speculative fiction

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Conscient Podcast: e130 fiction – what stories do you want to hear?

a quote from robin parmar about speculative fiction raises some questions

(bell and breath)

I love the sound of leaves dancing on hard surfaces. 

(sound of a leaf blowing)

It’s poetic and kinetic and you’ll see in a minute how this sound relates to this episode about speculative fiction. 

With his kind permission, I will quote composer Robin Parmar, from a question he asked me at the end of my keynote presentation at the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology conference ‘Listening Pasts – Listening Futures’ on March 23rd, 2023 in Florida via Zoom. Here’s Robin question recorded from my microphone in the room:

The problem with the future is that it’s already happened. Hollywood, and increasingly the games industry, have already colonized popular imagination about what the future is and there have been so many post-apocalyptic scenarios played out on the screen. And in almost all of these, there’s a heroic band of survivors who have to face their new world in a confrontational way, which just perpetuates the same narrative of what I prefer to call the industrial military entertainment complex. I don’t, like you, I don’t give up hope, but I realize it’s a small leaf in the wind, because I’m not sure how we can compete with such a massive force of narrative that in a way has already written the story, or at least the story that people want to hear, because people have to want to hear the story for it to be a successful one.

(sound of a leaf blowing)

Robin mentions a small leaf in the wind as a metaphor for our feeling powerless when faced with creative forces around us shaping our collective imagination in ways we might not be aware of, or even desire…

So I thought about Robin’s question and have come up with some questions of my own:

(in English and in French)

  • Has the future already happened in our minds and memory? / L’avenir a-t-il déjà eu lieu dans notre esprit et notre mémoire ? 
  • Do you feel like your imagination has been colonized? And if so, how would you know? / Avez-vous l’impression que votre imagination a été colonisée ? Et si oui, comment le sauriez-vous ?
  • Do you know who your heroic band of survivors might be? And if so, could you identify with them? / Savez-vous qui pourrait être votre groupe héroïque de survivants ? Si oui, pourriez-vous vous identifier à eux ? 
  • In what ways do you think the industrial military entertainment complex affects us? How does it affect our minds? / De quelle manière pensez-vous que le complexe industriel militaire et de divertissement nous affecte. Comment affecte-il notre esprit ?

I want to thank Robin for his question. / Merci pour ta question, Robin.

What kind of stories do you want to hear? / Quel genre d’histoires aimeriez-vous entendre ?


For more information on Robert Parmar’s work see http://robinparmar.com/paper-platial-phenomenology.html

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is to Howlround Theatre Commons .

The post e130 fiction – what stories do you want to hear? appeared first on conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term “conscient” is defined as “being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations”. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016-2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

season 1 (may – october 2020) : environmental awareness and action Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie”s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

season 2 (march – august 2021 ) : reality and ecological grief Season 2 (March 2021 ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that “I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, “the state of things as they actually exist”, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way”. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

season 3 (october 2021 – february 2022 ) : radical listening Season 3 was about radical listening : listening deeply without passing judgment, knowing the truth and filtering out the noise and opening attention to reality and responding to what needs to be done. The format is similar the first podcast format I did in 2016 with the simplesoundscapes project, which was to ‘speak my mind’ and ‘think out loud’. I start this season with a ‘soundscape composition’, e63 a case study (part 1) and e64 a case study (part 2), a bilingual speculative fiction radio play, set in an undergraduate university history seminar course called ‘History of 2021 in Canada’. It concluded with a soundscape composition ‘Winter Diary Revisited’.

season 4 (1 january – 31 december 2023) : sounding modernity


I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I”m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation :

View the original: https://www.conscient.ca/e130-fiction-what-stories-do-you-want-to-hear/