Thursday, August 03, 2006

3 August 2006

Today is Thursday, 3 August 2006.

A day which will live forever in irony.

Just take a look at the juxtaposition of the following:

1492- Columbus sets sail upon the ocean blue, from Spain, bound for China

1492 – The “Christian” monarchs of Spain, who financed that voyage, expel Jews from their realm

1904 – Clifford G. Simak, “science fiction” author, born (d. 1988); author of City, etc.

1929 – Great American economist Thorstein Velben (“conspicuous consumption”, etc.) dies (b. 1857)

1940 – Martin Sheen born

1958 – USS Nautilus, first nuclear-powered submarine, achieves “90 degrees North”, arriving at the North Pole underwater

1964 – Flannery O’Conner, great American writer, dies (b. 1925)

1966 – Lenny Bruce, American stand-up philosopher-comic, dies (b. 1925)

Obviously, your author started work on this column too late to do JUSTICE FOR ALL, so I’ll begin and add to it later._______________________________

So, I’ll start with Clifford D. Simak. Many have a problem with science fiction. All that crap about the future, hope for the future, despair for the future …

Get down with reality: Draw a breath in the Present, and you’re already in the Future.

Sur-prise: the Future is the only place we live, and it’s always happening: The moving Finger having Writ, moves on …

From the “Editor’s Preface” to City, connected stories about Dogs and Humanity, which Simak wrote as a series of Tales from the Dogs and their philosophers, from 1944 to 1951:

“These are the stories that the Dogs tell when the fires burn high and the wind is from the north. Then each family council gathers at the hearthstone and the pups sit silently and listen and when the story’s done they ask many questions:

“What is Man?” they’ll ask.

Or perhaps: “What is a city?”

Or: “What is a war?”

There is no positive answer to any of these questions. There are suppositions and there are theories and there are many educated guesses, but there are no answers.“

From Simak’s foreword to City:

“I, personally, was not so much struck with the massive destructiveness of the [nuclear] weapon concept as I was by this evidence that man, in his madness for power, would stop at nothing. There was, it seemed, no limit to the horror that men would inflict on one another.”

From “Notes on the Fifth Tale”, from City:

To most readers it will be easy, after reading this tale, to accept Rover’s [an eminent Dog philosopher] theory that Man is set up deliberately as the antithesis of everything the Dogs stand for, a sort of mythical straw-man, a sociological fable.

This is underlined by the recurring evidence of Man’s aimlessness, his constant running hither and yon, his grasping at a way of life which continually eludes him, possibly because he never knows exactly what he wants.”

Well, friends, as violence and madness continues to be the theme of us, Man [it was a different time, when one said that, with the dumb “male-o-centric-terminology”: I mean Humanity, not to be confused with Humane-ity], spreading as always across the Globe: don’t the views of Rover woof us down to size, in the evolutionary-ecological-ethicological scheme-a-thangs?

In 1963, Simak wrote another of the great novels, and damnation, if we admit that Tudor-Stalinist flack Shakespare to The Canon, why not Simak?

Way Station, much more hopeful.

Have to make a point about Columbus, and Europeans, which includes Us Euro-American-"Whites".

C. Columbo was fascinated, about arriving in THE NEW WORLD, among other things, to find that the “primitives” there resident didn’t live in their own waste.

In the Europe of Columbus, Humans just, as we say of Dogs, “did one’s business” and threw it out the window into the street or the yard (not that a Dog would intentionally Do It where one lived and ate). Disease, of nature, ensued.

Not that the people of the Caribbean knew The Scientific Method exactly, but it seems they figured out if One Did One’s Business at a distance from where one lived, one was healthier.

How many millions would have not died of disease, if Euro-White-Proto-Americans had figured this simple, easy-to-notice-fact, out?

When, late in the 19th Century, the concept of “Public Health” happened in the Euro-World, life spans increased dramtically.

Who da primitive?

This column is composed in the method of Walter Benjamin.

And another relevant homage:


This non-novel was brought to you by John Brunner using Spicers Plus Fabric Bond and Commercial Bank papers interleaved with Serillo carbons in a Smith Carona 250 electric typewriter fitted with a Kolok black-record ribbon.”

Tracking with closeups (32)

Every now and again there passes through his circuits a pulse which carries the cybernetic equivalent of the phrase, “Christ, what an imagination I’ve got.”

MY RIFF on Brunner, RIP: It has been estimated that every human on earth could currently stand on the island of Zanzibar, that is, upon 640 miles of earth surface, though granted that many of you UnFortunates will be standing in the sea up to your necks.

Good night, and good luck.


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