Well the. You’ve not read much literature, or literary fiction. Literature takes all the liberal arts — history, psychology, sociology, religion, science etc and smashes them into a work of fiction, to make it entertaining — but literature is not for the uneducated, as it requires a great deal of effort. Research, for one, to begin to understand all the authors historical references.
Take David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. God how I love this book! It begins in the late 1800s, questioning the morality of slavery- but not just any kind of slavery, rather a lighter indigenous people enslaving a darker indigenous people off the coast of New Zealand. It’s real! This really happened! Mitchell researched this extensively!
But that’s not the point really. The main character of that Story is a lawyer turned abolitionist and the narrative is about his psychological journey. How he decides to become an abolitionist.
Next Mitchell moves us to the time between WWI and WWIII. How can any historian actually capture what that time period felt like? I’ve never known one who could do it! But the writers? Hemmingway, Mitchell they do it! The Sun Also Rises — God! What a depressing story! But it let you know, after WWI, there was an entire generation that was just like-ah…fuck it! I feel like that is how our millenials today feel. And they haven’t even been to war…well some of them have.
But back to Mitchell. He tells six brilliant interlocking stories that move the reader through time. The late 1800s story is told through a diary, the early 19oos through letters, the 1970s story, about the massively corrupt energy sector — is a mystery novel. The 2012 story is told by a corrupt publisher who gets five minutes of fame via his publishing of a murdering gangsters memoir, and then gets his life story turned into a film. The 2100 story takes place after the Third World War, and the west is done — and only certain territories in the East are habitatable. By the 2400s humans are back to a primative, indigenous state, and its the white indigenous folk enslaving other white indigenous folk — and the brown people are the only ones left over from the prior industrial civilization, because these are the only left over people, with advanced technology who survived because the melanin in their skin permits them to withstand the new sun. But they want off the planet, because unlike the indigenous whites, they know the sun is lethal.
So okay, up until 2012 Mitchell was relying on history- as well as other stuff, he throws in religion, politics, science, etc, to recreate worlds that we knew, but after that, since 2100 hasn’t happened, clearly he is in pure speculation mode. But what is so fascinating is that he writes a big circle. He writes about humanity reaching its apex with technology around 2100. It’s not pretty. Corporations control EVERYTHING. Down to everyone’s every thought. Slavery is alive and well — via cloning! There are Still abolitionists -freeing the clones. And the idea that real people would be enslaved because of race and/or gender is preposterous to the clones. Real humans are still doing the same old crap, fighting over stuff and clones of all kinds that they’ve been brainwashed into wanting. But it’s all falling down. New and old Sol is literally crumbling into the ocean.
Then, by the 2400s humanity is back to the bare basics. Sticks and stones and fighting nature to survive. Something like that is going to go down. It’s just a matter of how and when exactly.
My point is literature provides the much deeper context for it all, as literature draws on all of it: history, art, religion, economics, psychology, science — all of it! For a real intellectual challenge, you gotta read literature!