LITR 4368 Literature of the Future
lecture notes


 

Take Virtually Now & "Stone Lives" copies

 

 

preview evolutionary language in Stone

 

 

condescension toward fantasy, escapism, popular literature

 

evolutionary scenario: blame it on my enironment, raised in different literary culture

 

less youth market for literature (comic books > classics), so read what grown-ups read, learned adult standards in good faith (childhood, youth as separate world)

 

Just because I think there are better things to read, doesn't mean I don't want to learn about what others are reading

 

 

 

Problem for academics: too far away from everyday popular reading habits

 

problem for popular audience: lack of critical standards beyond "fandom" to make literature better, make it respond to needs

 

 

 

Scripture / prophecy and science fiction as literary genres

 

199 Earthseed verses . . . poetry? . . . cf. Bible

 

 

Scripture as literature a culture or civilization preserves

defines, sets goals for culture, civilization

civiilzation, culture conserves, protects, defends scripture

 

cultural prestige: divine source,

 

prophecy may or may not be scripture

pop-culture prophets (usually apocalyptic)

 

prophecy uses symbols that have to be interpreted like riddles (cf. Oracle at Delphi) (In Parable: walls, fire, seeds, etc.)

 

aesthetics pleasure of interpreting prophecy comparable to solving riddles, puzzles, mysteries--exercises ingenuity, shows cleverness

 

pleasure of sense of order, destiny, purpose

 

also if respect prophets, security of joining them among righteous

 

 

prophecy hit or miss. Except for big embarrassments, people remember hits and ignore misses.

 

we want them to be right, for the world to have order that we can understand, for the future to be predictable, our assumptions to be validated . . . See! I was right!

 

 

 

Human beings smartest creatures we know, but in evolutionary time, only around for a short while, and our minds remain limited.

 

confirmation bias

 

Short attention span

 

Us vs. them (evolutionary psychology)

 

hate government or abstract rules against our impulses, but only friend or ally against nature or corporate capitalism [government can take many forms: grass-roots org., cooperatives, local, federal, global]--idea of progressive government is not that any of us is always right but that we trade off some desires for others

 

287 agribusiness conglomerate

 

 

within limits, we can learn, but usually have to feel real pain to work against our limits

 

Great Depression > New Deal

 

 

  

science fiction as Literature of Ideas

 

entertain and instruct

 

66 teach and entertain at same time

 

167 kindness eases change (cf. literature, teaching as entertainment + instruction)

 

63 [analogy] like ignoring a fire

 

108 marrying Curtis and having a bunch of babies?

112 Curtis, condoms

 

123 cities controlled by big companies old hat in sf

 

 

217 change does not equal God, change an idea

218 cf. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics [sf]

entropy

 

223 Earthseed is being born right here on Hwy 101 [blend of idea + fictional realism]

 

 

 

Butler's style: action, reaction

limits: all characters talk alike, ask direct questions--but dialogue is quick and short enough not to bog down and draw attention to its limits

 

 

hard science fiction

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

105 TVs you go through . . . touchrings

144 Paracetco, Mother's drug

200 got caught up in their lovemaking [hyperempathy development]

 

 

soft science fiction

26 soft sf, speculative fiction

 

 

speculative fiction

56 bubonic plague, world coming to end

 

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

hyperempathy as prevention

 

230 African surnames > Yoruba x Swahili [Speculative fiction]

 

 

 

 

realism

applicability to real world > learning x escape

 

197 118 freeway > the 23 [realism, verisimilitude]

 

201 His pride kicked in. [psycho-social realism]

216 resupplied at Hanning Joss [realism as consumer ID]

 

popular literature

 

 

Creation-apocalypse

 

 

 

evolution

 

 

visual symbols of creation / Apocalypse and Evolution: linear v. cyclical

 

But linear may be cyclical

 

cyclical may be linear (spiral) (evolution as increasing complexity / diversity)

 

 

evolution may be apocalyptic (catastrophe, mass extinction)

 

 

 

 

Genesis / Creation as childhood / union with God (security, protection, parent-child relation)

"Man's fall" as dis-union, disobedience, exile to labor, wandering, death

Revelation as re-union with God

most specifically, Tree of Life (eternal life) in Garden of Eden (Genesis 2.9)

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

tree of life withdrawn from humans after fall

 3.22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  24 So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Revelation 2.7: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life*, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 22.1: And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2: In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

14: Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Utopia

 

scripture: Eden, New Jerusalem, both with tree of life

 

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

 

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

 

211 northern edens [evolution as continuity + change]

 

223 community [cf. utopia]

 

224 security, education, grow food [utopia as experimental community]

 

Dystopia 

 

53 too many poor people

 

116 coming apart . . . community, families, members

 

133 [cannibalism]

 

 

ch 4

33 incest [dystopia]

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

36 fear and hate everyone [dystopia]

 

 

170 "Out here in the world, they kill kids every day." [dystopia]

 

 

novel as journal--history of novel

x-fantasy, YA--youth not yet a market?]

 

 pre-midterm need to use terms, definitions, webpage (demonstrate learning)

 

 

 

 

Discussion Questions: 1. Continue comparisons with Genesis / Revelation and other apocalyptic texts. Does Lauren qualify as a "prophet?" Earthseed as prophecy? Earthseed community as utopia? (cf. heaven at end of Revelation)

2. Discuss blending of apocalypse and evolution in Parable of Sower (and later texts like Time Machine).

2a. How are both present? How account for co-presence instead of co-exclusion?

2b. Where do they diverge? Where do they meet? Can you reconcile seeing the world as both apocalypse and evolution, rather than one excluding the other? If so, how?

2c. What are the signs, symbols, or keywords of creation-apocalypse and evolution?

3. Broadly, how does Parable of the Sower succeed (or not) in making you care about the future? Or does it just make you want to buy guns, hoard gold, hide, and distrust anyone who's not in your family or church?

4. Science fiction and many other forms of popular literature do not age well. Parable of the Sower is now 20+ years old. How out of date is it already? How much closer are we to its time-frame? If it survives, why? What literary qualities make it somewhat timeless or classic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Continue comparisons with Genesis / Revelation and other apocalyptic texts. Does Lauren qualify as a "prophet?" Earthseed as prophecy? Earthseed community as utopia? (cf. heaven at end of Revelation)

Status of unity / union with God or father

> separation, afflictions, trials, tests

> survival and reunification with God / father in new location separate from world, restoring old world

resemblance to romance narrative; cf. Jurassic World

 

 

25 something my people need [prophecy]

 

 

 

 

2. Discuss blending of apocalypse and evolution in Parable of Sower (and later texts like Time Machine).

2a. How are both present? How account for co-presence instead of co-exclusion?

 

creation and evolution are two different representations or interpretations of the same reality

 

 

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

 

308 sea of fire [Rev. 15.2: And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire

 

 

2b. Where do they diverge? Where do they meet? Can you reconcile seeing the world as both apocalypse and evolution, rather than one excluding the other? If so, how?

characterevolves out of apocalypse

 

82 a tree cannot grow in its parents' shadows

 

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

 

63 big live oak trees [Dad protects]

 

92 you disobeyed

 

 

 

 

 

2c. What are the signs, symbols, or keywords of creation-apocalypse and evolution?

 

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

 

56 cycle (business) > back to normal

 

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

 

94 [epigraph] power struggles

rams knocking heads [sexual dominance]

 

101 [cultural evoluton] ongoing group adaptation

 

 

105 Keith's reading adaptable; instructions for gadgets

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

 

 

124 Adaptable

125 Interconnected

I'll adapt

 

171 Harry offtering trust [evolution as altruism, not just competititon, dominance]

 

172 Stealing? I mean to survive

173 surviving > knowledge, learning

 

177 Keiths . . . predators

178 I want to trust these people. [evolution as expansion of us v. them]

 

214 once or twice a week a Gathering of Earthseed [cf. Genesis]

214 our day of rest [continuity + change]

 

 

223 once El Camino Real [evolution]

223 should be fishing that river [biblical metaphor]

 

254 Justin Rohr

subsitute mother Allie

 

 

327 changed, but still itself (evolution)

 

final setting like first: trees, cooperative community, garden

 

3. Broadly, how does Parable of the Sower succeed (or not) in making you care about the future? Or does it just make you want to buy guns, hoard gold, hide, and distrust anyone who's not in your family or church?

guns, yes, but not end-game: guns may be a means of personal survival, but not the kind of world to want more of

Lauren learns who and how to trust

when family breaks down, Lauren improvises relationships, creates new family or extended family

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Science fiction and many other forms of popular literature do not age well. Parable of the Sower is now 20+ years old. How out of date is it already? How much closer are we to its time-frame? If it survives, why? What literary qualities make it somewhat timeless or classic?

efficient character development; complexity, intelligence

strangeness, oddness of Lauren-Bankole relationship

doesn't necessarily work, but not predictable, not typical formula of babes and hunks

ability to horrify but not indulge--quick touch rather than heavy touch

relationships represented; Lauren and Keith

elemental qualities, e.g. cannibalism

 

Dated? 87 white-black intermarriage > 287 most racially mixed

Also dated? absence of electronic writing > notebook

218 books, print, no e-books

 

 

 

17 latest Mars Mission [science, tech advance]

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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]

194 one oldest kid to another [evolution] [YA?]

232 Alli, Jillian Gilchrist, sisters,233 all men and women now, not kids anymore [YA]

 

 

big difference: Bankole

 

 

230 Bankole

230 one year older than my father, 57

 

 

 

 

 

pages keyed to new edition

Compare Revelation

3 God = change

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

56 too many poor people; depopulated > better pay [plague as apocalypse > opportunity)

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

63 "The problems we have now have been building since long before you were born."

67 Dad preached from Genesis

82 a tree cannot grow in its parents' shadows

124-5 adaptable and interconnected

 

 

105 I can read and write

108 how survive?

 

ch. 15

167 kindness eases change (cf. literature, teaching as entertainment + instruction)

167 Sunday day of rest and healing

168 Paint throws Zahra's daughter into fire

169 R Moss bought her

from nothing to nothing

170 "Out here in the world, they kill kids every day." [dystopia]

171 Harry offtering trust [evolution as altruism, not just competititon, dominance]

172 Stealing? I mean to survive

173 surviving > knowledge, learning

Hanning Joss, secure store complex . . . touchrings

174 Hanning disc

more affluent homeless

outdoor flea market

177 everyone filthy, stank

Keiths . . . predators

178 I want to trust these people. [evolution as expansion of us v. them]

 

ch 16

179 Earthseed / Cast on new ground  . ... [cf Jesus's parable of sower]

180 need our paranoia

181 [changing environments] [evolution]

182 adapt to your surrounds [evolution]

x-turn into animals for godsake

186 Zahra: teach me to read and write

187 you were ready

everything getting worse [dystopia, decline]

189 cut unconscious man's throat

191 a right to know . . . , about myself

my biological mother . . . and my sharing [YA]

192 x-mothers, children [dystopia]

193 No one is who we think they are . . . trusted so far

194 one oldest kid to another [evolution] [YA?]

195 read something . . . the you that hides

 

ch 17

196 unite x prey

196 big fire

197 118 freeway > the 23 [realism, verisimilitude]

197 hope for where it still rains

197 x-insurance

197 scavenging

198 crying about our fire and my Bibi . . . Grief

198 Sharer . . . pain was the evil

199 Earthseed verses . . . poetry? . . . cf. Bible

200 got caught up in their lovemaking [hyperempathy development]

201 His pride kicked in. [psycho-social realism]

201 commerccial water stations

202 coyotes

202 baby . . . sympathy

202 "Thanks man"

203 family: black man, Hispanic woman, baby both [greater diversity or uniformity?]

203 mixed couples

203 U.S. 101 now [realism, verisimilitude]

204 Pacific Ocean

205 can't swim

205 always looking for walls to shield us [symbol?]

205 books > water

208 stay alive by being suspicious [evolution]

209 dogs: pets > wild animals, will eat baby

210 Douglas family

211 helped her baby . . . friends

211 northern edens [evolution as continuity + change]

 

ch. 18

214 once or twice a week a Gathering of Earthseed [cf. Genesis]

214 our day of rest [continuity + change]

215 typo

216 a way to put it all together [x-guns]

216 resupplied at Hanning Joss [realism as consumer ID]

217 Travis as character

217 change does not equal God, change an idea

218 cf. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics [sf]

entropy

218 books, print, no e-books

cf. slaves

219 [not quite slavery]

220 [best Earthseed summary?]

220 male or female god?

221 the Destiny

221 God trickster, teacher

222 take root among the stars

223 Travis my first convert

223 community [cf. utopia]

223 Earthseed is being born right here on Hwy 101 [blend of idea + fictional realism]

223 once El Camino Real [evolution]

223 should be fishing that river [biblical metaphor]

224 security, education, grow food [utopia as experimental community]

 

ch 19

225 earthquake

226 older but not yet old black man who still had his teeth

229 handsome old man

230 Bankole

230 African surnames > Yoruba x Swahili [Speculative fiction]

230 one year older than my father, 57

232 typo

232 Alli, Jillian Gilchrist, sisters,233 all men and women now, not kids anymore [YA]

236 earring radio

round purple pills

237 pimp father

241 condoms

241 bolt action Winchester

242 typewriter, books

 

ch. 20

246 Sf, Bay Area chaos

247 [road numbers]

254 Justin Rohr

subsitute mother Allie

 

 

ch 21

258 San Luis Reservoir

259 squatters

261 Methodist, Baptists

unifying, purposeful life . . . A real heaven

266 good side of my hyperempathy

 

 

ch 22

271 horrors

272 cannibal feast

 

ch 23

279 learn or die (adapt or go extinct)

285 they might be worth something . . . not dangerous; 290 you know how to hide

287 agribusiness conglomerate

288 unskilled labor; cf. pp. 56-7

289 slaves learned

291 character development through slave experience

292 modern Underground Railroad

292 things are breaking down more and more [decline, dystopia]

 

ch 24

295 survivors

301 don't steal from one another

304 pyromania cf. Detropia

305 stepped back 200 years; better when I was little: cycle

305 Clear Lake

307 keep going or burn

308 sea of fire [Rev. 15.2: And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire

 

ch 25

318 huge half-ruined garden

318 seed carrying and collecting since home

319 build a community

320 black / white

323 slaves or slave drivers

326 oak trees

327 changed, but still itself (evolution)

327 acorns

328 planted oak trees