Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Three Kinds Of Periods

We live in a period when many events are recorded/reported by the news media, and now also by social media, and instantly become matters of historical record. The attack on the Twin Towers was recorded on film even though no one knew that it was going to happen.

SM Stirling's Emberversers have been cast back into a period when events are reported by word of mouth and soon become legends, then myths. But the Changed society is post-, not pre-, literate. The fortuitous presence of Wiccans and a Tolkien fan at pivotal events determines how those events are remembered and recorded. For example, even in the United States, a leader who kills a bear becomes "Lord Bear." Wicca replaces Christianity as a dominant religion.

However, legendary processes are still at work even in pre-Change society. At a World SF Con, I attended a slide show by legend-in-his-own-lifetime, Arthur C. Clarke. The slides included pictures of Clarke with other legends-in-their-own-lifetimes like Neil Armstrong. Clarke observed that many people did not recognize Armstrong. It is an interesting process when the still living wo/man and the legend part company. Thatcherism lived on politically while Thatcher lived on in obscurity.

In Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, Bryce Harker has seen Old Nick van Rijn on a telescreen interview and, centuries later, van Rijn still lives in folk lore on many planets. And, in another Anderson future, three thousand year old Hugh Valland still tells stories of Thor...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Ksor, Paul!

Commenting on your first paragraph: Osama bin Laden and his fellow conspirators in Al Qaeda knew they were planning on attacking the US--even if they did not know for sure if the attack would succeed. Alas, it did!

Your third paragraph: I thought former PM Thatcher did not immediately sink into obscurity after resigning. And as Baroness Thatcher in the Lords didn't she remain a bugbear and gadfly to her successors as PM?

Last paragraph. I don't think Hugh Valland believed in Thor as a real, actual supernatural being and god. He was telling stories to amuse children and his friends.


Paul Shackley said...

Yes, the perpetrators knew. I thought that as I was typing.
Not immediately. But, at the end, she was living in obscurity.
Yes. Valland was relating Thor as a myth or meaningful story.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I did wonder, re Al Qaeda!

Yes, in her extreme old age Thatcher somewhat inevitably receded into obscurity.

Re Valland, I agree.