The Pleasures of Pessimism

What makes us such … apocaholics?

What happened to all the utopias? It seems like the stories we tell ourselves about the future now – in blockbusters, bestselling novels, reality TV shows, and your daily news feed – are almost uniformly bleak, even dystopian. What is feeding our cultural pessimism?

In this week’s episode, Simon Smart talks to Natasha Moore about her brand new book The Pleasures of Pessimism. They cover why we enjoy thinking about the end of the world, how they think they’d do in the event of civilisational collapse, and whether they consider themselves optimists or pessimists.

Mark Stephens, CPX colleague and expert on the apocalyptic biblical book of Revelation, stops by to talk about uses and abuses of that influential text. And we draft in thinkers like Steven Pinker, Alain de Botton, and Nick Spencer to help us weigh the idea of progress and whether everything is getting better and better – or worse and worse.

Buy The Pleasures of Pessimism here:

Watch the full Munk Debate on Progress here:

Listen to the full discussion with Nick Spencer “Same Species, Bigger Sticks” here: