If you’ve listened to The Conversation for a while, you know there are numerous reasons we invite guests to join the series. Sometimes we are interested in a new idea and its implications, or an old idea that’s being revitalized. We gravitate toward people working on interesting projects that challenge or test the status quo. From time to time, we like discussing conversation itself, whether that’s conversation as an art or conversation as a tool. We also think it’s important to include guests who remind us that the status quo varies based upon where you live.
Todays episode falls into this last category. Our parameters for guests often lead us to people who live comfortable and secure lives, far removed from violence and political instability—but what does the future look like when you spend your time writing about crime in one of Earth’s most violent cities? Enter Charles Bowden.
Charles is a journalist and author. His writing spans from savings and loan scandals to natural resources, but he is best known for his books about Ciudad Juarez, which include Murder City, Down by the River, and Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future. Over here at The Conversation, we’ve also been intrigued by Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing: Living in the Future. In addition to writing long-form work, Charles is a contributor to Mother Jones and has published in Harper’s, The Nation, GQ, and The New York Times Book Review.
Charles and I spoke for over four hours and our conversation sprawled in more than a few directions. If you’re looking for a concise, point-by-point diagnosis and solution for our woes, you won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find a meditation that returns to the subjects of fear, human nature, and the environment. You’ll hear about assassins and sandhill cranes, overpopulation and your place in history—which, Charles claims, is simultaneously important and irrelevant.