1970 - THE GLASS TEAT (both volumes)

The SPIDER Symposion: in-depth discussion of specific Ellison stories and works.

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kevinkirby
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Postby kevinkirby » Fri Oct 06, 2006 5:08 pm

I noticed yesterday that one issue for this column included a masthead from another newspaper, even though the article itself specifically mentions that the masthead would not be included. Was this an error or what? The article was one of the last before moving to Rolling Stone. In this two-part article, a now-defunct newspaper called The Thunderbolt was presented for ridicule by the author. This article then concludes by specifically stating that no subscription address would be shown.

However, as anyone with a copy of the original issue can plainly see, a subscription address was indeed included -- leading to a swarm of angry letters and a subsequent unpaid article to clear up the situation. What actually happened there? Is it a rule that newspapers must include the masthead of any other publication referenced within? Or was there some sort of editorial slipup?

As an aside, the later history of The Thunderbolt's guiding lights can be found, amended, etc., at the wikipedia ==>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_S ... ghts_Party

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kevinkirby
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Postby kevinkirby » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:24 pm

March 5, 1971 -- An Alternate History

Here's a good scenario: Instead of printing the anathema, the dreadful address of the despicable "Thunderbolt" publication, instead some out-of-control idealist scrawls curses over the malevolent masthead. Much to the dismay of the distracted editorial staff, that particular issue is released with random defacement rather than subscription information.

Who knows how subsequent history may have played out, lacking the "pillory" notice of March 5, 1971?

We might all still be hailing president-for-life Agnew, during the fifth decade of the cash cow known as Viet-nam. Or maybe not.

Maybe I wouldn't be railing against buildings, an activity to which many without a roof are prone.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Wed Feb 21, 2007 9:01 am

Often the references in the column are like trivia time bombs. Ellison lambasted George Putnam several times, and I knew little about the man. Recently a local radio show played some clips from sex-ed films that Putnam made in the 1950s. The specific work was 1965's "Perversion for Profit." Instead of offering practical sexual knowledge, Putnam offered sordid tales about "perversion," like he was reading from "Washington Confidential." The material was unintentionally hilarious, especially with Putnam's delivery. The show mentioned that Putnam was the inspiration for the fictional Ted Baxter.

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Sun May 18, 2008 5:36 pm

... and a jump in time, it's now 2008, and I'm reading the book again, didn't finish it last time. I just "fixed" this old thread (editing out off-topic stuff etc.) which I discovered after starting the new one. I had forgotten we had already talked about GLASS TEAT. :oops: But now this thread is in tip top shape.

One question to David: Did you spot this, which doesn't seem to make sense? (p. 119 ACE)
I think they said "tell it like it is," a hundred and eighty-eight times, more than enough repetitions to convince me that if I never heard that ungrammatical phrase again, it would be entirely too soon.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Sun May 18, 2008 9:57 pm

I don't have the mid-1980s Ace editions, Jan, which I assume are the ones you're referring to. Gimme the column number and dates, and I'll look at them in my Pyramid copies.

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Mon May 19, 2008 1:31 am

28 Feb 68, paragraph 6 from buttom.

Also: 9 May 69, in the paragraph following the words "flying Pueblo": (...) down the rabbitt hole: the interviewer who is merely (...)

Should read "interviewee".

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Jan
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Postby Jan » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:14 pm

OK, I have almost finished the first book by now - I read an essay or two whenever I feel like it. I'm glad I can say I usually do, and if my progress is slow, it's due to reasons that have nothing to do with the book. (Meanwhile, the list of contents in the introductory post has been growing.)

What makes me like going back to the book is that Harlan always has something new to tell, or at least offers a new variation on an old theme. The main recurring subjects seem to be inequality and the war between the establishment and the young people who are looking for new ways. Television functions both as Harlan's window into the world and a hated source of lies and propaganda. I'm sure somebody mentioned it, but let me say it again: It's not a book about television but about society.

As is to be expected from a writer of fiction, his use of language in most essays is top-notch. He uses it as a tool to get his points across. The same goes for humor. The essays are not uniform in approach but differ from week to week depending on the subject. The book contains strong essays on a single subject, but also entertaining, lightweight columns-of-the-week that go from subject to subject.

The best thing about both books is that they are now a time portal to the late 60s dealing with very specific issues and phenomena of the time in as truthful a manner as possible. Why should we be interested in the sixties? Because it was a time of accelerated change which reverberates into our time. Many of the things that actually happened in the 60s could conceivably happen again any day and the results would probably be the same, so we can all learn from recent cultural history. The book goes a long way toward explaining why things are the way they are in America.

The book (I'm still talking about the first volume, though I assume the same goes for the second one) is also good background reading for understanding both Harlan the writer and the phenomenon. Many of his attitudes are better understood from the vantage point of the experiences he talks about in his early books, especially THE GLASS TEAT. The same goes for his stories, which are based on his worldview. As for being a phenomenon beyond the science fiction circles, I think that must have started with the columns, which seem to have been popular.

Since most of us aren't very familiar with the 60s and early 70s, there is a temptation to take what Harlan says at face value, which would of course be a mistake. Experienced readers of Harlan's know what to regard with caution. As with all his essays, emotions can get in the way of the objectivity he would need to be completely convincing, even when you know he's basically right. When you get right down to it, you cannot trust any single author, be it Harlan or anybody else. Harlan has acknowledged this from time to time. One of the problems with factual errors is a weakening of credibility.

An examples is his statement that the U.S. was still the number one place to live, "Which may not be not saying much when you consider Brazil, Czechoslovakia, France or India." France? I'm sure he had his reasons and he's still not known to like France, but it's that's just so odd and a bit nasty. In another essay, he asserts that the U.S. possesses 10 times the wealth per capita of any other nation, using italics and an exclamation mark. I wonder how that could make sense to him. While it's difficult to find data that old that uses puchasing power parity, the U.S. GDP per capita in 1969 was certainly in the same league as it is today - at or near the top but with strong "competition" - Europe and a lot of Asia and the Middle East were way past the stone age, and the States had already accrued $370 billions of public debt. People around the world are used to such "greatest nation of Earth" rhethoric but I'd rather not hear it from serious intellectuals. Putting all this together with his old statement of never wanting to travel to Germany which Frank keeps reminding me of, it all stinks a bit and doesn't signal a great deal of objectivity and common sense.

The truth about these columns is that Harlan was learning more about the world as he went along and was trying to make sense of it using his existing patterns of thought. They are (very) valuable as reporting and critcism, less valid when it comes to any sort of conclusions. Harlan regularly deduced things from his personal experiences that should have been investigated more carefully. He was also against a lot of things and antagonized so many groups it's hard to tell if there was much he was for. Perhaps he could have stopped reporting every once in a while to talk about a positive lesson or openly endorse alternatives. Harlan's take on it was "I don't know any better than the rest of you", which of course never stopped him from speaking out against anything.

Harlan had to write one essay a week, which he managed to do most of the time, but it's still more than any sane man can handle for an any extended period without falling into repetition and a certain amount of self-indulgence. As a short story writer, Harlan probably like writing brief things on a weekly basis, speaking his mind every week, knowing that the readers know that the words are fresh out of the typewriter. Some of the problems of the book can be blamed on that kind of schedule.

On the whole though, this book is quite good and should be read for a variety of reasons. I give this a high rating due to the good reporting, the writing, Harlan's unerring sense of what's important, the humor and the small-scale insights. More notes at a later time, particluarly on the second volume. :| :| :| :oops:

rich

Postby rich » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:21 am

Jan wrote: An examples is his statement that the U.S. was still the number one place to live, "Which may not be not saying much when you consider Brazil, Czechoslovakia, France or India." France? I'm sure he had his reasons and he's still not known to like France, but it's that's just so odd and a bit nasty.


I haven't read the essay in question, but based on my knowledge of Ellison's writing I'm pretty sure that's a joke.


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