LITR 4368 Literature of the Future
lecture notes

 

ask Cynthia about poems Tuesday

 

presentations update, pre-midterm & midterm

Dear Lit-Future students, Attached please find our updated presentation assignments arranged alphabetically by last names.

Below are names and assignments added, in chronological order.

Two Future-Vision presentations remain open for the semester’s last two weeks (27 Nov. & 4 Dec.) if anyone else wants to volunteer or double up.—Dr. White 

Cynthia Cleveland Discussion-leader 25 September

Kyle W. Abshire Future-vision 2 October

Tommy Brewer Discussion-leader 16 October (H.G. Wells)

Laura Wilson Future-vision 30 October

Andrew Pagitt Future-vision 13 November (Jules Verne?)

Vanessa M. Cervantes Future-vision 20 November

Jojo Hunter Discussion-leader 27 November

Tanner Houser Discussion-leader 4 December

 

 

pre-midterm & midterm

 

review dates, imminence (apocalypse!)

 

possible topics for essay 2 (peersonal / professional topic)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review notes from last class on Revelation appeals

 

symbols & narratives; Nibiru; dystopia > millennium > utopia;

 

romance narrative

 

 

 

Apocalypse much easier to teach, for telling stories—human mind more receptive

 

Evolution enormously complex topic, human mind limited in comprehension

 

 

 

No purpose of telling you what to believe—-only lose if I try—students won't learn anything except that their teacher agrees or disagrees with them

 

neither story makes much difference in daily functioning

but values?

 

—can't usually tell by looking at someone if they share your sense of how things came to be, or if they believe that dangerous nonsense that other people think or believe

 

people don't take sides unless you force them

 

most modern people functioning in modern world slip back and forth between both stories

 

like last class: one reality, so different people see different aspects or dimensions of that reality at different times or according to who they're with

 

 

So what do we do?

 

Not a scientist or a preacher, not a class in biology, geology, or history of science, nor in religious studies 

 

Literature courses do many things, but esp. literary forms and cultural knowledge / discussion

 

three narratives of the future as three kinds of stories

 

stories both pleasure in imitating reality and instruction (how to act or not act)

 

66 teach and entertain at same time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apocalypse suits limited attention span

 

plurality of Americans believe humans appear on Earth in past 10,000 years

 

6000-10,000 years

 

Matthew 24

   34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

 

"Last generation" appropriate to human time-cognition, mostly limited to a generation or so

 

Apocalypse flatters generational vanity

idea around for 2000 + years

historic failure but

unfalsifiable--beleifs over facts

 

   36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

 

 

human stories compatible

longer lives may counteract appeal

 

 

evolution: survival, adaptation, extinction

evolution: change + continuity

idea round for 150 years (though classical Greeks and Romans considered it]

 

inhuman, unfriendly time span

universe 12-14 billion years, Earth 4.5 billion years, humans app. 200,000 years, civilization 3000 years? human life 30-90 years?

 

nature doesn't exactly care x God as pfather, Jesus as savior-hero, Mary as mother

extinction as dinosaurs

 

Humans can't think very long, or collectively

 

 

 

 

characters talk about evolution, cultural cycles, repeated patterns in human history, present actions as having impact on continuous future ("Earthseed")

rational analysis of human behavior in terms of change and adaptation

Compare Parable to Genesis-Revelation as apocalypse narrative (or, more broadly, creation-apocalypse narrative)

Also note other religious content (heroine's father a Baptist preacher)

But differences:

 

 

 

 

122 half antebellum revival and half sf

123 cities controlled by big companies old hat in sf [dystopia]

123-4 company-city subgenre Metropolis (film)

 

hard science fiction

11 hyperempathy syndrome [science fiction] esp. Wells's Law

105 TVs you go through . . . touchrings

144 Paracetco, Mother's drug

 

 

soft science fiction

26 soft sf, speculative fiction

 

 

17 latest Mars Mission [science, tech advance]

20-21 Mars as heaven, hell on earth (off-planet)

 

 

 

 

creation-apocalypse narrative + evolutionary narrative

55 we can get ready, survive

55 like Jericho

 

creation-apocalypse narrative

9 Keith cf. mark of Cain

42 Moss girls--cf. nuclear family as Eden--apply to question reaction?

63 big live oak trees [Dad protects]

 

92 you disobeyed

144 Book of Revelation: Babylong the great is fallen .  . . habitation of devils

 

 

 

evolutionary narrative

10 [Darwinian jungle]

12 adaptation, consequences of novelty

29 2025 intelligence = adaptability

31 selective breeding and selective dying . . . misdirected

50 island surrounded by sharks

56 cycle (business)

56 bubonic plague, world coming to end

56 changes

57 change as opportunity [creative destruction]

57 climate change

57 reading and studying

58 learn . . . to survive (adaptation)

58 live long enough to learn more

59 nothing is going to save us (x-romance narrative) contrast Revelation

59 cf. Pascal's wager (p. 8)

159 vultures

 

 

YA Dystopia?

4 heroic potential self, fantasy dream

5 different: multicultural

6 we can afford the stars: poetic, + prefigure

8 special knowledge: baptistery

8 go in a bunch, go armed [street culture]

13 care what he thinks about me [YA)

13 good how she delays IDing her god > chapter 2 [narrative[

15 Deists . . . risk-taking

16 Jehovah = Zeus [fiction allows forbidden thoughts; just a story, + what character thinks, not author]

68 [YA] She was my best friend. Now she isn't.

89 [YA] waiting to be older

96 her kid, but not her kid [YA]

 

 

big difference: Bankole

 

 

 

Utopia

 

8 good old days (cf. Make America Great Again)

 

 

Dystopia 

 

53 too many poor people

 

 

ch 4

33 incest [dystopia]

35 We help each other, and we don't steal [>utopia?]

36 fear and hate everyone [dystopia]

 

 

 

 

John 1; That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)  3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

 

Acts 2: 1-47

 

 

 

4 wall of fire? [symbols, images merge in dreams]

6 outside where things are dangerous and crazy (cf. Heaven in apocalypse, or garden of Eden in Genesis)

3 God = change

6 father’s god not my god

6 outside where things are dangerous and crazy (cf. Eden)

 

ch 2

8 good old days (cf. Make America Great Again)

8 [Pascal's wager]

9 Keith cf. mark of Cain

9 walled estates

10 [Darwinian jungle]

10 LA was better then

11 hyperempathy syndrome [science fiction] esp. Wells's Law

12 adaptation, consequences of novelty

14 John 1 & Acts 2

15 demographics

16 Job

 

Ch 3

17 latest Mars Mission [science, tech advance]

17 cost of water, water peddlers [sf]

18 x-gasoline [but no sense of solar, wind, etc.]

18 Window Wall TV [high tech]

19 new multisensory stuff [> SimStim]

19 police

20-21 Mars as heaven, hell on earth (off-planet)

20 space our future

22 church as community

23 new illegal drug [Fire]

24 no Job

24 expulsion from heaven [Astronaut dies on Mars mission]

24 Dad--I care what he thinks

24 What I believe

25 something my people need [prophecy]

25 intelligence adapts, single generation (evolution as social adaptation)

26 soft sf, speculative fiction

 

29 2025 intelligence = adaptability

selective breeding . . . misdirected

 

ch 4

33 incest [dystopia]

35 We help each other, and we don't steal [>utopia?]

36 fear and hate everyone [dystopia]

36 combo Old Testament and West African

36 patriarchs

37 Dad tries to shield us

42 Moss girls--cf. nuclear family as Eden--apply to question reaction?

 

ch 5

47 rain six years ago . . . storm almost tropical

48 free water

50 all outsiders. Amy one of us

50 island surrounded by sharks

52 write to keep from going crazy

53 parents living with parents

53 take care of babies and cook [regression]

53 too many poor people

53 drug > set fires

54 tornadoes

54 immunizations

54 Donner is God > set country back 100 years

55 hit > hit > big hit [decline]

55 we can get ready, survive

55 like Jericho

56 cycle (business) > back to normal

56 bubonic plague, world coming to end

56 changes

57 change as opportunity

57 climate change; can't make climate change back

57 reading and studying, books on survival

58 learn . . . to survive (adaptation)

58 live long enough to learn more [continuous adaptation]

59 nothing is going to save us (x-romance narrative) . . . save ourselves

59 cf. Pascal's wager (p. 8)

 

ch. 6

61 Joanne told [YA]

61 don't talk about bad things [reverse magic]

62 learn to survive

62 your world is coming to an end [i.e. older generation perceive apocalypse]

62-3 good Af Am dad talk

63 big live oak trees [Dad protects]

63 problems building since long before born [sin or system?]

63 [analogy] like ignoring a fire

65 teach x scare, lose authority

66 teach and entertain at same time

66 obedience

66 Dad preached from Genesis

68 [YA] She was my best friend. Now she isn't.

68 Garden thieves

70 like Joanne--denial personified

73 gas-fueled cars

75 [collective]

"I don't care about them! It's you I'm woorried about" . . . We can't think that way any more."

76 Live! Survive.

76 God is change . . . exists to be shaped

playing business as usual while things gget worse and worse

 

ch. 7

78 Earthseed cf. evolution--islands seeded

79 so few computers

81 I hate [Dad's] decision, but maybe he's right.

82 tree . . . parents' shadows

82 cul-de-sac with a wall around it

83 big Anglo-Japanese cosmological station ont he moon

detecting new worlds . . . .life-bearing

83 no one to talk to out there

83 extrasolar travel . . . out of shadow of parent world

84 exploration . . . profits, big future profits

 

ch. 8

87 get married and have babies?

88 Moss family x community effort

89 [YA] waiting to be older

90 submachine gun

92 you disobeyed

 

ch. 9

94 [epigraph] power struggles

rams knocking heads [sexual dominance]

96 her kid, but not her kid [YA]

97 Keith new clothing, shoes

empathy with Keith

98 stolen money, drug money, or worse

 

2026

101 [cultural evoluton] ongoing group adaptation

adaptive function

 

ch. 10

103 survival, position, power

104 Dad gone to the college

105 TVs you go through . . . touchrings

105 Keith's reading adaptable; instructions for gadgets

106 Keith and Dad: he's you [evolution as continuity]

108 marrying Curtis and having a bunch of babies?

108 How did you survive? . . .

109 people all over the freeway coming from L.A.

110 Crazies. Paints . . . eat fire and kill rich people

112 Curtis, condoms

identify Keith's body

114 cops "discover" evidence

115 hated Keith as much as I loved him . . . sociopathic

hyperempathy as prevention

 

ch. 11

116 God is change

116 coming apart . . . community, families, members

118 Kagimoto, Stamm, Frampton KSF Olivar

sea level, warming climate

upper middle class, white, literate

119 desalination plant

119 privatized

119 dominate

119 formerly public land

119 early American company towns

120 they've got hundreds of me

120 get people in debt

121 denial

122 half antebellum revival and half sf

123 explosion, big crash, sudden chaos > bit by bit

123 cities controlled by big companies old hat in sf

123-4 company-city subgenre Metropolis (film)

124 Adaptable

125 Interconnected

I'll adapt

 

ch 12

128 wants a future . . . like her parents' present

129 privatized cities?

cheap labor and cheap land

Dad didn't come home today

130 more squalor, more human remains, more feral dogs [decline]

131 a black man's arm

132 from Texas like my biological mother

133 [cannibalism]

134 sermon about perseverance

the weak can overcome the strong

 

ch. 13

138 posing as a man

139 black and white x white enclave

143 fire drug

144 Paracetco, Mother's drug

144 Book of Revelation: Babylon the great is fallen .  . . habitation of devils

147 Cory takes Dad's job; computer hookups

 

2027

151 questing, destiny

 

ch 14

153 burning

155 poverty made streets cleaner

159 vultures

 

 

Nehemiah 4.14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

 

 

 

 

Lauren's Dad

58 "It's better to teach people than to scare them . . . .  lose their fear  . . . harder to scare them a second time"

58 "ways to entertain them and teach them at the same time"

59 "talk to them about classes, not Armageddon"

 

 

Another "sign" of apocalyptic thinking:

"Decline" thinking . . .

"Things are really getting bad out there."

"The system can't take much more until everything falls apart."

 

 

 

 

example:

compare beginning-middle-end of Parable with

overall narrative of Bible:

Eden, tree of life > fall, redemption of messiah, apocalypse > heaven, tree of life

 

Tree of life: Genesis 4.9

Rev. 2.7, 22.2

 

How does the re-appearance of the tree of life change the linear narrative of Genesis->Revelation?

 

 

Apocalyptic narrative

literary appeal

rich, spectacular imagery with lots of action--"sublime" reaction: beauty and fear

vivid metaphors, analogies, and symbols--reader can take pleasure in interpreting, code-breaking, new applications--"I see the signs being fulfilled"; "I've identified the Antichrist!"

compare narrative with "adventure story" or "romance narrative": stress builds until reader / character is saved by hero--danger / threat and rescue / salvation

 

Ideological / intellectual appeal

stakes couldn't be higher, personally and globally--the fate of the world and the fate of the individual soul--dramatic; near-future

story happens within human time scale--"I come quickly."--"We are the last generation."--therefore personalized, made immediate (contrast evolution's time scale)

also, time is linear, helping story-telling or narrative

 

 

 

Temptation to keep working on it is great . . . .

This is the kind of literary analysis we all do, but mostly with secular texts,

added attraction: the content matters to a lot of people--or at least recognizable

Quizzes: obvious that people carry around bits of knowledge, attitudes determined by Genesis-Revelation

 

No way our class can do it all--summer school has to keep moving

Keep the big view and be adaptable

Primary Objectives—Narratives & Visions of the Future

1.     To identify, describe, and criticize narratives or stories humans tell about the future:

a.      Apocalyptic

b.     Evolutionary

c.      Alternative

 

apocalypse = linear narrative, time has beginning and end

Rev. 1.8 Alpha and Omega

Rev. 22.13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

 

evolution = cyclical narrative, circle . . .  (natural time patterns, like seasons, day, year)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literary topics:

objective 3. Is the future "written" (i. e., set, fixed, programmed, and usually apocalyptic) or "being written" ("open-ended" and usually evolutionary)?

In Parable, is the future written or being written?

What is attractiveness to readers of apocalyptic theme?

 

Cultural topics:

Extend scene in Parable to contemporary world of unwinnable wars, unpayable debt, growing gaps between rich and poor

What current trends culminate in the nightmare world of Parable?—

hope or horror at Literature of the Future?

How to react to "the coming anarchy?"  Arm or disarm?  Engage society or retreat from it?

 

4 wall of fire?

6 outside where things are dangerous and crazy (cf. Heaven in apocalypse, or garden of Eden in Genesis)

6 father’s god not my god

18-19 Mars as heaven, hell on earth (off-planet)

59 Dad preached from Genesis

82 you disobeyed

old world has to be destroyed to create new

55 "I think your world is coming to an end . . . ."

73 a tree cannot grow in its parents' shadows

 

death is evolution's dirty little secret; one other dirty little secret: sex

 

Genesis-Revelation narrative:

World / order is created, is lost > restored, redeemed

 

Evolution (or at least variations from Genesis-Revelation)

3 God = change

25 intelligence adapts, single generation (evolution as social adaptation)

51 no one's going to save us; save ourselves

52 survive

55 "The problems we have now have been building since long before your were born."

111 adaptable and interconnected

 

Lauren's Dad

58 "It's better to teach people than to scare them . . . .  lose their fear  . . . harder to scare them a second time"

58 "ways to entertain them and teach them at the same time"

59 "talk to them about classes, not Armageddon"

 

51 Nothing is going to save us.  If we don't save ourselves, we're dead.