Sunday, 27 July 2008

lines clearly traced

It's not just that climate change is a very complicated issue, it also has another big drawback for playwrights and screenwriters: time lags. What we do today won't be visible for some time. What will be visible will be diffuse.

Perhaps the Protestant imagination is particularly resistant to climate change as a dramatic subject. (There was no such resistance to writing about the nuclear bomb.) In a recent book review, the novelist Claire Messud touched on the relationship between her own upbringing and the type of fiction it produces,

'Raised in an essentially Protestant setting, I had in youth absorbed, unawares, an essentially Protestant understanding of the world: one that strives for a rational grasp of events, one that espouses clarity, directness, and mastery. In fiction, this leads to largely linear narrative, in which the lines between cause and effect can be clearly traced, and in which, in spite of welcome complexity, there remains an underlying certainty of limits, boundaries, and order.'

Climate change is never going to offer all that.

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