“History does not repeat itself - it is historians who repeat one another.” - anon In 1907 the elder, esteemed American astronomer Percival Lowell claimed to have discovered canals on Mars. He proposed that these “canals” were a last gasp effort of a dying civilization to reroute water from Martian ice caps onto a drying, desolate landscape. Lowell made detailed drawings of these patterns he called “canals” and as a result of his scientific reputation and social status, his exciting idea spread quickly. The wide publication of Lowell’s carefully observed drawings and theory the origin of Martian canals stimulated the imagination of millions of newspaper readers on both sides of the Atlantic including many science fiction writers. The existence of Lowell’s “canals” could not be corroborated by other astronomers and his theory was soon discredited. Lowell was actually seeing the shadows of blood vessels cast on the retina of his own eyes from his small telescope eyepiece.
This story is ripe for wisdom-mining. There are no canals on Mars; there ARE canals on/in our eyes. Others find it annoying when we make Lowell’s mistake of thinking our canals ( the ones we see on Mars or anywhere on Earth, in our souls, out among the stars) are everyone’s canals if only other people would bother to look as closely as we have looked. When discussing canals ( ideas, beliefs) approach slowly, begin with a hint, you may find a like mind and most likely you will not, if not, let it go. Your canals are yours. Everyone has his/her collection, their canal-baggage aka their mythome, belief system, prejudices, habits, enthusiasms, trails of success / failure, often anxious to share.
Many successful writers latch onto an underclass that they proceed to exploit in their art. Bertolt Brecht exploited the proletariat workers of the world like the good Communist he was. John Steinbeck exploited the unfortunate Okie immigrants seeking work in California. Thomas Mcguane exploits the small town hapless businessman, doctor or rancher of disintegrating prospects. The effective memoirist exploits their own family.
Brecht patronized his oppressed, exploited workers from the vantage point of a comfortable, well-educated member of the bourgeoisie he and his fellow avant-gardists scorned. Brecht exploited the working class as much as any industrialist. The abused worker was his lab rat for his own aggrandizing theatrical experiments. The workers of the world were Brecht’s “canals on Mars” the burst blood vessels through which a writer sees his subjects. The most successful author is always slumming. Never write of or above your psychic or social station i.e. don’t write about people happier or wealthier than yourself. When a writer of the upper class turns to write about his/her poor little rich people - look out! Literature is in the works - see: Tolstoy. This is AOK, not criticizing, just noting.
- Eight-oar rowing, the most communist in spirit of any sport given its requirement of total subsumption of the individual for the good of the whole enterprise yet competitive rowing has been nurtured in the heart of the Capitalist upper class by the WASPiest of young men and women, destined to the highest levels of Capitalist leadership.
- Bertolt Brecht wrote one great play ( adapted) “Threepenny Opera” and one great song lyric “Mack the Knife” the rest is agitprop.
- Socialism is sharing of wealth created by all members of society. Capitalism is the hogging of as much wealth as one can get away with and if laws interfere, change them - see: Bill Clinton and friends-Glass Stegall. Feel the Bern !
- Brecht’s “Epic Theatre” is Agitprop at its best but agitprop nonetheless. Agitprop = AGITationPROPaganda, a didactic theatrical form meant to instruct audience ( usually poorly educated) on the value of Communism.
March 19, 2016 2:37PM