10 December 2011

Understanding Media

This is my third and final post on my reading of Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media is the most widely heard-of book of his. People know three sayings from the book: hot medium, cool medium, and the medium is the message.

Hot versus cool media have to do with their level of definition. "Hot" refers to high definition and "cool" refers to low. In McLuhan's thought world radio was the prime example of a hot medium. From it one receives the impression of getting the full gamut that sound waves have to offer. It feels close, intense, and personal and stands in stark contrast to print. Print encourages a view that the world is primarily visual and linear. It thus facilitated the interchange of cultural knowledge and provided the conceptual framework for science and the industrialization of technology. The assembly line is a linear, one-step-at-a-time process and (I would add) the forerunner of the digital computer. Radio, on the other hand, has the effect of de-civilizing and re-tribalizing us. This occurs primarily from two effects: the sound medium, which is eminently social and non-linear, and the instant access around the globe (radio waves travel at the speed of light). Radio tribalizes millions of people at once. McLuhan said that Hitler was primarily a radio phenomenon: a charismatic leader extends the power of his word and presence by means of amplification of sound at rallies and by the radio.

Television is a cool medium because it was (until very recently) characterized by low definition. It invited us in because it forced us to fill in what was visually missing (color, sharp outline of people objects, etc.). It additionally garnered great strength from being visual and, since it is capable of showing far-off events live, it lulls us into thinking that the immediacy it can provide makes it always more relevant than books.

The effect of the medium, whether print, radio, or television, is considerably more important than the message contained in any particular book, radio emission, or television program. That is what McLuhan meant by "the medium is the message." In the modern period it was the leisurely access to a linear depiction of knowledge and truth in printed books that drove the Reformation, democracy, science and progressivism. Radio helped the creation of fascism. Television replaces all else and lulls us into thinking it holds the truth. In the Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan proposed that advertising (he was describing print ads) is destructive of all traditional cultures. Television ads and programming are now the principal conveyor of information to people and they are the main educators of children, more influential than years of schooling.

McLuhan was never a good stylist nor was he easy to understand, but his warnings are well worth listening to. Why are we driven to continue buying, filling our houses and lives with things we do not need nor bring us satisfaction but then try to fill the unmet need for satisfaction by buying yet more? Advertising on television has now destroyed all political discourse. I have one suggestion for all who wish to be closer to their families, who long for community, who wonder where American culture and democracy have gone, who seek satisfaction in living: turn off your TV. Limit your viewing drastically. Then you can get out of the house and meet people. Eat with your family with all electronics turned off. Read to your children every night when they're little and take them to concerts. Unplug to commerce and put it in its proper place (since we can't live without it). Turn on to life, to the people around you.

Angela Fournier, the main character in my series of three novels, never watches TV because it bores her. She is too young to know all this stuff I'm writing about, but at some level she intuits that there is a much richer life away from the screens. Such wisdom is rare but, here and there, you find very interesting people who have it. Please check out my book at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html Thanks!

03 December 2011

The Gutenberg Galaxy

The second of Marshall McLuhan's books is The Gutenberg Galaxy. It explores how the advent of the printing press issued in the Modern world view and resulted in the industrial age at its end. It also deals with the breakdown of this world view in the 20th century.

The idea of setting up a machine which in turn could produce a potentially infinite number of identical books had a profound effect on the thinking of the people of the now extinct Modern Age. Not only that, the linear outlay of the words changed how people thought of information. The prior age was primarily oral and saw the world holistically. The Modern period, under the influence of printed books, saw all important information as linear, one thing following the other in order. This view in turn cemented the Medieval idea of the great chain of being, that is, of cause and effect, God being the Prima Causa (the first cause).

Linearity gave prominence to science over story. We still look for truth primarily from science over narrative or history. Linearity furthermore made possible the conceptualizing of standardization of parts to facilitate manufacture of thousands of rifles in the Revolutionary War. It finally issued in the industrial assembly line and the first digital electric communications technology, the telegraph.

However, development of wireless communications (first the telegraph, then radio, then television, and now computerized communications) made the entire Modern world view obsolete. We just haven't got the memo, even now.

In my next post I will write about McLuhan's last and most mentioned book, Understanding Media, which will complete the very important analysis of the time we live in: a new Age of the Machine, which we need to understand in order for it not to destroy us.

My character Angela Fournier is the sort of person who faces today's issues squarely and, young as she is, is beginning to understand what their implications may be. If you are interested, please check out www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

25 November 2011

The Mechanical Bride

Hello, folks! I have finally come up with a plan for making this a weekly blog with a variety of literary topics. Since I read all the time, I will write every week about what I have been reading, most of it fiction, but some that is not. This way I can blog regularly without boring you by covering the same ground over and over.

Recently I read the first of Marshall McLuhan's three major books. The title is The Mechanical Bride and it dates from the late forties. It is a study of advertising and its effect on people. All the examples come from ads printed in newspapers and magazines. Keep in mind that this was before TV became available to everyone and before TV advertising really became significant.

McLuhan examines the interplay between text and image and brings out the real message behind the copy. That is, for him the combination of text and image has an effect that goes beyond just the words and just the image, even when taken together. Ads become an appeal to our emotions and purposefully negate thinking as much as possible. Advertisers are well aware of what they are doing and the public plays along.

The writer implies that there is something unethical or unhealthy about the effect of advertising on us. His most telling evalution comes, however, when he maintains that advertising is destructive of all traditional cultures. Let's think about that a little.

I grew up in Argentina in the 50's and 60's. During most of that time, TV did not play a large role in the life of people and the culture retained a strong collective memory of Europe. There were ads in newspaper and radio, so the process was underway, but in neighborhoods people still knew and looked out for each other. You always had a dry goods grocery store, a greengrocer, a milk shop, a baker, a bookstore, and a pharmacy (selling health care products only) within walking distance. The taxi drivers were well read and would talk knowledgeably about literature and philosophy as well as politics and sports. On the subways in Buenos Aires everyone was reading something. Argentina had a distinct culture heavily flavored by western and Mediterranean Europe and with a lore and literature of its own. By the late 60's with television, and the ads it relentlessly brought into the home, that culture began to dissolve.

Now, go to any of the large cities of Argentina or of any country and there is a sameness in the way peoply (poorly) dress, the fast-food joints, consumer electronics, car-choked streets, and the loneliness of the people. At the very same time that the modern world view has become obsolete, advertising impedes the thoughtful creation of a world view to take its place.

This is an unprecedented situation in human history. Technology is so advanced and alluring that we accept it all too uncritically while being bombarded with advertising. Angela Fournier, the main character in my novel series, is bored by TV, so she is not subject to the numbing effect of ads. That's why she can think for herself and has a blazing reality to her. It's this kind of person who will help shape a better future, if it is to be done at all. You can get Angela 1 at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html or as an ebook at your favorite provider.

24 October 2011

Case in Point

I just received a note from a reader of Angela 1: Starting Over. She said that "Angela is delightful" and that the book is "rich in story." We long for story and the time has come to reclaim plot and story for literature. Angela Fournier is also a life model that many readers can draw from to their benefit. This sort of character has been banned from literature for far too long. We need them now because, if we do not begin to grow and construct, the forces of destruction and entropy will pull us down.

Saturday 29 October is the Dallas Internationl Book Fair at the Dallas Central Library on Young Street in front of City Hall. It's free and there will be a lot going on, including numerous authors. I will be there as well and I would love to see you there. Drop by if you can!

Get Angela 1 as an e-book at your favorite provider or in hard cover from www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

17 October 2011

Joyce's Dubliners

I just finished reading James Joyce's Dubliners, a collection of short stories (of sorts). Here is my provisional evaluation.

With only two exceptions ("A Painful Case" and "The Dead"), the selections in Dubliners are vignettes. They happen almost in real time and cover only a day or less in the life of the characters. There seems to be a (perhaps unconscious) link to Wagner, whose operas drag so much as to be nearly immobile. Theatre in general and especially opera in particular compress time and feelings. An aria lasting 3 to 5 minutes may compress years of longing of a character and do so to great effect. In Wagner, what takes 5 minutes to say or do occupies 20 minutes of music (which is the exact backward of drama). That is why many people just stay away from Wagner's operas, while still enjoying his orchestral works. In Joyce's stories you have the same inaction. The author succeeded in what he set out to do: show the paralysis that characterized the life in Dublin at the time.

As vignettes, the selections simply end with no resolution. Again, the author is taking pains to show that no one ever achieves his or her dreams and longings. But in most of the vignettes, that means that the characters come to no realization of any kind, and therefore to no growth or turning point which has any chance of liberating them.

"A Painful Case" qualifies as a story, as there is the passage of several months. However the main character learns nothing from the death of his lady friend. "The Dead" is very much the best story in the book. It takes place over less than 24 hours, but there is still action and movement lacking in the others. There is a definite resolution in which the main character learns something entirely new about himself and his wife.

In sum, the pieces are highly effective in accomplishing what the author set out to do. However it required all those vignettes in order to produce one bona fida story. This may show that it is extremely difficult to make a real story out of Joyce's procedure of holding up a mirror to people's lives and leaving it at that. The sad thing is that even today, 100 years later, writers are still caught in this trap, thinking that to be a story it has to focus on a single moment of a character's life. By now, the possibilities of this approach have been exhausted. We long for story.

My story-filled novel, Angela 1: Starting Over, is available at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html and of course as an ebook at your provider. Check it out!

12 October 2011

Reading Joyce

Ok, I give in. I am doing my best to read James Joyce's major works. This year I read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. That is the best book by him I have read, the first I was able to read through. In the novel the modernist technique works well and gets its point across in a solid manner.

Right now I'm about halfway through Dubliners. The stories are written very clearly and are easy to understand. They are purposefully lacking in any sense of plot, because the author wished to show the smallness and emptiness of life after industrialization: individual people count little in the developing mass society and their destinies seem irrelevant.

Much has been written about Joyce, of course, so much, in fact, that there probably is more eisegesis (reading author intentions into) than exegesis (drawing author intentions out of) his works. Borges said that Joyce's novels were illegible. I assume he was referring to Ulysses and the Wake. I would say that the earlier work is very readable, though the latter work was ostensibly intended to be abstruse. Borges also said (in connection with other authors, not Joyce) that what writers intend their work to be and what it becomes are two different things. I will have something to say about that in subsequent posts.

Keep an eye out for them and don't forget that Angela 1: Starting Over is now available as an e-book cheap!

If you prefer the hardback, it's available at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

Thanks for dropping by!

18 August 2011

"Modernist" Stream of Consciousness

In previous posts I have discussed stream of consciousness briefly. Anyone can tell that I am not too crazy about it, but I must make it clear that I do not object to James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, William Faulkner, and others making use of the technique just as the modern project came apart after World War I. It expressed a moment in history when the perspective of the individual (created in the Renaissance and characterizing the entire modern period, 1450-1920) had become a liability to society. They had an important point to make through it, one we needed to hear but never understood too well.

The great modernist writers used that extreme "world from where I see it" perspective to good effect. What I object to is for writers to continue using it now, nearly 100 years later, and the abuse of present-tense narration. As Marshall McLuhan has clearly shown, since wireless communication was invented 150 years ago, the world has reverted to a holistic perspective, what he called the "Global Village."

We need a less personal and more tribal, encompassing, even global point of view in our fiction. We need to begin enriching our language again, instead of reducing and empoverishing it.

Please check out Angela 1: Starting Over, either as an ebook at your favorite provider or hard copy at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html . Thanks!

05 August 2011

Responsible Citizenship

As you know, this blog is literary, not politicial. I will not depart from this purpose. Today's post deals with basic information and concepts which impinge on certain current events. Since the theme of my three Angela novels over the entire story arc is responsible citizenship and what it can cost you, I beg leave to make a very few observations.

Over the last few weeks the members of Congress have acted like children. They have stood for opinions based on which side they are on (not on careful consideration of the background, the facts, or the effects) and have petulantly refused to budge from their positions. Then they came up with a "compromise" which shirks responsibility. The real issue is not the level of debt the US carries, but rather what the national budget priorities should be.

One faction of one of the parties wishes to eliminate all the entitlement programs (including public education). If that is what they wish to accomplish, it is their right to try, but they should state clearly and openly what they propose. One faction in the other party would like to see entitlement programs strengthened, including the development of a single-payer national health service. If that is what they are after, they should state so clearly as well. If we are to vote on where the money goes, we must as voters know exactly what the politicians intend. Instead we get a smokescreen in the form of the debt ceiling debate.

The national debt is issued in treasury bills, which are very popular the world over and which have been the safest investment we as individuals can make with our money. We should think twice before messing with them. When we elect people to Congress who spend our money lavishly without raising government revenue, the government has to borrow more money. One party has routinely lowered taxes in the hope that the resulting debt will motivate people to slash entitlement programs. One party has pursued incredibly expensive wars without budgeting at all for them. These two practices are the biggest creators of our national debt. One party fights to keep all the entitlement programs. On the positive side it does tell us we must raise taxes to pay for them. On the negative side, they have not had the guts to stand up to the financially irresponsible waging of the wars. Notice I have made no mention about whether the wars are necessary. I am only addressing the matter of how we are to pay for them. Notice also that I have not named the parties. Personally I am a political agnostic, that is, I don't believe that politics or politicians can save us.

The real issues are (1) what programs do we want from the government (e.g. are social security and medicare a good thing and therefore to be kept? How about public education?), (2) the creation of real jobs (full-time, with reasonable salary and benefits), (3) rational regulation of commerce for the good of all, (4) environmental policy (what are the facts of what our industrial and personal activities are doing to the earth and what should we do about it?), and (5) tax policy. Whatever we decide we want to do together as Americans, keep two things in mind. The government is us (we can always change who is in it) and we must be willing to pay for what we decide.

How can change our politicking so that we can truly debate these matters?

1. Clarify concepts. For example: National debt per se is not a bad thing. Like business, government at times needs to raise funds which it then pays off from revenue. Let's just do it intelligently.

2. Put an end to political TV propaganda and replace it with debate. An easy way to cut down on negative political ads is to reinstate the fairness doctrine: whenever one party is on the air (whether through news coverage or paid advertising), the networks and stations are required to offer the other party equal time of the same value for free. We might consider requiring that all political debates take place on radio, where content prevails over image.

3. Get serious about outlawing lobbying or regulating it reasonably.

4. Restore a sense of personal honor and consideration and stop demonizing people because they belong to political party X.

5. Restore a commitment to education for all designed to equip our people as responsible citizens able to make informed decisions about what politicians openly propose.

We can do all this if we really want to. Let's start by telling our representative and senators to be open in public about what they propose, to be civil in all their dealings with the other party, and to listen carefully to the voters and refrain from writing back to justify their votes.

Please take a look at my latest release, Angela 1: Starting Over, which deals with some of these issues but is not political. Get the beautiful hardcover version at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html . Angela is also available as an ebook at your favorite provider, at a considerably cheaper price.

15 July 2011

End of the Harry Potter Series (Movie Version)

In honor of the premiere of the last Harry Potter movie, which came out yesterday in Argentina (where I grew up) and today in the US (where I was born and I live now), I have two further observations to make.

The correct title of the first book is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. As often happens, the American editors decided to change the title. Why? Did they think it would not sell if it had the word philosopher in the title? Just how dumb do the editors think we are?

The title comes from the beliefs of medieval alchemists, a theme that runs through the books, a weakness, as is divination, in the world of magic, because it makes people forget values and ethics. The legendary philospher's stone was a substance the alchemists believed would grant them their two greatest wishes: to become immortal and rich. The latter desire, the legend went, would be fulfilled by the power to turn any substance into gold. They were ignoring the myth of King Midas who ended up with the ears of a donkey to symbolize his foolishness at wanting everything he touched to turn into gold (to say nothing of the devaluation of the metal that would occur, negating the very power it granted).

The other matter is a reaction to a piece I read in The New Yorker. It said that if the first book had come out a year or two later, Hermione would not have had to go to the library all the time to get her information. She just could have Googled it. The writer had obviously not been paying attention. There are two big problems with that. First, computers are mentioned early in the first book in the muggle world. It's not that the Internet was not already in place. Second, electricity does not work at Hogwarts because of all the magic power bombinating around. This is a basic device in the series. The situation forces everyone to relate face-to-face. Think about it.

Please look up my latest release, Angela 1: Starting Over on your ereader. Go to your favorite provider and download the free sample. Thanks!

www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

14 July 2011

Blog Talk Radio Program Today

Please tune in to my radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com at 5:30 CDT today (Thursday 14 July). Just click on the On Air button. See you on the radio and I'll be back on the blog tomorrow.

27 June 2011

Point of View in the Electrical Age

According to Understanding Media, point of view in the art and literature of the modern period (1450-1900) was individual, fragmented, linear, and uniform. This point of view mirrored print, which has all those characteristics. The print process (fragmenting into individual steps carried out one at a time in linear fashion) provided the conceptual framework for the assembly line in manufacturing.

With the coming of electricity, everything is (or rather, can be) present everywhere at the same time and the machine no longer drives the economy. Linearity and single point of view are impossible. As a result, art no longer tries to represent three dimensions on two, but has become tacticle and invites participation. In literature, Joyce gives us one character's point of view using stream of consciousness, which is anything but linear and uniform. Art, literature, and music were announcing very loudly the end of the modern age and the birth of the age of electricity. But by now, stream of consciousness is old and overused.

In Angela 1: Starting Over the story is seen through the eyes of the main character, Angela Fournier. Her reality is not only what she thinks about things, but also the people she loves and enjoys and the larger social issues that affect them. Her world is expanding rapidly as she learns. It's her questioning of what people take for granted out of conveniency, complancency, or covetousness that gets her into big trouble and drives the story.

You can now get the book instantly (and cheap!) if you buy the e-book version for your Nook, Kindle, iPad, Kindle for PC, etc. First, download the free sample to see how you like it. The hard cover version is available at: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

20 June 2011

A Girl for the Age of Electronics

In previous blogs I have commented on the end of the modern age, brought about by the explosion of mechanical, electrical, and digital technology beginning in the early 19th century. The telegraph was electrical and digital: the message was transmitted by means of two and only two signals, long and short. Computer technology in the 20th century merely simplified the concept and uses presence or not of electrical signal, the famous 0's and 1's to do its work.

The important thing is that this revolution in technology made the modern world view no longer adequate to explain the world we live in. Somehow we need to understand this inescapable global village which, thanks to the electrical wiring of the earth, gives us the illusion that we are aware of all that happens in real time, because electricity travels at the speed of light.

Angela Fournier, the main character in my current series, stands outside the flow of this electronic substitute for reality. She intuits, but doesn't fully understand, that the media create a "reality" rather than reflect it. That's why she seldom watches TV but instead is always in relationship with the people who are physically present. No communication at distance through electrical means can substitute for that.

Angela's way of doing things allows her to feel rested, to enjoy real relationships, and to begin to develop a reasoned, ethical approach to life, based on values and people. This is one way to get a handle on life, to live free rather than to be lived by the media, while still being in touch with the times. There are bound to be others, as well.

You can find out about my book, buy it even, at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html

If you prefer the ebook, just enter the title, Angela 1: Starting Over, at your favorite provider (Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Google, etc.). Ebooks are great. The only problem is that I can't sign them.

05 June 2011

Dickens and present-tense narration

In the past I have expressed the opinion that one should never use present tense narration without a very good reason for doing so. I still think this. Present tense narration is tiresome, especially when it's done because the writer thinks it's the new thing to do (it isn't).

In David Copperfield, Dickens uses a little present tense narration. It occurs in what he calls "Retrospects," sections in which he describes a vivid memory of something fundamentally important at the emotional level. In this novel, these sections serve to set off these three or four retrospects from the main body of the novel, narrated in past time. This is a good use of the technique because it serves a particular purpose the author had in mind.

Beware of the present tense trap. Don't let it dominate you, or the language will end up impoverished.

Please check out my book, in hard cover at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html
and in ebook format at the Kindle Store or at barnes&noble.com

02 June 2011

My New Radio Program

In an effort to promote new writers, myself among them, I will be starting a weekly 15-minute radio program on blogtalk radio. The first episode is Thursday 9 June 2011 at 6:30 pm Eastern time, 5:30 Central, 3:30 Pacific. It will "air" on the Internet every Thursday at the same time until the Fall, when I will announce a move to a different day, which I hope will be permanent.

I will use the first one or two episodes to introduce Angela 1 and my short stories and then branch out to interviewing young, up-and-coming writers you should look out for. It will be a learning experience for me and I hope you will join me for a brief conversation every Thursday.

Please listen in by going to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ and searching for the episode title: Introduction to Angela. Listen live on Thursday, or , if your schedule does not permit it, listen to the archived show by following the same procedure.

Nowdays, with high-quality on-demand publishing, the industry is moving to getting all its money up front from us authors and not risk any of their own money in promoting us. It really makes it hard for new writers to get attention.

Well, Angela is out as an ebook. Spread the word!

31 May 2011

Angela is now an e-book!

I am delighted to announce that Angela 1: Starting Over is now available for Kindle and Nook. Finally the book can be purchased at a reasonable price. As a hard cover, the price was way too high for my primary readership of young people. The e-book price is considerably less than half that of the hard cover.

If it is not already, the book will also be available from all electronic reader outlets for whatever reader device you have.

Could I ask you to do three things for me? (1) Spread the word to others who have e-readers and may like the book, (2) download a free sample and encourage everyone to do so, and (3) post a nice review. All of this will draw attention and get the book higher on Amazon's list, then the sooner I can come out with Angela 2: The Guardian of the Bay.

Pass the word on and thank you so much! :)

28 May 2011

More on Dickens

First, to my long-suffering followers, I apologize profusely for not posting anything since February. Although not a full excuse, I will tell you that this semester has tried my patience like no other. We had two snowstorms and record cold and as a result lost a full week of classes. In addition, I had to go through a newly set-up five-year evaluation at TCU which really threw me for a loop (never fear, the outcome was ok). As a result, we never got caught up and our poor students were stressed.

Now that is all over and we are back to normal (I hope). Well, I have just finished reading David Copperfield. In previous posts I have pointed out the weakness of the good characters in Oliver Twist and Tale of Two Cities. Now David Copperfield is something else entirely. It's a wonderful novel with a variety of criminal, good, and in-between characters, all of whom are beautifully drawn. It's a deftly orchestrated symphony of hope, disappointment, growth, struggle, criminality, justice, and love. Why is this novel so superior to the other two?

I think Dickens was entirely in his element using a first-person narration and doing a wonderfully perceptive critique of British society in the middle of the 19th century. Abstracting himself and trying to see an entire period and society from a detached viewpoint as in the other two novels did not work for him as it did for Hugo, for example. But placing himself in the middle of events, in a manner Marshall McLuhan would call audio-tactile-visual, that is, in touch with the full sensorial experience, Dickens pulled off a masterpiece of insightful representation. No wonder it is deservedly beloved.

Dickens was ahead of his time in seeing the value of human beings in their character and not in the social position they were born into. It's too bad corporations view humans strictly as either consumers who enrich them by buying their products or abstracted holders of jobs in production and no more than that. How inhuman!

Many 20th-century writers have highlighted the inhumanity of people in the technological, post-modern age. I hope in my work I appeal again to the humanity of the individual against very big odds.

10 February 2011

Two Very Different Changes of Era

Well, folks, now I'm back to blogging. We have been iced/snowed in for days here in north Texas, giving us a chance to finish up some projects on the house. That's why I haven't been writing. Now we're thawing out, which is a good thing.

Back to the end-of-era business. I won't bore you with a long disquisition, but rather I will make a couple of points. The era of classical antiquity began to come apart for good after the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He set up his son, Commodus as next emperor. Commodus was cruel and despotic, so much so that the army had him killed and proclaimed the next emperor. For the next 120 years, Rome suffered one military coup after another. Things looked better when Constantine took control but he ended up dividing the empire in two and after him things went from bad to worse. All the great civilization of antiquity had run its course and people thought it had no more to offer. It was 1000 years before western Europe began to recover.

The High Middle Ages marked the comeback of western Europe. First, the feudal system established a level of security and stability that had not been known for centuries. A money economy began to grow, universities were established, and technology began to boom. In the middle ages they invented eyeglasses (allowing aging scholars to continue their work), water mills, the windmill, the sextant (allowing sailors to cross open waters), mechanical clocks, and the printing press with movable type in the 1450's. By then, both technology and commerce had developed to such an extent that the medieval world view (land, community, the spiritual, and a hierarchical society) no longer matched the reality. In other words, the medieval period was so creative that what it created put an end to medieval thinking.

As I said in an earlier post, we are unmistakably at a change of eras because the old modern world view (1450 to 1900) no longer matches the realities created by technology, consumerism, and mega cities. The question is: Will this change mark a destructive decline as happened in antiquity or does it lead to a new creative period? It is not at all clear which it will be. All we can say for sure is that the technology created at the end of the modern period has made the modern world view obsolete.

Please visit my website at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html . My new book series deals with issues facing our society in a gentle and engaging way. If you read my book, please comment. Thanks!

26 January 2011

Books I read in 2010

Well, folks, I have again been derelict in my duty to my followers. It has been for a good cause, though. My in-laws came from Buenos Aires for an extended visit (it's summer down there), the first time they had been able to come in many years. We wound up tearing up the linoleum floor in the kitchen to put in tile.

Now that I have a breather, I will interrupt my ramblings about the passing of the modern age for something light. These are the books I read in 2010 (those that I remember, that is), in no particular order:

The Hobbit - Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings - Tolkien
All seven Harry Potter books - Rowling
Jurassic Park - Crichton
Three Cups of Tea - Mortenson
The Nine Taylors - Sayers
Gaudy Night - Sayers
Strong Poison - Sayers
The Collected Stories - Sayers
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club - Sayers
The Gospel According to Mark - Anonymous
A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bryson
Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Nietzsche
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - Joyce
Passionate Minds - Bodanis
The Street Lawyer - Grisham
Les misérables - Hugo (the whoooooole thing, in French)
Jane Eyre - Brontë
The Picture of Doryan Grey - Wilde
All four books of the Merlin series by Mary Stewart

I did not list the books as I read them, so I'm probably overlooking some. As you can see, I re-read old favorites and new books all the time. I had never read Les misérables before. It's a huge work and worth the discipline and persistence to finish it, but it's certainly not what most people want to read nowdays.

I will return to the matter of the end of the modern age in my next post.

Please see my book at www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/Angela1.html . I need just a handful more to buy it and my publisher will make it available as an ebook.