SF/F is for the middle class

I’m using “class” in the statistically descriptive sense, but my conception of politics is not far from Marx’s vision of interclass struggle and warfare.

Inspired by JCW’s definitions of science fiction and fantasy stories. In brief, they are guided tours of the imagination.

For example, it is commonplace in science fiction to use strange words or to use ordinary words in strange ways, to imply rather than state explicitly a how the new world differs from ours.

Let me use an oft repeated example,. In the story BEYOND THIS HORIZON, Heinlein writes the simple sentence, “The door dilated.”

These words would be gobbledygook in a mainstream novel, but a science fiction reader is expected by the terms of the unspoken contract to use his imagination to fill in the details.

The other half of the contract is that the writer tacitly promises to have thought through the obvious and also the surprising side effects world, and fill in such blanks later as strange words and strange scenes place before the reader’s wondering gaze.

The reader is asked to make a leap of the imagination and the writer promises to catch him.

This is the same deal that mystery writers make with their readers, but with we science fiction writers the mystery is how the strange world (or an invader from it) actually operates.

SCANNERS LIVE IN VAIN by Cordwainer Smith is a symphony of such half-hints and references of strangeness.

Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight. When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the expression on Luci’s face that the table must have made a loud crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs, abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face, and back with the mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry. He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife hated its blare and preferred to have him write.

“I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It’s my worry, isn’t it?”

The upper class has no use for imagination- all’s right in the world and everything is already the way it should be. The lower class simply has no imagination, or so little that they can barely grok the basic premise of American Idol (someone as ordinary as YOU may be CHOSEN by the spirits of popularity for elevation to demigodhood).

It’s the middle class that often has trouble accepting their place in things. They suffer from intense class envy, they seek “self-actualization” and embark on happiness projects. They believe in meritocracy and hold fervent political opinions, and talk about the way things should be. They fixate on the future, while the upper and lower classes fixate on the past and the present, respectively.

Imagination is the characteristic mark of the middle class. They are the source of every aberration in the natural state of human society, that of rulers and slaves.

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10 Responses to SF/F is for the middle class

  1. Pingback: Private property | Aeoli Pera

  2. hyper says:

    That explains why WASP scion Bill Gates doesn’t seem to like SF.

    http://www.favobooks.com/enterpreneurs/46-billgates.html

  3. Heaviside says:

    Science fiction is mostly crap. (Don’t quote Sturgeon’s Law at me. I don’t care. We need an aristocracy to keep trash out of the arts.)

    In America there is only one class, the middle class. The poor are really just “temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” middle class people without much money, and the rich are just middle class people with a lot of money. The middle class is the class of the present, the class that “covets small prizes within reach,” as de Tocqueville said. Our democratic politicians, middle class people, don’t plan ahead farther than next week, because their position is insecure, because they have no fixed place, no history, no function, no purpose, like all middle class people. One of the most infuriating things about America is its drooling, moronic fixation on the middle class. The middle class is the only class that can wholeheartedly reject inequality, because it is not defined in relation to a hierarchy. I could go on and on about how much I loathe and detest the middle class, but that would only bore everyone, and I have Dugin to do it for me.

    http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2014/6/9/the-fourth-estate

    If anything I would say that in traditional European societies the aristocracy was fixated on the past, with history, their pedigree, tradition, serving as memory, and the serfs were fixated on the future and the promise of the afterlife. I would bet you that the lower classes of the past were much more imaginative than today’s middle class, if you account for IQ, illiteracy, and the material problems of starvation, war, and disease.

    When we finally implement socialism, we’ll confiscate grain from the peasants and starve them, which is not at all like what the previous bosses did, and we’ll gather them together in great planatio — err, collective farms, and in school, they’ll have to take four periods of Catholic theolo — I mean Marxist theory — a week, and they’ll dream about the coming of Christ’s earthly Kingd — pure communism. When we’ve successfully converted everybody, the whole world will fall under the wise leadership of Rome — the Third International.

    1984 definitely wasn’t an anti-Catholic novel.

    We certainly won’t be recreating Jesuitry or knightly orders in our secret police bureaus and intelligence agencies, no sirree. We wouldn’t want to impose feudalism in the guise of socialism, national or otherwise, would we?

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >Science fiction is mostly crap. (Don’t quote Sturgeon’s Law at me. I don’t care. We need an aristocracy to keep trash out of the arts.)

      I didn’t know Sturgeon’s Law, and anyway what little SciFi I’ve read inclines me to agree with you. Heinlein was too optimistic to be much of a thinker (but he could at least spin a yarn), and Asimov was pretty bad, and Dune was boring, and these are supposed to be the best in the field.

      >In America there is only one class, the middle class. The poor are really just “temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” middle class people without much money, and the rich are just middle class people with a lot of money…

      This is our reigning ideology, but it is not the reality. The white and NAM underclasses know what they are. Our upper class lacks permanence because our nation lacks permanence.

      >If anything I would say that in traditional European societies the aristocracy was fixated on the past, with history, their pedigree, tradition, serving as memory…

      You may have misread, because this is exactly what I wrote.

      >…and the serfs were fixated on the future and the promise of the afterlife. I would bet you that the lower classes of the past were much more imaginative than today’s middle class, if you account for IQ, illiteracy, and the material problems of starvation, war, and disease.

      It could be they were future-oriented, but I doubt it. Afterlife-oriented, almost undoubtedly. They were obviously much more imaginative, comparing the relative genius and transience of our folk traditions, but this may be due to our recent scientific worldview.

      >When we finally implement socialism, we’ll confiscate grain from the peasants and starve them, which is not at all like what the previous bosses did, and we’ll gather them together in great planatio — err, collective farms, and in school, they’ll have to take four periods of Catholic theolo — I mean Marxist theory — a week…

      If Marxism and Christianity weren’t formally similar, they wouldn’t be competing for the same place in a person’s soul. But this is banal, because form is not function. Even changing the words around will produce a different effect.

      >We wouldn’t want to impose feudalism in the guise of socialism, national or otherwise, would we?

      I wouldn’t, but it’s unlikely anyone is going to ask me. Anyway, we’re most of the way there, excepting only that we haven’t busted up all the fancy new technology yet. That seems to be the next logical step.

      • Heaviside says:

        >The white and NAM underclasses know what they are.

        Then why do they walk around with iPhone C’s and fake handbags? To a liberal, that these people haven’t become properly middle class is just a defect in reality.

        >Our upper class lacks permanence because our nation lacks permanence.

        Because it’s been a middle class anti-nation since 1865. They are not a true upper class because they are not an aristocracy.

        >You may have misread, because this is exactly what I wrote.

        I was elaborating.

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          >Then why do they walk around with iPhone C’s and fake handbags?

          That’s a good point. I might be wrong here.

          >Because it’s been a middle class anti-nation since 1865. They are not a true upper class because they are not an aristocracy.

          Also a good point. This seems to be changing though, as an aristocratic class grows out of and begin to separate itself from the upper-middle class.

  4. Heaviside says:

    >Also a good point. This seems to be changing though, as an aristocratic class grows out of and begin to separate itself from the upper-middle class.

    An aristocracy does not grow out of economic shuffling. An aristocracy is created when one people subjugates another.

  5. Pingback: Disambiguating human r/k vs. dysgenics, temperate climate vs. agriculture | Aeoli Pera

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