The Saturday night dinner crowd at First Alleyway is multiplying rapidly as I wait at the bar for my interview with Douglas Baumwoll. He’s been fighting a nasty cold, but still meets me right on time. Sporting a powder blue button up, albeit nearly half unbuttoned, he’s in a good mood as we both accept our first pints of the night courtesy of Misub Hur. We grab a table and pour through about an hour of conversation regarding politics, poisoned eggs, recent creative projects, and travel before diving into a more focused discussion about his work as a writer.
he declares a marriage of the two as his primary literary goal. So how exactly would this work? Well, his goal is to base a new type of fiction that is grounded in scientific reality, but with all the same literary devices that come along with the exploration of the human condition in fiction. Think of how your favorite novels cover aspects of love, hate, death, adolescence, etc. and expand on that with a well-researched, evidence based narrative into pressing issues such as climate change, racism, or distribution of wealth. “If you’re writing non-fiction essays about these topics, you’re preaching to the choir. Fiction reaches many people who may not read about these topics in a non-fiction format.” He has a deep appreciation for work of a very similar nature that has already been in kicked into motion by other writers. “It’s not science fiction… it’s more near-speculative fiction. Rather than focusing explicitly on social relationships, there will be definite factual information. There’s already been a development of climate-fiction, which is based on what we know about climate change.” There have been a lot of success with similar approaches that are close to what Baumwoll wants to create, for example, the original Jurassic Park, Children of Men, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Although he is hopeful and believes firmly in the need for climate change awareness, he admits the chips are stacked heavily on the other side. “It’s important that non-fiction focuses on the human condition… The age of logic seems like it’s over. There has to be another way to present this information to people, and the main issue is climate change. It’s tied to population, global economics, food scarcity, rising tides… The next wars will be fought over fresh water. Not oil.”
Now, with all of this on the table, there’s obviously a tall order for rerouting our current course, but Baumwoll is in the process of creating a website where the eco-friendly rubber can meet the road. For the next couple of years he plans to focus on publishing original content with a main theme based on climate change and redistribution of wealth on the domain savethehumanz.com. He aims to stress a conversational tone on these topics so that people don’t feel overwhelmed by such topics, but still inform them. There will be links to other websites and videos too for people to become more involved, and eventually a Youtube channel where Baumwoll can create videos aimed for a younger (middle school) audience on similar topics.
He’s got the know-how. He’s got the ambition. And he’s already begun to lay the groundwork for causes that are immediate and far-reaching. Recently, he gave a speech at the GIC concerning pollution and environmental awareness in Korea. Baumwoll admits he enjoys speaking to groups, and is making a habit of creating dialogue with them. Keep your eye out for him in the upcoming issues of Gwangju News, and be a part of the movement that very well may save the humanz.