Dystopian doesn’t fit the bill, for the passing of this year. The Covid virus – like any other virus of course – does not recognise the niceties of (Western) calendars and so will carry on unabated, birthed in 2019 but enduring into our coming years and decades, although hopefully curtailed significantly by vaccine role out and uptake. More pandemics will arrive too, until we find a way of halting zoonotic transmissions, via a kinder and greener living with our fellow animals, with whom we share this planet. Rastafari can indeed show us a way forward. Have a look and see/hear what Macka B eats here. The latest issue of The Psychologist (arriving from the future, dated January 2021), and published by the British Psychological Society, is also a special vegan issue.
Speaking of viruses, a recent South African SF pandemic book is Ilze Hugo’s THE DOWN DAYS: the novel’s central question – what happens when people start laughing themselves to death? (A laughing pandemic – but there’s nothing funny about laughter that kills, surely? Read it to find out, but be careful your lips don’t start to twitch.)
I have kept alive my own nonfiction writing and activity, so I have an introductory interview with Karl Monahan from Pelvic Pain Matters, talking about chronic male pelvic pain here: This is the year ongoing poor health has finally caught up with me. With the addition of another chronic illness (eyes), I secured early ill health retirement from my clinical psychology training role at the University of East London. So, what then for 2021? I plan to write ‘A Survivor’s Guide to Male Pelvic Pain:’ for all those many men (and women) who endure the stigmatised suffering of this terrible condition, in a society where chairs are ubiquitous and there is scant knowledge of sitting disabilities.
I’ve also written more about racism within British clinical psychology this year, brought into further sharp relief by the murder of George Floyd in June, and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. I have been pleased to see the recent ‘taking of the knee’ in British sporting events but dismayed at the opposition who argue they ‘don’t agree with the politics of it’ but ‘still support anti-racism.’ Given anti-racism is the beating heart of the political message of BLM, if you ‘don’t agree with the politics of it,’ you are clearly allying yourself with the status quo. And, with the political status quo in the west surreptitiously supporting implicit white normativity – with white supremacy as just the more visible arm of current institutionally racist systems – then you are clearly not embracing anti-racism. And so The Struggle goes on…
Water Must Fall (WMF), released into a viral vacuum this year and set in 2048, references the organisation ‘Black Lives Still Matter’ – but it was written more than a year before the resurgence of publicity around the BLM organisation, triggered by the murder of George Floyd. So although ‘taking the knee’ in the book may now look very hackneyed, it was written during a time when it was a lesser known story, almost solely around the NFL betrayal of Colin Kaepernick. That’s the problem in writing near future fiction – your future risks being taken over by the fast moving present and becoming ‘yesterday’s lunch’. A novelist much better able to address the quick arrival of the future-present is Cory Doctorow – his latest novel Attack Surface is turning out to be a manual towards shaping the arc of a better future. Read it – no longer feel so helpless – and act!
For Racism in clinical psychology within the heart of the old empire (published online in the South African Journal of Psychology, November 4th), click here: (if frustrated by paywall, contact me for a copy.)
May 2021 involve humanity grasping the Climate Nettle firmly and finally, in a way that signifies a clear transition to a socially just and more equitable future for all the planet’s inhabitants. Something I hope to foresee in my planned sequel to Water Must Fall – EARTH SHALL RISE.
But for now, to all those, whose stories have been tragically ended by the Corona Virus (and the lack of responsiveness from many elected leaders, one thankfully outgoing early next year, whatever his lawyers might say – who have compounded this.)
A Luta Continua, as sung by Mama Afrika: