Review: Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future – Penguin Live

I’ve been to a few book readings/launches/talks now.

Two of those have been under the Penguin Live moniker (the first being the rather marvellous Penguin Pride – less a review, more a tribute.

As someone who has earned their stripes as a regular book club member to boot, talking about a book retrospectively can have its merits – it can also have its arguments too…(the Snowman was terrible and I stand firm on that – oh Nesbo’s, not Briggs’ – I’m not a monster).

But what is life if not for differing perspectives, opinions and a good old literary ruck.

What’s even more rewarding is bringing a book to life, and certainly a book of non-fiction, by having the author either read their words or discuss their premise/theories/beliefs/hyphotheses.

An amuse bouche to the book, if you like. In some cases, the book’s content and reputation proceeds even this early stage and the literary tour consequently goes away (mentioning no names. Well, I mean, it’s Moby, isn’t it).

Penguin Live events serve as a living, breathing preview to a piece of work that you can immediately own, take home, devour, reflect back on discussions.

You might say it’s a try before you buy. I mean I wouldn’t say that as it sounds a bit basic. Ok, I just have, but it’s so much more.

Writer, film-maker and leading thinker, Paul Mason, gave us ‘so much more’ at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester, last month: Penguin Live: Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future

Interviewed by fellow Wigan-er (Leigh-er?) Stuart Maconie, Paul shared a taster of his new book ‘Clear Bright Future – a radical defence of the human being.

To paraphrase dear old Macca, in this ever-changing world in which we live in, we can give in and cry or we can try and see a future where we have…well a future and still have some say in proceedings.

Just in case you’ve managed to avoid all media outlets and live in a blissful bubble of ignorance and, well probably general happiness as a consequence, the three main threats outlined by the book are:

  • the rise of authoritarian politicians,
  • the possibility of intelligent machines; and
  • a spreading fatalism and irrationality, which has made millions susceptible to the mythologies of the new right.

Yes, I know, but remember that the title of the book is Clear Bright Future and I don’t think it’s weighed down in sarcasm.

Take for instance the prospect of intelligent machines. Man vs Machine.

Now our thoughts can go all 2001’s Hal at this, but that’s not to say the technology will. I mean it might, but we still get a day in this too.

Indeed, Paul (sorry, I always feel awkward with the last name thing, as though I were his headmaster so forgive the perhaps overly familiar use of the first), points out that if driver-less cars take ‘our jobs’, perhaps it frees up those who drive for a living a more ‘interesting’ option.

One main thrust of Clear Bright Future is that humans would all receive a universal income, and the machines would provide a freedom.

Consumerism is placed on the road to extinction and humanity is…reborn?

Understand that I am simplifying this to an incredible extreme. Incredible.

Drawing on early, humanist Marxism, sticking it to Nietzsche along the way, and with more than a soupcon of neoliberalism, Clear Bright Future: a radical defence of the human being, published by Penguin is out in all good bookshops and online outlets (ooh Man vs Machine again…) – visit Penguin for more information.

However of equal note and the point of this post (no, I’m not side-stepping having to discuss neo-liberalism any further) is that Penguin Live is a wonderful way to meet, question, even challenge an author’s view points and text, bear witness to a live preview of your next book, and, indeed, even open your eyes to the book that wasn’t necessarily next on your reading list but soon would be.

Just maybe don’t hold out for Moby.

For more events, visit https://www.penguin.co.uk/events/

 


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