden accident? SAUL: Australia, I think, it has its shit together heard! SAUL: It is interesting, having listened in the fascism , the right to be liberalism but it was reassuring to arrive at Sydney Airport to have one serviceman from the Navy or the army for each family member, to be escorted by the police to a hotel, where the police bring us our food and stand guard outside of our room and we are here for 2 weeks, we are tested at the beginning and the end and that is how Australia has stopped this thing NAOMI: That is quite reassuring I was in Italy in February before you could not go to Italy anymore When we arrived they took our temperatures in Italy in the middle of February I don’t think we are still doing that in the UK, or have not been until fairly recently? So, yeah, it is true, liberalism, is it useful when it comes to a pandemic? That is a big question SAUL: You know, I think, it is interesting I reside in the US, I have for 20 years now Watching the NAOMI: Stupidity is not useful with a pandemic, that is true now , in so many ways but the and obviously the policing issues are a great concern in the US but I have to say that polite police that don’t carry large weapons are really quite lovely NAOMI: Right! Yeah SAUL: I love the tradition of the Bobby, only is stick, it is not that threatening we can all get behind in terms of it being a good way to conduct a civil society? SAUL: Yes! corrupt or racist police, et cetera, in the UK, necessarily, than there are in the US but it is harder for them to kill people as they are not carrying guns and others are not, mostly, carrying guns SAUL: Mostly. It seems a sensible decision I am not sure that liberalism is the problem as much as individualism That is what has sold the world for the last 40 years NAOMI: Correct, individualism as a replacement for many things that individualism cannot possibly replace, like the ability to act collectively Even the strain on personalities is too great I don’t think most of us have enough personality to carry off individualism

I grew up as an orthodox Jew, an intensely communal world When I try to describe to people what it means to be a part of a community. I often say, it is not about friends. Everybody has friends A community is a structure that helps you get along with people you can’t fucking stand! SAUL: (Laughter) That is fabulous! NAOMI: That’s what it is, right? The lady at the synagogue, who every time she is moaning about something, you cannot stander but the truth is, when you are in hospital, she came to visit and when she has a baby you take the food over, and that’s a community Did than my wife, who recently decided to go back to school to become a librarian Her father was intrigued as to why to choose that. She laid the blame on him When she asked him what to do when growing I think that we will need community more than anything else ” So her reaction was that the central pillar of community was the librarian NAOMI: She is not wrong! Certainly in the communities that I grew up in. The books were at the heart of it So, I have a question to ask you regarding this long future, long past, behind and ahead of us How to come out of the pandemic better than before? SAUL: It sounds like a leading question to me! I finished a book on what to do to fix climate change NAOMI: I want to know. I’m a novelist, right I am trying to write, somehow, about, all of this. How we can make some things better. I want to know SAUL: Not to avoid your question but I will say I was struggling to push the book out I hired a professional writer, who writes fiction, to help me and a woman called Laura Fraser Working with a real writer with such incredible discipline, and I think you have to make, to engage with people in fixing climate change you have to make it a love story I have to say that working with her was fabulous She actually did the New York Times bestseller about her romantic fling in the Greek islands So, she helped me to do the romantic fling in the Greek islands verse of fixing climate change NAOMI: I love that One of the things I was talking about with Meehan , is that I feel like a lot of these conversations end up with me feeling, about climate change, and about extinctions as well, extinctions make fee feel gross about being a human The idea we are going around saying oh, well, who can remember more than 200 birds, do we need more than that? I feel that is SAUL: I think, I have a lot of friends. I had another friend who pushed me We were sailing on a boat in the Greek islands He was like, the argument was too many believe in climate change as it is the correct thing to do as a liberal No I think what he was trying to say, most don’t question why they are concerned What he means by why, is a lot of people say we have to do it to save the humans I have to say, for me, child of David Attenborough, I am doing it for the birds I have not met yet! I will say, the last chapter of the book, it surprised me I went through the book with this incredibly positive, optimistic, this is Second World War effort, this is what you have to do, this is how you can make it happen in 10 to 15 years but the last chapter is we care about You can still have a world of, a world full of microparticles of plastic in the ocean, you can still destroy the species NAOMI: That is the thing Obviously climate change is terrible The thing that internally destroys me is habitat destruction The idea that we are just taking away room from all of the other species on the Earth So the question that I have, that I feel like you are the person to answer it, is how do I

beings have done to the planet thus far, how can I feel OK about muff as to believe that we can then fix it? — how can I feel OK about myself as to believe we can fix it? SAUL: I will refer to a person in the community, Kevin Kelly , I walked on the beach near San Francisco 6 months ago We were having a conversation, he used a beautiful word, believing in the Utopian vision of fixing climate change and then everything is peaceful and the world is run by librarians and the police only carry small batons. He said it is not really how humans work We live in a constant prototype of the situation He thinks we should aspire to pro-topia so constantly protyping the Utopia we want to live in That is what should give confidence that we will at least attempt it to prototype a new Utopia where we sort of deal with climate change but it will not be perfect It will not satisfy everyone and some want to save the birds, and some want to make more space for humans, which is why it will not satisfy everyone NAOMI: Yeah, I think, certainly oh! about this is not really accepting that there are quite a lot of people for whom our Utopia would be a distopa, right? — dystopia, right? SAUL: I am living a little dysto p, ia across the screen NAOMI: Oh, look, if I want to show things, this is a 140 million-year-old Nautilus, which I keep on my desk, it makes me happy to remember that beauty existed before human beings SAUL: Nautilus are very important in my life I love you showed me a Nautilus I am ashamed I was showing you a plastic fish full of soy sauce! NAOMI: That is hope to me. It is a weird hope But a hope that this beautiful world created beauty before we existed and if we wipe ourselves out, it will carry on doing that. It is a dark hope but a good one. I hold on to it. There we go There is my little guy SAUL: Humans may be the prototype for the thing that is the Nautilus human, which is a better version of us NAOMI: Fine SAUL: Here I am in a largely civilised society with its shit together on COVID and has me in a quarantine hotel and they bring every meal in the plastic box for the had members of the family but the one that offends everything about my sensibility is this guy, so they bring sushi, not farmed nicely and not only did the poor tuny have to have a horrible indignity of being caught and put on ice and shipped halfway around the world to feed me but the lasting dignity, a little plastic baby fish is used to pour the soy sauce on it, and the plastic with baby fish which go into the ocean to choke its ancestors, so this is de facto in the world Remember Tupperware was the thing you bought once and made it last forever? I remember the excitement in my family in the 70s and the 80s, and it had value and we washed it carefully Now, every single meal is in Tupperware NAOMI: Right. I was having a conversation with friends today I was talking about, you know, my grandma was a member of the Communist Party. But she was pretty racist You know, she was not an active racist, just somebody who was kind of racist in the sense she did not go out burning thing but she, you know, had views about people who had different skin colours SAUL: Culturally racist? NAOMI: And my dad, very anti-racist, specifically, robustly, in the way I was educated , even as an orthodox Jewish girl, very anti-racist but he is homophobic! Again, not, well, he is a little bit actively homophobic

So I remember thinking about this when I was a young woman, looking at them, and going, “Oh, well, for me, obviously, I was born in 1974 For me I grew up in a generation where every right-thinking person went , no, being gay is great, why not? And so I remember looking at the two of them, going, I wonder what it is that will come along when I am in my 40s, where I will go, “I will be tempted to be like, no, that is a bridge too far ” I do feel, I feel it happened to a lot of women of my generationish in the UK, in particular, where they are like feminist and progay rights but somehow anti-trans, in soment way Which is somehow the new thing that is happening in the UK SAUL: I don’t know how you mentally juggle at arriving in that position. But the humans are good at that NAOMI: It is such a large conversation that can capture any conversation I don’t want to get started on it Yeah, it’s complicated why it has particularly happened in the UK, and not EG, even in America, let alone Australia But we were talking about this sort of trajectory What we thought, when we are in our 80s , our grandkids will be looking at us, going , “I can’t believe grandma did that ” And, “I can’t believe grandma said that beautiful, reusable packaging you are supposed to get, to leave it out for the next thing, and we would just throw the packaging away Or we are going, “I like the straws individually wrapped I miss that.” SAUL: It is an interesting place to arrive I really hope that we receive terrible judgment but what is theism that is? You were so pro disposallism? NAOMI: Yeah, you were a disposaller SAUL: So, let’s tie disposaller , which ties back, to which is how do you solve climate change? I think that once the heavy breathing about the carbon seaquestriation is over If you look at what the humans touch every year all the metals and the peninsulas quicks that we make, the one thing we make in the largest quantity is carbon dioxide In America, they make 6 million tons of everything that is not carbon dioxide. Every year 6 million tons of everything that is not carbon dioxide and 6.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide So, the idea that we are going to capture something the size of plastic, all of the other things and magically bury it in a hole, we will get over that idea When you are over that idea, we realise we cannot use the fossil fuel and you do the math, how to create the electricity, the wind turbines, the solar cells, the batteries, and my book, this is probably theism that I will be criticised for, my grandchildren will judge me for being pro-American dreamism NAOMI: Interesting We will be judged as pro guessivists. We believe in the concept of progress. Sorry, carry on SAUL: That is a good one We should come back to that, the problem with progressivism So, I think, unfortunately, well, backing up, 150 years after the publishing of The Origin of the Species, on the anniversary of that Darwin book , Darwin’s book, I looked up roughly , how many believed in evolution versus not, and we did not yet have corum I think that climate change is more difficult as an abstract to understand than evolution, so we have to solve climate change without corum

When you arrive at that idea, you have to sell people on solving climate change as they will like it for selfish, consumerist , plastic fisheries from one system to another, we will arrive and think, this is really nice SAUL: It will be really nice! This is the whole reason for the book, it will be really nice If we electrify, we use half as much energy, the air quality is better as we stop burning methane in the house, and all of the things burning in the driveways. NAOMI: I have a little person living in the house, waking me up at 4am, coughing and coughing as the air pollution in London is so terrible SAUL: I came from California, which is on fire We were stuck inside for 4 weeks, now to Australia, where the fire season is about to begin Anyway, we electrify everything, everything improve but doing the math , we will have to make about, do you speak in kilograms or pounds? NAOMI: Both SAUL: We will need 40 or 50 kilograms of battery for every person who lives in peripetyity and 25 kilograms of solar cells, this is if we use batteries that look like today’s batteries and they must be produced in perpetuity every year It is a lot of tech, highly technical trash NAOMI: It sounds we may need to work out how to use less energy SAUL: We can figure out how to use a little less energy. I think. We will But I think that you have to anticipate that in the protopa that emerges — protopia that emerges, we will use a little more energy than the environmentalists want and doing it with more toxic materials than we want to admit and still mining a lot of mineral salts in Bolivia and rare Earth metals in the Congo, so I think that the compromises will exist I, so I think that the world will improve but the big emphasis for me is how do we then, how do we get to 100 % recycling of those things that are really damaging and then how to get rid of these guys Progressivism, let’s give a rant that, about the environmentalist movement We had Earth day in 1970. I wish I could talk to Stuart at length about what it was like to be there. I was born in’ 74 You and I born before the oil crisis began, in the middle of it, really The environmentalists did not know what to demand after Earth day The oil crisis in America came along, it was a crisis of importing 10 or 15% of its energy The US tried to figure out how to fix the energy and the oil crisis and decided that efficiency was the way If every car was 15% more efficient and every home uses 15% less energy to heat it, we solve the oil crisis. It gave us modern environmentalism. We had an efficiency narrative Oh, the thing to do is to go with efficiency, we have been beating that drum 40 years But it sounds to most people, including the progressive, as the thermostat is too cold and the car is a little too small Efficiency is also a narrative that does not get you to an end goal The efficiency on the way to zero means having nothing Right? So, I don’t know what you are going to cling to as the last efficiency to squeeze from your life, the head phones and the Zoom connection or the bike or the car? We have to have something I think it is in killing off the efficiency narrative and finding a transformation narrative that we have to give birth to a new environmentalism NAOMI: Break it down and tell me of the narrative you are talking about? the

50-year liberal progressive narrative, eve a little neo-Conservative that efficiency solves all problems Now we need to transform ourselves to, I think that people are starting to play with the world “circular economy” although not sure what it means in totality NAOMI: This is, presumably, I have a degree in some part of my degree, in economics, ridiculous. Although I don’t know that much about economics But the idea can we go on getting perpetual growth out of the world? Well, we can in the sense that we have to value different things, right? Perpetual economic growth is not the same as constantly strip mining it is about creating value and if we value we create more economic growth SAUL: Can I say, the constant growth I want is an everexpanding library for my librarian to live in! NAOMI: Exactly We can have that in personal and spiritual development We can have ever expanding growth there and a deepening love and appreciation for the natural world If we decided to value that more than anything else, then our economy would like extremely different If we decided that we would value our internal states and people who can help with us our internal states as the highest priority in the world, which includes everything from moussations to comedians to therapist — musicians to comedians to therapists SAUL: How does your we decide? NAOMI: Which we? SAUL: You were saying we decide, the royal we Given that we don’t agree that we evolved and we are for sure we don’t agree we can affect the climate, so how do we divide this in time? NAOMI: I am a novelist, my job, if you have heard me saying at the end of the last conversation is to move things along by suggesting so many ways of thinking of stuff So I speak to people who may not have thought about this before, so to get them to think, why do we? Why do we organise the world in this way? Maybe we can organise it in a different way? My dad is a political historian He says that the politics is the art of the possible, whereas politics is the art of going, we will not get everyone’s vote, so what can we get to happen that will work That is also the art of leading change in large organisations, which I know people who do that I admire This but my job is going: What would it look like if actually we all valued …Nautilus! Right, the Nautilus! Why is it important to you before we say goodbye? SAUL: My mother, who is, probably a first -wave feminist and environmentalist, or second-wave feminist, any, involved in all of those things, she was an artist and interested in botanical art and spent a huge part of her career critters and the creatures and the landscapes of the world So I feel I was in fact raised by a feminist David Attenborough! So I had this it was unbelievable I think, if my mother could raise us all, I would have a lot of hope! So, we spent all of our holidays looking for Nautilus! Or whatever creature it was I had, she did these amazing etchings, one in which had the cross section of the Nautilus and the Nautilus swimming and the crazy creature that lives inside this amazing piece of geometry, so the Nautilus is in my mind, it literally hung above my bed into my childhood bedroom and there were all sorts of Nautilus fossils and shelves around the highways. Some of which we collected ourselves. I love it. It reminds me of my mum NAOMI: Well, this guy travels with me when I travel sometimes I don’t know, it seems like that seems like deep time. There is 140 million years. So, I

would SAUL: I am glad you said that I have a 7-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, my wife is fabulous We relocated our lives to Australia for the year , when we go got to the quarantine hotel room, my daughter unpacked the bag and the first thing she unpacked was a tea set My wife had helped my daughter to pack a pore lane tea set I thought how absurd but there is more absurd, you can take a Nautilus NAOMI: It is pretty absurd We all need our inefficiencies SAUL: All human activity is folly. It is a nice folly I believe we should be pushing for the change

It is the change we want to see in the world. but we have to There is no other way of thinking of how to make things better. There are already a lot of people doing it Not very kind for the rest of humanity So, I, I agree with you I open a lot of talks on climate change SAUL: We got used to understanding what the bending of the curve is because of COVID You take a curve, bend it down to keep under the threshold of where the hospital infrastructure fails The climate change is the same curve but 100 times larger, so how to bend that curve to stay within the ecosystem limits and the infrastructure limits dictated by climate change So I have optimism it helps a little I think it is a privileged position I think that the pandemic has made far more, a small number of wealthy people who can afford to Zoom to work, aware of bending the curve But a far number of people have lives more economically at risk and if you are looking for food, climate change does not matter ≫: In the neighbourhoods in getting the food. That is the first thing Sometimes, we forget that those basic needs How then we need to start thinking and put it to the centre and all of the infrastructures are required to produce and to access food, right? How do you think about proximity? Production, consumption, all of the cycles that you require to do that Of course, it is, it is bluntly the huge inequalities that we experience, how the conditions are just deepening, deepening that inequality that was not there in the first place SAUL: You remind me that, I think what the pandemic exposed is the fragility of the cities We have had a 50-year narrative , including with bad data and false assumptions that high density living is the right way to live That has been sold to us as the correct thing to do But I think that the pandemic shows you how fragile the cities are opportunities to grow your own food In the pandemic when the food problems are exacerbated, living in crowded cities is terrifying. You have no relationship with food. You have no possibility to go out and to grow it so, you then end up selling off the lapped of your country I am interested in the work in terms of the centrality that the energy has Somehow I got more, I come from a perspective of the colonialism or perhaps more anticolonial The energy and the activist movements that for many industries are gone on have increased instead of declined I don’t know, what is your take in all of the dependency and the complicated relations

with when you know that the already very powerful and overconsewerristic societies are ? internet regarding cows is that they are one of the chief evils of climate change The Masai have been living with their cows for a long time They drink the blood and the milk, they mix it together, they are vow proud of those traditions world lived with as many cows as the Masai and that doesn’t work either So I have complicated and unresolved feelings about what the answer is to any more of having all of these cultures living in isolation without each other’s influence The world has gone past that point CATALINA: If anything, the pandemic has shown how interdependent we are in every front, and given of everything we do, I struggle to think how to be sustainable, quote unquote, without being extractivist and how we can encompass or world and we don’t really need to be genius or thinking in this development ideas of we try to achieve the lifestyle of the American dream, for instance That would be a disaster SAUL: I’m in Australia where the arrival of the indigenous people in Australia 50 to 200,000 years ago led to the extinction of the Australia mega fauna We would now look upon that by energy and technical standards as they were very, not very developed at all, and somehow we give privilege and have to go back and ask yourself the question, they caused all these extinctions is that any better or worse Any human in any environment changes that environment enormously, so I think you are actually highlighting my own personal struggle which is to understand where are the goal posts some followies, but we need to figure out where the compromise is, how do we keep enough of the natural world to not ruin it all I have been thinking a lot about care lately for obvious reasons Would it be that some factor to consider when defining that threshold, or midding ground? Saul SAUL: I can’t remember what I meant by care decrease climate

change and still killing the species or the things we care for SAUL: The most extreme version of that is, there’s a lot of people that are advocates that solar and wind technology are not enough, it’s naive, we need fusion and with achievable and I think we probably will achieve it Some people will get this joke in the next 20 years But when I think about fusion, I remember what my friend George Dyson said to me, like if we have fusion, that’s going to be the worst thing ever If it’s really cheap energy we are going to move mountains for vanity So like I don’t like my view, can we move that 10,000 foot mountain a little bit to the left Infinite energy is probably a terrible, terrible, terrible idea We’ll polish the earth, as my father would say, until it’s just like a Mir orred ball floating in space if we have infinite energy So when I talk about energy it’s understanding that more is not better. Not necessarily better I can say that too much is too much and too little is too little and we’re all struggling to find out what the thing in the middle CATALINA: But all with the underlying question is about distribution SAUL: Absolutely I think that is even thinking quite enough about it Let me turn that conversation on its head You can’t fix climate change if only the top 20% of the wealthiest can afford to fix climate change I don’t think that 80% or 90% or 99% that can’t afford themselves to go out and buy the batteries and solar cells to live this sustainable life are going to accept the world declining while the 10% can afford to be sustainable I think this is what some of the Conservatives are very concerned about, but involved in the conversation about addressing climate change, deeply and you can’t unentangle the conversation, you have to bring everyone along, and what does bringing everyone along look like? So I think that’s actually the positive way to look at this problem, whereas I think unfortunately there’s a lot of negative framing of the haves and have notes, as opposed to by necessity or there has to be more equality, because there is no solution if only half of the world fixes it CATALINA: Are you embracing these ideas of climate justice then, as a pre-condition or something that is a structure to further or even imaginary any other technological solution, quote unquote? and different strands that try to, in a way, bringle angle of a bringing of power in trying to solve or sought out the climate change? dangerous, the climate justice conversation is (bunch) probably important but probably setting us back how do you bring everyone along and address that, which is maybe where the climate justice is, but climate justice seems to be framed in revenge right now Whereas I think climate justice needs to be framed in the only pathway to success, and I would like to see climate justice be said with positivetivity and love, because currently it’s spat out with venom and it’s about revenge on the fossil fuel companies, revenge on the wealthy people who created the problem, and I’m very concerned the climate justice conversation puts us on a war footing, not on a figure it out together footing CATALINA: I’m thinking historically and the political jurngs the one we are at now SAUL: A lot of people might look behind me, what an incredible view are awful, if you look down below, there’s some beautiful sandstone buildings, but I would prefer to live

CATALINA: I could move a couple of them SAUL: I don’t have much choice CATALINA: Fusion energy SAUL: That’s right! But do we really need all of these giant buildings? I prefer to live travelling and doing much tourism, perhaps those places are going to change radically SAUL: I hope they change radically, we pour more than one cubic metre of concrete for every human on the planet every year CATALINA: It’s not sorting the housing crisis ≫ The Ponsy scheme of global real estate, absolutely, we create too many roads, what is the most destructive human activity is building a road somewhere. As soon as you where Mr A road The other cancers of humanity appear somewhere nature and I would be prepared to live in a tent if I could have that compromise The hotel room that I’m quarantining in reminds me of all the worst of humanity Terrible middling quality furniture pretending to be Roman Couches made with horrible labour practices that are pretending to be Ottoman from the great period I’m not sure that that set of consumercism where I want to go But to the climate justice conversation, it reminds me of something that I think I’m going to throw out a crazy big idea So you hear this conversation that the 100 companies have created 80% of climate change, the 100 fossil fuel companies This is a very disingenuous were asking them to, we were giving them money and asking them to sell us fuels It’s wrong to blame them and it’s a very convenient scapegoat over us In the conversation about how do you effects climate change, we would like revenge against them and to tear them down But what you have to remember is that they have already valued and put into all of the world stock markets all of the fossil fuels that they have in the ground So by necessity, if you set war on these of dollars worth of assets and if we have a revenge mind set against them, we are all going to die Because they will go down fighting I don’t believe there is a solution to climate change that doesn’t involve bringing those companies around and on side and somehow forgiving them of those assets recently and he said the analogy to this is, I am proposing we buy out the fossil fuel companies CATALINA: We, meaning the state or? SAUL: We meaning the state, the people We invent currency to buy them out and they have a huge amount of capital and we let them win in the development of the clean technologies for the future. For example We need some grand compromise like that To get to the point which I then think I would love to hear your reaction to, I think we need that bargain, but that’s not a very popular opinion with environmentalists, talking to somebody who is a much better student of history than me, said that’s actually analogous to the difference between how Britain dealt with slavely and how America dealt with slavery Britain dealt with slavery, they actually bought out the slaves and paid the slave owners out America didn’t CATALINA: And there you are SAUL: There you are and that’s why, Britain did it were considered an asset, a hugely valuable asset In no way do I want to equate slaves and fossil fuels, but there’s such vested interest that we need to figure a way out that’s mutual, otherwise it will end a little bit like the American civil war, a huge amount of destruction CATALINA: I wonder now that you bring up to the equation of slavery, that is very tricky and how many discussions are going on regarding racial capitalism and how the fossil fuel industry is one of the key assets of this capitalistic system

I don’t know to what extent really a perspective, like a racial perspective, could have to also be brought into the discussion and how can you then do that bargaining with these companies and who owns what, who is doing the lobbying for putting the politicians, how the politicians ended up buying these companies I don’t know, there’s a very tricky political question there question at the bottom of that We have forgotten who owns what The Queen owns an unbelievable portion, you are in London my an he issors were excommunicated by her an he is tors so I have no love for the Queen But you know, and her family are into a huge amount of the world’s real estate They pretend like they want to solve climate change They sold most of these fossil fuel leases to the fossil fuel companies Maybe to, let’s get a little punchy here, but unless we go down with the British monarchy we don’t solve climate change because she is sitting on all those fossil assets If they fucking meant what they said, the Royal Family would end their fossil leases today Prince Charles, if he had any shred of decency as an environmentalist, he would have the family stop sending yund riding this Catholic church owns a huge amount of real estate. You have to look at who owns who at the end of the day It’s not the fossil fuel companies that own it, they lease this stuff, you have to look at the set of steal colonial powers and royal families a few centuries deeper is the problem It’s a little too easy to blame the fossil fuel companies CATALINA: We need a complete sense of who owns what and how are we going to decide and how we are going to change it SAUL: I’m all for chaining myself to that fence and marching on those walls I think fixing, it’s a very deep question of who should own the land And to me it ends with that wonderful, I think nearly every culture claims this quote, the idea that you don’t own the land, you are borrowing it from our own an he issors If we could turn that concept into the ownership structure of land so none of us ever actually owned anything, we are always borrowing it from our future descendants, then maybe that is what we need to underpin your philosophy here connection with not only with land, but what nature means and what is the earth So we were starting our conversation with the love story and I think really we need to go back to loving the earth and definitely changing the mind set of this very western idea, that humans are the centre of the world and that we own the land SAUL: We have two minutes. Let’s talk about that love story tells that story, how are you going to do it? How many, sing me the hymn from the book CATALINA: The guy lovers, it has been invented in many traditions and if we are going to listen to our ancestors, let’s really listen to them and start bring in other voices, because as long as we are with this all white supremacy English-led, the edition of the US is the universal narrative about what is the aspiration of society, we only are killing our planet and ourselves There’s no future there We need to be creating these mama lovers, pragmatic technological creative bunch of people that are already all around making wonderful things SAUL: That’s great We are going to end up violently agreeing here

What I heard you just say is we need a more seductive vision than the American dream The American dream has dominated for 50 years and that was aspire to Who is going to provide us with a much, there has to be a much, much better story and who is going to give us the love story of the new global dream that will sur plant the American dream as our aspiration? CATALINA: That is the job of every one of us. I’m working on a story telling I am an architect but working on a story telling to learn across cities, for some weird reason we are all going back to this very traditional way of thinking seriously about the story telling SAUL: I love we ended on story telling, thank you so much CATALINA: Thank you, enjoy the rest of your day, have a good jet lag Take care JOHN: Hola, I can see you, can you see me? CATALINA: I can see you perfectly well It seems you are also in London, right JOHN: I’m almost certainly in London CATALINA: We’re neighbours now I move to the other side of the world! JOHN: I was sort of thinking about where I would have wanted to have spent the last four months Because I have been holed up in the same space for four months now CATALINA: I have been more than six or seven or eight! No hope to move though JOHN: No, no hope at all in my case What a fascinating conversation you two were having! CATALINA: We are the masters of improvisation, it seems, right? you went through this, where you spend hours reflecting on what you might want to say, and then you come into this conversation via this room, it’s like a sci-fi zone, which seems to basically suck everything that you were thinking of saying out of your head So I’m trying to figure out where I might that I have been rearranging a little bit about what to say, because I surrender to the idea of improvisation Honestly, I have been dealing with, I am a Professor, so I’m trying to set up all these online courses and trying to engage to try to create about how do you deal with remoteness, creating proximity or a sense of proximity via these digital devices I have been very busy doing that But I’m, I was very curious about your work, because you have been working on Diaspora and film and art and at the end of the day, it’s also about a story-telling representation and with all that is going on, and I think the conversation about racial capitalism I was very curious and happy to know a little bit more about your work JOHN: I mean, I suppose part of what is interesting for me about what I’m trying to do recently is in the concept of proximity that you just introduced, I am very attached to the idea of proximity I am attached to the idea of trying to engineer relations of proximity between narratives and histories, ideas and figures, so that’s very important, a sort of starting point for all that I do I think part of the moral and aesthetic attachment to the question of proximity is almost like a rehearsal in the work of the way that I might want to be in life If I can persuade otherwise unfriendly agents, shall we say, CATALINA: I like how you call them that

JOHN: Fragments of narrative that are all can persuade a provisional deant in which some agreement is arrived at (detante) between them for the conversation, then that might have some bearing on your life something I have been working and thinking a lot for many years, and somehow the idea of story telling is also a device of persuasion I work in urban planning and urban design and somehow, I mean I have been thinking a lot and working with participatory processes, but at the end of the day, it’s a constant negotiation and it’s how do you feel and engage with persuasion Do I alaw proximity, co inhabitants But I wonder how this moment of the banned from our lives, how it’s changing your work, because if it is so central to what you do, I don’t know if it’s altering, have you considered that? JOHN: Absolutely I think once you have been fixated or have a fix on something, you start seeing it everywhere CATALINA: You are an artist, you are not obsessed, you are not an artist! JOHN: Thank you! CATALINA: That’s a compliment Totally JOHN: The sense, you get this at a certain point I suddenly realised that I was speaking to people who kept saying to me, “o what is it like to live in this pandemic “, and actually at a certain point you realise that you are live in multiple pandemics, that there was something, there’s something about the sort of per pettual threat of an of it a kind of death, which hangs over black life You find yourself suddenly thinking of it in pandemic terms, you think, what if this is also a pandemic There’s a sense in which part of what I have been trying to grapple with in the work that I’m doing, is to see whether I can force a kind of proximity between certainly the two recognisably visible pandemics in my life, or the pandemics that I recognise as having some purchase if you will CATALINA: How many are you recognising? JOHN: Beyond that, you start to also realise that of course, they alert you to others, don’t they? Because I have, for instance, a show and then it was brought back on The curator who reintroduced it wrote to me about a week ago saying, e oh, I’m standing here in a space where the air is suddenly become very thin to breathe So you think, OK, so that’s another pandemic There are whole layers of these narratives of emergence. Negative emergence, you know. These are not great things, you know what I mean CATALINA: You call it unfriendly agents JOHN: Yes, absolutely CATALINA: But also this idea of the breathing, breathing that is always so central in many traditions and meditation, but also the breathing as the the terms of the right to breathe JOHN: I hadn’t even thought about that one CATALINA: And also connected with all the things going around regarding police brutality and frankly all the racial injustice that is no longer undeniable JOHN: One of the things I wanted to ask you was which thinkers were helping you to walk in the present? Which thinkers were allowing you to, not yesesily make sense because there isn’t a huge amount of it that makes sense at present, but

who you felt travelling with at the moment? was reading James bald win, Dark Days This is something that you read in with one coffee, right JOHN: I’ll buy it CATALINA: So good Belle Hooks, she says poetry is central for us, and I think what helped me throughout, at the beginning of the lockdown here, that I was totally disconnected from everyone and that is a migrant, I was away from anyone else, it was not necessarily thinkers, but poets and it was poetry and writing what held me to navigate a bit, a moment of more crucial certainty the one when the brain and body was getting used to understanding that we are going to be changing the course of our lives at least for a little while I work in urban planning and urban design and I think it’s coming from this kind of western ideas that future exists and you can predict it, and that that’s what I have thought and what I teach and now, so I have been reading a lot about the future ability and these things But now I am very conflicted about understanding time itself Even if we can define there is a post pandemic I was recently yesterday holding a worship with a lot of partners in one of my projects all these people that work in urban issues and we were doing a worship about imagining the post-pandemic, the city is in the post-pandemic but we ended up discussing that, is it such a thing as post-pandemic about the the realms of what is present But if you are talking with people that deal with regular triframe works, the world of urban policy, how can you not engage with future So I am living in this, I am in this stress hole of trusting and fuelling hope to trust that we are going to imagine collectively a better future, but at the same time struggling to really visualise this idea of what is lying ahead of us Because we are just trying to keep together what we are also due to mental health, thinking way beyond, it’s painful JOHN: I’m hoping that there might be a plural in our thinking about the future, that there might be post pandemic futures or lack of futures, you know, so it feels to me as if there are post-pandemic possibilities of exploring how to live in the future, not with the disappearance of something, but it’s per pettual presence There’s certainly that But there’s a way in which I think the present has outed a phantom, because when your hyphen figure disforic figure, there’s a way in which you feel stalked by this thing which remains forever hidden in shadows, and claims that it doesn’t exist Whiteness, for instance CATALINA: Exactly JOHN: No, no, there’s no such thing, it masks itself in enlightenment window dressing CATALINA: It’s a wilful ignorance as well JOHN: But those categories of reason and liberty and fraternity, there are moments when you feel as if they are masks in your life, because they sound hollow, and then we have this A-Ha moment, when you think, ah, there it is, like a Moby Dick like apparition, there it is, there’s a moment when

that man was being killed in the eight minutes 42 seconds, when I think, like almost all of us, universally and unanimously thought, OK there it is, this is it, we can see it I’m hoping that that unmasking of this authority means that it doesn’t have a future CATALINA: It’s interesting, the very idea of the mask, because James Baldwin uses the white mask guilt, so I think the mask is a very powerful metaphor and maybe the mask could help us to underbetween between the present and future ability we want to build I have been reading more of pluriversal politics, an author from Columbia, he works in anthropology, so I am very interested in understanding or getting around this idea of pluriversal, it allows what you were saying in terms of the multiplicity of futures And I think understanding that and that connects with what I was talking to Saul, if you solve the American of the American dream (sold the narrative of the American dream, you are shadowing all the multiplicity of ways of being around the existence And I think we need to be, we are in a moment in history that certainly we need to think in the plurality of the terms JOHN: Absolutely you were talking to the last speaker about slavery, and he made the very correct observation that one of the ways in which it came to an end was at least in England, was the onus of the enslaved — owners of the enslaved were paid in England and not in the United States I think the pluriversai of that idea you pay both the enslaved as well as the slavers, because it wouldn’t be fair now, it wasn’t fair there, but then you know, now I think if you were to offer it as a model, it wouldn’t be, the ethical outcome might not be to just pay, quote unquote, those who are the owners, because those who are the owners have been inflicted multiple damage on communities CATALINA: That is the whole movement of reparations and you cannot disconnect reparations from abolition and abolition from extractivism. Absolutely JOHN: Absolutely That is what I am saying, wouldn’t be just about giving money to them but also all the other, if you lived in Alaska, in the 80s and 90, it’s quite likely that the oil spill from the Exon Valdez had made parts of your really not worth living, with your livelihood and so on And these narratives can’t just be wished away if you decide to buy out the oil companies CATALINA: Absolutely. I am coming from Columbia We have many, one of them if you are in the north part of the country with many extractivist coal industries are damaging the ecosystem, killing and supporting illegal groups, there’s a lot of death and violence that go with it I think the unspoken violence that is attached to destructivism it needs to be revealed Something that the colonial allow us to think through is also what has been called the colonial wound and therefore the healing needs to be, it’s there with the reparation as well I feel I think it’s a very complex and it operates in a very symbolic

term The paying off and the how much, I don’t get it because I don’t work on that But you work in the system bollic world and the narratives and the representations of how to make, appear and how do you represent those masks that needs to be revealed JOHN: I mean part of it for me and I really loved that phrase, the colonial wound, because of course in a kind of pluriversalist discourse one would be looking for different kinds of wounds Because the assumption when people hear wound is they think, people, for instance, and quite a lot of what has to be repaired isn’t just about human life and community and livelihoods We’re sharing spaces in which a certain kind of precarity really is the quality of life for other species in those spaces I’m very keen that all the discussions, and so that’s partly why I work the way that I do, I’m very keen that we bring other ontologies on to the table in these discussions about reparations, and that we don’t in the act of reconsidering alternative narratives, reconstruct the hierarchy in which we sit at the apex of something and are therefore the most important, our problems has been the most urgent and everything else, well that can wait We sort out our starvation and lack of water and then we’ll deal with the elephants and others later CATALINA: That’s part of what the interspecies dialogues is coming and the post-human element of the debate JOHN: Absolutely But I think the reasons why those conversations are important for me in terms of moving image work is that it allows you the possibilities for reconceptualising and rethinking what story means, what narratives are, what combinations of forms are, and what the ends of story telling is Because if it’s simply to continue to rewrite the premise that all stories exist merely to show how human beings overcome adversity, then I’m afraid I’m not that interested any more CATALINA: Absolutely JOHN: I’m not interested in that kind of story any more It’s increasingly my dissatisfaction with most cinema for instance, or television, it doesn’t really seem to me to address this question of what is stories are for now Other than serving human, kind of, species arrogance or ≫ CATALINA: Be thatity When you were talking about moving images, the infoxification is the word, and all the moving image we are surrounded with, every moment that we open our telephone Is that the stories that we are getting bombarded and the moving image that we get is pretty much part of the evil JOHN: I don’t disagree with you at all actually CATALINA: I don’t know, the social media and all the multiple new avenues to produce, so easily, quickly and spread around these moving images and telling stories, to what ends it is serving and how can we dismantle all these infrastructures that are expanding the benality of existence JOHN: I mean, what’s interesting for me about stories now is that in contrast to what they appear to me as when I was younger,

and I still love stories, I mean even the ones that I disagree with profoundly, I still love them, but the difference between those and now is that my innocent assumption, the stories had to be exculsively and almost only about human entities in the frame, just doesn’t hold that interest for me any more So you watch, let’s say, a film, and two people are standing in a desert talking, and the film tells you that nothing around them matters, just them In fact, everything around them is only there to show you how well or not so well they are going to do The idea that anything around them, the cactus plants or, might be themselves involved in some drama of their own, doesn’t occur to most mainstream narratives at all any more. It didn’t before, it certainly doesn’t now There’s a way in which a kind of wilful blindness seems to be a necessary prerecognise which is it for mainstream narrative and that worries me more and more in also from at the risk, from a Columbian sociologist, that is called filling thinking, and it’s a very interesting concept because it’s about the connection between body feelings, but also the collective love for the territory, and this idea of territory, landscape all around, and the unity and connection with it is a very important part of the ontology ever many indigenous communities and Columbian communities that live in the water So this idea that you cannot talk about, from this perspective but more emotional and connected with the surroundings I think a more enriching and more attuned to what we need to move towards this love towards JOHN: Say that phrase again CATALINA: I don’t know Feeling thinking, that would be a rough translation But I think that’s a very interesting idea because it connects collectivity and affection for the environment and all its creatures, so it’s a more encompassing way of also thinking of stories JOHN: I liked it a lot, because it reminds me of a phrase that an anthropologist came up with, Stephen felled and he came up with this idea of a c2c outimologj a way of knowing one’s environment through sound As opposed to always through images CATALINA: JOHN: 30 minutes has already gone CATALINA: It’s gone, you see! So now it’s time for you to tell to have time to talk about what you were preparing to JOHN: Well, yeah, I’m happy to do that It was just, as I said, I sat in the chamber listening to the two of you, just about everything I had thought I was going to say, it just went! It literally all just went, so I wanted to come on and try and engage more with what you two had been talking about. I’m glad I did that CATALINA: It was a lovely conversation

Now I look forward to see your work in reality JOHN: Thank you CATALINA: Thanks a lot. I hope to speak soon somewhere, somehow JOHN: It’s a very strange way of meeting somebody CATALINA: It is what it is, so we will have to take it Other ways of proximity are possible now ≫ JOHN: Wow. Wow What a great — what a great, great, great frame Where on earth are you sitting? ≫ JANNA: Oh my God, John, I feel like I have known you my whole life. We’ve never met I will tell you where I’m sitting because it’s so crazy I’m on a houseboat in far Rockaway Queens New York ≫ ≫ JOHN: It was so great I thought — where is that — the size of it comes down or are they straight? ≫ JANNA: I swear to God, it’s literally batten down the hatches ≫ JOHN: I can see that ≫ JANNA: I’m on a boat I’m on a boat. In Queens ≫ JOHN: What are you doing on a boat, please say ≫ JANNA: COVID, you know, and all of my travels were grounded and I live by Columbia in Manhattan In up state Manhattan which is a little inside joke because there’s parks everywhere and it’s so beautiful to and a quiet different But part COVID of the city, I needed to get out of the city so I went This is my secret escape. I would love to show you the rest of the boat I tried different kinds of lighting to show you the water but you’d be too blinded by the gloriousness of the light. And so it didn’t work But right to my right I’m looking at swans in Jamaica Bay and there’s JFK and planes flying overhead It’s wonderfully strange and I had to say, John, I’m meet you so honored to I have just — are you friends with Jem Jem’s one of my dear, dear, dear friends And I lived in London for many years. of I was graduate school at Cambridge friend kicking and I just feel like you are somebody out I would have met in London Had I stayed ≫ JOHN: We would have definitely met ≫ JANNA: And it’s such a pleasure and honor to meet you ≫ JOHN: And I wanted to see meet you because I was frankly absolutely terrified of the idea of having a conversation with an astrophysicist ≫ JANNA: I’m very scary. I’m very scary me ≫ JOHN: I was absolutely terrified and I thought let me go check her out ≫ JANNA: I’m going to have you calculate the manifold hyperbolic≫ JOHN: I went on your platform and listening to you talk about your boyfriend — ≫ JANNA: Who is now my husband ≫ JOHN: Oh, he is I clearly didn’t get far enough then ≫ JANNA: The book doesn’t — the book, ends before that It’s funny, speaking of film so I told a moth story I don’t know if you know about the moth in England as much but here in New York it’s a very, very beautiful special venue It’s called the moth of because imagine sitting on your porch in the heat of an August night and the moth is drawn to the flame as people tell stories It’s a storytelling night and the moth has become huge here in the states It has its own radio hour and I know they air their show sometimes on the BBC and in Europe I told a moth story about this and recently sold the film rights We are going to make what you were reading about into a film And here you are a filmmaker because we have a nice little connect. I’m terrified ≫ JOHN: No need at all

≫ JANNA: Because I have no control over the film ≫ JOHN: That is true. It is ≫ JANNA: Yeah, that is true ≫ JOHN: I wouldn’t lie to you about that ≫ JANNA: Don’t butter it up for me , man, give it to me straight When I was watching some of your films in preparation for speaking to you, I was so struck in particular by one of your really early films I mean, your films to my mind just get more and more gorgeous There’s more and more, like luscious and gorgeous but the 1987 piece about the riots in Britain Damn if it isn’t painful how relevant it is How much I wish I was watching that thinking, this isn’t relevant anymore. This is obsolete How I wish your film was not relevant anymore It’s 35 years later and the first scene where they’re dragging this kid And there’s like — they’re — they’re pushing each other off to hit him kid And I just — I have to ask you — having made that film, how are you watching this? What’s going on in the U.S , how are you processing this? ≫ JOHN: The U.S is — okay, I mean, a couple of things One of the things that I find really interesting about a moment is that something — the films you were talking about and trying to do is completely unmasked in ’87, if you made a film about a disturbance, you had to sidestep very gently the agency of the police Because there was almost an anonymous — a unanimous feeling that the police are doing their job It is just they get caught up in these disturbances It just so happened that most of the civil disturbances or riots started with a policing incident. You know? ≫ JANNA: And that was an arrest, right? An arrest that ignited? ≫ JOHN: Yes an wrongful arrest This young man’s head was being lent on, a bus stop. And things were off I think that much is progress We now know the policing’s a central feature of these disturbances and thank God for that Because now you can talk directly about the kinds of policing that’s necessary or desirable. And that’s definite development the sort of — neck row politics of it This feeling that somehow black death is a necessary feature of policing. That I find — ≫ JANNA: I mean, it’s even why the phrase, you know , Black Lives Matter was still resonant, right? Because it’s exactly what you’re talking about. Everybody can see that If you look That that what you’re describing, like, oh , black death is just a necessary consequence of policing. You know? ≫ JOHN: Absolutely ≫ JANNA: It’s just part of keeping piece and so that phrase was like immediately like — it really does strike a chord. It’s tough in the states now It’s tough now, man, it’s tough what we’re going through here. It’s an uprising A long overdue uprising but why is it 2020? You made this film in 1987? And it’s 2020. And we need an uprising My kids need to be educated about this stuff. They’re learning about it fresh. You know, that’s not the history It’s not like, oh, this long thing happened Long ago this thing happened Their lives now. They’re marching. They’re protesting ≫ JOHN: It feels to me like a good moment to

ask you a question because actually who’s — what’s brought us together is Longplayer, long form, the long delay — ≫ JANNA: I’m very good in long form Like billions of years timescale ≫ JOHN: Does it feel like something worth hanging onto still? Do we have a future? ≫ JANNA: Oh my God, that’s so painful, John I don’t — you said something in your previous conversation I was eavesdropping about how sometimes when — it’s — person focused scene The whole scene is two people talking and that’s the focus It’s not the background, the music, I think I really just think , maybe that’s not the most interesting aspect of the human experience Meaning, other humans, society, culture, I love these things, they’re important to me. I am a person But is it the most important aspect and for me it’s not So some of my work, human beings didn’t live yet I often joke; I’m not years ago. That’s solar system politics I don’t care about the solar system, I hardly know the billion years ago, I got that That I understand I know all about the universe at that time Human beings did not exist like — and to presume that the only thing we have to offer or to reflect on or to derive meaning from involves faces and humans, is like , not — it’s never resonated with me. And I get a lot of meaning from that I get a lot of meaning from understanding that there was a big bang and then billions of years into that, stars formed And then those stars made chemical elements and they exploded mercifully, generously populating the ecosystem with elements that created life And so when I hear that narrative , I feel a moving , meaningful connection and it gives me a sense of purpose and stuff And I don’t need to only like look at humanity for that sense of purpose ≫ JOHN: For that to happen ≫ JANNA: No, not at all And so, you know, your question, I kind of perverted but, if society comes and falls, of course that’s the case I deal on timescales of billions of years and names Bigger than trillions. Goo goo plexuses of years Of course civilization is gone There’s no society in the history that has lasted for a thousand years When I deal on these huge timescales, of course I understand that this civilization is going to be gone And, yet, you know, we should feel good and we should enjoy — and we should feel meaning in the fact that we’re able to project understand we’ll be gone by then But to still, you know, take pride and pleasure in having some sketch of not only what our past was but , like, what our future is, you know? ≫ JOHN: The thing I find really interesting about Longplayer is that actually its prophetic stance Its sense that there is to be a thousand years later ≫ JANNA: It’s a gesture of hope Like Jem, as you know is such a sweetheart. And such a positive person And such an optimist that by making Longplayer he’s saying, hm, I believe that talk to you perspective on that He believes we’re going to be here in a thousand years. Like that’s — that’s an optimism ≫ JOHN: That’s a great, but you see the thing is is that that default of his is almost — the reason I find that so attractive is because as I’ve gone on this path , it’s become clearer to me that that is also the default of all images All images have this

slightly prophetic quality to it Because they are about recording moments which will only live in the elsewhere, in the future, if you like. You know? Like all — ≫ JANNA: Why do anything unless you believe it will live on? ≫ JOHN: Yeah, yeah ≫ JANNA: I actually think this is really — this was something I found so, really, connect on which is a sense of time ≫ JOHN: Yeah ≫ JANNA: And you clearly have an eye on history but then sometimes you’re like in the future. Like the future And then sometimes you’re in now And I wonder if that, like, in your films, when you’re thinking about chronology, if it’s different for you to think about history, futurism, now ≫ JOHN: Right ≫ JANNA: Or are those different elements to you or are they fluid? Can you imagine the future being history? Do you think about the future and wonder, is that someone’s history? And now, like you’re talking about, like, Mississippi Blues and we’re in the future for that person You know? And so, yeah, I just — I’m sort of fascinated by that ≫ JOHN: I can’t I believe I’m having this conversation with an astrophysicist. It’s so freaking, you know, interesting Because, of course, you know, as you said in the beginning, the question of time of long that in a way a lot of what I’m talking about pales in significance It seems to me there’s a move that — that your work is about , which is tracking time. You know ≫ JANNA: I mean — ≫ JOHN: — in complexities, right? the relativity of time It doesn’t bother me at all I don’t feel it’s mysterious anymore. Einstein explained it so clearly Even if society comes and falls, it’s the road, you know, Cormac McCarthy’s the road. It’s the apocalypse. If one single person remembers relativity special about science, right? That it’s then — it’s authorless. And — And nobody needs to remember it was Einstein that did it comfortable with the understanding that time, it’s not absolute but I still struggle with other aspects They’re — they’re posing a challenge, you know , it’s like the physics itself, the math itself , is telling us where to look You know? To find solutions to our understanding of math It is saying, you know, you’re doing really well with relativity, it’s a brilliant theory, general relativity tells us about black holes and the expansion of space/time and all of this is wonderful but then it literally puts a big blasting signpost and says I’m not doing so well right here So the understanding of time beyond this is right here Dig here, man. You know? And it’s like fascinating to follow the clues We’re literally chasing the clues ≫ JOHN: I know because I’ve read some of your work, what — your writings around the work. Let’s put it that way. Not the work itself And, you know — so I’m going to try to resist using the astrophysicist metaphors for things ≫ JANNA: Feel welcome ≫ JOHN: It’s not one of the things you’re keen on Nevertheless there’s an imprint of temporality Which in a way is the modernist sense of time that I’m trying to work here. Is post In the sense that one understands its fracture One understands its multiplicity and the combinations and

connections ≫ JANNA: And it’s duplicity It’s not always a friendly agent ≫ JOHN: No, no And it’s not necessarily linear in my backs I — I mean, not all of them but in some I play with the linearity of time and how do you jump out of chronology in a way that isn’t just a conceit, like a literary conceit but it feels necessary to jump out of the time, to understand it better ≫ JOHN: Yeah. Yeah ≫ JANNA: I try not to do stuff just to be jarring, right, in my writing But I try to do it to be provocative and also maybe this is more logical to go from this era to the past, to the future, to the present. It’s not just a goof. You know? It’s like, maybe this actually conveys something more strongly than if I was linear in time And I think that’s very interesting structurally Like obviously lots of people have played with time I think it’s because — sorry to interrupt but almost intuitively we all that we don’t get it. You know? ≫ JOHN: I like the phrase “jarring ” I really — because in a way that is precisely what I have been trying to use especially in the recent work which are more multiscreens rather than single screen I’m trying very hard to use a sense of jarring as a compositional tool, as a narrative ≫ JANNA: Yeah. Yeah ≫ JOHN: You can have a cross, for instance, three screens , three different representations of time or three moments — ≫ JANNA: I definitely sense that in your pieces I mean, I absolutely viscerally sense I was reminding myself this morning and — I am sorry if I’m not going to remember which piece it is ≫ JOHN: No, don’t worry, Jesus ≫ JANNA: Vestige — remind me — so the middle piece was clearly on a different time It’s like — jazz Sometimes I look at what you’re doing as jazz So you have somebody — somebody keeping a beat, right in the center, boom boom boom boom boom and then on the periphery is like the — ≫ JOHN: Something else happens ≫ JANNA: The riffing And it’s really effective in the same way that jazz is effective because jazz by right should be awful ≫ JOHN: Yeah (chuckles) ≫ JANNA: It should be like so irritating but instead it’s like, wait, what? Like it’s — you know, brilliant and you’re like what was that? What just happened then and you’re chasing it, right? And it’s like a flirtation It’s like a constant I feel that you’re doing that in the three panels that you’re specifically like different jazz musicians playing a trio ≫ JOHN: I’m very influenced — influenced sound like I’m trying to transpose what they do onto our field. But it’s not that at all It’s just that when your — a word that came up in the last conversation was proximity When you have a proximity to something there is a way that the awe and glow lives an imprint on your soul. Jazz has done that Especially examples What I call charismatic examples They’re sensing which it says in the process of trying to do something, elisions and ellipses and accidents and chance encounters, that all of these can be ordered into some symbolic order In which things don’t lose their discordant — yeah, their shape — ≫ JANNA: It’s literally a conversation It’s literally like what we’re doing. That’s why it’s so strong ≫ JOHN: Yeah

We do that by being absolutely intensely listening to each other to see where the moments and gaps might appear in order to say something, right? ≫ JANNA: And then also, oh, I had my intention to do this but this I just want to respond to it instead, right? And that’s the whole improvisation You don’t go there having prepped what your guitarists, your bass slapping solo’s going to be. You might if it’s a bad set But if it’s a good set someone’s going to do respond to this moment meet you is that, you know, I would not — could not prepare this conversation ≫ JOHN: You know, if anyone wanted to know what makes the music that we clearly both love so important, one of the sessions I really recommend is the Miles Davis ’64 It’s a huge amount of money and I wouldn’t recommend buys it but if you know someone who’s got it I would just — it’s five CDs and — each CD ‘s a recording of an evening Across five evenings and they basically play the same stuff but every night they never sound the same They have an aura of sameness but then you realize — it is not the same chords and that track, at that time as he did yesterday or the day — you know, it’s this fantastic interplay of — embrace of the uncertain ≫ JANNA: Yeah, yeah ≫ JOHN: Which I just love about it ≫ JANNA: And also the fearlessness of making a mistake The fearlessness of, you know, improvising Is so brave And basically as human beings, that’s what we’re asked to do all the time And, is, you know, we’re getting more and more corporatized and more and more taught how to train ourselves to respond in a certain way in any circumstance with other human beings but what we really love is improvising. That’s thrilling You know? ≫ JOHN: I think that very few — metaphors or examples that lead us into some deep insight into what we are and why we are And improv, at its best, for me, offers one of the greatest examples of who we are and what we are, you know? Because it’s about effecting a kind of position vis-a-vis another human being Another sentient being which is as influenced by what they’re doing as it is by just the moment that it’s happening, the environment in which — ≫ JANNA: I’m on a boat ≫ JOHN: You know ≫ JANNA: Right? All these things contribute ≫ JOHN: I’m in my studio at home These things matter. You know And every great improvise story moment is a kind of affirmation, if you will, of what it is to be a human being ≫ JANNA: Well, it’s a great conversation, why is it thrilling? with your own thoughts that you already are familiar with It’s because somebody provoked you to think differently For that — for those few minutes our 30 minutes together our 29 minutes together There’s a — suddenly you’re like oh, I didn’t have this thought before I actually got on the line with John ≫ JOHN: Absolutely. Can I tell you for a fact Many of the things I said only came to me as we spoke You know? But they’re all informed in some way by this desire to do justice to the durational presence of Longplayer. Like — ≫ JANNA: Why didn’t Miles Davis just perform solo all the time? He was Miles Davis? He was a god He didn’t because he needed them as much as they needed him That relationship He needed them to remind him to spark him to prod him to provoke him to, you know, to challenge him. And — ≫ JOHN: He always did it in the same way anytime

he started a new band Her bee Hancock talks about how he was invited to the house with new band members and you wouldn’t see him and then he’ll come down after a half an hour Listen for a bit and go off again — once — if you take count the sort of underlying sense of mastery that implies, there’s also something quite endearing there ≫ JANNA: Every human ≫ JOHN: Even’s given the room to grow musicians hand over to the bay cyst, to the drummer to the saxophonist four, three, two, one ≫ JOHN: I’m out ≫ JANNA: I’m so excited I think I have Precious soon Scientist to scientist the end of that conversation and I love jazz too so I was laughing at all of that ≫ JANNA: I have to tell you the truth, I did not love jazz or get jazz but then I — my son is a jazz player. And he taught me Like I made somebody — I created a human who makes jazz and so he taught me something that I actually did not understand before him He really did like inform me how to see it, how to understand it, how to hear it, how to love it You know? And so since then it’s — it’s also a deeply mathematical reference which I really appreciate. You know? ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah, it took me a long time to love it. Even though my father’s a jazz musician. So I grew up with jazz ≫ JANNA:? Is Is he he in? No way. Zimbabwe as Are a you jazz from musician? ≫ PRECIOUS: Zimbabwe, But he’s is that in what the UK. I remember He teaches music But, you know, I grew up listening to sort of jazz and I didn’t get it and I went , you know, for the classical size of music and played classical music That was my rebellion I guess ≫ JANNA: So what instrument? ≫ PRECIOUS: Flute ≫ JANNA: Really elegant , really light not jazz music ≫ PRECIOUS: Lately I have become interested in the whole concept of improvisation and conversation And that you have the tools that you have and it doesn’t matter where you land. That element of uncertainty really It just seemed appropriate I’ve been listening to more and more. We live in an uncertain world. We always have but it feels more uncertain We’re reminded that it’s an uncertain world ≫ JANNA: I’m not musically skilled at all Like terribly — I mean, if I would have to say what would be my weakest suit, it would be, I’m extremely untalented musically I have obviously the math and I have not a bad ear. I can hear stuff create it. But I have no ability to None. I can’t hit a note And so it’s really interesting to have a son who’s so musical and my husband’s a musician My hope is I gave my son a little bit of a math edge So that he can theorize about it as well. Right? He’s pure intuition. He just plays. It’s just lust. It’s just passion and lust But my hope is that I gave him a little bit of math To kick it up so that theoretically he actually understands what he’s doing And it’s been an interesting experience. It really has It’s just so different. We have such different minds But I think a lot of scientists have that connection, right? They’re like, we’re plucking out of the ether, patterns, and things It’s like we feel like we’re MRA on theically discovering stuff and it’s in the air And with musicians pluck out a melody and when scientists discover a mat metization or something there’s that feeling of I made it up But I also believe it’s out there I also believe it exists independent of me. And I merely found it. You know, do you ever that that feeling? You’re an

epidemiologist You’re much more connect to messy human and stuff but do you ever feel that way that it just exists? ≫ PRECIOUS: Oh, yeah, it’s — a sort of knowing that you get sometimes when you — the — I’m also a recognition that you mentioned where you are taking in different sources of information that are not necessarily related and working out the pattern and epidemiology is part of that Is, you know, what is going to determine whether something becomes an outbreak , turns from an outbreak to an epidemic to a pandemic to a plague. To a global plague It’s a series of coincidences that happen Which then inflate and grow and we’re now living in an environment that was a series of probably a series of coincidences but then grew ≫ JANNA: I can’t not ask you about COVID There’s so many things I want to ask you, like if we had five hours together, it would be a delight but the fact — like one of the things I want to ask you about is , this is coronavirus — COVID-19 because of the year? ≫ PRECIOUS: Yep ≫ JANNA: But there are many coronaviruses out there And even if we wrestle this one to the ground, we have no guarantee that there isn’t going to be another outbreak of a different coronavirus ≫ PRECIOUS: That’s correct ≫ JANNA: I want to ask you about that and how connected you feel it is to climate change and even to inequity, financial inequity and big business and our prioritizing greed over ecology ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah ≫ JANNA: This stuff is chilling for us now. This is survival ≫ PRECIOUS: Wow. Where do I start? I think — we could talk for hours on all those questions ≫ JANNA: We could ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah. Yeah I mean, it’s called coronavirus, and it’s COVID-19 because of the year Actually if you look back, smallpox was a big deal because we managed to eliminate it. How many viruses have we eliminated? We still — pathogens, we’re still struggling with malaria — ≫ JANNA: I know but colo had a huge win Unless anti-vaxxers undermine us we basically conquered polo I mean polio ≫ PRECIOUS: It’s not completely gone We managed to wipe it off the face of the earth. To eradicate it It is so wow because we haven’t done that for any other diseases. Really ≫ JANNA: Amazing ≫ PRECIOUS: And so my take really on COVID-19 is that it’s going to be with us for some time It’s going to come and go in waves And I think, you know, talking to what you’re saying about social equality, it reminds us our connectedness because if we leave some corner of the earth, POOSHGS and without — poor and without access to vaccine once there’s a vaccine viruses have their own life They evolve. They move ≫ JANNA: Yeah economic activity, et cetera And so we have to hold out the hand and work together with that person who lives on the other side of the global. That’s what — ≫ JANNA: Can I ask you, what would you say to anti-vaxxers? Like — an affluent American living in California in their beautiful houses In a safe part of the world with all kinds of resources and access Please tell me, what to say when they decide to be anti-vaxxers? Because I just — I just want to blow up and

I would like to appeal to you’re clearly a more measured person than me and I would like to appeal to your intellect and your expertise Tell me what do I say to that? ≫ PRECIOUS: Well, I mean, one, it’s — you know, when you vaccinate, yeah, it’s for yourself but you’re also being a responsible member of the community, right And so when they leave themselves, you know, if you’re an anti-vaxxer you don’t — take the measles, let’s talk about vaccines we have That’s exposing someone else’s child So your decision has repercussions on someone else And that’s — ≫ JANNA: Why isn’t this part of the discussion with the anti-vaxxer movement Most of the anti-vaxxers are actually left meaning well meaning people who are ill informed and they think they’re doing something right and, you know, and peaceful and of the earth nature ‘s going to just be — our immune system and like how do we combat that antiscience mentality even among people with whom we share a lot of philosophical opinions and principles? ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah, it comes down to human psychology as well I think You know, when there’s fear there’s a lot of misinformation And people will grasp at any explanation that somehow , you know, sort of chimes with — it system and is not necessarily related to science and when you — when you look at the data and how we used to have childhood mortality and then the measles vaccine came about and it shot right down. That’s evidence right there that actually — ≫ JANNA: So how do you convince people to think beyond sound bytes and to seek evidence? I’m not actually putting that on you. I’m not phrasing that as a question. It’s too big. I couldn’t answer it. We can’t answer it. It’s too much ≫ PRECIOUS: I think that community sort of aspect and talking to people, one of the — you know, one of the most valuable lessons I learned when I was a fresh face thinking I knew everything with my fancy degrees is it’s important to sit and break bread with all members of the community. There’s something of value that they can shed And even starting by having the conversations is important and ≫ JANNA: Yeah ≫ PRECIOUS: And holding them and explaining ≫ JANNA: So speaking of fears, I was really interested in the apps that you were developing and the research you were doing about trying to get some patch to more rural communities with medical access that weren’t necessarily a whole hospital. It’s not a whole hospital one of the things that came up because I am in a very techie field and I work around a lot of like , computationally sophisticated people It was an objection that some of these web companies , you know, some of these big conglomerates the big Silicon Valley stuff they don’t have our best interests in heart all the time And if you are a good meaning person who’s going out to try to build a new app to give people access to something as decent as health care is essential But you’re having to saddle up to big companies whose appropriation of the data is just unclear what they’re doing with it. Are you worried about that. Bringing that to Africa Just giving up all their data, all their information, all of their sort of control, do you worry about that? ≫ PRECIOUS: Of course I do That’s why I think it’s really important that you know, people like

me and others are saying we want to work and find solutions that are appropriate for us and to come from the , you know, to come from the perspective of we’re building for our communities It comes back to the connectedness, it’s not about extracting. It’s about we exist therefore we must contribute something You know, if we’re using air, we’re using resources. We can’t just with there just to take What do we give back? And coming from that perspective where we say, you know , I feel strongly about this actually that you build — building — developing a business that actually is intrinsically valuable to the community that you are serving And so, you know, I saw a gap from years of working , you know, in the field as an epidemiologist in public health of people with diabetes and hypertension ignored because it was not an infectious disease because it didn’t have that urgency and wasn’t measured But I had family, friend, and I could see that people were affected And now we know that actually back to COVID, is that if you have those conditions you’re more likely to get severe COVID ≫ JANNA: So are you thinking about — ≫ PRECIOUS: It doesn’t surprise me ≫ JANNA: It’s like you’re teetering on a precipice waiting for a push or something ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah. Yeah ≫ JANNA: In terms of COVID, are you thinking about how to develop your technology, your model for providing greater access in Africa and in rural parts, specifically, like, how is COVID prompting you to — what’s next, how does that change your direction? ≫ PRECIOUS: It’s opening up We started with focusing on diabetes and hype — hypertension. For months people haven’t been able to travel And even now with it opening up people are afraid to go to clinics What we’re seeing is that actually you know going to have the indirect effects of COVID Not just because of COVID but because you’re not accessing health care ≫ JANNA: Or being hungry It’s just crazy what the fallout has been So many people are going to be hungry ≫ PRECIOUS: They’re going to be hungry and it goes back to should we be thinking about universal, sort of basic salary for people That’s — ≫ JANNA: What about like contact tracing? Do you think about that? The contact tracing apps? The suggestions of having, you know, an automatic contact tracing app — seems like what a great idea and then, well, narrow in — but it’s a form of surveillance ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah, inevitably and ultimately — friends ideas right now and saying it back to you We were interested in your work and we were looking into it together and, are technically and computationally and, you know, in terms of computer technology, very sophisticated that contact tracing is just a nice word for surveillance ≫ PRECIOUS: M-hm ≫ JANNA: Do you worry about it? appropriately And we have to remember that it’s people And we have to — I keep talking about community because it’s us and how we see how our actions impact on others And I fear that we rely — I’ve come — so — I’m a techie , I’m a scientist, and I do love efficiencies and automation brings efficiencies Right? But we can never take away the need, actually, for contact and communication with another human being Well, in the sense that it’s going to take

so long, evolutionary perspective, that need has been there for much longer than technology’s — it’s not even a blink, right ? You’re the astrophysicist so, it’s not even a blip. I mean — ≫ JANNA: I like very long timescales. This is imcomparably small It’s about a millionth of the timescale I’m used to ≫ PRECIOUS: So, yeah, so, this — so this blip, where we’re saying connectivity and people being tracked — ≫ JANNA: Yeah But do you worry about — ≫ PRECIOUS: I don’t think it’ll last I don’t think so I don’t — important about your work is you’re going into regions where there’s less structures, there’s because of that And so try to offer people a bridge to some better care But at the same time, those same places are vulnerable to bad governments By definition and so if you have a situation where all of their data can be there, like, it’s just — it just becomes fraught, right, and worrisome and I just wonder how much of what you are doing is, you know, you have to defend against that or you have to build in protections because here are these people you really want to help and then you expose their data to, like , an unstable government and then they’re vulnerable and so it’s a really — just seems to be like a super complicated and ambitious goal. You know? And worthy and valuable but super complicated most interesting questions as you know, I mean, you are working on really complicated stuff. Those are the most interesting problems The complicated ones. Because — ≫ JANNA: Oh, yeah — ≫ PRECIOUS: You’re trying to unpick and figure out that path ≫ JANNA: Yeah, I often say, if I’m not confused I’m not working on the right problem ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah. Yeah ≫ JANNA: If I am not driven to the point of madness, I have undershot If I can solve it then I am not where I should be, you know? I need to be in drowning waters, neck deep and grasping and struggling because that’s when you learn and you make discoveries to the limit That’s sort of what it means to be a scientist ≫ PRECIOUS: And it means that actually you’re in an uncomfortable space ≫ JANNA: Always in an uncomfortable space ≫ PRECIOUS: Every little bit of progress unlocks the — ≫ JANNA: The next thing you don’t have any idea what you’re even looking at ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah, yeah ≫ JANNA: Exactly. And it is really uncomfortable I was talking to a very good friend of mine, a professor as well who was like my kids can’t stand the discomfort. The discomfort. He was really surprised, you know? Because they were brilliant kids, they’re super talented, they’re doing great, they’re awesome but, like, we jam ourselves in a position until we’re so intensely uncomfortable we can’t stop thinking about anything else ≫ PRECIOUS: Yep. Yep fix it because your own well-being is on the line because until you resolve it your shoulders will be up to here ≫ PRECIOUS: You feel like your very existence is tied next thing you do is run and make yourself uncomfortable again and then when you figured out that, that opening , it’s such an amazing feeling ≫ JANNA: So amazing

≫ PRECIOUS: And so — ≫ JANNA: And also the excitement to share it with everybody. To run around town telling everybody ≫ PRECIOUS: Yeah, yeah, and you want to sort of relive that and I think it comes back to that reward mechanism, our brains will, you know — will want a bit more of that and so we work on another problem ≫ JANNA: Totally and that’s true That’s true and we like that dopamine hit and you’re the neuroscientist I wanted to ask you about working in the UK versus working in Africa Have you — like, does it feel different to you, those systems? I mean, obviously the systems are totally different , but as a scientist, do you feel that the promise of science transfers? What is the promise of scientist that it’s true for me, it’s true for you, it’s true in andromeda, it’s true in seven thousand years, one plus one is going to be two in seven thousand years in andromeda and it was true in Bangladesh and it was true — do you — your — like, because you are socially engaged, like I’m not socially engaged. My stuff’s totally abstract. Do you feel that promise of science? That it’s true for all of us? ≫ PRECIOUS: I do. I think it’s true I think that the difference is the — perhaps the opportunity — so the funding opportunities are obviously — are obviously different. But, you know, the — ≫ JANNA: The core truths ≫ PRECIOUS: Oh, yeah, the core truths and the search for the truth and that’s what science is is the search for the truth and that dedication to the searching for the truth. I can — I’ve connected with you. I can land anywhere know it’s a search for the truth ≫ JANNA: There’s a trust that the other person isn’t bringing a lot of false baggage, right? There’s a trust that the person’s speaking to you as plainly as they can ≫ PRECIOUS: With the information that they have. Right? ≫ JANNA: Right. Exactly as well, isn’t it? ≫ JANNA: Of course, it’s the honesty, right, the — the whole premise of science is confronting reality so you can’t be a dishonest scientist That’s an oxymoron. That’s not a thing. If you’re dishonest you’re not a scientist ≫ PRECIOUS: And of course it’s all in the interpretation If anyone tells you that the scientists all agreed, you know it can’t be true because people can have different interpretation challenge, I’ll try to answer your question. If I can’t right now I’m going to go back and think about it Genuinely, like, it’s not — so — I run a series at pioneer X that is dedicated to arts and scientists and exploration and it’s called scientific controversy and I had to convince people it’s not a debate No decent scientist is debating it at all costs. That is so unscientific So you can be, like, I really think this but the first two minutes you better be really fast and able to say, oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t think about that. Hm And if you can’t shed your prejudice and your belief and the thing you want to be true in a second, then you’re not behaving scientifically And so it was really interesting for me to explain to people that scientific controversies isn’t a debate It’s an airing of thoughts And people should give up their prejudices as fast as possible. You know? It should be the opposite of a debate. It should be like you convince would be great But in the meantime, I’m going to try to convince you ≫ PRECIOUS: Absolutely ≫ JANNA: And, like, everybody at the end of the day should be like we’re still confused or we agree ≫ PRECIOUS: And that’s okay It’s okay to be confused ≫ JANNA: That’s the discomfort you were talking about ≫ PRECIOUS: That’s the discomfort and that’s where people think science equals certainty ≫ JANNA: And it does not ≫ PRECIOUS: That’s where I think politicians get it wrong ≫ JANNA: Indeed. Science is quite the opposite

If you’re certain you’re not being a scientist you’re being an archivist which is a good occupation as well But if you’re a scientist you’re always uncomfortable ≫ PRECIOUS: And okay to live in that uncomfortable space because that uncomfortable space is where we can create new possibilities Where there’s — where there’s certainty in a field there isn’t an opportunity to move things So that’s where — that’s where I enjoy the discomfort ≫ JANNA: Absolutely ≫ PRECIOUS: And we’re down to ten seconds ≫ JANNA: Precious, you are well named Somebody gave you, like, they had the insight to know that is who you should be, Precious ≫ PRECIOUS: Well, it’s been such a pleasure ≫ JANNA: Pleasure. Thank you ≫ PRECIOUS: Great. Thank you ≫ JANNA: Thank you so much ≫ PRECIOUS: Thank you so much Thank you. Bye