Sunday, April 29, 2012


Solar by deanv41
Solar, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
Our book group met yesterday in Japantown to discuss Ian McEwan's novel, Solar. It concerns an unsympathetic Nobel Laureate of Science and his dubious ten year involvement in a radical photovoltaic energy source that may save The Planet. In it's three parts -- 2000, 2005, and 2009 -- the novel illuminates the growing panic over undeniable changes in the Earth's climate, collaboration and Intellectual Property, the contradiction between the nature of the inventor and the value to humanity of the fruits of scientific labor; in a sense, the problem of reconciling the art with the artist or whether that truly matters considering the gift to society represented by the art itself, or in this case, the paradigm-shifting invention. McEwan also brilliantly comprehends the clash of interests between the orthodox status quo and the revolutionary, and necessary, need for an overthrow of established ways of living if the species is to survive. In a moment when we have the tools to change, the forces of fundamentalism and irrationality are pushing us ever close to the darkening abyss. At a certain point, the proverbial tipping point which may have already past us, the course of events is set in motion that cannot be reversed. Are we still masters of our fate or have we collectively surrendered all hope? Do we still trust Science or are we enthrall to magic and miracles?

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