Well, there's all kind of weird things you can do with music, but some of the basic jobs that people require of music are songs of love and heartbreak. And probably there aren't that many ways of doing that. I dunno. Maybe that '60s kind of song is the best way of doing it. Or at least maybe that's what everyone thinks that that's what those kind of emotions sound like. When I listen to her, I don't feel anything, all I register is "This is quote-unquote soulful, this is quote-unquote heartbreak." Maybe when I was first getting into music and going through a soul phase I probably would have thought that Adele's music is a true feeling of heartbreak. But any heartbreak in my actual life doesn't seem to correspond to that staging of it. But that's the conventional way that people, historically — and you see the pantomime of it, don't you, on all these Idol shows? That's what emotion is. The bombastic theatricalization of emotion. But it's quite enjoyable. When I listen to Adele I don't think "Ooh, I'm very moved." It doesn't remind me of heartbreaks I've had, particularly.
I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTY PICTURING THE FUTURE OF MUSIC — BUT I ALSO THINK PEOPLE NOWADAYS HAVE DIFFICULTY PICTURING THE FUTURE, PERIOD. WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF THIS, WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF THAT, THERE'S UNCERTAINTY AND ANXIETY ABOUT EVERYTHING, AND EVERYONE'S NIHILISTIC AT BEST. OUR SOCIETY NEVER SEEMS TO BE PLANNING FOR ANY PARTICULAR FUTURE, WE'RE JUST TRYING TO PUT DUCT TAPE OVER THE CRACKS APPEARING IN THE PRESENT. DOES THAT SEEM NUTS TO YOU?
No, no, I think you're totally right, I wish I'd talked about it more in the book. I think it's very hard for people to project a hopeful vision for the future, a positive scenario. In most people's lived life, there's not that sense they once had that things are definitely going to get better, that you're going to get more prosperous or whatever — that feeling is less and less. Things seem quite insecure and unstable and precarious.
There's this big academic buzzword, precarity, having to do with economic instability and work patterns becoming unstable: you'll have to be re-trained multiple times in your life, your work might have to become very flexible, your hours. So precarity is this buzzword in left-wing political theory, and it basically describes what life is like for everyone now. And this idea that you'll have the same job your whole life and that everything is getting better is kind of gone.
This guy, Neal Stephenson — he wrote Snow Crash — he's started this science fiction movement where he's calling on sci-fi writers to deliberately write more uplifting positive scenarios, because everything is dystopian and cataclysmic. And he feels like science fiction should foster those old feelings that it used to, that the future will not only be better but we'll have grand heroic projects, big efforts by mankind to do amazing things. He feels that old science fiction was part of that, like colonies on Mars and that sort of thing. But most science fiction movies are pretty sort-of bleak and apocalyptic, stuff like The Hunger Games. And one thing I think is interesting is that the science fiction that I grew up on seems to have been replaced with fantasy. There's this desire to escape, I think, and all the things that sci-fi used to have, like heroics. But they're not set in outer space or the future, they're set in this strange slightly-historical-yet-mostly-fantasy other reality.