Robert Nason's Culture Café

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Steve Barber
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Steve Barber » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:37 pm

I've often wondered about that phrase.

I personally would not want to be worshipped as a Dead God.

Then again, my chances for worship of any kind are pretty dim unless I can get that religion up and running.
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FinderDoug
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FinderDoug » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:28 pm

Before you start one, use L. Ron as an object lesson. Sure, it was a great money-maker; but its legacy is... what IS the opposite of "warm, cuddly and laudable" anyway?

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:39 pm

Nason and Mark may have missed this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jYT6WgNFFE

Lovely.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:56 pm

HE was right. The difference between Big Brother and the NSA is that Big Brother was competent.

Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

And HE was right about TV. The damage done to our culture has been incalculable. But it's way too late to point that out.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:36 pm

Frank -- it's ironic that your hero Noam Chomsky made his reputation in linguistics by establishing (at least to those in the field) that evolution has hard-wired our brains to accept language, all kinds of language. The specific language with its grammar and tenses is software that can be fitted to the hardware in the brain. Some scientists have doubts about this theory, though, and my own mind is far from made up on the issue. But you should read some of his linguistics books in addition to the political ones. You've got the latter down cold.

Ezra, do you really want to be worshipped? It sounds like it would quickly get kind of boring. On the other hand, I can't speak from personal experience. In any event, you did crack me up.

Lori, when I was in college nearly every girl I had a crush on (and I had many!) was dating a professor. Those profs were having a field day back in those days before you could lose your job by frolicking with a co-ed (to use that quaint term). I hated those older guys then, but now that I'm an older guy I hate the fact that younger women say it's "creepy" that an older guys is "hitting" on them. Believe me, I don't hit on them. But then, I'm not a professor.

Steve, I agree that you're doing much more for humanity as a live mortal than a dead god. Keep up the good work!

Hardly anyone writes diatribes against TV these days, because the new villain is the computer in all its various iterations -- smart phone, iPag, tablet, and on and on. Maybe, as film critic David Thomson has said, our problem is that more and more of our lives is lived interacting with screens, and not enough lived interating with real live human beings (as opposed to dead gods), nature, the so-called "real world." It frightens me to see every public space filled with people peering into a screen in their hand or on their lap or up on a wall, and nobody talking to one another. I sometimes feel like that guy in the John Carpenter film THEY LIVE. Yet here I am, looking at a screen myself. And it seems that there's no going back. I truly believe that some people are going to request that they be placed in their coffin with a cell phone in their hand. Why not? The Pharaohs were buried with their jewels and gold and lots of fruit and vegetables so that they'd have everything they need when they......awoke.

Talk abouot dead gods. Every man a Pharaoh. And every woman....well, I'll let the women tell us what they want to be. Nobody can ever accuse me of trying to silence women!
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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Robert Nason
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Robert Nason » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:40 pm

Incidentally, Frank, I've seen that clip of Harlan talking about Orwell a number of times before. He's dead on. Only we're not only heading for an imminent future that's like NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR (the correct spelling of the novel), but also BRAVE NEW WORLD, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, and a number of Harlan's better-known stories.

And yet kids will grow up in this world thinking it's perfectly normal, and view older people who remember a better past as boring curmudgeons, or, worse -- enemies of the state. That's when they'll kill us. But now I'm stealing from WILD IN THE STREETS (which Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide says is "enjoyable on a nonthink level.")
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:47 pm

Ezra, do you really want to be worshipped?

Oh you mean seriously? Noooo...I think the impulse to worship is vile and debased. Worthy of a toady or a lackey not a mature human being. That's what I find the most silly about the Biblical depiction of god. Imagine a god who could create this wondrous universe...for what? So his minions could spend eternity kissing his ass and telling him what a privilege it is to be able to pucker up?

I want what everybody else wants; a hand to hold, boon companions and a dry place to put my stuff. The occasional bout of mind blowing, toe curdling sexual congress wouldn't hurt of course. :D

But you can't expect a woman to meet you more than halfway. Mysteriously many men seem to expect just that.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:20 am

Doesn't it bug you that a Republican President bugged Harlan's phone?

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:22 am

He didn't use the term hard wired, I think, but he does think there is a language center in the brain.

If you are an American baby, you learn english very easy. If you are a chinese baby, you learn Chinese just as easily even though Chinese is a harder language.

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:44 am

Lori Koonce wrote:Mark and Robert

I've been thinking about your dialogue about older men dating younger women and have a question for the two of you.

While everything you two mentioned is correct, why is it so easy for humans to forget that personal preference plays a huge part in our choice of partners? For example, since the day I first noticed the difference between the genders I've been attracted to older men. For the most part they have a maturity that I find very attractive. Even now, at 47, I find myself hopelessly in love with a guy who is 16 years older than I am.


Personal preference, in my experience, is everything, but when it leads to hurting feelings we get weird about it. "Love" is somehow not supposed to be about "personal preferences" even though they're conjoined at the hip. But this is part of a general underappreciation of the role of aesthetics in everything. I once had an interesting discussion with an architectural historian who said, "Romans were the way they were because they grew up in Rome. That kind of architecture is as big an influence of the development of the psyche as anything else." It's one of the reasons we duplicated it when we started building federal buildings in the 20s and 30s.

But this is interesting, because in your question there's already a difference. You say you're attracted to the "maturity" of older men. But that's a character trait, not a physical attribute. Men are (supposedly) going after younger women for their physical attributes, character traits be damned. If you want to take this from an evolutionary biology standpoint, the visual trigger is telling the older man that "this one" is fecund, while the one he's throwing over for the youngster is past childbearing. I suppose the equivalent evolutionary trigger for women is that this "old guy" has genes that produce long-lived and physically healthy offspring.

That may underlie quite a lot, but I think it's become so bound up in the conventions of civilization that it manifests weirdly, since men do not intentionally screw anybody (casually) in order to make them pregnant. Fertility has no real valence on that level, even if it's a deeply buried assist to the impulse to find a younger lover. (There was a fascinating British study done a couple decades back that revealed that "cheaters" who were in their primary relationship either childless and/or practicing disciplined birth control became...careless...with contraception with the new lover, suggesting the deep biological impulse was affecting conscious decision making.)

So, yeah, personal preference, I think, is everything. What we routinely fail to take into account is that preference can change. When that happens and it results in domestic tragedy, we get all pissy with the violator, and reduce preference to the condition of "one drink too many, you stupid shit." But we also get chary about wondering what else changed. (Sacred ground, I know, but consider that when Charles started cheating on Diana she was going through one of her bulemic phases. Hard to buck up and make love to someone who always has the faint whiff of vomit about them. Among other things.)

Not sure what else to add, other than to say that even when we think we know when someone is being shallow, maybe they aren't. And when someone looks noble and sacrificial, maybe they're stage-managing their shallowness very effectively.

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:45 am

FrankChurch wrote:Doesn't it bug you that a Republican President bugged Harlan's phone?


And Johnson bugged the Democrats.

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FinderDoug
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FinderDoug » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:00 pm

And Johnson bugged the Democrats.
In fairness, he bugged the Republicans, too. He was an equal-opportunity megalomaniac.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:13 pm

Actually, not him, the FBI did. Three Presidents were afraid of J Edgar Hoover because of his power. They spied on legal groups, anti-war groups, the black groups, bugged MLK's phone. Infiltrated marches with FBI. It was a major crime.

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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby FinderDoug » Thu Sep 25, 2014 1:37 pm

Actually, not him, the FBI did. Three Presidents were afraid of J Edgar Hoover because of his power.

I know you want to believe the whole "absolutely rogue agency" myth with Eight-headed J Edgar Hydra at the top, but the truth is somewhat more run-of-the-mill.

Johnson ordered the FBI bugging of Nixon's campaign planes, ordered Anna Chennault put under surveillance, and ordered the wiretaps on Humphrey's office phones (because he thought Humphrey was going to screw him by breaking with him on Vietnam.) Johnson didn't fear Hoover in the least - Hoover was one of his oldest, closest friends in Washington. I guarantee LBJ knew what the man was capable of, but feared him? Not even close. Hell, via Executive Order, he waived the mandatory retirement age for Hoover to keep his friend around.

The requests to bug MLK were authorized by then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1963. Hoover personally disdained MLK - his personal notes bear this out - but he chain-of-commanded MLK to get his bugs going. And Hoover, for as much disdain as he had for JFK (he tossed the press his fair share of anti-Kennedy stories in 1960 in an effort to propel Nixon forward), never pulled the trigger with all the data in Kennedy's extra-cirriculars, nor did he apparently do much with them to make Kennedy dance. And Kennedy screwed with Hoover - they had apparently a very juvenile give-and-take - which suggests Kennedy wasn't especially afraid of him. Didn't like him - that much was clear - but from all accounts didn't cower when Hoover came into the room.

And Hoover supported Nixon going back to Alger Hiss in 1947. Nixon got whacked around in 1960 (JFK) and 1962 (his recall election), and while he and Hoover were friends, Hoover also used Nixon's paranoia about his political enemies to help expand wiretapping; which wound up backfiring, as Hoover had to turn Nixon down as Nixon wanted even greater expansion of the program, risking its being revealed to the public in the process - which is exactly what happened when COINTELPRO came to light. Of course, by then, Hoover was on his way to becoming part of the fossil record, or wresting control of Hell for Satan.

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Robert Nason's Culture Café

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:59 pm

Mark Tiedemann wrote:
FrankChurch wrote:Doesn't it bug you that a Republican President bugged Harlan's phone?


And Johnson bugged the Democrats.


I've been chuckling about this since I realized what I said. I meant he tapped Republicans. But he did his own party members, too. He was of the mindset, not that uncommon, that as long as no one ever found out, what harm was done?

But Doug is right, Johnson was not in the least afraid of Hoover. Johnson really did know where all the bodies were buried.

Hoover loathed Robert Kennedy because RFK ended Hoover's "imperial" exception of reporting only and ever to the president. He was by law supposed to report to the attorney general, but he almost never had. Bobby reinstituted the chain of command. That doesn't indicate a lot of fear, either.

I suspect Hoover had the kind of information on all these folks which he frankly couldn't use. If he once revealed that he had it he would lose control over it. No one in either party would have let him keep it if he made any of it public. So it was all threat with nothing behind it.

Ordinary people, on the other hand...


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