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# Monday, November 28, 2005

As I was riding home this evening, I tuned into Classical Radio on Sirius. Normally, I'm more inclined towards classic jazz, Christian rock, or, in my more energetic moods, hip hop. But tonight, it was dark and rainy, and I was in the mood for something more mellow and just happened to stumble across this station.

The program playing was an old-time bank robber story with the familiar, even cliché, gangsta and of course the melodramatic dames that go along with the old movies and radio. But it was a not-unwelcome reverie of that bygone era when clichés were okay, when men were men and women were women. And Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Down With Love are both pleasant pastiche that take one back.

Though all of these call back to a time before my own, I can still appreciate them, partially because I often watched older movies as a child (and so they hold some nostalgia on that point) but also because they were unabashedly fiction. It seems that real fiction is becoming increasingly rare in the popular media.

Sure, we still have fiction, but what do you hear folks talking about at the coffee pot or water cooler? How about Survivor, Apprentice, the news, or "the game"? Even shows that aren't technically non-fiction are essentially about everyday happenings or dramatizations of them. Take as an example ER, House, the ubiquitous CSI, or the even more ubiquitous Law and Order. What about the abundance of other reality shows, crime dramas, self-improvement, home improvement, science, history, etc.? And in literature, though it is admittedly losing some favor, the most popular genre of late seems to be memoirs and other stuff that barely passes for fiction, if fiction at all.

The media seem to have collectively lost their imagination. There are a few shows that are welcome respites, such as Threshold and Ghost Whisperer, and the SciFi Channel has a regular plateful of fiction, although it is often, sadly, poorly done, with the notable exception of Battlestar Galactica and, at times, the various flavors of Stargate. Firefly and Farscape were both awesome, original science fiction series, but both were canceled before their time, and from the looks of it, Threshold will go the same way soon (why else do they keep changing show times?).

But of course, the media aren't only the ones to blame. They're at the mercy of popular sentiment; the money follows the eyeballs. So the real question is whats wrong with us? Have we become so dull and jaded that even our entertainment is nothing more than our reality?

I think this is indeed a symptom of our deadened imaginations, imaginations that have been repeatedly quashed by our teachers and the scientistic ideologues that inform our educational system; the ones who have been forcing materialist dogma down our throats since early childhood.

After all, why should we expect anything more than reality if thats all there really is? If I can't see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, or hear it, it's not worth my time. Or at least thats what we've been taught to believe, and now that dead view of reality is making itself painfully apparent in our popular entertainment and literature, which should be our liveliest, most imaginative relief from the banality of ordinary life.

The current state of the media is in the death throws of its imagination, throwing people together in ridiculous circumstances and seeing how they'll react or, rather, act. I'm at a loss for what do to about it. I think all I can hope is that people will grow weary, as I have, of the pathetic offerings that most of the media are dishing out today and throw their sentiment in with more creative and imaginative outlets, forcing the majority media to respond and give us back our collective imagination.

Yet there is hope, I think. The popularity of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and, more especially, of Harry Potter are positive indicators. Zathura and Narnia are welcome additions that I hope will further spark the imagination of the younger audiences. One can only hope that as that generation grows (one not far behind my own, I might add), there will be a resurgence in demand for good fiction and we may yet save ourselves from this post-fiction world, and maybe some of us who will soon be inheriting the world can do our part to provide good fiction for our hungry and weary minds. The world needs more Tolkiens, Lewises, and Rowlings.

Monday, November 28, 2005 4:47:39 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
Tuesday, December 13, 2005 3:02:57 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Who cares about the popular media? You may be right regarding the popular media, and even more right about the water cooler, but I for one have a fiction reading list a mile long.

Some noteworthy titles I completed in the last year:

Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
Act's of the Apostles by John FX Sundman (Not Paul)
Paranoia & The Company Man by Joseph Finder (awesome!)
Ringworld, Ringworld Engineers, Ringworld Throne & Ringworld Children, Smoke Ring, Integral Trees, & Protector by Larry Niven
The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter
Rendezvous with Rama & Rama II by Arthur C. Clarke
Bourne Identity, Supremacy & Ultimatum, The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum
Davinci Code, Angels & Demons, & More by Dan Brown
Prey *, Timeline, Air Frame, & State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Scorpion's Gate by Richard A. Clarke
Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and most importantly Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan (Market Forces is one of the best books I have ever read...)
Asteroid Wars Trilogy & Saturn by Ben Bova
David Brin's Uplift Universe .
Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's quadrilogy
John Grisham's The Broker

And, those are just the ones I could remember punching in this post. Haven't read any Heinlein this year, although my vocabulary includes both the terms TINSTAFL and Grok, the difference is, I know where the word Grok came from :).

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