Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Greatest Generation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greatest Generation. Show all posts

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rewrite the History of the 1960s

Unpacking the head of the Statue of Liberty (1885). Image Source.

This week, my post on Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder was highlighted on one of Gen X's best blogs, Are You There, God? It's Me, Generation X. While thanking Jennifer James and checking the other links she listed, I was struck by the way Generation X remains ensnared as an echo generation, its identity projected upon from the outside by a narcissistic Boomer narrative. Jen writes: "Part of my intention is to maintain a tiny space on the Internet where evidence of Gen X society can be preserved." Why is her mission such a struggle?

Head of the Statue of Liberty, displayed in 1878 after completion at the Third Universal Exhibition, or World's Fair, in Paris. It was exhibited in Paris for several years before being shipped to the United States. Image Source: Albert Fernique (born c. 1841, died 1898) / LOC via pinterest. Published in 1883 in Frédéric Bartholdi's Album des Travaux de Construction de la Statue Colossale de la Liberté destinée au Port de New-York (Paris).

The Boomer narrative, that blinkered, one-track view of history, started as a story about 1960s' youth counterculture and fighting for liberty from the establishment. Boomers' liberties made them into libertines, who erected a monument to their own whims and pleasures around the period from the 1967 Summer of Love through 1969. The entire world now seemingly turns around that temporal pivot. Sometimes, it is also treated as a historical bottleneck. For the post-war period, 1967-1969 becomes a shorthand for the social, political and economic history of what happened in developed countries, and everything must go through that chokepoint, as it relates to the Boomer story. But what if everything didn't go through that chokepoint? What if that is not the way things happened? What if other histories ran concurrently from the 1940s through to the present that go unacknowledged because they don't fit the generational story? What if this is not a story about generations at all? What if you can find millions of individuals who don't fit the generational idea, and what if constructing a whole new social order around social alignments based on horizontal categories like 'age' is fake? If any of these suggestions are possible, then the history of the 1960s needs to be radically overturned and rewritten.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cultural Footprint of Jodorowsky's Dune

Image Source: Amazing Stories.

For every generation, there is a window of opportunity to create what Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's son Brontis called, "a dreamed life." This is the Beautiful Alternative, the path not followed, the epitome of achievement not attained due to failure, impediments, lack of resources or similar circumstances. In cinema, Jodorowsky's 1970s' adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) is considered by director Richard Stanley as "the greatest movie never made." A 2013 documentary on the subject argues that, at a critical time in the 1970s, this film marked the dividing line between what really matters artistically and real world limitations. And the fact that this particular film was not made because of monetary problems, and the unwillingness of the studios to bring such a radical vision to popular audiences, changed Hollywood and the entertainment industry forever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Hard Day in Hollywood: Losing Lauren Bacall

Betty Joan Perske, about to become screen legend Lauren Bacall (1944). Image Source: Say It with Silence.

Lauren Bacall, a sultry bombshell who was one of the last surviving actors from the Golden Age of motion pictures, has died, aged 89. It is rare to find a woman who could embody so many ideal elements: she projected as much independent intelligence as Hepburn, as much beauty as Taylor. I loved her calm through the brooding threat of Key Largo (1948) and felt that she could be as alluring and comedic as Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). She was a rare woman who not only possessed all these qualities, but matched other female stars who respectively epitomized cleverness, classic beauty and sexual attractiveness. Perhaps it was because Bacall was so genuine. Many cinematic stars use an outward screen persona, while carefully guarding their inner, real person. Bacall, despite her name change, always appeared to be utterly herself. She did not need to put on another identity; she was real through and through. Bacall's obituary at the Guardian is here.

With Bogart in To Have and Have Not (1944), in which she delivered (here) one of film's most famous lines. Bogart left his wife for Bacall after they co-starred in this movie. She was 19, he was 45.

Monday, November 11, 2013

War and Living Memory

"Remembrance Day at the John McCrae House (birthplace, museum, & memorial) in Guelph, Ontario Canada. A detail shot of the 'altar' of the memorial, with the complete poem 'In Flander's Fields' and the line 'LEST WE FORGET' inscribed on it. 2 Canadian remembrance day poppy pins and part of a wreath are visible." (11 November 2009). Image Source: Wiki.

Today is Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, which observes the end of hostilities of World War I. It also commemorates the end of World War II and the fallen in other wars such as Korea and Vietnam and post-Cold War conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two world wars are passing from living memory. Wiki has a list of the last surviving World War I veterans in the world. Almost all of them have died since 2000, save for three remaining veterans in Bulgaria, China and Greece. They include: Bright Williams of New Zealand, died 2003, aged 105 years; August Bischof of the former Austrian Empire, 2006, aged 105 years; Erich Kästner of the former German Empire, 2008, aged 107 years; Pierre Picault of France, 2008, aged 109 years; Delfino Borroni of Italy, 2008, aged 110; Yakup Satar of the former Ottoman Empire, 2008, aged 110 years; Mikhail Krichevsky of the former Russian Empire, 2008, aged 111 years; John Campbell Ross of Australia, 2009, aged 109 years; John Babcock in Canada, 2010, aged 109 years; Frank Buckles in the United States, 2011, aged 110 years; Florence Green in the UK, 2012, aged 110 years.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wire Hanger Moments

Joan Crawford (1905-1977). Image Source: George Hurrell via Photographers Gallery.

In this post, I mentioned a friend’s encounter with a Millennial who did not recognize Joan Rivers on television and had never heard of Alfred Hitchcock. Because pop culture and marketing so relentlessly target the youth market, maybe its not surprising that some members of that demographic don't see the world beyond themselves. Recently, a Gen Y commenter on Twitter claimed that one of the most discussed topics today in the world is his generation, the Millennials.

Really. There’s nothing else out there? The economy. The Web-turned-surveillance-society. The Arab Spring. Asia’s markets. The environment. The energy crisis. Space exploration. The tech revolution. Politics. Terrorism. Impending nuclear war.
Mass media create false realities; and it takes awhile to see past the bubble that has been tailor-made to cater to, and shape, one’s own demographic, nationality, subculture and class.
The path to understanding the falsity of generational labels begins when some extra-generational pop cultural reference leaves the uninitiated in the dark. Never knowing who a known figure is or was, is part of a natural process of forgetting in public memory. On the other hand, that memory is sometimes renewed through remakes, biopics, homages, quotes and similar references to earlier pieces of pop culture. In those cases, members of the younger demographic become aware that what they are looking at, or listening to, is a cultural artifact that is an echo of an echo of an echo.

I think back on my own Gen X ‘Joan Rivers ignorance’ moments. One of them came from the American sitcom, A Different World, the late 80s’ Cosby Show spinoff. In one episode (29 October 1992; see it here), main characters Whitley (spoiled rich girl) and her husband Dwayne (hard-working, bright Cosby scion) get robbed. All that’s left in Whitley’s designer clothes closet is wire hangers. “I hate wire hangers!” she shrieks.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mutants, After the Apocalypse

Operation Plumbbob: Detonation Fizeau. Image Source: Nuclear Weapon Archive.

Following advances in nuclear science in the 20th century, mutants have become a popular way of understanding the impact of radioactivity. In 2004, an academic from the University of Chicago argued that that perception was changed to reconcile certain ironies about nuclear science. Those ironies concern the fact that both nuclear weapons and nuclear power were devised to protect advanced nations' security and energy interests. But the great powers' superpowers came at a price: nuclear weapons and power have grim cultural and environmental impacts.

Worse, those impacts have already been felt. The greatest irony arises when one considers that bomb detonations and radioactive fallout have already occurred. In North America, it happened during atomic testing that began in 1951. In other words, the apocalypse has already happened; it was self-inflicted. We have been living in the slow burn aftermath ever since.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pulp Horror Nights

Web of Evil #17 (1954). Image is in the public domain. Image Source: The Digital Comic Museum.

When most people think of America after the Second World War, they think of 1950s' prosperity and the baby boom. But the post-war period also saw societies and cultures around the world - including those of the victors - digesting the horrors of war.

Two popular American genres which embodied that process were film noir and pulp fiction. Pulps had earlier roots running back through the century. The Shadow is one of the most famous of pulp heroes from the Depression, whose popularity endured into the 1950s and up to the present day, due to a fantastic radio show (listen to one episode here). By the 1940s and 1950s, pulps had evolved into comic books.

If you have ever been curious to see these rare pulp-style comics from the early Cold War era before horror themes were censored, you can see some of them for free online. Since 2010, the Digital Comic Museum has made Golden Age comics in the public domain available for downloading, here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Farewell, Mr. Bradbury

Image Source: Getidan.

American Sci-Fi author and Midwest Surrealist, Ray Bradbury, died on 5 June 2012, aged 91. His official Website is here, which explains how and why Bradbury began to write: 
Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, Live forever! Bradbury later said, I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped.
Bradbury is perhaps most famous for his works, The Martian Chronicles (1950) - a future history of Mars colonization; The Illustrated Man (1951) - stories on the conflict between machines and human psychology; Fahrenheit 451 (1953) - a dystopian novel set in a future America where books have been outlawed; and  Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) - a novel about two boys who encounter a dark carnival when it arrives in their town.

Here is a link to the full text online of Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury disapproved of e-versions of his works and strongly disliked the Internet and Millennial technology; fears about the negative impact of high tech on human society run through several of his works. This link is provided respectfully to introduce first-time readers to his work. Fahrenheit 451 is antithetical to the Millennial obsession with tech-data. Wiki: "Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship, but a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of factoids, partial information devoid of context." The book was released as a graphic novel in 2009.

Bradbury's work has long been suited to the pulp medium. Between 1951 and 1954, several of Bradbury's stories were adapted by Al Feldstein for EC Comics. Bradbury noticed this starting with "Home to Stay" in Weird Fantasy #13, which plagiarized two of the writer's stories ("The Rocket Man" and "Kaleidoscope") and combined them into one story. After Bradbury settled with the company amicably, he allowed further EC Comics adaptations and was pleased with the result.

Stories reproduced in EC Comics included: "The Man Upstairs" (WF #12: "A Lesson in Anatomy"); "The Black Ferris"; "The Handler"; "The Screaming Woman"; "Let's Play Poison"; "There Will Come Soft Rains" (WF #17); "The October Game"; "The Small Assassin"; "The Long Years"; "Zero Hour" (WF #18); "King of Grey Spaces" (WF #19); "The Flying Machine"; "The Lake"; "I, Rocket" (WF #20); "The Million Year Picnic" (WF #21); "The Silent Towns" (WF #22). "Judgment Day" (WF #18) provoked controversy with the censor because it featured an African-American astronaut (read it in its entirety here). Below the jump, see some panels from the EC Comics adaptations of Bradbury's stories.