Hooc Ott dropped a blog post-sized comment on Jon Del Arroz’s post about cultural differences between the two main factions in the science fiction and fantasy scene:
A divide I have found is Christian and post-Christian atheist.
Throw a rock at a crowd of Pulp revolutionaries and you will hit a Christian 9 out of 10 times.
“It’s a burnout mentality”
I have been reading Spengler a bit. A couple things he wrote strikes a cord here. First he says all science of a civilization comes from religion. Now I don’t speak German and i am reading Decline of the west in English anyway, but i get the distinct feeling Spengler’s idea of what he means by science isn’t graphs and guys in lab coats. I think he includes philosophy and art when he says this.
The other thing Spengler mentions is that after all possibilities in art philosophy and science are exhausted in a culture its civilization dies.
Now you don’t ascribe much as to the reasons why the old guard group is boring and complain about how “hard it is to write, how they have a block, how the muse just isn’t inspiring them, how they’re scatterbrained and can’t focus.”
I am going to go out on a limb here and ascribe their exhaustion to their post-Christian atheism. They have built a culture and civilization without an ethos where all the possibilities for art philosophy science and FUN are pre-exhausted and because they have rejected the culture and civilization from which they birthed cannot build upon that ethos nor any of the works produced by it.
The predominantly Christian pulp revolutionaries on the other hand in contrast to Spengler’s speculation that the west has exhausted its possibility hasn’t exhausted all the possibilities and hasn’t rejected the works produced in its past.
The Pulpsters have an ethos from which they can still build imagine and create while the Old Guard does not.
One of the things I stumbled upon doing a century-spanning survey of science fiction and fantasy is just how different things were at the dawn of the genre. Of course, most people commenting about it tend to frame things as if things began mid-way through the 20th century with the advent of “hard” science fiction. Other people act like the seventies was where things really got started, with Le Guin and Delany replacing the older triumvirate of Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov. To be featured in a newspaper interview on the subject, it’s basically a prerequisite that you have to talk trash about authors that predate both of these eras.
But what happens when you go back and sample the really old stuff that’s out of print and that “nobody” talks about anymore…? You find out that not only is there some really good stuff from back then… and what’s more, it’s way better than the stuff being put out by people that reflexively tear it down.
If you haven’t gone to see for yourself what the pioneers were really like, then this really is going to blow your mind. Your entire life, the only thing you’ve heard about these works is the stuff promulgated by the people that wanted to replace them. What few things are reprinted have introductions by people that are far from being fans and that can at best see these authors in terms of their supposed role in opening the way up for the field’s ultimate subversion.
But yes, Christianity has a lot to do with this. And even that is shocking. The fact that that is unimaginable to most people is probably the greatest testament to the effectiveness of the narrative. Naturally, people that have charged themselves with maintaining that narrative see any comment on this as being an attempt to rewrite history. It isn’t, of course. And it should be no surprise that culture wars play out in the arts well before they take root in the political arena.
Discussion on these points is brisk and not everyone sees eye to eye on everything, but one thing is sure. People are sick of the boilerplate. They don’t want to hear about A. Merritt’s Madonna/Whore complex any more than they want to go watch another dumbed down remake of an eighties movie. They are so sick of today’s cultural bankruptcy, they will try anything to get out of it.
Judging by recent works of guys like John C. Wright, Jon Mollison, and Schuyler Hernstrom, these efforts are about to pay off. Big time. So pop the popcorn. This is about to get good!