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inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #76 of 93: . (wickett) Thu 3 Nov 16 22:12
    

Arriving late, I'm thrilled with this discussion. There soon will be four
more books on my bedside table.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #77 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Fri 4 Nov 16 11:29
    

I’ve pondered that question a lot, Phil. It’s complex and I doubt
that there is one solution, but there are things we can all do.
First, I think we must never give up. Never. Not even if it’s clear
that Climate Change is going to make the planet unlivable. We have
to keep trying to turn things around no matter how bleak things
look. If we stop trying, we can be sure that nothing will happen.
But if we keep trying, something may change for the better. We must
not lose hope. We must go on.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #78 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Fri 4 Nov 16 11:29
    

We don’t have to do everything at once. We can do our little part
and keep doing it—recycling, voting, bringing up the issues, showing
charity and compassion for our enemies and not insulting or
denigrating them, but trying to lead them to see that there is
another way for us to live together on this planet. 

Why write novels about people who lived 6,000 years ago? How is that
my “little  part?” What can such novels do? What place does any
literature or any art have in a time of crisis? 
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #79 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Fri 4 Nov 16 11:30
    

Well, first, I believe novels like The Village of Bones bring us the
message: “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way Because It Hasn’t Always
Been This Way.” That’s extremely important, because it gives us hope
and shows us alternatives. Among other things it helps us see that
human beings don’t have to be engaged in constant, violent wars;
that men are not innately violent; that women can be strong; that
men and women can be equals, that there are other ways for humans to
live together and that this living together can be more harmonious.

Remember: What we can’t imagine, we can’t do. What we can’t see, we
can’t change. My hope in writing the Earthsong Novels is to make the
world of Old Europe come alive, so alive that many people living in
many nations will see it, feel its reality, understand the
alternatives it offers us. The very fact that reading The Village of
Bones made you ask that question, Phil, shows that this is working
in a small but definite way. 
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #80 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Fri 4 Nov 16 11:30
    

So, again, each of us needs to do our part. That said, we as
individuals cannot change things in isolation. We need to unite with
others, band together in churches, unions, political parties,
neighborhood groups, and other grass-roots organizations.  Many of
the problems we face right now can only be solved on a governmental
level, at the level of nations. This means we need come together to
elect and empower competent people who can lead us where we need to
go. When I say “we,” I don’t just mean those of us who live in the
United States. I mean the greater “we,” the “We” of the human race.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #81 of 93: Phil Catalfo (philcat) Fri 4 Nov 16 16:39
    
Thank you, Mary. You just made me feel smart for asking a
bone-simple question. :-)
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #82 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Fri 4 Nov 16 17:22
    

Not bone-simple at all, Phil.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #83 of 93: Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Mon 7 Nov 16 10:41
    
Back to some of the other things Mary said in her posts:

Publishing probably had more women executives than any other field
(why not? they were cheap) in the time Mary mentions, but they had
(in my view) completely adopted a conventional white male point of
view. I can easily imagine a woman editor saying: women have peaked.
Next? Without that adaptive coloring, they wouldn't even have scored
those underpaid executive jobs that they did have.

But the biggest thing Mary says is that she presents an alternative.
It wasn't always this way, and it doesn't have to be this way
forever. 

It surprises and dismays me how people have an almost religious
faith in capitalism (or communism, or..). Well, capitalism has been
very good to me (not through my writing, but otherwise) and that's
fine. But it needs constraints. As do the other isms.

We need to construct and live within a system that takes the best of
all the others we've tried out. That will be the great human task as
artificial intelligence really kicks in, but that's far afield from
The Village of the Bones. 
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #84 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Tue 8 Nov 16 10:44
    


That's a very thoughtful post, Pamela. I think books like "The
Village of Bones" are actually central to such a discussion, as are
your own works on artificial intelligence as well as books on
ethics, philosophy, politics and religion.

I know I'm supposed to the the one answering questions here, but
could you please elaborate a little more on how you think some of
the alternatives from the Old European cultures might be assimilated
into the new era of artificial intelligence?

 I ask, because my fear is that we may be creating a new breed of
"nomads on horseback"--that is to say war waging machines--that kill
automatically with no compassion and have no programed knowledge
that killing is bad.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #85 of 93: Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Tue 8 Nov 16 11:11
    
I'm no prophet, but here's a path I can foresee. I wish I could say
that it will come to pass, but it's possible:

AIs will pretty much eliminate most gainful employment (not all, but
that takes us away from the topic). As you surely know, Mary,
studies of present-day hunter-gatherers and of ancient
hunter-gatherers strongly suggest that they "worked" a lot less than
modern people. They sang, they celebrated, they meditated, they
played.

So with AI having eliminated most gainful employment, it could mean
that humans can devote themselves to loving and caring for what
matters to them personally, not for how they can keep a roof over
their head, or food on the table. 

We will all be welfare queens, in that memorable Reaganesque phrase.


This doesn't mean that we won't need humans to care for other
humans--in all the ways you can think of, and in ways we haven't had
the leisure for before. 
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #86 of 93: Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Tue 8 Nov 16 11:13
    
Moreover, we've used work as an organizing principle for millennia;
not only as income, but as purpose. Now our purpose (and I do think
that's a fundamental human need) can be something more liberating.

You mention "machines without compassion." The debut of driverless
cars is raising huge ethical issues: in a crisis, should your car
protect you, or protect pedestrians? How will the calculus be made? 

I take great heart from this. It means that hundreds of ethicists
are hard at work on one of the initial questions AI raises. Their
decisions will actually be applied to the software that runs these
machines in the real world.  

To me, that's just what we should be doing. AI will raise many more
such questions, and driverless cars are just the beginning.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #87 of 93: Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Tue 8 Nov 16 11:19
    
But AI is a totally international field. Everyone has access to it.
You can imagine--I can imagine--bad actors doing very bad things
with it. 

Sadly, we have many examples of humans doing massively bad things
without the aid of artificial intelligence. (The two recent major
examples I can think of are the battlefield casualties of WW I, and
the extermination camps of WW II.)

So the relatively rosy scenario I painted above is by no means
guaranteed to us. But neither are the awful scenarios.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #88 of 93: Phil Catalfo (philcat) Tue 8 Nov 16 22:37
    
At the risk of adding a note of despair to this most excellent
conversation, I just want to say that I began this day hoping, and
almost giddily confident, that the outcome of the presidential
election would bring us closer--however fractionally--to a world in
which the humans would, indeed, return to loving the Earth. Now my
cherished beliefs--including my belief in my ability to understand
the world I'm living in--are shaken. I don't have a question here,
I'm afraid; but I feel that many, many more people urgently need to
read your novels, Mary. Sigh.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #89 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Wed 9 Nov 16 11:48
    

Phil, your post reminds me of my favorite quote from Maya Angelou's
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." I taught in the same Department
with Maya at CSUS in the 1970's. She was brilliant and both her life
and her work have always inspired me. If my novels and poems could
bring people 1/100th of the hope that Maya Angelou's works have
brought, I would consider my life well spent.

"Oh, Black known and unknown poets, how often have your auctioned
pains sustained us? Who will compute the lonely nights made less
lonely by your songs, or by the empty pots made less tragic by your
tales?
     If we were a people much given to revealing secrets, we might
raise monuments and sacrifice to the memories of our poets, but
slavery cured us of that weakness. It may be enough, however, to
have it said that we survive in exact relationship to the dedication
of our poets (include preachers, musicians and blues singers)."
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #90 of 93: Phil Catalfo (philcat) Wed 9 Nov 16 22:59
    
Beautiful. Thanks, Mary.
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #91 of 93: Phil Catalfo (philcat) Wed 16 Nov 16 12:44
    
Sorry for being missing in action over the past week; like so many
of us, I felt the floor fall away from beneath me after I learned
the outcome of our election. By now I'm beginning to feel a tad bit
more equilibrium. So let's resume the conversation, shall we?

Mary, where do *you* go from here, in terms of the Earthsong series?
I'm not asking for specific details (unless you want to share them),
just a sense of whether you're planning to continue the series, and
if so, a general idea of what you're thinking about, researching,
etc.--and whether you've actually started writing the next volume!
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #92 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Wed 16 Nov 16 18:27
    

I plan to write another novel in the series will continue the story
of Sabalah, the peaceful Goddess worshiping people of Old Europe,
and the tribe who the Mother Book says have: "Three eyes: one blue,
one brown, one dug out of the ground." I have a preliminary plot
outline for this book. Writing and researching it will force me to
spend a lot of time in Prehistoric Europe during the next four
years, which will be my alternative to moving to Canada.

I've enjoyed the conversation immensely. I'll keep checking this
topic. If anyone wants to ask more questions, I'll be happy to
answer them, or you can ask me things on Facebook or on my website
at 
http://marymackey.com
  
inkwell.vue.493 : Mary Mackey, The Village of Bones
permalink #93 of 93: Mary Mackey (mm) Wed 16 Nov 16 18:39
    

Before I go, I want to leave you with something you may find
interesting: I partially based my physical description of the Mordai
on shape-shifting stories from the British Isles and northern
Europe. Just for fun, check out Selkies at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie

I drew on other shape-shifting myths from Native American,
Meso-American, German, and Amazonian cultures, but the Selies are
the best known thanks to movies and songs about them.

So I'll leave you singing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zZy2Q3QY0Q
  



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