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Monday, 25 May 2009

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Ahistoricality

Isn't this just a riff on "The Ugly Duckling"? Are you saying that we need to excise all versions of the story from our culture if we want to get beyond the Lamarckian-Darwinian debate?

And if our adult scholarship really is prefigured in our childhood culture, how is it that I write in the style of Isaac Asimov instead of Harlan Ellison, both of whom figured heavily in my early reading? Or do I need to go back further, to Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street? My dissertation doesn't sound like Cookie Monster..... (unless you replace "Cookie" with "Footnote": "F is for Footnote, that's good enough for me.....")

SEK

Isn't this just a riff on "The Ugly Duckling"?

Only it that addressed the survival of the fittest and defined fitness in both social and natural terms. I don't remember it doing that.

And if our adult scholarship really is prefigured in our childhood culture, how is it that I write in the style of Isaac Asimov instead of Harlan Ellison, both of whom figured heavily in my early reading?

That's because they don't let historians write like Ellison, but Asimov often wrote in a quasi-historical register, right? (I'm thinking Foundation here, but you see what I mean.)

Are you saying that we need to excise all versions of the story from our culture if we want to get beyond the Lamarckian-Darwinian debate?

Silly boy, we're never going to get beyond the Lamarckian-Darwinian debate. We might not realize we're still working on its terms, or even remember what those terms originally were, but we're never getting past them. Mark my words.

Ahistoricality

Consider them marked. And you're right, I'm sure.

Asimov often wrote in a quasi-historical register, right? (I'm thinking Foundation here, but you see what I mean.)

Not only that, the man wrote actual histories. So, yeah, it's more natural for me professionally. But there's an Ellison in there somewhere.....

I wonder how many of the iconic comic book artists (I'm thinking of the ones on the sidebar of your course website, plus Gaiman) read Ellison. Miller's stuff, in particular, has a real resonance with Harlan's stuff. So does Moore's. Maybe it's just generational echoes, but I was reading something recently (I wish I remember what, but I've been working through the comic book shelf at the local library in honor of the end of classes. I've read "Marvel 1602" and "Eternals" and "Ronin" and "300" and a bunch of lesser stuff) and saw a "Boy and His Dog" reference that jumped out at me.

j

Hi Scott,

I started reading your blog a few months ago but this is my first comment, which is relevant only tangentially. Your post (which I enjoyed) reminds me of an anecdotal presentation Scott McCloud gave at a TED conference a few years ago. McCloud briefly referred to the conference’s theme, “Inspired by Nature,” when he told the fable of the frog who agrees to carry a scorpion to the other side of a river only to be stung by the scorpion halfway across the water. Before they both sink to their deaths, the frog asks the scorpion why he’d do something so stupid, to which the scorpion replies, “Because it’s my nature.” Although McCloud understood himself as having gone astray from his father’s way of looking at the world, the “road to discovery” McCloud took throughout his life proved to be a return to his father’s outlook. By becoming a comic book artist, McCloud chose to be something other than scientific, but in the end he couldn’t help but be what he was, his scientific father’s son, because such was his nature.

Cheers from Chicago,
-j


JPool

Not so much on the dissertation you were meant to write as on the textbook you're meant to coauthor, and just in case no ones told you yet, folks have apparently written a song for/about you. Enjoy.

drip

Lambs social and wolves nature? Really? Wolves are social, sheep are natural too, right? Or is that your thesis?

Prodigal

Did my ears trick me, or did the wolf make the Wilhelm yell when he was knocked off the cliff?

SEK

Prodigal:

This is what the internet does to you: I had the same thought exactly.

Drip:

Lambs social and wolves nature? Really? Wolves are social, sheep are natural too, right?

But they're also stand-ins: the sheep for the internal social dynamics, the wolves as threats from abroad. Put differently, there are internal threats, but they're not wolves.

j:

I started reading your blog a few months ago but this is my first comment, which is relevant only tangentially.

Welcome! Come for the inanity, stay for the beer, as I always say. Especially if you continue to analogize me as a scorpion, because scorpions are bad ass. (Note: Lower-case "scorpion" is bad ass, upper-case "Scorpions" not.)

Ahistoricality:

More on Ellison/Moore later, because I actually have a thing on that somewhere around here . . .

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