Friday, 14 November 2014

Levels Of Pretense

Poul Anderson's "The Saturn Game" refers to "The Chaos..." (The Van Rijn Method, p. 26), that earlier, merely Terrestrial, equivalent of the Time of Troubles and the Long Night. Thus, there are three such interregnums in Anderson's History of Technic Civilization.

"To condemn psychodrama, even in its enhanced form, would be to condemn human nature." (p. 24)

A psychodrama is an elaborate enacted fiction. We distinguish three kinds of statements:

true, intended to be believed and to inform;
lies, intended to be believed and to deceive;
fictions, intended to be disbelieved and to entertain.

Children must learn the difference between a lie, which is untrue, and a fiction, which is also untrue. I was concerned when a teacher denounced a comic strip that I read as "Lies!" Lies were bad. He possibly meant that "Luck of the Legion" presented an inaccurate or inauthentic image of the French Foreign Legion.

I wonder whether there is a fourth category of statement:

yarns, intended not really to be believed but to entertain, almost fictions but not quite.

A friend told me a tall tale from his time in India. When I relay such a tale to others, they say things like:

"Art tells a good story!"
"And you believed him!"
"You didn't believe him, did you?"

When I receive such a response, I am annoyed not at Art for deceiving me but at myself for being taken in. Surely I should have realized that this was a joke or entertaining yarn to be taken "with a pinch of salt." He has not deceived me about anything important as if, for example, he lied about having paid a bill. The accomplished yarner might be amused to reflect that naive or trusting friends believe his stories whereas others merely pretend to and others again say, "Come of it!" The naive have enjoyed the story and have not been harmed by it. I have yarned and it has not felt like lying. Do some friends disbelieve but play along with a semi-psychodrama?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

If future generations come to call the 20th and at least part of the 21st centuries "The Chaos" I would agree with the justice and correctness of that term. Any objective review of our history from the assassinations in Sarajevo onwards would have to call it chaotic!

And if we ever do get a FTL drive and mankind spreads to other worlds and founds an interstellar civilization and it then falls into anarchy and chaos, I can easily imagine that period being called the "Time of Troubles." It would, in fact, be vastly worse than our current time of Chaos!

And if any able, strong willed, half way decent man like Manuel Argos appears and actually starts doing what it takes to restore interstellar order, I can readily imagine both humans and non humans welcoming his rule.


Paul Shackley said...

So the Technic History might be credible...
I have just got back from a day trip to London, which is several hours drive away from Lancaster. I hope to be back in action soon.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I find the Technic History series, fictional tho it is, very credible! Because Poul Anderson based it on unrelentingly showing human beings, good and bad alike, as they are rather than as we would prefer them to be. And, altho of course speculative, I find his depictions of non humans to be convincing.

And, of course, we both know PA was influenced by the work of John K. Hord, which he used to deepen the back ground of the Technic History. Esp. after being inspired in "The Plague of Masters" to unite the originally separate Polesotechnic League and Terran Empire stories.

Some parts of the earlier Imperial era stories were already very "Hordian." Such as Chapter I of WE CLAIM THESE STARS, where Dominic Flandry met Aycharaych at the Crystal Moon. The Chereionite master spy working for Merseia mentioned how the Roidhunate's computer analyses predicted the fall of the Terran Empire within about 125 years. Altho Aycharaych himself was more skeptical, calling the Merseian high command faith in these predictions "naive and rather touching."

And Flandry's comments to Katherine Kittridge later in the novel that Manuel's Empire was not a glorious resurgence of Terran civlization, but rather it's Indian summer, was also Hordian. So it's easy to see why PA mostly adopted Hord's analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations.

And I hope you had a good time in London!