Ben was one of a lucky group of Vancouverites fortunate to have scored tickets in a contest. Sarah McLachlan was Jian’s featured guest. It’s been seven years since the three-time Grammy and Juno-award winner’s last studio album. She performed a couple of songs from her upcoming Sarah and Friends North American tour.
According to Sarah, “Every time you write a song with a long space in between writing your last, you start to think, maybe you’re done”. Hardly. She leads a full, rewarding life with two kids.
During Lilith Fair, she was “blissed out”. “There was a definite vilifying of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, worsened by tough economical times. “People didn’t have the money and Live Nation was seen as the devil. Lots of things were out of the musician’s control. Anytime you celebrate one particular thing (in the case of Lilith, celebrating successful women performers), you set yourself up as a target to a certain degree. Ideas of feminism and inequality have changed since the last Lilith Fair.”
One thing that I couldn’t easily capture on film was the soulful expression on Jian’s face while Sarah performed her classic “Adia” on a grand piano across the stage from where Jian was seated. He mentioned the song in his introduction as being his all-time favourite Sarah McLachlan song.
Sarah derives pure joy from playing music with and for people and admits to never doing it for the money.
Vancouver psychedelic rockers Black Mountain added to this enjoyable session, playing a couple of tunes from their well-received latest CD, “Wilderness Heart”.
Gibson is considered one of the best-known North American science fiction writers of the past two decades. He has penned over 20 short stories and 9 critically acclaimed novels, as well as having contributed to several major publications and collaborations with creative thinkers, performance artists, and filmmakers. His writings have been a major influence on science fiction authors, design, cyberculture, technology, and academia.
He has earned the title of “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction and is credited with having coined “cyberspace” in his short story Burning Chrome. The iconic term later gained popularity in his 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer, a banner year that’s been permanently etched into the public consciousness.
This is what I culled from rapid-fire note-taking during William Gibson’s talk:
William Gibson: What Google does is a huge part of who we are now. We all generate what Google sells.
Jian: Could you elaborate a bit on that?
Gibson: The product that Google sells is the cumulative data flow of all of our searches. It works both ways, however: If you have total privacy, you can’t search everybody else’s stuff.
Jian: Google gets blamed for distracting us and making us lazy about finding information. Do you believe this theory?
William: I think it’s kind of silly. We are a species who by our nature began very early to generate prosthetic forms of memory. As far as we know, no other animal does this. We came up with writing, printing, all of the media that we ever invented. This gave us a sort of communal prosthetic memory that would survive the death of individuals. Now we’re able to access that information constantly. For us, it’s actually natural to do that, because we’re the animal that does that stuff.
Jian: Are we losing something?
Gibson: We might be gaining something in that we don’t have a cognitive tax on trying to keep everything in our own memory buffer (our own RAM). If you never learn anything, you won’t know what to Google [to audience laughter].
Jian: How much should we be wary of technology?
William: Technology is and has always been the most powerful change driver in human societies. It’s completely random. We’re in a random technological change-a-thon. Facebook is like the mall. It’s too structured and prepared an experience for me. Twitter is like the street: You can build your own experience.
John Vaillant also came on the show to discuss his latest book, “The Tiger“.
A few points were brought out during their discussion:
• How irrelevant Canada is on the international stage.
• We can’t be against open information.
• Consuming American stereotypes e.g. popular CBC program The Border is a Canadian addiction.
• In the past, these types of stories were covered by journalists. Over the years, journalism has become less investigative and more superficial.
• Magazines and newspaper circulation is drying up. Web and access to instant information is what makes Wikileaks possible.
• Most great news stories start with a leaked document.