Saturday, January 12, 2008

Joseph T, Major, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

I've been beginning to wonder about the Bowling Alone thesis. Robert Putnam was discussing the erosion of "social capital" -- how the neighborhood is eroding, so to speak. The network of social groups that cushioned the family and directed it -- the "village" that it takes to raise a child, so to speak, and I bet you recognize that -- has been eroded away.

The Internet, far from providing a global village, has turned out to be a dividing, or perhaps fracturing feature. To veer off on a tangent, consider the problem of anorexia. Previously, while a girl might be faced with skinny models, she would also have not only a family but school organizations, social groups, and other local organizations that would say, "You don't look well." Now, she retreats to her room, logs on to her anorexia chat room, checks out the anorexia vlogs, surfs from anorexia site to anorexia site, and is confirmed in her belief that having all her bones visible is a step in the right direction.

And so, while heretofore Cho Seng-hui would have dealt face to face with other people, now he could be Ismail Ax, the coolest player in Second Life. One is all image, with no there there beneath; and eventually the image will collide with reality.

It is particularly poignant for us because it did touch us. Once we had dreams of altering the world. There were the political ones, the Michelists who would forge a new future. There were the scientific ones. Now, we realize we can't even change the community. Perhaps that encourages retreating into manufactured dreams.

I can't say much against any of the trip reports here. But I do remember that Lan's Lantern declined when it got into running nothing but long trip reports, with little if anything to do with SF.

Resnick could mention a really good example of his thesis about "When Funny Got More Laughs Than Dirty"
-- the movie The Aristocrats, a number of comedians (add quotes if you like) all telling their own versions of the same joke about a vaudeville performance of gross sexual acts, done by a team calling itself "The Aristocrats".

There's a website devoted to that gag-worthy gag.

"A Show of Hands": I think the operative relationship here was power. If you had to have something from RAH, he could graciously grant it. If RAH wanted something from you, that was an imperative. Writers should be read, and not met, as Will Cuppy said.

Unfortunately, the adulators are still around, mostly talking to one another and thinking they are an entire universe. Their response to Earl Kemp's recounting of his nightmarish experiences was that these were old fogies who didn't matter. Not one bothered to respond to Earl.

Fred Lerner: I bet you were at MidAmeriCon, too. I was reminded of how much things have changed when I ran across their lavish Program Book (hardback! Unique!) [all hail Tom Reamy!] and saw that there was basically one and a half program tracks. L.A.con had over 1000 program items.

But then how little we knew. The big thing at MidAmeriCon was their play. That preview room for that flick called "The Star Wars" hardly got mentioned ...

I sat two or three rows behind the Heinleins at that play -- "Sails of Moonlight, Eyes of Dusk" -- and noticed that RAH's head sank onto his chest in the second act. I agreed; I liked the first segment (Twig) and the costumes, but staggered out stupefied before the curtain. As for the panel on "The Star Wars", I attended and met Mark Hamill -- terrific dude.

Thank you for the [Hugo nomination] congratulations. And congratulations to you yourself for your like accomplishment.

We'll get
'em next year.

In re To Kill a Mockingbird: do you prefer Catherine Keener (Capote) or Sandra Bullock (Infamous)?

Keener and Capote. Though she and Seymour Hoffman didn't physically resemble Harper Lee and Truman Capote as well as did Bullock -- great nose -- and Toby Jones, their performances were much, much stronger. When their characters shared a screen I nearly wept, seeing so much talent in one place. Capote has it all over Infamous, anyway: one is about the terrible demands of the writing art, the other an insipid gay love story; one is an invaluable companion piece to In Cold Blood, the other barely watchable.

Hugo nomination pins: Evelyn Leeper used to attach all of hers to her badge, until it got to the point where her badge was being pulled off.

John Purcell: Someday in the course of moving books around the house I will find the Pohl collection with the story about the ultimate euphoric. It was a drug that was easy to make, utterly soothing, and totally non-addictive. As a result, no one ever got off it, since they could at any moment. (There is physical addiction and psychological addiction.) So, with the technological advances available these days it is so easy to do a knock-'em-dead fanzine that everyone is going to do one RealSoonNow.


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