Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Escape And Education

Fiction writers can not only entertain by offering an escape from reality but also educate by reflecting reality and can even do both simultaneously. Ingenious. We can do some of this for ourselves with help from imaginative authors. My own immediate environment is exotic enough:

in London, a devotee of Krishna offers me free vegetarian food;

in Birmingham, a Muslim propagandist hands me a free Koran while a passerby tells me that I should read the Bible;

in Liverpool, I passed a parish church, a mosque, a Krishna Temple and a Latin Rite Catholic Church before returning to my apartment to meditate -

- and all of this reminds me of Poul Anderson's Technic civilization where:

on Avalon, Tabitha Falkayn says that we are mostly of the Old Faith in Highsky Choth;

on diverse planets, the natives are converted to Terrestrial religions;

in the Patrician system, a revolutionary proclamation claims that the Divine in whatever form It manifests Itself to you is with us! (See here.)

Three powerful statements, from an epic, a play and a traditional story respectively, have gained a universal significance:

"Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes" (I fear Greeks bringing gifts);
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark";
"...appointment in Samara."

Here we discussed the politics of Mongo, Barsoom, Technic civilization, the Emberverse and that other strange mental construct, contemporary Britain. Imagine one Zodangan trying to assassinate the Jeddak of Helium or to sabotage a Heliumite airship while another leads a peaceful protest against Heliumite occupation or imagine similar political differences between Anderson's Braeans. Such is fictional life.

19 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I wonder which translation of the Koran was given you by that Muslim propagandist. The most familiar version seems to be the one by Usuf Ali, but it has been criticized by Muslims themselves as watering down what the Koran actually says, so I don't have that one. I have the version by N.J. Dawood, which seems to be honest.

And, simply as a personal preference, I agree with that other passerby who advocated reading the Bible! (Smiles)

And I am familiar with the first two of the proverbial lines you quoted and have seen the last.

Ditto, what you said about how politics can be conducted either peacefully or violently. The former is far more to be preferred!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Since I don't know where that Koran has got, I am no wiser. Penguin Classics have also published a translation.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Understood! And almost certainly, Penguin used the Dawood version, my copy of which was pub. by Penguin.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Although I think that Penguin Classics are always new translations but, again, I would have to search to see whether I can find a copy here.
Paul.

Jesse said...

Hi Paul,
Poul Anderson is one of my favorite authors because he forces his readers to be reflective(as you said) and not intellectually lazy. I really enjoyed his twist in Orion Shall Rise with Northern Union (North West US + Canada) as the "freedom fighters" and Maori as the "oppressors" and suddenly the plot forces one re-evaluate ones views - and you begin to see the Northern's society as reckless, egocentric while the Maori society as thoughtful and responsible.

I think Poul was quite tolerant and understanding about different ideologies and religions as long they weren't too oppressive and irrational. The religion in the book (Gaia) is a example of a mentality I think he hated - irrational, oppressive and anti-intellectual - a view I agree with.

Nazism, Communism and Mohammedanism is other examples of irrational and oppressive ideologies, but whats remarkably is that so many Westerners are so naive about Mohammedanism and to lesser regards Communism.

I will personally hold these sections of society responsible for the cost and suffering this miss-placed multiculturalism will result in - especially the rise of fascism as worried people flocks to simplistic solutions.

Paul Shackley said...

Jesse,
Thank you for your comments. While I value all of Anderson's works, including ORION SHALL RISE, my definite favorites are the Technic History and the Time Patrol.
Paul.

Jesse said...

How do you find Poul's the Maori civilization? I find it fascinating - hybrid English/Maori, very scientific / rational but with a very different pursuit than our own was in the 60's -80's when Poul wrote them. Maori culture valued Medical, ecological and psychological and IT advancement - sectors of economy that are more and more valued today.

Poul could really think outside the box.

Paul Shackley said...

I like the Maurai. They are different enough to be "alien" while remaining human.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Understood. Altho I still think Penguin used Dawood's translation. Easy enough to find out!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I just googled. The Penguin Classics Koran is translated by Dawood.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Jesse!

It's good to see a new combox commentator here. Yes, PA wrote gripping action/adventure stories which also made readers stop and THINK. I do think the North West Union was not all bad, and had some legitimate points to make vis a vis the Maurai Federation. PA also tried to be fair, keeping in mind that often those he himself would disagree with or oppose were seldom all bad.

Fortunately, full blown Marxist style Communism seems to be pretty much a spent force. But we are sill plagued with Frankfort School Marxism. To say nothing of those who still hanker for state socialism.

Yes, Islamic supremacism is a very REAL danger. And I agree too many Westerners still refuse to take it seriously. People like that will have to take their shore of the blame for continuing terrorism from Muslim fanatics. Weakness will always, always, ALWAYS invite attack!

Amd the Maurai, as we see them in "Progress," Windmill," "The Sky People," ORION SHALL RISE were like that partly because they had no choice. The civilization destroyed by the War of Judgment had consumed so many resources that the Maurai had to find alternatives.

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thought so! I knew N.J. Dawood had repeatedly revised his Koran translation.

Sean

Jesse said...

Thanks Sean,
I have come to similar understanding about Poul.

As I did grow up in a socialist / corporatism society that Sweden was in the 70's and still is to some extent I am aware of the shortcomings of big and intrusive governments.

But the problem of big government is not limited to socialist leaning parties in the west - most countries have the same problems because politics has so much power today after the WW1,WW2 and the cold war so all the psychopaths wants to get into politics and they will always want to increase their power and decrease freedom for the individual regardless of whatever party they represent.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Jesse!

Interesting, you are or were a Swedish citizen?

Yes, I'm aware of how the problem posed by big and intrusive government is not solely to be blamed on the left. The need for a strong military defense is also one reason why government expands. But I would not put the blame for that psychopaths! We did face a real threat first from the late, unlamented USSR and now from Islamic suprmacism. To say nothing of rogue regimes like that of Kim Jong Un in N. Korea!

Sean

Jesse said...

Hi Sean!

I have dual citizenship Swedish/Spanish but I am born and raised in sweden. I am really an european Mongrel, has Swedish/Spanish/German/Dutch/French ancestory :-).

About big government I was not talking about military spending because today its a minor part of a country's budget. I have seen numbers for USA of federal taxes are about 21% of GDP and 3.3% goes to the military around 15-16% of federal taxes, 85% of federal taxes goes to other things.

Most spending goes to other things - but there are big problems with that tax money is used inefficiently because large companies can influence politicians to spend money unwisely for the public but beneficent for the companies.

In Sweden we have Hugh regional health-care administrations that doesn't full-fill anything more than employing bureaucrats and politician. But from I have heard the US medical system is even much worse because its hybrid private/public makes it ideal for private companies to milk public funds. Only because US system sub-contract much of the work to private companies doesn't mean that its less intrusive.

I think big government - regardless if its socialist or capitalist-corporatism it will be inefficient and corrupt.

Islam its an abomination that should be erased, but I am more afraid of what its influence will leave on europe. I believe we eventually will kick them out of europe, regardless if they are citizen or european convertites. But this civil strife will brutalize the european culture. Both in sweden and france facist parties get around 25% of the votes and I don't approve of them, but I understand why they get these number.





Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Jesse!

Many thanks for your comments. And for explaining about your citizenship status and ethnic origins.

Yes, you are correct, the among of spending on the military in the US is almost ludicrously small, the real budget/spending drivers being "other things." Most of it inefficiently used.

I SOMEWHAT disagree about health care spending. Because I believe the more our bungling gov't interferes in American healthcare the more wasteful and inefficient it gets.

Yes, besides private companies we also have unions and pressure groups of all kinds lobbying Congress for special favors or grants of one kind or another. One esp. GALLING example being how Planned (sic) Parenthood, the biggest abortion racketeer in the US, gets 500 million dollars a year from the public purse. THAT, along with many other abuses, should be stopped!

Yes, I agree, above a certain level, all gov'ts will become increasingly oppressive and inefficient.

I reluctantly agree with what you said about Islam. That is, my fear is that fanatical Muslims might take over, or attempt taking over, various European countries, and the only way to stop that would be mass expulsion of Muslims. I remember Poul Anderson having his character Anson Guthrie saying in HARVEST OF STARS that all Islam seemed to be going on the warpath. We may live to see some truly appalling things!

I'm not happy with the frequent, but careless slinging around of "fascism." What does the word even MEAN these days? I doubt most people have the fairly mild, lower case "national socialism" of Mussolini in mind!

Our host, Paul, even has a friend who is an old style, genuine Fascist, in an even milder form of the Mussolini sense of the word. That is, he would have preferred Mussolini to have sought power peacefully and lawfully.

Sean

Jesse said...

I agree that the term fascism is miss-used and used as a cuss-word in common language. Fascism is not very well defined but when I think about fascism I think Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet and in some regards Putin.

Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot I don't consider Fascist - and I think this is where we both agree that the term is commonly miss-used.

And I think you miss-understand my example about health care. My critic is that the mix of government spending and private business can be problematic. Pure private business driven health care wouldn't have a corruption problem because then tax money wouldn't be involved.

A Pure capitalist health care would have other problems. Some examples:
Availability for poor people without money or insurance.
Geographical coverage.
Vaccination and preventive healthcare.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Jesse!

While I agree Mussolini believed in an ideology, a set of ideas explicating a socio/political system, I don't think Franco and Pinochet can be called "fascists." They struck me as being very UN-ideological types. More accurate to call them "authoritarian" dictators.

Putin is a bit more difficult, probably because he was an ex-KGB agent with some nostalgia for the pre-1989 USSR (that year being when the Soviet Empire started disintegrating). Otherwise Putin strikes me as being a thuggish, kleptocratic dictator.

Actually, Stalin (and Lenin), Mao, Hitler, and Pol Pot were as purely "totalitarian" dictators as it was possible to get.

And, I agree, mixing gov't spending and private enterprise in health can be VERY problematic! The alternative you suggested should be the way to go, as far as possible. Yes, I agree a purely free enterprise health care systems would still have problems. But those could be alleviated, I hope, by things like insurance policies of all kinds, or health "co-ops."

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Keep it up, chaps!