MetropolisFor it’s day, Metropolis must have been seen with amazement. Shoot, any movie back then was pretty amazing but when you add the fantastical themes and settings of Metropolis, you are certainly in the land of make-believe.There was plenty of dystopian literature that preceded Metropolis (Erewhon comes to mind) but science fiction was fairly new. In fact, science itself was not fully accepted in the lives of many people and the type of speculation we now associate with science fiction was hardly separable from the early popularization of science and the promise of what science would bring to the lives of even the average citizens.

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Papa Hemingway

HemingwayI have always suggested that Ernest Hemingway wrote some excellent short stories but that his novels, excepting The Sun Also Rises, generally sucked. Recently I have been reading some of Hemingway’s early stories as collected in the volume In Our Time. It’s funny what you notice the second (or third or fourth) time you read a story, especially in this case after having read Clancy Carlile’s The Paris Pilgrims. The way publishers have handled Hemingway’s short stores makes it very easy to reread many of them since they are collected in so many different editions (luckily there is a Complete edition so you don’t have to worry about missing any).

Think back over all the Hemingway you have read and consider the male-female relations: love, romance, sex, disfunction.  What about male-male relationships and those prominent man-against-nature scenarios stalking animals in Africa or sport fishing off Key West? Hemingway was such a guy’s guy and did all that macho stuff (even buddying up to Castro) … was he over-compensating?

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Arbeit Macht Frei

Here’s a short passage from Primo Levi’s excellent novel, The Periodic Table:

imagesOut of the shadows came men whom Fascism had not crushed—lawyers, professors, and workers—and we recognized in them our teachers, those for whom we had futilely searched until then in the Bible’s doctrine, in chemistry, and on the mountains. Fascism had reduced them to silence for twenty years, and they explained to us that Fascism was not only a clownish and improvident misrule but the negator of justice; it had not only dragged Italy into an unjust and ill-omened war, but it had arisen and consolidated itself as the custodian of a detestable legality and order, based on the coercion of those who work, on the unchecked profits of those who exploit the labor of others, on the silence imposed on those who think and do not want to be slaves, and on systematic and calculated lies. They told us that our mocking, ironic intolerance was not enough; it should turn into anger, and the anger should be channeled into a well-organized and timely revolt …

Interesting. Levi’s picture of Fascism in Italy around the second world war could very well have been written to describe the current situation in the United States of America. Read Levi’s words again … think about it. Don’t be reduced to silence.