At Elon Musk’s house last night. Couple of weeks ago, I asked people what question they would ask one of the 100 richest and most influential men in the world. Lots of interesting possibilities, but I was attracted to one comment: that all of his business ventures were vertically integrated around the goal of reaching Mars. I had some private thoughts about that, but considered that a good line of inquiry.
Seeing that he was probably ( in a very specific sense) the most successful human being I’ve had the chance to dine with, I thought I’d test some ideas I have about how PEOPLE become “vertically integrated”, their basic aspects aligned so that they don’t fight themselves. We’ve all known people with intelligence, talent, energy, and opportunity who never accomplish anything. The idea is that they are not “aligned” like human lasers.
Elon, no matter how smart he is, would HAVE to be aligned, or he simply couldn’t achieve what he had.
I was struck by how relaxed he was. Lots of questions, no interest in dominating or controlling the conversation at all. From time to time he would snap his attention onto a subject (especially when it concerned Mars, or rockets) and then that depth and clarity one would expect flashed out. Excellent.
I have other thoughts I’ll keep to myself.
The conversation ranged from A.I. ethics to global warming (Dr. Gregory Benford, who did some of the original research which was later lied about by a certain bestselling novelist, was at the table) to Mars (of course), to missile shields, comparative Soviet and American technology, intellectual property protect as a spur to innovation, to the need for humanity to be aligned (vertical integration again!) to move into our future…
Wow. Smart talk.
The subject of the NASA Hieroglyph project, science fiction writers discussing Near-Earth space exploration in story form, and my own story MOZART ON THE KALAHARI came up. Elon believes we are spending “enough” money in this arena (and an absurd excess on defense) but not spending it as effectively as we could. Vertical integration again?
MOZART ON THE KALAHARI was specifically designed to address a question often asked by people concerned with earthly social issues: why should we spend money on space when there are so many problems right here on Earth to deal with?
My answer: because as important as answers are, we also need dreams. We need a vision of possibility, of life beyond any current pain or problem. Dreams keep us alive. They sustain us. Remind us WHY we struggle and strive. Survival is for insects. Human beings need to believe they can THRIVE and GROW.
Science fiction is this.
And Afrofuturism is the science fiction and fantasy boiling out of the African Diaspora. “Human beings have always projected their dreams and nightmares into story” I said. “It helps us wrap our minds around them, gives perspective and mastery, engages our problem-solving apparatus.”
Amazing evening, really. And strengthened my belief that properly aligned (vertically?) a relatively small number of people can change the world. So my goal…of 1 million awake, aware, adult human beings, is stronger than ever. As is my commitment to supporting one thousand awake, aware, adult storytellers.
Whether you want to be one of them, support one of them, or just learn to appreciate them at a deeper level, you’ll love the AFROFUTURISM: DREAMS TO BANISH NIGHTMARES class Tananarive and I are teaching. Ten weeks starting on March 25th, and we have a special “Early Bird” price for another five days. Don’t miss this amazing experience! WWW.AFROFUTURISMWEBINAR.COM
Write with Passion!