The literary world is not insulated from the world outside. Recently, #metoo was used on Sherman Alexie, an author many of us at The Poetics Project are familiar with; in fact, Melanie Nichole Figueroa once met him at a conference when she was attending publishing school. Conversations around #metoo, Alexie, and harassment in general are difficult – especially for women …
At work this week, the designers and I got into a philosophical discussion about, well, everything. It began with an article. A man in Texas was arrested for making a pot brownie and was now facing a possible life sentence.
“A pot brownie,” Coworker A said, laughing at the absurdity of it all. “Life in prison for a pot brownie. That’s ridiculous.”
“Why is that?” Coworker B said. “He broke the law.”
I left the room, escaping for a glass of water. Something I had grown up doing under two circumstances: 1. A discussion that had the potential to turn ugly. 2. Sex scenes. Because—awkward.
When I returned to my desk, I decided to join in on the conversation. Over the span of a half hour, we talked about laws. Their standing and ethics. We talked about humans, whether evil really existed. How life was a vicious cycle. How we were all hypocrites and part of the problem. We discussed the world. How it may just be possible that our entire universe exists in a speck on a giant’s skin. That humans are just old stars. The fabric of time. That millions of light years away, aliens could still see the dinosaurs dotting the earth’s surface.
Now, I realize this isn’t normal workplace discussion. In fact, some of it’s probably not even factual. Definitely isn’t factual. But it’s where our imaginations led us. Moments before, we had just arrived back from a meeting about the impending doom facing our office—that is, we’re all being laid off. School budget. Tough economy. Such and such. It’s not really the point, but there was the taste of change on our tongues.
When we began talking about time, I mentioned Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, how Mazer Rackham is kept alive because time moves slower in space. And later, when we talked about humans—our impact on the environment, the atrocities we commit as a species—I mentioned Margaret Atwood’s MadAddam Trilogy, how one human nearly wiped out the entire race, on purpose, because he believed it was the right thing to do. We had our chance. We lost it.