Monday, May 2, 2016

Chris Serkin writes a thumbs-up review of Edward L. Rubin’s cli-fi novel ''The Heatstroke Line.''


Chris Serkin writes a review of Edward L. Rubin’s ''cli-fi'' novel

''The Heatstroke Line''

reprinted from AmeriQuests 12.2 (Spring, 2016)

LINK
http://ameriquests.org/index.php/ameriquests/issue/view/203/showToc


In his new novel ''The Heatstroke Line,'' noted legal scholar Edward L. Rubin tackles the issue of climate change in the unlikely genre of cli-fi — or climate change fiction. Why fiction? Presumably, because logic and reason have not been successful at stimulating action.

Since Professor Rubin has a clear policy goal in addition to a literary one, his dystopic vision of the future is not the kind of wholly foreign world in which science fiction is often set. Instead, the power of Professor Rubin’s book comes from the relatively familiarity and banality of the characters’ world, even as the horrors mount.

The protagonist, Daniel Danton, is an entomologist in Denver, being recruited by the most prestigious university in North America —t he University of South Baffin Island. Like ''White Noise'' by Don Delillo, the relatively staid and prosaic world of academic politics occupies the foreground of the novel but principally to illuminate the background.

What happened that the world is at once familiar but also jarringly different?

The answers emerge in trickles.

Following catastrophic climate change, large parts of the world have become uninhabitable. Widespread crop failures resulted in Canada siphoning off the topsoil from the Midwestern United States and moving food production North. Canada become the superpower, while the United States fractured into insular and backwards governments, with few resources and consumed by the demands of daily survival. Borders therefore figure heavily.

The line referenced in the book’s title is the latitude separating where humans can and cannot survive outside.

Professor Rubin imagines this heatstroke line roughly corresponding to Mason-Dixon line, not-so-subtly demarking that portion of the country most opposed to addressing the risks of climate change.

And the problem is not just the heat. With climate change come entomological nightmares represented by “biter bugs.” These 3- inch monsters are a cross between a flying piranha and a tick. They burrow into exposed flesh and devour people in a matter of minutes.

But the border between the former United States and Canada is equally important. Americans tried fleeing North to Canada but were repelled with guns and death.

The most searing insights of ''The Heatstroke Line'' therefore lurk in the background. In Professor Rubin’s future scenario, life continues but is cheap and death is omnipresent. People are no longer masters of their own destinies but are instead enslaved by an inhospitable environment, and the few havens, like Canada, close their doors and have no compunction about delivering misery and death to their onetime more affluent neighbor.

This is a book with a clear message about the threats of climate change. But it also serves as a warning for today’s political climate: the sanctuaries of today may produce the refugees of the future, and we must imagine ourselves seeking to escape the ravages of a world that can no longer sustain us. When we become climate refugees, the relevant borders shift.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

''Cli-Fi'' turns extreme in thriller titled ''KILLING MAINE'' written by Maine native Mike Bond



''Cli-Fi'' turns extreme in thriller titled ''KILLING MAINE'' written by Maine native Mike Bond

 
A review by

KINGDOM BOOKS

 
May 1, 2016
 
[Kingdom Books is a specialty mystery bookshop in northeastern Vermont. Beth Kanell, co-owner with her husband Dave, writes New England mysteries, adventure travel, and poetry, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Dave Kanell's sleuthing record among mystery books takes first place, whether classic or cutting edge.]
Maine native Mike Bond frist published this cli-fi "superthriller" in July 2015 --  KILLING MAINE. The book's premise is that wind power has not only devastated the wildlife and scenic peaks of the northern New England state -- the big money involved in it has corrupted at least half of Maine's legislature. But Hawaiian/Maine Special Forces veteran Pono (Sam) Hawkins gets a call to rescue a former SF comrade from a frame-up during Maine's winter of discontent, and with the help of three women who want his body, Pono launches into the legal and legislative and bullet-riddled fray.

This chunky paperback weighs in at 364 pages and is jammed with adventure, chase scenes, and hot sex (announced but not detailed). Military jargon and comrades-in-arms (and shared women) cram those pages. Count on a fast pace and a lot of details that are exaggerated past serious belief: Wind power isn't making all that much money, and legislatures aren't so easy to corrupt, and subzero temperatures rarely last as long as the story's hardships suggest. So if you pick this one up, ride along for the entertainment of a wild tale, especially if you enjoy Special Forces fiction. (That includes some coarse language, wild assumptions about women, and plenty of bullet details.)

[KILLING MAINE won the New England Book Festival First Prize for Fiction, which is why the book is getting fresh attention this spring of 2016; the climate crisis and alternate energy aspects are fictionalized as extreme and terrifying, which turns out to support a fast-paced page-turner. Congrats to the author and his team -- and to the publisher, Mandevilla Press, which consists of Mike Bond and Wess Roberts. ]

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chinese scientist has come to conclusion that industrial mining fossil energy (coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale, combustible ice, etc.) by the human being has destroyed the thermal insulating layer inside crust of the Earth, and excessive heat from inside of the Earth has come to the surface, which is the main cause of a warming globe.

 
 
Friends, thought you might get a kick out of this. Could this be the theme of the next ''cli-fi'' film?
=============================================================
RE: ''I have finally come to conclusion that industrial mining fossil energy (coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale, combustible ice, etc.) by the human being has destroyed the thermal insulating layer inside crust of the Earth, and excessive heat from inside of the Earth has come to the surface, which is the main cause of a warming globe.''


Dear Sir in the USA. I am writing to you from CHINA, i.e., Communist China, PRC, controlled by the brutal dictatorship of the out-dated yet oppressive Soviet-style Communist Party of China
 
I was delighted to read your blog about cli-fi movies and the topic is very inspiring to me.

Although opinions on causes of climate change vary, I has been devoted to the research of climate change and have finally come to conclusion that industrial mining fossil energy (coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale, combustible ice, etc.) by the human being has destroyed the thermal insulating layer inside crust of the Earth, and excessive heat from inside of the Earth has come to the surface, which is the main cause of a warming globe. CO2, CH4 etc. airs stored in the earth's crust release into the atmosphere because of earth's crust fever and underlying surface temperature increment, make the greenhouse effect enhanced. Weather events become more and more extreme. My argument is based on secondary information or empirical calculation based on various events. Look at the thermal conductivity with various substances, you know how important that thermal insulation in the earth's crust is to terrestrial biosphere.
 
crustal components:                 thermal conductivity (W/m.K):
shale gas                                   0.049
natural gas                                0.052
oil shale                                     0.08
combustible ice                        0.121
petroleum                                  0.14
coal                                            0.21
 
sedimentary rock                      3.41
granite                                       3.49
basalt                                         2.17
 
According to this new concept, except rare cases, an overwhelming majority of existing natural disasters can be reasonably explained with this theory. Crust of the Earth and underlying surface are being heated irregularly! It is for this reason that not only the ecological environment is rapidly getting worse, but also due to entry of excessive heat into the atmosphere and the ocean, extreme weather events occur more and more often to repeatedly refresh the history. Fossil energy is the product of a series of complex chemical reaction under high temperature and high pressure in the interior of the earth for a long geologic time, thus, where there is fossil energy, there is massive heat resource. But there's no "oil sea" or "gas sea" in the earth's crust, fossil oil and natural gas exist in rock pores, cracks, karst caves, faults and grits through the crust, forming a huge "capillary network". Fossil energy constitutes only a very small proportion of earth surface, and the maximum depth of mining is only 5000 meters, but fossil oil and natural gas are effective seal of the rock pores, cracks, karst caves, faults and grits, which prevent excessive leakage of terrestrial heat flow. The enormous pressure formed by petroleum, natural gas and shale gas within the crust oppose the earth’s interior thermal pressure, achieving a dynamic balance. Once petroleum, natural gas and shale gas have been mined, the earth’s interior terrestrial heat flow follows the capillary network because of the loss of thermal insulation and heat-sealants and eventually reaches the surface, causing the crust underlying the surface to “fever” and triggering ecological and geological disasters. Huge amounts of extreme dispersed heat force the water vapor, CO2, CH4 and other gases from the crust into the atmosphere and oceans, which disrupts the atmospheric energy balance and causes climate change and meteorological disasters. With increasing sea temperatures, air humidity has also increased, which has produced the strongest recorded typhoons, hurricanes and tropical cyclones, as well as the strongest recorded local rainfall, snow, drought, winter and cold conditions. These conditions are expected to become more frequent, with the weather becoming more extreme and violent. Nowadays in an age of rapid technological advancement, the new mineral deposits continued to throw up discoveries which the fossil energy cover far more than the 1% of the Earth. Even if humans stop emitting greenhouse gases, global change will still continue for a long long time because of this reason.
 
Exploitation quantity of global coal, crude oil and natural gas Vs ENSO frequency of occurrence output (add up) (unit: billion ton, trillion m2 )
 
Time             Coal                  Crude oil         Natural gas         ENSO frequency of occurrence
 
1649-1879                                                                             Closely related to submarine volcanic eruption.
  
1880-1980   1500 (1500)     517 (517)        30 (30)                Happen once between 2 and 7 years, duration is about 1year.
 
 
1981-2005   1125 (2625)     440 (957)      20 (50)           Time interval of occurrence is 3 years around, duration is about 15 months, time lag of several El Nino events from 1990’s of last century to now is only half year around, and long one is no less than 2 years, duration can reach 3 years.
 
Sometimes oil companies inject compressed air or CO2 into the well to push the oil out is used for other purposes, for example, increase production etc. and never restoring insulating layer again. Moreover; oil companies inject compressed air or CO2 into the well to push the oil out not only without so great pressure before mining but also the cumulative exploitation of the total output is out of proportion to the oil companies inject compressed air or CO2. So this air or CO2 don't have insulation effect. Underlaying surface temperature increment and rise of deep sea temperature after the destruction of insulating layer, CH4 and water vapor etc. GHGs directly into the atmosphere which could escalate the severity of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor is one of the most important GHGs.
 
Global climate will long-term warming if energy mining does not stop. Such a significant heat source, degradation of vegetation cover and widespread loss of soil organic matter  have pervasive effects.
 
The research from Amanda Scott et al. from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, US) showed that global warming is now irreversible and in an accelerating trend. Even if humans stop emitting greenhouse gases, global warming will still continue for 1000 years. This conclusion denies the greenhouse effect theory of climate change, suggesting that global warming is caused by other factors.
 
The report issued by the American authorities in January 2015 said that global warming has become norm and meteorological history records show the average ground temperature has increased 0.8℃. As a result, not only lead to global warming but also caused ecological and environmental disaster. Rob Westawaya’s study also demonstrates dissipation of a subsurface thermal anomaly by heat transport into the atmosphere. This indicates that warming of the atmosphere will be sustained in the future by dissipation of the large amount of energy stored in pre-existing subsurface thermal anomalies on a global scale, an issue of major societal implications that demands more detailed investigation. (Science of The Total Environment, Volume 508, 1 March 2015, Pages 585–603)
 
The northern latitudes are rich in coal, oil, natural gas and shale gas resources. As the Former Soviet and Russia mass industrial overexploitation, today's the Arctic Ocean you could hardly see floating ice in the summer. The Antarctic ice sheet will melt completely once fossil energy is mined from rock formations inside the southern latitudes. This is not just alarmist talk.
 
When you feel puzzled for some extreme climate events, natural hazards, ecological disasters, etc., you might as well use this standpoint.
 
Only if find true cause for contributing to climate change human society could effectively handle to face the challenge.
 
I will be greatly grateful if you could spare time to read my papers (Please find attachments).
 
I hope to make more exchange and communication with you about the climate change.
 
Sincerely,
 
XX XXXXX
 
Communist China, PRC, controlled by the Communist Party of China
 
 
 

When Corporate PR people become control freaks and try to dictate the news on climate issues nationwide

Dear Sir,
What is the name of the [NAME OF WEST COAST NEWSPAPER REDACTED HERE FOR PRIVACY REASONS] reporter whom you contacted?​ We will not welcome any [NAME OF WEST COAST NEWSPAPER REDACTED HERE FOR PRIVACY REASONS] reporter
whom we have not communicated with directly. Do not contact the [NAME OF WEST COAST NEWSPAPER REDACTED HERE FOR PRIVACY REASONS] again on behalf of [NAME OF WEST COAST LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE REDACTED HERE FOR OBVIOUS REASONS] or steer reporters in our direction in the future, even if you think you have an important news tip to pass on to them. We contol the news, and we control our news feeds. That's what they hired me for. Capish?

Thank you,

Acting Director of Media Comm PR Relations
[NAME OF WEST COAST COLLEGE REDACTED HERE FOR PRIVACY REASONS]

Call for Papers: ''The Rising Tide of Climate-Change Fiction''

Dear Mr. Bloom,


Thanks so much for your interest in our upcoming special issue on climate change fiction. We don't send out press releases for our special issues, only CFPs and posts on academic listservs, but I'm attaching two versions of that call -- the full call and a condensed version -- in case either is helpful to you. We would be grateful for any mention you feel appropriate to include on the Cli-Fi Report or any of your social media outlets; if you wanted to link to the CFP on your "Cli-Fi News and Academic Links," here is a link to the CFP:


https://studiesinthenovel.org/submit/call-for-papers.html


Let me know if I can answer any questions for you, and thanks again.

Very best wishes,


Tim Boswell

AND MORE:

Studies in the Novel seeks submissions for a special issue on “The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction,” guest-edited by Stef Craps (Ghent University) and Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths, University of London), to be published spring 2018 as part of the journal’s 50th anniversary volume.

Climate change fiction constitutes a by now well-established set of literary texts that has attracted the attention of both academic and non-academic readers.

A typical facet of much climate change fiction is its imagination of a catastrophic future world in which climatological devastation, unfolding but often imperceptible and ignored in our times, is made tangible and inescapable.

Other works steer clear of the post-apocalyptic or dystopian mode: set in the present, they explore the political, ethical, and psychological dimensions and ramifications of climate change at the current moment.

In tandem with the ascendancy in the academy of the concept of the Anthropocene, the last few years have also seen the publication of a significant amount of sophisticated humanities scholarship theorizing climate change and its cultural framings and impacts, providing numerous opportunities for developing new approaches to fictions of climate change.

Possible topics include:

literary strategies for overcoming the imaginative difficulties posed by the vast scale and complexity of the climate crisis
conceptualizations of the Anthropocene and how they inform the theory and practice of the literature of climate change
the relation between climate change fiction and new directions in ecocriticism
the cultural representation of specific fossil fuels and energy systems in the context of climate change
representations of the relationship between economic and environmental crises
the relation between climate change fiction and literary and cultural responses to other “traumas” of modernity
widening the canon of climate change fiction

See https://studiesinthenovel.org/submit/call-for-papers.html for the full call; send questions and submissions to studiesinthenovel@unt.edu.

Deadline: February 10, 2017.

=============

Call for Papers: The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction

Studies in the Novel is currently seeking submissions for a special issue on “The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction,” guest-edited by Stef Craps (Ghent University) and Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths, University of London), which will be published in spring 2018 as part of the journal’s 50th anniversary volume.

Often described as emergent, climate change fiction constitutes a by now well-established set of literary texts that has attracted the attention of both academic and non-academic communities of readers. Prominent examples include Ian McEwan’s Solar, Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam trilogy, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, and Nathaniel Rich’s Odds against Tomorrow.

The cultural place of this kind of writing has been confirmed by the recent publication of Adam Trexler’s survey Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change, amidst a growing body of literary-critical work (such as Adeline Johns-Putra’s), and the increasing acceptance into the mainstream of the “cli-fi” label.

A typical facet of much climate change fiction is its imagination of a catastrophic future world in which climatological devastation, unfolding but often imperceptible and ignored in our times, is made tangible and inescapable. Other works steer clear of the prevalent post-apocalyptic or dystopian mode: set in the present, they explore the political, ethical, and psychological dimensions and ramifications of climate change at the current moment.

In addition to the rise of fiction grappling with the representational and existential challenges thrown up by a warming planet, the last few years have seen the publication of a significant amount of sophisticated humanities scholarship theorizing climate change and its cultural framings and impacts.

 Questions of scale have been key, from the planetary imagination of environmental crisis (Ursula Heise), over the conception of climate change as a form of slow violence (Rob Nixon) or a hyperobject massively distributed in time and space (Timothy Morton), to the derangement of temporal and spatial scales by which climate change can be mapped and represented (Timothy Clark). These scalar recalibrations have been prompted by the ascendancy in the academy of the notion of the Anthropocene. Even if the inception date of the new geological epoch defined by the actions of humans is subject to debate (Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin), the conceptualization of humanity’s geological agency has afforded ways to chart the history of our species before and beyond globalized industrial capitalism and its effects on the climate (Dipesh Chakrabarty). Moreover, it has created an awareness of the need to think beyond the humanist enclosures of critical theory (Tom Cohen) and to acknowledge the interconnectedness of the human and the non-human (Jane Bennett; Stacy Alaimo). Meanwhile, postcolonial, feminist, and queer theorists have reminded us of the disparities in agency, vulnerability, and impact among the world’s people in the “age of humans” (Nicholas Mirzoeff; Elizabeth DeLoughrey; Claire Colebrook).

This rich body of theoretical work provides numerous opportunities for developing new approaches to fictions of climate change. We invite paper submissions that engage topics such as the following:


literary strategies for overcoming the imaginative difficulties posed by the vast scale and complexity of the climate crisis
conceptualizations of the Anthropocene and how they inform the theory and practice of the literature of climate change
the relation between climate change fiction and new directions in ecocriticism (especially queer, postcolonial, new materialist, and memory and trauma studies)
the cultural representation of specific fossil fuels and energy systems in the context of climate change
representations of the relationship between economic and environmental crises
the relation between climate change fiction and literary and cultural responses to other “traumas” of modernity, ranging from genocide to the nuclear threat and the discovery of geological time in the early nineteenth century
widening the canon of climate change fiction: non-Western and minority literature, non-Anglophone literature, literary production prior to the late twentieth century, cultural forms of representation other than the novel, experimental narrative fiction, “high” vs. “low” literature, speculative realism
Submissions should be sent in Microsoft Word format, devoid of personally identifiable information. Manuscripts should be 8,000-10,000 words in length, inclusive of endnotes and works-cited list, have standard formatting (1” margins, double-spaced throughout, etc.), and conform to the latest edition of the MLA Style Manual. Endnotes should be as brief and as limited in number as possible. Illustrations may accompany articles; high-resolution digital files (JPEGs preferred) must be provided upon article acceptance. All copyright permissions must be obtained by the author prior to publication.


Questions and submissions should be sent to studiesinthenovel@unt.edu
The deadline for submissions is February 10, 2017.


In an Era of Streaming, Is Traditional Cinema Under Attack?

In an Era of Streaming, Cinema Is Under Attack

                    
Seen any good movies lately? Seen any movies? Chances are you have — but maybe not in an actual theater. Americans used to adore going out to the movies, but that love has been on the rocks for decades. Once, the rival was television. Maybe it still is given that so much more of what’s produced specifically for the small screen seems so much more worthwhile (or at least watchable) than it once did. But the threat to movies appears more existential now, because the very digital revolution that has changed how movies are made has also changed how many of us watch them.
Movies are no longer only in theaters or living rooms, but also on our devices, streaming at us wherever and whenever we want them — that is, if the connection is good and you have access both to the Internet and to devices. (Less than half of lower-income households in the United States have Internet service at home.) But like every other digital advance, the on-demand era brings loss and anxiety in its wake, including whether movies — one of the defining mass arts of the 20th century — can continue to provide a communal experience. The chief film critics for The Times, Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, consider the state of moviegoing in an era of omnipresent screens.
MANOHLA DARGIS One of the big, possibly bad movie stories of the last few months has been Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju’s proposed new venture, Screening Room, which would bring first-run movies into living rooms for $50 a pop for 48 hours, though customers would also have to pony up $150 for the device to stream these titles. A lot of the news stories on Screening Room have focused on the industry: Theater owners have given it the thumbs down, because it will cut into their business, as have those lovers of big-screen spectacle, Christopher Nolan and James Cameron. Those who support it include Steven Spielberg and, surprisingly, Martin Scorsese.
Right now, Screening Room sounds like a hustler’s dream, suitable mostly for agoraphobics and children’s birthday parties. But it is worrisome for what it suggests for cinema and its future. That may sound apocalyptic, but it’s not, given how fast movies zip from theaters to video on demand. It’s no wonder that the scholar David Bordwell has called the Screening Room idea “weaponized VOD.” Or that the Arthouse Convergence — a group representing more than 600 art-house cinemas and businesses — wrote an open letter that forcefully takes issue with this venture, arguing that it would devalue the in-theater experience and increase piracy. Put another way, it could destroy an entire segment of the industry — exhibition — and moviegoing itself.
Photo

The audience for a showing of “Carol” at the Metrograph, a new theater in Lower Manhattan. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

A. O. SCOTT It’s been 20 years since Susan Sontag wrote that “no amount of mourning will revive the vanished rituals — erotic, ruminative — of the darkened theater.” Even then, before the arrival of the Netflix queue, moviegoing had, at least in the eyes of some cinephiles, lost its essential, sacred luster. For others, though, digital home viewing had the potential to usher in a new golden age. A decade after Sontag’s elegy, Roger Ebert hailed the DVD’s “incalculable value to those who love films.” It delivered “prints of such quality that the film can breathe before our eyes instead of merely surviving there.”
How quaint it all sounds. Ebert’s words testify to the lingering power of the old — digitally stored and projected motion pictures are technically neither “prints” nor “films” — and also to the speed with which the new passes into obsolescence. For the studios, DVDs were a boon to the bottom line, and to consumers they were collectible tokens of movie love. In any case, they didn’t last long and are now increasingly niche items rather than commodities for mass consumption. Why clutter your shelves with special editions of last year’s blockbusters when a whole mobile cinematheque is a few clicks and swipes away?
The deeper question, though, is whether the widespread, at-your-fingertips availability of movies is a blessing or a catastrophe or a little of both. Without wanting to play the devil’s advocate — or Sean Parker’s — I’m not entirely sure that streaming is necessarily an existential threat to moviegoing. Recent market research from the Motion Picture Association of America suggests that frequent moviegoers (defined as people who see a movie in a theater at least once a month) are more likely than their more casual counterparts to own gadgets like tablets or smartphones. And also, not to be completely heretical, what’s so sacred about “the darkened cinema” anyway?
It’s often idealized as a space of collective reverence and aesthetic bliss, where photochemical alchemy unfolds in room full of worshipers. But how often does that really happen? Most of the time aren’t we just eating unhealthy snacks and watching a digital file in obnoxious company? Couldn’t we just do that at home?
DARGIS It’s nice that we can pay five bucks to stream a crummy studio movie that looked too awful to leave the house for, I suppose, but I had superior, more interesting choices at my local video stores than I do with Netflix streaming (no Douglas Sirk!) or even Amazon. If you want to stream nonindustrial product, you often need to do time-consuming digging online. And even if you do, you will never find the online equivalent of a Kim’s Video — the extraordinary New York home-video emporium that closed in 2014 — because part of what made it great was being in that store with other people.
 
The key word here is people. After all, what makes movies a mass art is that they are made on a mass scale for a mass audience, which is true even for work that’s largely exhibited on the festival and art-cinema circuit. What happens to that art when we begin to remove, well, people from part of the equation? What happens to its democratic promise, which may be a fantasy at best, a lie at worst, but remains nonetheless? When I think about Mr. Parker’s Screening Room, I flash on the image of Howard Hughes in Mr. Scorsese’s film “The Aviator,” watching films all alone in his private theater, safely isolated from the contamination known as other human beings.
For some, part of the allure of Screening Room, clearly, is that it would allow them to see first-run titles in Hughes-like isolation. There seems to be a high level of dissatisfaction with moviegoing, much of it focused on other people’s behavior, including texting. This brings to mind the days of early cinema, when theaters issued audiences dos and don’ts like take off your hats, don’t spit, don’t talk. (D. W. Griffith even made a film mocking women’s haberdashery: “Those Awful Hats.”)
But theaters aren’t monasteries, and while some movies are better watched in shared, relative quiet, others are better suited to the call-and-response of the volubly engaged audience. And quiet doesn’t mean dead. There’s something unsettling about the fetish of silence that certain moviegoers insist on. It’s partly symptomatic of a kind of art-film preciousness — shh, we’re watching art here — but also of people habituated to viewing images at home, where you can view in silence or while in full yammer. At home, we have control, not so in movie theaters, where our individual wants and needs must accommodate those of other people.
SCOTT Like the movies themselves, moviegoing has changed dramatically from one decade to the next. The nickelodeons of the earliest days gave way to movie palaces, which were supplemented by humbler main-street Bijoux and Roxys. In the ’30s, the major home-entertainment platforms were radio and the upright piano in the parlor, and movies offered a cheap, accessible and climate-controlled escape. And millions of people went often, less out of reverence than out of habit, returning every week to take in double features, shorts and serials, newsreels and cartoons. Cinema in its Classical Age was also destination television.
In the postwar years, the rise of car culture and the growth of the suburbs planted drive-ins in wide-open spaces, while grindhouses, art houses and campus film societies flourished in the cities and college towns. Moviegoing has never been just one thing.
                   

And people are still doing it! The M.P.A.A. notes that theater attendance increased by around 4 percent in North America in 2015, after wobbling and dipping in the previous few years. The highly scientific explanation for this, as you and I have discussed, is that the studios released a lot of movies that people were eager to leave the house to see, including “Jurassic World,” “Trainwreck,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Inside Out.”
On a recent Saturday in Lower Manhattan, I bought a ticket to see a 35-millimeter print of an old movie (“The Big Clock”) at a brand-new theater (the Metrograph) staffed by eager youngsters sporting vintage threads and fresh tattoos. The popcorn was organically grown; the Milk Duds ethically sourced. There was a degree of self-conscious retro-ness to the experience that I found bittersweet, because it was inspired by someone else’s nostalgia for something I knew firsthand. At the other extreme, a few months back, I attended a “premiere” of a virtual reality “film” at which people were seated in rows with goggles pressed to their eyes, each one nodding and twisting in a private reverie. Sometimes I feel whipsawed between the future and the past. I like going to the movies. I like reading books on paper and listening to music on vinyl. I also enjoy the modern world, and I’m always curious as well as worried about where it’s headed.
DARGIS One doesn’t need to be an alarmist or a nostalgist to know that there’s much about the contemporary art and industry to be concerned about. The major players have forced the industry to shift from film to digital, and now, courtesy of Screening Room, they are flirting with an idea that could irreparably damage theaters and perhaps endanger the theatrical experience and the art both. I don’t think that will happen — as we know from the Metrograph and theaters like the Cinefamily in Los Angeles — there is an audience (and a young one) willing to leave the house to watch movies.
Still, the notion that moviegoing could become a specialized pursuit for certain knowing audiences — like going to a jazz club — is bleak. Many more people watch movies than listen to jazz and always will. But it’s also true that a lot of what we watch, including in movie theaters, is television. Some of this is good television, much of it is mediocre, but it is television in that it has been produced, big yakking heads and all, to be viewed on small (home) screens. This isn’t about movies versus television and whether one is superior to the other (the mediums have long influenced each other). It’s about larger, more difficult questions: What happens to movies if they are made to be watched only at home? Isn’t that television? What, then, is the cinematic? Because, in some important ways (including experientially), television is closer kin to radio than to cinema.
SCOTT Interesting that you bring up radio, a medium that, like the movies, is believed to be wobbling toward extinction, undone by streaming services and podcasting. Movies and radio are the twin progenitors of the modernity we inhabit. Radio got the world hooked on recorded music and the sounds of strangers’ voices in our private spaces. Movies begat our addiction to screens. And both seem to be in danger of being devoured by their offspring, by the power of the appetites they unleashed.
Continue reading the main story
We’re increasingly able to bring the movies home, and also to bring the comforts of home with us wherever we go. Moviegoing is not what it used to be, for sure, but I suspect it will flourish as long as it answers to the primal human urge to get out of the house.
 

Antarctic Cli-Fi: A discussion and book-signing at Darthmouth College with German cli-fi novelist Ilija Trojanow

Antarctic Cli-Fi:

A discussion and book-signing with German cli-fi novelist Ilija Trojanow -- author of THE LAMENTATIONS OF ZENO, newly translated by Philip Boehm
May 12, 2016
7 pm
Moore Room B-03
 

A discussion and book-signing with Ilija Trojanow (Author, "Eistau"/"The Lamentations of Zeno"; and Ross A. Virginia (Director, Institute of Arctic Studies; Myers Family Professor of Environmental Science at Dartmouth)