I have no memory of the fifties. I have some of the sixties, but it is also a carry-over from the sixties…how kids and schools spent their money and dressed themselves up, and what shows were on tv…into the seventies. A kind of pause in the market churning. A lot of toy fads…is that a dead word now, “fads”?
Books were an invention, without any context when I was very young. I read first comic books. Going to church made a context out of a book, which was marvelous, really. Good music…choir, pipe organ, and oneself singing along. Grand and public.
However, books overcame the public and grand with the private inner worlds created in my view, time after time, author after author, setting after setting, genre after genre, historical or lit-pulp or technical.
But then books became mediums of exchange, a bit of theater with ranking, valuing…another public space, book stores…but this was at first also for others, as to me…role playing sets and characters, but soon enough ranking and valuing and means of exchange.
First in the ranks is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence…published as the New Age movement let in some of the serious Easter scholarship and Japanese cultural exchange which was from the fifties.
Soon to be taken over by the Human Potential Movement and that publishing genre..but I digress.
What I saw and remembered was images and action. I heard voices…meaning, the characters sounded different, their voices real. That took a bit of time early on to kick in…the first few novels I read, “Day of the Triffids”, “A Wizard of Earthsea”, “The Sentinal”, “Myth of Perseus” and a spate of library books at Himmel Park, these books the voices suddenly came in…or sorta compiled in…becoming more real sometimes in leaps and jumps.
What books affected you in such transformative way early on?
The question here being how long did it take for another part of the Brain to adapt…perhaps get decoded or unlocked or activated or keyed by developing reading through constant exercise?|
There is a horizon there, where reading at first a improvisation, a leap, but that is soon overcome with a constant increasing capacity over years, reading a lot, to get more and more information out of reading.
That occurs in language, as language can be natural or programmic. Expression is now a sub-catagory of programming.
I think the old use of programming was “whats tonight’s programming?”, which was lingo for the schedule of shows. That sense of programming was more symbolic and political, programming aimed inward, to shape imagination and engage the viewer in easier, soothing symbolic math and logic, consuming a Public Image.
Anyway, the authors voice was just my voice.
The best voice performance I heard was Fitzgerald’s Nick in the Great Gatsby. Tolkien had a voice but it was strangely and marvellously constrained in artifices of tense. Kerouac, and Finnegan’s Wake, are fun to read as one’ own performance. One has to have a sense of Performance to appreciate those two.
But most other voices…maybe King’s being closest in sound…with a strange afterglow of the fifties…maybe that’s part of the charm; King’s grasp of the essential fear of the 50’s.
Developing further meant listening too.
We read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet aloud in the advanced English class in 7th grade. This was great…I also exhibited good reading aloud skills, but for the life of me I had no idea, and still have a strange gap in knowing anything about what I am reading aloud.
The focus is so strong memory is shut down. Nor is comprehension acting…just my voice.
Picking up copy for the first time, sure, I will falter, but within my memory is a vast database of accents and syntax patterns…like a chessmaster remembers chessboard configurations.
I cant ‘see it’!
But soon enough, after three sentences, and probably a key clue in the title, I have got the voice down. Perhaps its my own voice coming out but the style of speech fits into what the context of the words are…sales is one voice, character is another.
Voice is a construct and a performance so it has practice and improvisational demands. One cant develop technique in a vacuum, so there needs to be a place to deploy ones voice, seriously.
I read a lot of people, authors, deploying their voices in history and text.
That voice attempts clarify and inspire authority, more than the character voice which strives to reveal faults and sin and failure.
Among those Goodreads books I think I am more a reader of plays than most others.
I had a friend who read more sci fi than I did…about twice as much. Probably about the same amount of Fantasy.
But Fantasy was beyond his contextualization of is. In fact he was no English major as I was, but a Computer and Electrical Engineer.
In lacking a context of Fantasy, one does not see the criss crossing continuum’s between history of publishing…fantasy is fairly new as a novel, but ancient as poetry. Psychological tool (what are we suddenly not Moderns, having read at least Jung?), roots of tribal views, abstractions of form and containers of sentimental ludditism, role-playing and medieval and physics modeling.
You know, the spell lightning bolt, from the Wizards finger, should produce a sci fi idea of how would one really look.
Fantasy and Sci fi are not really usefully clumped together. It feels like the prejudice of the Bible, which also had been thought off, for awhile, by NOW FORGOTTEN MODERNS, that the Bible and Greek Myths were fantasy.
But actually a lot of it is history.
That attitude or value died in my vision of life. It was a Major removal of a value.
Also, the Giant Monster movie died in my lifetime. Sci fi horror audience shriveled in the face of True Crime and the Silver Age…when Sci fi grew up.
I have read L Ron Hubbard Battlefield Earth: straight forward old style 30 sci fi brands. One of the first big tome sci or fantasy (or modern really) publication.
Not as good as Edgar Rice Burroughs or London, who is the early realist, however action oriented as was the West too. London transformed from Western style action yarns to libertarian revolt against a variety of aggregate government schemes…from Authoritarian “The Sea Wolf” (a very well disguised allegory), to the bores of “Iron Heel” and “Martin Eden”.
Hesse seems a more capable writer of the inward without the clunky use of Conradian symbolism that London practiced so well early on.
I tried reading both Eden and Hell, but apart from the Ayn Randian authoritarian, however couched more gently in symblism London, the points he was making were made better by the philosophers that influenced him: Nietczche and Mark.
I read with an open mind, The Communist Manifesto. Required reading in History in the early 80s’. Heh.
But earlier, in High School, in the Free Enterprise class, I had already put myself into the camp of the only other person raising their hand, the avowed outspoken Socialist in the classroom. Her and I believed Man was ultimately good.
Most of the class, and most of the class was participating, raised their hands in regard to man as ultimately evil, which was the preceding question.
So my sensibilities were not pre judging though I had read years of Time and US News magazines and other newspaper articles, history…
But as fun as the “Sea Wolf” retains some of the vigor of his Snow Stories, London is a storyteller who did not tell the story of “The Heart of Darnkess”, which not only encompasses London, but is more generally emblematic of the early twentieth century turn of mind, from the Bible to Jack the Ripper, so, transcending London.
Still, I’d rather read the London snow adventure stories, of similar tone.
The early print culture and the modern.
Not the printing that ramped up in the late 1780’s, for other comforts and luxuries were not available. Nor was that initial pairing of that old John Henry printing activity (later eclipsed by steam powered presses) that divergent from the rule of the book, the Bible…cracks were contemporaneously appearing at that time, but later they would form entire mass audiences, and a dethroning of the ‘democratic truth’ later on.
No I mean to focus on the late nineteenth century, the late Gilded Age time, wherein a generation of three were transformed with the two later generations having lived through the civil war as the most recent kids & adults.
This “Gilded Printing” saw poster and illustration along with printing, and photographic advertising and even its own early competitor, the Nickelodeon. The World’s Fairs were more like today.
Theater was still dominant, which is a major media form set apart from the Modernism. That Modernism is what we now see ending around us, as Theater saw it back then taking away from it, to the amusements of cheap goods.
That print culture did not came to an end. Its expanded is more the generative condition than anything else, to how the digital is consumed: images, sounds, text.
In those three generations (a good rule of thumb) motion pictures rose up to take over. But that did not displace the public attention for posters and personal dressing of ones rooms otherwise, it increased with picture books becoming ubiquitous when they had once been rare.
This coincided with the beginning focus on the mass teen market in the 50’s, another amplification, so, that we may conclude graphics march to the beat of population better than most other productive arts which see fluctuations in talents.
But the real fulfillment of graphics was television, it leaped into new forms of inner vision expansion.
Much as the way Video stores took a share of the margin of book sales. Used bookstores did better then, no (1980-1990)?
But the larger point, in pursuit eliminating moderns and saving modernism, is that in the 50’s the sci fi generation, coming of age, had these books that we…me and my generation of sci fi readers, have read. Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Herbert, Clarke, wherein, I took a few steps elsewhere and read PKDick, Gibson, Sterling, Adams. Serious books on serious themes, unlike adventure books.
This being where a common ground then diverges, the Sci fi readers fragment into other authors.
But those, are those being read anymore?
Did Kubrick really define the serious sci fi movie? No, lately there has been some serious sci fi, but the point is that the feature film has great limitations in creating sci fi, while Television really could.
Mixing of genres works better using visual means, because it simply makes sense visually, while in wordage it is difficult to make it make sense. Besides all the goofy cliches, as in the space transporting gas of Burroughs John Carter Warlord of Mars, or simply the goofy space folding, or simply turning up the volume and pitch on the hyperwarpdrivejauntingleapfolding engine…did fall as to serious sci-fi to pulp sci-fi, but the bending of time and space was still a means of serious storytelling otherwise.
These “serious” novels explored ideas at slight, more or less, sacrifice plot and characters…but not really so long as the writer threw us a bone (of character or plot). The more of such novels, ideas set in the future, the more bound to the date it was published.
Its just a kind of formatting that is, cross disciplinary, now a historical seriousness of future prediction worked as hard as Historical construction, or there, arguing values for the ensurement of the safety of humanity. And, defining what it is to be human.
This binds it to, with multiple lines, into its time of publishing.
Serious sci fi certainly displaces the Bible. But not refutes it. What clown cant do that?
So the dissolution of boundaries is a blow back effect on literature that issues from the transformative power of Film/TV, which combined as motion pictures, has been programming audiences for over twelves generations. When this happened, in the fifties and the baby boomer watching TV, this obscured the old methods and within there was inserted new themes addressing a post Imperial possibility for America that was more inclusive.
This melding created another current, it was furthered in youth empowerment through Cameras and presses, the meaning of what they were actually printing NOT as important as the empowerment as it would sustain the means by which to continue the counter narrative.
Underground then became above ground on the dawn of the market of Gen-X and the dusk on the market of the baby boom.
A transformation had happened from 1963 to 1980, at all levels of American consciousness, a parallel occurance of a new set of values and world view.
Its still up to debate who owns this new deal, but it is there, as a culture beyond political spin.
And THAT we will see end in our times as well. That I would call the penultimate Modern developing, vicerally, its own obselescence. We discard the Imperial as Printing presses are huge wastes of energy, time and dangerous and expensive.
Oh, they aren’t gone yet!
As in, what part of the Modern is going to go away, obsolete, not just the heroism of the silver airstreamed pilot, as in a kind of anthropological start point, but instead, listening to Foucault,
start with the most immediate and simple consideration: what came out of the fifties that so influenced the sixties, and in so doing, shaped how I consumed the next forty decades?
And what did not make it out.
Like, Elvis. Did he really make it out, or did the Beatles get that slot?
Big Monster Movies.
Sitcoms and TV (really, the same thing).
Wonder bread diet.
First theater setting: Elite Corporate Military Industrial Complex Spy
Second theater setting: Animated cartoons on Saturday and Sunday Morning
Third theater setting: Church (there were no public kindergartens…even that word sound strange, when I was growing up but that changed the very next year).
Fourth theater setting: Public schools.
Fifth theater setting: Libraries
Six theater setting: House-Yard-Toy-Family
Those are the first setting…one could call the dimensions of “Everyman’s” modern phenomenology.
Into this strode the times.
Beyond the personal, what I remember that are distinct from other people’s experience, is Military edifice. Huge where I grew up.
More wildlife…eventually I think the rise in the popularity of cats led to a fall in all small creatures in yards and neighborhood fields. But those small creatures of my yards and fields were not your small creatures…it was a distinctly different environment.
Which, remember when most Americans grew up in snowy winters?
Immersion in books: mom was a librarian.
Immense family pathology…attributed to the past. Mine’s worst than yours.
There was Gunsmoke and Wild Wild West and all kinds of cowboy heroes. But out of there, before I could address these as a teen, there came in the other ideas.
Roots, the Alex Haley books, probably being the most resounding wake up call to issues of color of one’s skin. Before that, I had no sense of it so much. Oh, I was prejudicial but just stupid and ignoranly so, with no malice.
Really, socially, I was more a kid looking to role play than anything else. Like a healthy amount of my inner life, perhaps some 90%, is merely role playing: acting or writing stories.
But the 50’s really ended with the kids of the 60’s and 70’s attacking Imperial icons. I did not know that was what was happening because I had no idea of what Imperialism meant, I just felt they were mad at people, and then it came to me, all people were mad at white people. Or so I came to believe as a boy consuming 70’s media.
But I pretty much ignored it. Got in fights with all the races at school. Risk taking…
So this was the dominant theme, racial persecution to ME, UNLIKE how others may write about it as an abstraction…a sense of argument or dispute. No, for me, its targeted aggression, because I was white and arrogant and tall.
Meanwhile all around me were books and TV shows and movies and talk and social pressure, from Church and Teachers and elementary schools and peers…not my parents, but all these other places and people, they preached Anti War.
It seemed to fit into the idea of the Establishment having become way too risky, and then some forgiveness on the panic of others vented onto me, for whether over class or race or sex…I agreed, MAD was reason to protest. By whatever political means.
But then I read Buddhism, books about peace and war in history, about Vets reactions to War (the American Heritage books has excellent photo books on every war. Large format.)
And took Christian teaching to heart, to be gentle. The Catholic kids, dressed in uniforms, would bully us public school kids. What were they teaching there, in the local Catholic school!?
But I had trouble anyway, controlling aggression. Risk taking was far too high. Also, grokking the 60’s seemed important, so I immersed myself in the immediate past, and lost touch somewhat with my generation of the 80’s. I would have been goth, but it wasn’t around then.
So the troubling took on Casteneda, Leary, the drug culture and the alternative press of things.
Underground is dead…I think it spawned in the 60’s and became a Market in the 80’s.
Television was so meaningful. Now I can see its end although there are probably a increase in the number of screen to 2 or 3 powers of 10. But that is not Television.
Oddly, it does attract an audience…those that like this intimate theater that was spawned in Modernism…through the fusion of word and image to now, where its all publishing and everyone reading and watching and listening…into the device. It seems to fit in a bar, not in a home where the computer has now replaced it.
Reading has transformed and increased, more signal, more text to comprehend, and not just by sound byte and social media posting, but as a capacity of the human brain.
The digital age has unlocked a “reading” level…comprehension of simultaniety, or heterogeniety, has increased.
How, or really what kind of memory does a reader use to remember…these are also coming more into focus. One reads and remembers the words, or the inner images as pictures of action, or one remembers the sounds and rhythms, or one remembers the relationships, the symbols, the otherwise larger Proustian context…all of this has fed on each other more densely that it used to.
Performance in reading is going to be more a metric, more legible, as in having multiple dimension, turning into a skill wherein, what the person remembers in greater capacity is going to be where they work.
But this will increase in subjects: not just blueprints, or melody, but some kind of new level of indexicality wherein what is now to be brought to the fore of the discussion can be heard and understood by more than the old tyme specialist audience, as that diffuses into multiple specialities and those cluster and configure in social ways.
All clicking together within a generation, easily. Its almost a done model: the social universe of America is probably a totality in color code of hues and percentages, attached to each and every person, available as a dossier, constructed by the NSA, and paid for by Corporations and Acadamia and Government.
What is social media but akin to a Detective or FBI file about a person? The resemblance is startling.