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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Thursday February 26, 2004
08:09 PM

Punch Card

[ #17645 ]
Dear Log,

[I posted the following back there almost two years ago, but I figure I'll reproduce it here for my own reference.]

Eno's advice is "Try to make things that can become better in other people's minds than they were in yours". A corollary of this as the artistic process (advertently or not) is that sometimes a complete twat can make things that read quite well. Orson Card is a case in point.

To write a book, one needs to act confident in writing. And one particularly facile way to act confident in that specific case is to be a narrowminded jackass in the general case. When you have no problem painting things in broad strokes, this removes the writerly question of how one can paint a good picture of part of the real world -- a problem that would nearly paralyze a less jackasinine person.

Anyhoo, in reading Card's books, I got a strong Mormon vibe from it all, notably a manifestation of a persistent meme I ran into in Mormon culture, a meme I call the "World's Fair" model of cultures. Over there, there's the Japanese pavilion, where everyone's got on kimonos and those klopklop shoes, and they're sitting on the floor... and look, they're eating "soo-shee" with chopsticks! So darling, so quaint. Over there, there's the Swedish pavilion, where everyone is a blond Lutheran who likes lutefisk and Swedish meatballs, and when they talk, it sounds like "bork bork bork".

All muy folklórico, muy auténtico. Monotonous. Predictable. Traditional. "Multiculturalism" only via whole planets of duly quaint monocultures. Ein Volk, Ein Welt! (...Ayn Rand?) It's all very 19th century, complete with its own space-Napoleons.

His picture of a future involves no real novelty (i.e., weirdness) even over the course of millennia where humanity has thought of nothing better to do than skittering off to different worlds where they are free to become stereotypes. We the readers are treated to a tour of planet Chingchong Prime, or whatever he calls it.

At least we were spared a visit to Italia Gamma, where everyone is presumably a hairy space-mafioso who eats a lot of pasta, says things like "Mamma mia!" and "Eh, wassamatta you?", and of course believes in the infallibility of space-Pope John DXLXIII. Altho that would have esthetically surpassed the Quaint Irishman Town from Voyager's holodeck.

And I'd have loved to see precisely how overdetermined and queasy-making the portrayal of Planet Ashkenaz would be.

Card's books reminded me a whole lot of Frank Herbert, even down to the biological determinist vibe, the Grand Themes of History, and the weak characterizations.

Thanks, but when I want mindless soap operas, I know where to get them. At least they are post-modern now.

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